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Meeting Do’s and Don'ts: Advice for Reviewers




  • Do keep all materials strictly confidential

At the Meeting: 

  • Do focus your comments on the score driving issues – both strengths and weaknesses
  • Do discuss potential overall impact of the applications
  • Do consider all reviewers’ comments as you formulate your final impact score for each application
  • Do participate in the discussion of all applications, if you have comments, concerns or questions
  • Do be sure to leave the room prior to any discussion for any application in which you are in conflict.  If you should discover a conflict during the review, please let your SRO know immediately
  • Score all applications with which you are not in conflict




  • Don’t discuss the grant applications with anyone outside of the review panel — before, during or after the meeting
  • Don’t discuss the grant applications with other review panel members before the meeting

At the Meeting: 

  • Don’t be afraid to say there was a part of the application that you did not understand
  • Don’t say, “This is outside my area.” If it is, you should have alerted the Scientific Review Officer (SRO) of the need for additional expertise well in advance of the meeting
  • Don’t rehash what the previous reviewer said, but specify what you see as different
  • Don’t bring up concerns of scientific misconduct during the review meeting; discuss them privately with the SRO
  • Don’t mention previous scores received by the application, since this information could skew the review discussion
  • Don’t compare one application to another – they should each be evaluated independently based on the review criteria
  • Don’t address questions to Program Officials
  • Don’t state you reviewed the initial version of a resubmitted (A1) application; you may instead refer to having been part of the panel that reviewed the prior version of this resubmission.
  • Don’t discuss funding! Your responsibility is to only provide input on the scientific and technical merit of the applications. Your reviews will help the advisory council members to the NIH funding Institute and Center director as well as Program staff with their final funding decisions
  • Don’t discuss budget or administrative issues (i.e., overlap) before final scoring. These are not score driving issues.
  • Don’t read your critique verbatim!





This page last updated on June 22, 2015
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