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Peer Review of Grant Applications

Under the Education Sciences Reform Act, activities of the Institute that are carried out through grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements, at a minimum, shall be awarded on a competitive basis, and, when practical, through a process of peer review. Further, the Director is required to establish a peer review procedure (involving highly qualified individuals with an in-depth knowledge of the subject to be investigated) for reviewing and evaluating all applications for grants and cooperative agreements that exceed $100,000.

The Standards and Review Office is responsible for implementing the scientific peer review of grant applications. As with the peer review of reports, a key provision of the grant application peer review system is intended to put distance between the program officers and administrators within the Institute who administer grant programs, work with grantees, and disseminate the results of research, and, those who are responsible for the peer review of applications for funding under those grant programs.

In FY 2002, the Institute established a new system for the scientific review of grant applications that is similar in many ways to the process of grant application peer review at the National Institutes of Health. Standards and Review Office staff identify and recruit highly qualified reviewers primarily on the basis of the quality of the research they have conducted and published in scientific peer-reviewed journals and the degree to which they are in-depth experts in the relevant research methods and subject matter.

In FY 2003, the Institute created an entirely electronic application submission and review process. This electronic system allows applicants to submit letters of intent and grant applications online. In addition, the electronic system also allows reviewers to access applications assigned to their panel, submit their reviews of applications, view preliminary scores and reviews submitted by other reviewers (after submitting their own reviews), and revise their own narrative comments during the panel review meeting. The electronic system allows Institute staff to closely monitor the progress of the review process, and to quickly calculate preliminary scientific merit scores that are used to triage the top ranked applications for consideration by the full panels at the panel review meetings. The electronic system also allows for quick calculation of final scientific merit scores for use in funding considerations, and preparation of review feedback for applicants.

The Standards and Review Office uses a contractor to handle the review logistics, and manage the electronic system for grant application submission and review. The Deputy Director for Science and Standards and Review Office staff determine the number and type of review panels needed, select and recruit peer reviewers, assign grant applications to the appropriate review panels, assign primary reviewers to each application, conduct discrepancy analyses of initial rating scores, conduct the triage of applications to be considered by the full panel, and work with the contractor to provide feedback to applicants and generate scores for applications that determine scientific merit for funding decisions.

PDF File For more information, please click here to download, view, and print an overview infographic of the IES Research Grant Submission and Review Process as a PDF file (977 KB)

PDF File For more detailed information about application review, please click here to download, view, and print the Step 5 infographic as a PDF file (1 MB)

PDF File For more detailed information about what happens at a grant review panel meeting, please click here to download, view, and print the Step 6 infographic (1 MB)

IES Procedures for Peer Review of Grant Applications,
adopted by the National Board for Education Sciences January 24, 2006.
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MS Word Download, view, and print as an MS Word file (97 KB)

IES Procedures for Peer Review of Reports,
adopted by the National Board for Education Sciences January 24, 2006.
PDF File Download, view, and print as a PDF file (73 KB)
MS Word Download, view, and print as an MS Word file (53 KB)