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Pre-Meeting Do’s and Don’ts: Advice for Reviewers




  • Do access the meeting in IAR as soon as possible once you receive the system generated email—you will need to access IAR to sign your pre-meeting COI and Confidentiality forms, and to access all review materials
  • Do start early! It will take some time to go through each assigned application to identify conflicts and to formulate a thoughtful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each review criterion
  • Do keep all materials strictly confidential (Security Awareness)
  • Do notify your SRO immediately if you should discover additional conflicts once you begin going through the applications

Writing/Reviewing and Uploading Scores/Critiques: 

  • Do use the specific template provided by your SRO in meeting materials
  • Do use appropriate review criteria for that funding opportunities—some mechanisms use the standard NIH review criteria only, others have additional criteria that must be considered in your evaluations
  • Do refer to a specific aim to provide context, but do not cut and paste sections of the application into your critiques
  • Do address the score-driving strengths and weaknesses of the project under review for each criterion
  • Do make sure that your written critiques reflect your numerical criterion scores
  • Do consider progress during the current funding period for renewal applications
  • Do consider the applicant’s response to prior critiques for resubmission applications
  • Do run spell check on your completed critique
  • Do upload your critiques and preliminary scores into IAR by the deadline provided and view to ensure critiques are uploaded properly.
  • Do post early so others may read your critiques




  • 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

Writing/Reviewing and Uploading Scores/Critiques: 

  • Don’t re-use old critique templates
  • Don’t change the formatting of the critique template (bullets, spacing, fonts, etc.)
  • Don’t repeat the applicant’s description verbatim
  • Don’t emphasize every minor flaw in the application; focus on the major strengths and weaknesses
  • Don’t try to rewrite an application. If you want to provide guidance to the PI about an alternate approach, put such a statement in the last template box called ‘Additional Comments to Applicant.'
  • Don’t include criterion scores on the critique template
  • Don’t make unreasonable demands (e.g., do not penalize an R21, which is an exploratory project to collect pilot data, for not having the preliminary data required of an R01)
  • Don’t delete an existing critique in IAR if you plan to submit a revised critique; simply upload the revised critique and it will replace the original critique. Note that deleting a critique in IAR also deletes criterion scores