Questions and Answers: The matching process and the Conflict and Ability to Review (CAR) exercise for the Project Grant competition

Q1: I received 50 applications to assess for Conflict and my Ability to Review (CAR). I don’t have enough expertise to review the vast majority of them. Doesn’t that mean that the matching didn’t work?

A1: No. Potential reviewers are matched to approximately 30-50 applications for the Conflict and Ability to Review (CAR) exercise. These matches are identified using the information provided by each reviewer in their Reviewer Profile and the equivalent details that each applicant provided in their application. Each potential reviewer receives the best possible matches, based on the information provided and the nature of the applications that were received for this competition.

It is possible that CIHR did not receive a large enough number of applications within your area(s) of expertise to include in your CAR pile. It is also possible that there were a lot of applications within your area(s) of expertise, but that they were screened out of your pile due to known conflicts.

In addition, for reviewers who are also applicants (Nominated Principal Applicants and Principal Applicants), keep in mind that you cannot review applications that are in the same cluster as your own application. This extra screening for conflict may lead to fewer matches.

Q2: If I indicate that I can only fully or partially review a handful of applications from my CAR pile, does that mean that I’ll receive applications in my final assignments that are outside of my expertise?

A2: No. The CAR exercise is a critical step in the peer review process, particularly for application-focused peer review. It is through the CAR exercise that CIHR is able to refine the list of reviewers for each application (which will then be approved by the Competition Chairs). If, after the CAR exercise is complete, there are not enough good matches available to give you 8-12 final assignments, then you may not be asked to review any applications.

Q3: Does that mean that there is a chance that I won’t be needed to review applications? When will I be told, one way or the other?

A3: Yes. All potential reviewers (who have completed their CAR exercise) will be informed in early January (at the latest) regarding whether or not they can expect to receive final assignments.

Q4: I’ve already submitted my CAR responses. Can you confirm my assignments sooner?

A4: Unfortunately, no. The CAR exercise is critical to the peer review process and allows CIHR to ensure that the right applications are going to the right reviewers, so we thank you for your prompt responses. Although reviewers have seven business days to complete and submit assessments for their own CAR pile, CIHR has allotted approximately four weeks for the CAR exercise overall. This additional time allows us to identify expertise gaps (as the first waves of CAR results roll in) and subsequently recruit more reviewers to fill those gaps, as needed. Once the CAR process is complete, the Competition Chairs will be actively involved in identifying expertise gaps—and potentially suggesting additional reviewers—before the final assignments can be finalized.

After the Competition Chairs have approved the final assignments (but before those assignments are released), CIHR will let all potential reviewers know whether or not they can expect to receive applications to review.

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