The University of Arizona

Proposal Review at NEH

Serving as a Reviewer

The NEH utilizes an electronic grants management system (eGMS) to help identify qualified reviewers. If you have applied for an NEH grant or served on an NEH panel, you are already in the pool of NEH reviewers. If you are new to NEH, and would like to be considered as a peer reviewer, you can enter your information on the panelist sign-up form (form expires on 6/30/18). The NEH also welcomes practitioners in the humanities – scholars, teachers, administrative staff, and members of the public with a background in the humanities – to sign up to be a reviewer. Service on NEH review panels is disclosed to the public in NEH annual reports.

Review Process

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) review process is described at the NEH Application Review Process webpage. The time from submission to award varies by grant program.

The process is comprised of the following steps:

  1. Peer Panel Review
  2. NEH Staff Recommendation
  3. National Council on the Humanities Review
  4. NEH Chairman Funding Decision

Peer Review

NEH program officers check applications for eligibility and assign them to panels based on academic discipline, institutional type, project area, or project type. They typically assign 15 to 40 applications to a panel and select three to six reviewers per panel. In assembling a panel, program officers select evaluators for their expertise in the relevant disciplines, topics, and areas, as well as their overall breadth of knowledge in the humanities. No reviewer may serve in consecutive years for the same grant program or on more than two convening panels in any calendar year. All NEH panels are formed anew at the start of a grant competition.

Review Criteria

The following are general NEH review criteria; specific review criteria may vary across programs.

  1. Humanities Significance – includes the project’s value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both
  2. Applicant’s Abilities and Qualifications – as an interpreter of humanities
  3. Proposal’s Clarity of Expression – definition, organization, and description of the project
  4. Project’s Feasibility, Design, Cost, and Work Plan – includes soundness of dissemination and access plans, and the likelihood that the applicant will complete the project

NEH Best Practices

  • Craft a descriptive and impactful title.
  • Don’t assume your reviewers have specialized knowledge; avoid technical terms and jargon.
  • Follow the given directions to a “T”.
  • Follow through to make sure your letters of recommendation are written and sent. If a letter is missing, your application will still be reviewed, but will likely receive a lower ranking.
  • Include the following components: Research and Contribution, Methods and Work Plan, Competencies, Skills, and Access, and Final Product and Dissemination
  • If the program allows, consider sending a full draft to the program officer for review in advance (generally 6 to 8 weeks).
  • Submit early. If your application is one minute late, it will not be considered.
  • After the funding decision, contact the program officer to request reviewer comments.

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