How to review and become a reviewer
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How to Review and Become a Reviewer. Best professional development in higher education!. Linda Mason, OSRHE Grant proposals usually reviewed by several people in the field and related fields Reviewers may be peers of the writers

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How to Review and Become a Reviewer

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How to Review and Become a Reviewer

Best professional development in higher education!

  • Linda Mason, OSRHE

  • Grant proposals usually reviewed by several people in the field and related fields

  • Reviewers may be peers of the writers

  • Not necessary to have received a grant to be able to contribute to the review process

  • Guidelines vary by entity

  • Selection criteria and scoring

    • Published in the solicitation and federal register

  • Peer review

    • Agencies train new participants for review panels

How does it work?

  • Go to a location, usually DC

  • Become very familiar with guidelines

  • Stay for 2-3 days to review

  • Debate your opinions with a panel of peers

  • Work hard, maybe 12 hours/day

  • Read and critique 10-12 proposals

  • Total confidentiality

  • Expenses paid, usually no or little stipend

How does it work?

  • Review by mail/email

  • Receive a month before due

  • Include it in your existing schedule

  • Total confidentiality

  • No stipend

How does it work?

  • Local agency or corporation

  • Go to a location, usually the agency

  • Read during the day

  • Work with a panel of peers

  • Total confidentiality

  • No stipend

Questions reviewers ask?

  • Who is affected by this request/who is the target audience?

  • Are these project goals and objectives realistic?

  • Can the timeline realistically be met?

  • Is the submitting organization capable of carrying out the project?

Questions reviewers ask?

  • If the project duplicates others in the field, what makes this one stronger?

  • Is the cost of this project justified/realistic?

  • If the project is to be continued after this grant cycle, where will the organization get its funding?

  • Do the submitters have external support aside from the granting organization?

Questions reviewers ask?

  • Is there collaboration involved in the project?

  • Has the organization shown prior success?

  • Is the staff of this organization capable and accountable?

  • What is the organization's board or support composition and how involved are its members?

Why be a reviewer?

  • Learn to write better proposals

  • Learn about the programs of the agency

  • Learn about the funded grants of the agency

  • Network with others like you

  • Provide a service

Why be a reviewer?

  • Learn the process and improve your funding odds

  • See what us usually missing or unclear in proposals

  • Clarify your communication

  • Simplify your writing

How do I become a reviewer?

  • The agency’s website

  • Recipient of a grant

  • The funder, program director, head of agency

  • Apply online – provide a vitae and short synopsis of why you may be of help

  • Need not have grant experience, just content or program expertise

Sample Reviewer Application

Dear Program Director,

I am an assistant professor of biology at Northeastern Oklahoma State University with 10 years of experience in teaching undergraduate students. My research interests are with amino acids produced by toads as possible use in treating obesity.

Oklahoma has the highest child obesity rate in the nation. NSU has a student population of 28% native Americans. I have directed 45 undergraduate researchers over the past 3 years. My experiences may be of help in reviewing grant proposals for the Summer Institute Program to Increase Diversity in Health-Related Research.

Agencies – NSF

  • Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems - Phillip Westmoreland - 703/292-8370

  • Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences - Kaye Husbands - 703/292-7276

  • Engineering Education and Centers - Mary Poats - 703/292-4667

  • Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings - David Ucko, - 703/292-8616

  • Advanced Technological Education (community colleges) – Elizabeth Teleseiteles – 703-292-8670

  • Alliances for Broadening Participation in STEM – A. James Hicks - 703-292-8640

  • Communicating Research to Public Audiences – David Ucko, 703-292-8616

  • Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement – Myles Boylan 703-292-4617…….and more!

Agencies – NIH –

  • NIH Grant Review Process Video -

    • Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program - Cathleen Cooper – 301-435-3566

    • Behavioral and Social Science Research on Understanding and Reducing Health Disparities – Dr. Gabriel Fosu – 301-435-3562

    • Summer Institute Program to Increase Diversity in Health-Related Research - Chief, Review Branch, Division of Extramural Research Activities, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – 301-435-0270…and more!

How to Review a Grant Proposal

Questions You Will Ask When You Review Grants

  • Does the application respond to the criteria?

  • Is the project clear and specific (not obscured by jargon)?

  • Do the ideas flow logically?

  • Are activities consistent with each other?

  • Does the application explain the need for assistance?

  • Are the project objectives measurable?

  • How will success or failure be evaluated?

How to Read Proposals

  • Read the entire proposal before beginning to match the criteria against the application.

  • Make your comments specific. “This is a good program,” is not helpful. Too many good programs don’t get funded.

  • Write your comments in complete sentences.

  • Don’t restate what the applicant wrote—evaluate what it says.

  • Make comments tactful and constructive.

Why do reviewers supply comments about the proposal?

To help the writer make the proposal better.

At NSF, only 25% of first time grant proposals are funded.

50% of 2nd re-submissions are funded.

85% of 3rd re-submissions are funded.

Constructive Comments

Weaknesses -

Useful: The proposed budget categories lack sufficient detail to determine reliability. (p.41) The travel budget does not delineate the locations of the conferences.

Less useful: The budget is missing key items. (This comment is not supported with details).

Constructive Comments

Strengths -

Useful: The proposed partnership descriptions include sufficient detail to determine the partnership benefit to the project. (p.41)

Less useful: The partnerships look great.

(This comment is not supported with details).

Common Errors Reviewers Find

  • Trying to fit a program into an unsuitable grant opportunity.

  • Failing to answer all criteria in the RFP.

  • Using old data

  • Using insufficient data

  • Poor evaluation plan

  • Unqualified staff

  • Missing budget items

  • Budget does not match program plan

Common Errors Reviewers Find

  • Unallowable, inappropriate budget items

  • Budget items not explained in the project narrative (Why do you need to go to the French Riviera?)

  • No plans for sustainability

  • No explanation for why no sustainability

  • No commitment letters to document proposed activities, partners, and resources

  • Partners are simply named with no documentation of activities engaged in partnership

Thank you.

2010 OSRHE Grant Writing Institute

Advancing Oklahoma’s Grantsmanship

Linda Mason, Ed.D.

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education


Thanks to Gerry Cherry for her slides.

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