Peer Review for sponsored research funding is a process adopted by sponsors, including the NIH and other Federal Agencies, to gather feedback on the grant proposal from scientific experts best suited to objectively and rigorously evaluate the strength of proposed research plans. This process underpins the US sponsored research funding enterprise and attempts to ensure that only the most meritorious projects are funded.

HMS Faculty and researchers who participate in peer review are reminded that integrity and confidentiality within the peer review process is mandatory.  If you have concerns about your responsibilities as a peer reviewer or you become aware that the confidentiality of the peer review process has been breached, you should contact the Funding Agency or the Scientific Review Officer assigned to your review section.

The HMS Office for Academic and Research Integrity is also available for consultation regarding peer review integrity concerns: ari@hms.harvard.edu; Phone: (617) 432-1343

 

NIH Peer Review

NIH embraces certain core values of peer review that seek to establish the highest level of ethical standards for its federal funding decisions.  NIH core values include: (1) expert assessment, (2) transparency, (3) impartiality, (4) fairness, (5) confidentiality, (6) security, (7) integrity, and (8) efficiency. These values set a foundation for the laws, regulations, and policies that govern NIH’s peer review process.

NIH peer review confidentiality rules prohibit a peer reviewers from:

  • Sharing applications, proposals, or meeting materials with anyone who has not been officially designated to participate in the peer review process.  This includes sharing materials with members of a peer reviewer’s laboratory for purpose of training and/or education.  Sharing confidential content with any third party, including a colleague or subject matter expert, regardless of the intent, is strictly prohibited.
  • Granting access to any NIH secure computer system or advisory committee meeting to anyone who has not been officially designated to participate in the peer review process.
  • Disclosing, in any manner, information about the committee deliberations, discussions, evaluations, or documents to anyone who has not been designated to participate in the peer review process or who has a declared conflict of interest.
  • Using information contained in an application or proposal for his/her personal benefit or making such information available for the personal benefit of any other individual or organization.
  • Disclosing procurement information prior to the award of a contract.
  • Participating in NIH peer review without signing a confidentiality certification.

Further information about NIH Peer Review Integrity and Confidentiality can be found here: https://grants.nih.gov/policy/research_integrity/confidentiality_peer_review.htm

NIH Open Mike Blog - Case Study in Review Integrity: Abuse of Power

Case study by the NIH of an actual issue that came forward related to a group of students, postdocs, and junior faculty at a major university reporting to the Dean that they had been pressured into writing reviewer critiques for a senior faculty member? Authored by Dr. Michael Lauer who is NIH's Deputy Director for Extramural Research, serving as the principal scientific leader and advisor to the NIH Director on the NIH extramural research program. Read the Open Mike Blog.

NIH Open Mike Blog - Breaches of Peer Review Integrity

Blog article describing the importance of maintaining Peer Review integrity and requirements to do so. Authored by Sally Amero, Ph.D., NIH’s Review Policy Officer and Extramural Research Integrity Liaison Officer Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH's Deputy Director for Extramural Research. Read the Open Mike Blog.

NIH Open Mike Blog - Case Study in Review Integrity: Sharing an Application Being Reviewed

Sharing an application with anyone who has not been officially designated to participate in the peer review process is a big no-no. It undermines the integrity of peer review. Read this case study based on a true story (details have been changed slightly and names have been fictionalized) to see how application sharing can occur and what happens when it does. Authored by Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH's Deputy Director for Extramural Research. Read the Open Mike Blog.