Implementing Enhanced Peer Review

Update: NIAID has a nice table comparing the old and new peer review processes.

Today the NIH provided a timeline on when specific components of peer review reform will be formally implemented. Those of most interest to applicants include:


  • 1-7 scoring scheme & structured summary statement will commence in May.
  • All triaged/streamlined applications will receive a score (preliminary, not discussed).
  • All “Early Stage Investigator” applications will be clustered for review.
  • Only one amended application allowed (i.e., only A0 & A1 submissions – no A2)


  • R01 applications shortened to 12 pages & realigned to match review criteria (ie, impact, investigator/s, innovation-originality, project plan-feasibility, environment) will commence in January.
  • Shorten applications to other funding mechanisms based on 12-p R01 scale.

Under Consideration (no timeline)

  • Separate percentiling of new and resubmitted applications.
  • Cluster clinical research applications for review.


  1. writedit said

    An NIH Notice defines Early Stage Investigators as new investigators (ie, no R01 funding) within 10 years of completing their terminal degree or medical residency. Thus, you can be a New Investigator but not an Early Stage Investigator (but not vice-versa).

  2. writedit said

    And might I also suggest a looksee at this interesting letter by Susan Fitzpatrick and John Bruer of the James S. McDonnell Foundation to Nature that asks:

    Why is it that securing external funding for independent research is a “gold standard” for academic success, particularly in the first few years of a career spanning decades? Shouldn’t the early investment in a junior faculty member’s scholarly research be the responsibility of the institution hiring him or her? Might not considerations of success also include the originality of the individual’s research, the contributions the research could make to the intellectual content of his or her chosen field of research, and the value of the individual as a colleague? Surely there are ways for institutions to develop internal metrics of success. So, here is another simple recommendation: It is time for academic institutions to stop ceding their promotion and tenure decisions to the NIH and other external funding bodies.

  3. whimple said

    Surely there are ways for institutions to develop internal metrics of success.

    Nothing is going to beat the ease-of-use of counting the number of papers and the number of dollars. Number of papers and dollars also has the advantage of being a completely objective evaluation metric. Given that institutions also really like to have dollars, and that to a first approximation, the number of papers is an indicator of intellectual contribution, I wouldn’t expect change any time soon.

  4. writedit said

    For a peek at a possible template for the structured summary statement, take a look at the EUREKA reviewer form. Now, due to the tremendous number of submissions, only 20% of the initial round of EUREKA applications were even scored (38 funded), and these all must have had 3 overall ratings of “extremely exciting” and been cited as “one of top 3 applications” by each of 3 assigned reviewers.

  5. writedit said

    News Flash: Only one amended application allowed starting with new applications submitted on or after January 25, 2009.

    Beginning with original new applications (i.e., never submitted) and competing renewal applications submitted for the January 25, 2009 due dates and beyond, the NIH will accept only a single amendment to the original application. Failure to receive funding after two submissions (i.e., the original and the single amendment) will mean that the applicant should substantially re-design the project rather than simply change the application in response to previous reviews. It is expected that this policy will lead to funding high quality applications earlier, with fewer resubmissions.

    Original new and competing renewal applications that were submitted prior to January 25, 2009 will be permitted two amendments (A1 and A2). For these “grandfathered” applications, NIH expects that any A2 will be submitted no later than January 7, 2011, and NIH will not accept A2 applications after that date.

  6. […] June 6, 2008 at 10:41 pm · Filed under Grantsmanship, NIH Advice Update: The timeline for implementing specific policies is discussed here. […]

  7. […] will be interesting to see how the numbers shake out when the A2 falls off the table and other peer review and application policy changes become fully implemented. Still, I think Neuro-conservative has it […]

  8. writedit said

    In Nature’s coverage of the elimination of the A2, they report that the NIH estimates the number of applications submitted will drop by up to 5000 each year.

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