Update on Project Grant registration and stage 1 peer review

(2016-01-28) The registration to the first pilot of the Project Grant competition closed on January 25. All applicants who registered now have access to the full application via ResearchNet. Applicants have until March 1, 2016 to submit the full application.

In this first pilot competition, CIHR received over 4,300 registrations. This significantly exceeds the 3,000 registrations expected based on historical numbers in previous open competitions.

To accommodate the volume of applications and ensure sufficient time for high quality peer review, CIHR will be amending the competition timelines. We will also revisit timelines for future competition cycles including the application deadline for the second 2016 Project Grant competition. Further information on revised timelines will be released by the application deadline of March 1, 2016.

CIHR is committed to high quality review of all Project Grant proposals.

With the summary of proposals submitted by applicants, CIHR will now begin the assignment of peer reviewers.

Principal Applicants to be involved in peer review

In order to identify a sufficient number of highly experienced and knowledgeable reviewers, CIHR will allow Principal Applicants to be reviewers in this competition. Applicants who had previously withdrawn from or declined an invitation to review because they had decided to apply as a Principal Applicant will be invited again. CIHR may reach out to additional Principal Applicants if needed.

With this decision, CIHR recognizes there could be perceptions of conflict of interest. The reality is that, in a competition with a high volume of applications that uses a ranking system, the risk is negligible that any one reviewer could affect the outcome (for their own application, or bias the outcome of any one application). Weighed against the need for the best expertise to enable quality review, CIHR's decision is in line with international peer review practicesFootnote 1 as long as Principal Applicants are not involved in reviewing their own application(s) and they abide by the standard CIHR practice in declaring any conflicts of interest.

Following this competition, CIHR will study the behavior of Principal Applicants compared to others to see if there are any impacts (lower or higher quality of reviews). The program is still in a pilot phase and CIHR has not yet made any decisions on the future use of Principal Applicants for review.

Target of four reviewers per application in Stage 1

At the first stage of the Project Grant review process, CIHR will assign four reviewers per application. This decision is informed by a peer reviewed published studyFootnote 2 which revealed that the optimal number of reviewers required to achieve substantial levels of decision consistency (kappa ≥ 0.61) within a competition was  four to five reviewers per application, for all success rate scenarios.

Who will review my application?

Independent researchers with experience in grant application and/or peer review have been invited as reviewers. When appropriate and required, knowledge users with suitable expertise will be assigned as reviewers. Graduate students and other trainees (e.g., post-doctoral) will not review applications.

Once full applications are received, CIHR will validate that assignments are still optimal with the assistance of over 90 virtual chairs, themselves experts across all domains of health research.

If I agree to review for the Project Grant competition, does it mean that I am part of the College of Reviewers?

Not at this point. Work continues on the development of the College of Reviewers (College). Earlier this fall, the first wave of College enrolment, comprising a small subset of currently and recently active reviewers, was undertaken. Based on reviewers' and administrators' feedback, CIHR is currently updating and refining the College member enrolment process.

The recruitment of the reviewers for all individual funding competitions, including the Project Grant competition, continues in the meantime.

Contact information

Please visit the CIHR website for further information about the Project Grant competition, or contact:

CIHR Contact Centre
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Telephone: 613-954-1968
Toll-free: 1-888-603-4178

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