Peer Review, Advisory Group Membership Has Its Benefits

Funding News Edition: May 19, 2021
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For those of you who are or will be serving as an appointed member on Chartered NIH Study Sections, NIH Boards of Scientific Counselors, NIH Advisory Boards or Councils, or NIH Program Advisory Committees, keep in mind that “membership has its benefits” (to paraphrase a company’s slogan from years past). This includes being eligible for NIH’s Continuous Submission Policy.

The policy allows appointed members of review and advisory groups to submit applications at any time to R01, R21, and R34 funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) with standard due dates, including standard AIDS due dates. 

Although continuous submission eligibility through recent substantial review service as temporary or ad hoc reviewers (serving six times in an 18 month period) has been discontinued, there is one exception: reviewers who earned eligibility for continuous submission through recent substantial service from January 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020, are eligible from August 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021.

If you are eligible for continuous submission, you can submit after the standard due date and your application will be reviewed with other applications from that same review cycle. Continuous submission shortens the time from application submission to review by about two months.

For example, a principal investigator who is eligible for continuous submission may submit a non-AIDS R01 application due October 5 for May Council review through December 10. Applications received on or after December 11 will be assigned to October Council for second-level review and funding consideration. See additional examples for non-AIDS and AIDS applications at Continuous Submission Application Receipt Periods by Council Round.

To check whether you are eligible for continuous submission, go to the Reviewer Information section of your eRA Commons Personal Profile. See How To Check Your Continuous Submission Eligibility. NIH also publishes a list at Applicants Eligible for Continuous Submission. Find additional resources on NIH’s Continuous Submission website.

If you don't qualify, consider Serving on a Peer Review Committee. In addition to the timing benefit described above for appointed members, volunteering as a peer reviewer is a rewarding and enlightening experience. While helping the scientific community, you in turn can gain a new understanding of what reviewers expect for your own future applications, learn firsthand what impresses reviewers, and get exposure, experience, connections, and a broader view of your field.

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