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Mock Review Toolkit: Running the Simulation

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5.1 Assigning Applications and At-Home Reviews

Long description


  • (Optional) Ability to Review Task
  • Assign Applications to Reviewers
  • Send Applications to Reviewers

Week 6: Light Simulation

Week 7-8: Full Simulation

Week 8-10: Internal Simulation

After signing the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality agreement and receiving all Pre-Simulation Training materials, Reviewers are assigned applications for review. Reviewers can either be assigned a set of pre-selected applications or applications that fit, as best as possible, the Themes or Areas of Science they indicated during the promotion period or Reviewers may be provided with application summaries and asked to complete an Ability to Review task.

(Optional) Ability to Review Task

This optional Ability to Review task allows Reviewers to indicate the extent to which their expertise aligns with provided applications. Facilitators may decide to conduct the Ability to Review task to both better replicate CIHR’s Peer Review process and/or to try and best match Reviewer expertise to an application.

It is important to note, even if the Ability to Review process is conducted, Reviewer expertise does not need to align perfectly as this is a training exercise. Remind participants that reviewers often underappreciate their Ability to Review when reading application summaries, and that they will likely have much more to contribute than they would initially believe.


Sample Email: Application Assignment
If the Ability to Review process is conducted, this email is sent to Reviewers and lists application summaries for Reviewers to indicate their expertise alignment

Ability to Review Template
Reviewers will complete the Ability to Review task using this template, which should be attached to the Application Assignment Email.

Assign Applications to Reviewers

We recommend each Reviewer in a Light Simulation be assigned 1-2 applications, while in the Full or Internal Simulation we recommend 2-4 applications per Reviewer.

The Facilitator will also have to balance the number of Reviewers assigned to each application. In a typical Project competition, each application is assigned three Reviewers: a primary and to two secondary. The primary Reviewer is the first to give their assessment at the Committee meeting, including a brief synopsis, while secondary Reviewers concentrate on points of agreement or disagreement.

While we recommend following the standard model (1 Primary and 2 Secondary Reviewers/application), we recognize that there will many instances where the size of the committee or the number of applications available necessitates that more than 3 Reviewers be assigned to an application. We encourage the Facilitator to adapt application assignments as necessary to fit their simulation – be it having more than three Reviewers per application, having multiple primary Reviewers, or even having Reviewers with specific tasks for a given application (e.g. providing a detailed perspective on the incorporation of Sex and Gender). For additional details on the roles played by primary and secondary Reviewers during Committee, please see the Roles, Responsibilities and Scripts section later in the Toolkit.

Use the Master Planner resource to help track and assign applications. Please contact the College of Reviewers for this resource.

Send Applications to Reviewers

Mock Review Templates must be provided to Reviewers along with their assigned applications. Reviewers will conduct their reviews at-home using the provided Mock Review Templates prior to the Committee meeting. The Mock Review Template allows Reviewers to; summarize the application, provide an overall score, note strengths and weaknesses, assess sex and gender considerations, and provide a budget recommendation.


Sample Email: At-Home Reviews
Details instructions on completing at-home reviews using the Mock Review Template

Mock Review Template
Reviewers will complete the Ability to Review task using this template, which should be attached to the Application Assignment Email.

5.2 Committee Meeting

Long description


  • Committee Meeting Agenda and Confirmation
  • Run the Committee Meeting

Week 7: Light Simulation

Week 9-10: Full Simulation

Week 11-12: Internal Simulation

Committee Meeting Agenda and Confirmation

An email should be sent out to participants in advance of the Committee meeting to confirm the meeting’s date/ time/location and provide a meeting agenda. Facilitators can adapt the sample email and agenda to fit their specific timelines. If the meeting is virtual, we recommend Facilitators include items listed under Preparation and Room Setup below as part of their communication to participants.


Sample Email: Confirmation of Committee Meeting

Meeting Agenda Template
Must be attached to the Confirmation of Committee Meeting email. If the Committee meeting is in-person, this must also be printed for all participants – see Preparation and Room Setup below

Run the Committee Meeting

Preparation and Room Setup

Note, these are suggestions for room setup; please adapt as necessary.

If the Committee meeting is in-person, these items should be printed ahead of the meeting. If the Committee meeting is virtual, these resources can be sent to participants prior to the virtual meeting as part of the Confirmation of Committee Meeting package above.

In-meeting Resources
Number Document name Description
1 per participant Sequence of Steps for Committee Meeting A step-by-step description of the Committee meeting. Useful for all participants.
1 per participant RQA Checklist A practical tool to assist Reviewers in writing quality reviews. Useful for entire committee.
1 per Facilitator Scoring Sheet A scoring sheet that allows for tracking of scores for Facilitators OR all participants.
1 per application SO Notes Template A template for Scientific Officers to write their notes.
1 per Chair and Scientific Officer Executive Roles, Responsibilities and Scripts Scripts to assist committee executives in their role.
1 per Reviewer Reviewer Roles, Responsibilities and Scripts Scripts to assist Reviewers in their role.

If the Committee meeting is to be in-person, we suggest the table be setup as depicted below to better facilitate discussion.

Long description

Top: Reviewers

Bottom: Reviewers

Left: Scientific Officer, Chair, Facilitator

Sequence of Steps for Committee Meeting
1. Overview of Process
  • Facilitator(s) to provide an overview of the simulation, including the steps outlined below and a refresher on quality reviews
  • (For Light Simulation) Participants break out into smaller Committees of 6-8 Reviewers with a Chair and one or more Scientific Officers for each.
  • All participants engage in a round table introduction
2. Application Initial Ratings
  • The Chair announces the application that is to be reviewed.
  • The Chair announces Reviewers in conflict who then subsequently leave the room (may not be applicable for all simulations).
  • The Chair announces the Reviewers.
  • The assigned Reviewers announce their initial rating. Facilitator(s) use the Scoring Sheet to keep track of the assigned Reviewers’ initial ratings or all participants are provided with a Scoring Sheet for tracking.
3. Reviewers present the application and their reviews
  • The primary Reviewer (i.e., Reviewer # 1) provides a brief synopsis (~ 5 minutes) of the proposal and presents their assessment, describing strengths and weaknesses of the proposal, including comments on the integration of sex and/or gender in the research design, methods, analysis, and/or dissemination of findings, when appropriate.
  • The secondary Reviewers (i.e., Reviewer # 2 and # 3) follow, concentrating on points of agreement or disagreement with the other Reviewers, and elaborating on points not already addressed.
4. Committee discussion

The Chair opens and moderates the committee discussion:

  • Reviewers are encouraged to participate in the discussion.
  • The discussion should focus on aspects of the application raised in the reviews, especially those aspects that are contributing to its rating.
  • Differences of opinion between Reviewers should be discussed.
  • If the assigned Reviewers have not commented on the sex and/or gender components of the application, the Chair will ask the Reviewers and other committee members to comment on the integration of SGBA into the proposal, if applicable. Those comments should be recorded in the Scientific Officer notes, using the SO Notes Template, and should occur prior to the consensus score being discussed.
5. Scientific Officer
  • Scientific Officer takes notes of the key elements of the discussion using the SO Notes Template. The notes are read to the committee for validation/approval.
6. Consensus rating by reviewers
  • The Chair asks the Reviewers assigned to the application to come to a consensus rating. Reviewers can refer to the Rating Scale to help guide their rating.
  • If a consensus cannot be reached, the Chair will determine the consensus rating by averaging the ratings from the Reviewers after the discussion.
  • Facilitator(s) use the Scoring Sheet to keep track of the assigned Reviewers’ consensus rating OR all participants are provided with a Scoring Sheet for tracking.
7. Committee individual ratings
  • All committee members are asked to rate the application, they are permitted to vote +/- 0.5 from the assigned Reviewers’ consensus score.
  • The Facilitator(s) use the Scoring Sheet to keep track of the Committee individual ratings or all participants are provided with a Scoring Sheet for tracking.
  • The Chair and Scientific Officers do not vote.
8. Matters to be flagged
  • Ethics issues, eligibility, use of human stem cells, other concerns, research of general interest (especially the applications highly rated and ranked by the committee).
9. Scientific Officer
  • Scientific Officer reads final notes, for validation/approval by the committee.
10. (Optional) Debrief
  • Participants discuss lessons learned and ask questions of the more experienced reviewers (Chairs). All committees (if more than one) should reconvene for this discussion.

Roles, Responsibilities and Scripts


The Facilitator is responsible for organizing the Committee meeting(s) and ensuring that everyone has the appropriate documentation.

The Facilitator will:


It is the Chair's responsibility to ensure that the review committee functions smoothly, effectively and objectively, and that a positive, constructive, fair-minded environment in which research proposals are evaluated is established and maintained.

The Chair will:

Scientific Officer

Reviewers can rotate the role of an SO to gain experience. If this is the case, ensure that all “SO Reviewers” receive a copy of the SO Note Template (available in Preparation and Room Setup above). You can also include a Mock SO Note (included with some, but not all Mock Applications) to provide Reviewers with an example.

The Scientific Officer (SO) assumes the role of note taker. The SO will:


The Reviewer evaluates each of the applications assigned to them by providing a critical assessment of the applications, as well as constructive feedback based on the program's objectives and adjudication criteria described in the funding opportunity.

The Reviewer will:

Reviewer Scripts

Primary Reviewer(s) Script:

Secondary Reviewer(s) Script:

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