Full Text NOT-97-010 (see amendment NOT-OD-05-002)
NIH GUIDE, Volume 26, Number 22, June 27, 1997
P.T. 34

  Grants Administration/Policy+ 

National Institutes of Health
As part of the ongoing effort to maintain high standards for peer
review at the NIH, the Rating of Grant Applications (RGA)
subcommittee of the NIH Committee on Improving Peer Review was
charged with examining the process by which scientific review groups
rate grant applications and with making recommendations to improve
that process in light of scientific knowledge of measurement and
decision making.  The charge was in response to the perception that
the review of grant applications needed to be refocused on the
quality of the science and the impact it might have on the field,
rather than on details of technique and methodology.  After extensive
discussion of the RGA~s report by NIH staff, the extramural
community, and the Peer Review Oversight Group (PROG), at the May 5,
1997 meeting of PROG the Director of NIH announced procedures to be
used for the review of research grant applications.
The procedures will be effective for all unsolicited research project
grant applications (including those in response to Program
Announcements published in the NIH Guide) submitted on or after
October 1, 1997, most of which will be reviewed starting in
January/February 1998. Reviewers will be instructed to (a) address
the five review criteria below and (b) assign a single, global score
for each scored application.  The score should reflect the overall
impact that the project could have on the field based on
consideration of the five criteria, with the emphasis on each
criterion varying from one application to another, depending on the
nature of the application and its relative strengths.
The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding
of biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance
health.  In the written comments reviewers will be asked to discuss
the following aspects of the application in order to judge the
likelihood that the proposed research will have a substantial impact
on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these criteria will be
addressed and considered in assigning the overall score, weighting
them as appropriate for each application.  Note that the application
does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to
have major scientific impact and thus deserve a high priority score.
For example, an investigator may propose to carry out important work
that by its nature is not innovative but is essential to move a field
(1) Significance:  Does this study address an important problem?  If
the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific
knowledge be advanced?  What will be the effect of these studies on
the concepts or methods that drive this field?
(2) Approach:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and
analyses adequately developed, well-integrated, and appropriate to
the aims of the project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential
problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
(3) Innovation:  Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches
or method? Are the aims original and innovative?  Does the project
challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or
(4) Investigator:  Is the investigator appropriately trained and well
suited to carry out this work?  Is the work proposed appropriate to
the experience level of the principal investigator and other
researchers (if any)?
(5) Environment:  Does the scientific environment in which the work
will be done contribute to the probability of success?  Do the
proposed experiments take advantage of unique features of the
scientific environment or employ useful collaborative arrangements?
Is there evidence of institutional support?
While the review criteria are intended for use primarily with
unsolicited research project applications (e.g., R01, R29, P01), to
the extent reasonable, they will also form the basis of the review of
solicited applications and non-research activities.  However, for
some activities (e.g., construction grants), use of these criteria as
stated may not be feasible.
In addition to the above criteria, in accordance with NIH policy, all
applications will also be reviewed with respect to the following:
o  The adequacy of plans to include both genders, minorities, and
their subgroups as appropriate for the scientific goals of the
research.  Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will
also be evaluated.
o  The reasonableness of the proposed budget and duration in relation
to the proposed research
o  The adequacy of the proposed protection for humans, animals or the
environment, to the extent they may be adversely affected by the
project proposed in the application.
Requests for Applications (RFAs), which are published in the NIH
Guide to Grants and Contracts, will list the specific criteria for
scientific peer review of  applications submitted in response to the
particular RFA.
Inquiries regarding this notice may be directed to:
Dr. Janet Cuca
Office of Extramural Programs
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6192
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 435-2691
Email:  janet_cuca@nih.gov

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