Project Grant Notice of Decisions: What do my results mean?

For the Project Grant program, all Nominated Principal Applicants receive the typical Notice of Decision (NOD) through their ResearchNet accounts. Starting with the Spring 2018 competition, the initial reviewer scores and top/bottom group selection were also included in the NOD package.

What the information means for applicants

At the end of a Project Grant competition, applicants receive the comments from each reviewer, the Scientific Officer notes summarizing the committee discussion of their applications, and the NOD document that presents their final results (e.g., funding decision, ranking within committee, final score). Applicants now receive the preliminary ratings from each reviewer and the top/bottom group selection, as well.

Taken together, all of these pieces of information provide the full scope of how an application was reviewed (i.e., from initial assessment to committee discussion to final decision) and can be used to inform areas of improvement to the application. Please note that applications that were not discussed at the committee meeting do not receive Scientific Officer notes.

The overview below describes how the results documents fit into the overall peer review process.

Reviewer assessments – before the committee meeting

In a given Project Grant competition, reviewers provide the following for each application:

  • a summary of the application;
  • a rating per evaluation sub-criterion;
  • a justification of the ratings by stating the strengths and weaknesses of the application based on the evaluation criteria;
  • top (competitive) or bottom (non-competitive) group selection;
  • comments on the integration of sex and/or gender in the application.

Reviewers provide these preliminary ratings and comments prior to the face-to-face committee meeting. Please see section 4.2.1: Conducting reviews in the Project Grant peer review manual for more information.

Reviewer assessments – during the committee meeting

Because each reviewer’s preliminary assessment of the application is made in advance of the committee meeting, it is possible—and normal—for the ratings to be different from the final score on the NOD. The preliminary ratings from all three assigned reviewers are used by the committee members to discuss the application. Following the committee discussion, the assigned reviewers are asked to reach a consensus score. Each committee member is then asked to vote +/- 0.5 of the consensus score, and these votes are averaged to calculate the application’s final score. Furthermore, the members must calibrate scores based on all the applications being reviewed by their committee.

Please see section 4.3: The face-to-face Committee Meeting in the Project Grant peer review manual for more information.

Applications for discussion

CIHR asks committees to focus their discussion on the top 50% of applications based on preliminary ratings. The top/bottom group selection is also used to inform which applications will be discussed at the committee meeting. Reviewers may use the numerical rating scale differently, so using the top/bottom group selection helps identify any application that may need to be included in the discussion even though it may not be within the top 50% based on preliminary ratings. The remaining applications will only be removed from the list of those being discussed at the committee meeting (i.e., removed from committee discussions) if there is no objection from any committee member regarding the fact that they will not be discussed. Please note that, ultimately, the committees can discuss any application.

Please see section 4.3.1: Streamlining Process in the Project Grant peer review manual for more information.

As noted above, the preliminary ratings may differ from the final score on the NOD. The NOD document is correct and represents the final funding decisions for the application.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with the Contact Centre at support-soutien@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.

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