CIHR bases its funding decisions on peer review, the internationally accepted standard for determining excellence in scientific research. The integrity of the peer review system relies on the ability of reviewers to exercise fair and rigorous judgement. Reviewers demonstrate this judgement through written reports (or reviews), which normally consist of the rating (or score) and explanatory comments.
Review quality expectations
Reviewers provide written reviews for each of their assigned applications. These reviews—which may be read by applicants, their fellow reviewers, Chairs, Scientific Officers, and other review users—actually serve a number of functions. The reviews therefore need to be of sufficient quality to:
- offer meaningful information to applicants and other review users;
- ensure consistent and fair reviews;
- increase reviewer accountability;
- augment transparency of funding decisions; and
- uphold trust and confidence in the integrity of the peer review system.
Ultimately, high-quality reviews will benefit the advancement of health sciences research.
How do you define review quality?
Review quality is defined and operationalized at CIHR by the degree to which a written review meets the criteria specified below. Reviews of high quality meet each criterion.
- Appropriateness: Review comments are fair, understandable, confidential and respectful.
- Robustness: Review is thorough, complete and credible.
- Utility: Review provides feedback that addresses the needs of reviewers, applicants and funders.
This definition was based on the synthesis of available evidence from a scientific literature review, international benchmarking analysis, peer review policy review, as well as a series of consultations with the research community and an independent validation.
How do you know if you have written a high-quality review?
CIHR has developed a checklist as a practical tool to assist reviewers/applicants to apply the review quality criteria to their submitted/received reviews. Try the checklist now.
If you have questions, comments or concerns regarding review quality, please contact the College of Reviewers: firstname.lastname@example.org
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