Serving as a grant reviewer is one of the best ways to improve your own grantsmanship. Having the opportunity to read and evaluate proposals, particularly to programs to which you're interested in applying to in the future, can provide insight on what makes a successful proposal (and what does not). You'll also meet other reviewers, some of whom review frequently, as well as the program officer and begin building relationships with these resources. By participating in the process, you'll learn how to craft your proposal to help ensure that it is reviewer friendly.
In most cases you do not need to be an experienced grantee in order to review, however, it's always best to check with the funding agency. Below you'll find information on a number of major funding agencies for which UA faculty frequently apply.
Served as a reviewer? Please contact Research Development Services as we are always interested in hearing about your experience.
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NSF Review Process
The National Science Foundation (NSF) utilizes a structured merit review process ensuring proposals submitted are reviewed in a fair, competitive, and transparent manner. The process is described in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide and on the NSF Merit Review website. The website provides guidance on Proposal Preparation and Submission, Proposal Review and Processing, Award Processing, Merit Review Facts, FAQs, and more. Follow this link to a video of a mock review panel for an NSF CAREER proposal in CBET.
NSF Reviewer Opportunities
NSF provides opportunities for researchers to gain first hand knowledge of the peer review process. Participating in the peer review process permits researchers to learn about common problems; identify strategies related to strong proposals; and meet colleagues and NSF program officers. Early career faculty are strongly encouraged to participate in the peer review process. A full description of how to become an NSF reviewer is available at the "Why You Should Volunteer to Serve as an NSF Reviewer" page.
NEH Review Process
Similar to the NSF, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) utilizes a peer review panel. The full process is described at the NEH Application Review Process webpage.
NEH Reviewer Opportunities
NEH utilizes a database, Panelists and Reviewers Information System (PRISM), to help identify qualified panelists. Interested panelists can enter their information in PRISM to be considered for panel service. Panels typically review 15 to 40 applications with three to six evaluators per panel.
In 2009, NIH provided guidance on the identification of Early Stage Investigators (ESIs). ESIs are new investigators who are within 10 years of completing their terminal research degree or 10 years of completing their medical residency. Find out more about ESI opportunities, NIH ESI policy, and RO1s.
NIH Review Process
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Extramural Research provides a Grants Process Overview detailing the steps required for an application to proceed from application planning and submission through award and close out.
NIH's Peer Review process is detailed at the Office of Extramural Research's Peer Review Process page. The NIH's Center for Scientific Review (CSR) provides a number of Applicant Resources for experienced and early career investigators. CSR's primary role is to handle the reciept and review of approximately 80% of the grant applications NIH receives. CSR does not fund applications, as NIH separates the review process from funding decisions. CSR assigns proposals to a Study Section for review and assigns a funding institute that may be interested in funding the application if positively reviewed. Additional information on CSR is available at CSR's Applicant Resources page.
NIH Peer Review is conducted through Study Sections. All Study Sections and their current participants are listed on the CSR Study Section Roster Index by Standing Study Sections, Fellowship Study Sections, SBIR/STTR Study Sections, and Other CSR Study Sections.
NIH Reviewer Opportunities
NIH specifically seeks early career reviewers through their Early Career Reviewer (ECR) program. To be considered for the ECR program, individuals must have 2 years experience in a full-time faculty or research position, show evidence of an active independent program of research, have at least 2 recent senior authored research publications, and have not served on a CSR study section (mail reviews are not counted). Current funding is not required. Full qualification information is available at the CSR ECR Qualifications page. If you are too senior to serve in the ECR program, you can still become a reviewer for CSR, review how to become a reviewer on this page.
NIH Video Resources
Jumpstart Your Research Career with CSR's Early Career Reviewer Program (full text transcript available here)
NIH Peer Review Process Revealed (full text transcript available here)
What Happens to Your NIH Grant Application (full text transcript available here)
NIH Tips for Applicants (full text transcript available here)