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When a federal, state or private research funding organization disseminates scientific information or awards grants, it is critical that the proposed information be scientifically feasible and have verifiable technical merit. ORAU manages scientific peer reviews that provide critical, independent assessment of research proposals and program performance to help sponsors determine the quality of research proposals and accuracy of scientific information.

The peer review process involves selecting experts in the same field as the proposals to evaluate, comment, and score proposals based on their knowledge of the subject and understanding of the impact each proposal would make if funded. Focusing on continuing process improvement, research collaborations exist to evaluate the entire peer review process—from planning and reviewer identification to evaluating proposals and implementing improvements. Gaining a better understanding of what motivates reviewer participation can bring insight and greater credibility to peer reviews and program evaluations.

Research focus areas

  • Literature review of the peer review process to assess norms for rates of invites/participation, honoraria, etc., to identify gaps and/or problems in the field.
  • Create reviewer typologies of the characteristics and motivations of different types of reviewers in order to aid reviewer identification and recruitment for different types of projects.
  • Evaluate the process of conducting a review from the perspective of the reviewer. What are the steps? How long does each step take? What are the barriers to participation? What slows things down? What does or doesn’t add value to the process?
  • Assess participation in ORAU reviews to identify incentives/barriers to participation, characteristics of repeat reviewers, patterns in reviewer characteristics across different review types and domains, the value of participation to the reviewer, etc.
  • Research the effects of “repeat reviewers” on scores.
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    Peer Review Practice: A resource library for professionals involved in peer review

    Over the course of more than 30 years of planning, organizing and executing peer reviews, merit reviews and similar kinds of scholarly reviews, ORAU's team of peer review professionals have developed a deep understanding of the many facets of the peer review process. Through Peer Review Practice, we are putting the best of the lessons learned and insights on peer review into a collection of resources intended to help other peer review professionals benefit from our experience.

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  • Peer Reviewers conduct their review to preserve funding integrity

    Peer review helps research funding agencies get the most value for their dollars

    Peer review and evaluation is the unsung hero of the research funding and proposal evaluation process, yet it is critically important to ensuring available research dollars are spent wisely. Find out why maintaining integrity is critical part of the peer review process.

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    Perspective: Integrity in Science

    Avoiding conflict of interest, preventing plagiarism, ensuring diversity of thought and avoiding implicit bias are important issues that have to be addressed in every peer review. In the end, avoiding or preventing these issues not only makes for a better review, it makes for better science.

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Our Experts

Keri Cagle, M.S.

Keri Cagle, M.S.

Expertise: Peer review operations and project management, government contract compliance, process improvement, systems development, collaborative leadership and team building

Cagle is an astute business leader with an innovative mindset to use technology to revolutionize processes at ORAU. Her sponsorship of the redesigns of key systems such as PeerNet and Zintellect demonstrate her technological ability and essential collaboration and communication capabilities.

Certifications: Certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Internal Auditor, Master Certification in Government Contracting

Jody Crisp

Jody Crisp

Expertise: Project management, performance measurement, budgeting, contingency planning, sponsorship development, conflicts of interest resolution, quality assurance

  • Peer review project manager for more than 500 DOE Office of Science peer review projects since 2002
  • Community volunteer, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children, Anderson County, Tennessee

Contact us

If you have questions about ORAU's Research partnerships, contact 865.576.1717 or .