Project Grant: Review process

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Peer review process

The Project Grant peer review process involves the evaluation of applications by a group of reviewers, who have (individually or collectively) the required experience and expertise to assess the quality and/or potential impact of the proposed research and/or research related activities, within the context of the funding opportunity objectives. These reviewers are grouped into Peer Review Committees based on their expertise and the topics of applications submitted to these committees.

Peer Review Committees (PRCs) are responsible for:

  • evaluating individual applications;
  • rating each application;
  • discussing applications at the face-to-face committee meeting discussion;
  • recommending a budget to support the proposed research if the application is approved; and,
  • advising CIHR on the final ratings of the applications and providing recommendations on funding level and award term.

For a step-by-step walk through of the peer review process and for information about the roles and responsibilities of committee members, please consult the Peer Review Manual – Project. Applicants may wish to consult this document in order to better understand how reviewers will be instructed to evaluate their application(s).

Recruitment to Peer Review Committees (PRCs)

CIHR will extend invitations to members of the health research community to join specific Project Grant Peer Review Committees (PRCs), based on their area(s) of expertise. CIHR will recruit reviewers based on a set of selection criteria and in consultation with Chairs and Scientific Officers. The Chairs also have a role in the selection of Scientific Officers.

Application assignments to PRCs

Applications are initially assigned to the applicant’s first choice committee. Based on information provided at registration, CIHR staff review the initial committee assignments; if the application pressure is too high in a particular committee, staff will split the committee in two in consultation with the Chair and the two Scientific Officers. Chairs and Scientific Officers are then asked to review the assignment of applications to their committee based on the committee mandate. Applications may be reassigned if they are more appropriate (or more closely aligned) to the mandate of another committee and can be better assessed by that committee. The final authority for the assignment of applications to a peer review committee rests with CIHR.

Application assignments to reviewers

After confirming the assignment of applications to PRCs, applications are assigned to reviewers, who identify any conflicts of interest that they may have and declare their ability to review a given application. The PRC Chair and Scientific Officer, along with CIHR staff, assign each application to three reviewers based on their declared level of expertise.

Chair and peer review recruitment

The Chairs of the College of Reviewers have endorsed selection criteria for the recruitment of Committee Chairs and peer reviewers for the Project Grant competition. CIHR will recruit Chairs and reviewers based on the criteria outlined below.

Peer Reviewers

Research Experience

  • Independent investigator
  • At least 1 federally funded (or equivalent) peer reviewed grant as a Principal Investigator

Review Experience

  • At least 2 peer review roles at CIHR or other recognized organization

Knowledge, Expertise and Lived Experience

  • Expertise within CIHR’s mandate

Note: Knowledge Users will be recruited using a combination of the criteria above, as appropriate. Applications that are identified as having an iKT component will be assessed by both researcher and knowledge user reviewers.

Committee Chairs

Significant* Peer Review Experience

  • Previous experience as a grant program committee Chair or Scientific Officer; or significant previous experience as a peer review committee member for a grant program; and
  • Past peer review performance met high standards (Chairs were engaged, followed appropriate policies, fulfilled their role well)

Independent Investigator status at a University or Research Institution.

Tri-council funding (or equivalent) has been held within the last 5 years.

*Significant experience includes participation in multiple review activities.

To meet the requirement of knowledge translation applications from discovery to application, including commercialization, a Chair may be recruited using a combination of the criteria above, as appropriate.

To ensure the highest quality of review, only reviewers with a solid review track record (reviewers were engaged, submitted reviews on time, followed appropriate policies) will be invited to review for the upcoming Project and Foundation competitions.

All Foundation grantees will automatically be considered as potential reviewers.

If you meet the reviewer criteria and wish to state your interest in becoming a reviewer in the upcoming competitions, or if you have any questions about the process, please contact CIHR at:

Peer review membership

Peer Review membership for Project Grant competitions are posted online approximately 60 days after the funding decisions have been published on the CIHR website. Peer review members participated in accordance with the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations.

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