Often in the peer review of research grant proposals, panel discussion is used as a way to take advantage of a broader set of expertise and perspectives for making funding decisions. The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has published findings exploring reviewer experiences with panel discussion and examining their perceived quality and effectiveness as well as their influence on scoring.
The results from this mixed-methods analysis, generated from a survey sent to over 13,000 scientists, suggest the majority of reviewers viewed panel discussion favorably in terms of participation, clarifying differing opinions, informing unassigned reviewers, chair facilitation, and even in selecting the best science. However, a substantial proportion of the respondents mentioned sources of bias in the review meeting and areas of poor facilitation during panel discussion. While there was a strong acknowledgement of the importance of the chair in addressing these areas, 32% of respondents did not find the chair of their most recent panel to have performed these roles effectively. It is likely that improving chair training in leadership and the management of discussion would improve the peer review process.
The manuscript, entitled “Grant reviewer perceptions of the quality, effectiveness, and influence of panel discussion” was just published online in the Journal of Research Integrity and Peer Review and is available via open access.