Peer Review Policies & Practices
What's New in Peer Review
New Conflict of Interest Guidance for Reviewers: The NIH issued revised policy for managing conflict of interest, and the appearance of conflict of interest, in the initial peer review of grant applications (NOT-OD-13-010). To facilitate reviewers' implementation of the policy, new decision charts (Federal) (Non-Federal) have been posted.
New Scoring Guidance. New scoring guidance for research applications, the scoring guidance for training applications, and generic guidance focus reviewers on the positive aspects of an application as well as the weaknesses, and encourage use of the entire scoring range.
New Guidance for Reviewers on Human Subjects Protections and Inclusion. New guidance for reviewers evaluating human subjects research has been implemented:
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Information for Reviewers
How to Volunteer. Consider volunteering to serve in the NIH peer review process. See Becoming a Peer Reviewer.
Incentives for Reviewers: Continuous Submission. Certain reviewers may be eligible for Continuous Submission.
Materials for Reviewers. Standardized guidelines, instructions, and critique templates that reviewers use are posted at Guidelines for Reviewers.
Protecting NIH Grant Applications. Reviewers must take every reasonable precaution to safeguard NIH grant applications and related materials, which are considered highly confidential. See:
Maintaining Confidentiality. Each NIH reviewer must certify that s/he has read and will abide by the NIH confidentiality and nondisclosure rules. See Confidentiality in NIH Peer Review.
Declaring Lobbyist Status. Each NIH reviewer must certify that s/he is not a federally-registered lobbyist before participating in NIH peer review. See OFACP Policy of September 2012.
Managing Conflicts of Interest. Each NIH reviewer must certify that s/he has declared all known conflicts of interest before the review meeting, and after the meeting, that s/he did not participate in the evaluation of an application with which s/he has a conflict of interest. See:
Evaluating Human Embryonic Stem Cells. In assessing overall impact, reviewers evaluate the scientific appropriateness of proposed hESC lines or the justification for using a cell line that is not listed on the NIH Registry for Stem Cells. See NOT-OD-12-111 (6/11/2012).
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Information for Applicants
Overview of Peer Review. For a general overview of NIH peer review, visit Peer Review Process, or see Core Values of NIH Peer Review for a more detailed understanding.
Regulations Governing NIH Peer Review. View 42 CFR 52h: Scientific Peer Review of Research Grant Applications and Research and Development Contract Projects:
Appeals of NIH Initial Peer Review. The NIH policy and procedure for handling appeals of the outcome of initial peer review are explained in:
- NOT-OD-11-064 (04/15/2011): Appeals of Initial Peer Review
- NOT-OD-11-101 (7/29/2011): Resubmission of Applications with Pending Appeals of NIH Initial Peer Review
Post-submission Materials.The NIH accepts certain materials and videos as application materials after the application has been submitted but before peer review. See:
- NOT-OD-13-030 (1/29/2013): Reminders and Updates: NIH Policy on Post-Submission Application Materials
- NOT-OD-12-141 (9/27/2012): Interim Guidance for Videos Submitted as NIH Application Materials
- NOT-OD-12-111 (6/11/2012): Notice of Impending Change in Peer Review Criteria and Submission Requirements for NIH Applications Involving Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Research Involving Chimpanzees. Investigators should continue to follow existing guidance (NOT-OD-12-025) regarding the submission of applications, proposals, or protocols for research involving chimpanzees until the NIH announces procedural guidance.
- NOT-OD-13-078 (6/26/2013): Announcement of Agency Decision: Recommendations on the Use of Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research
- NOT-OD-12-116 (6/15/2012): Clarification to the Interim Agency Policy, NIH Research Involving Chimpanzees
- NOT-OD-12-025 (12/21/2011): NIH Research Involving Chimpanzees
Advisory Councils or Boards. NIH Advisory Councils and Boards perform the second level of NIH peer review, and make recommendations to the Institutes and Centers. See:
- NOT-OD-12-140 (8/20/2012): Notice of NIH Special Council Review of Research Applications from PDs/PIs with More than $1.0 Million Direct Costs in Annual NIH Support
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