Name-Dropping Does Not Impress Peer Reviewers

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In your application, we advise you to name only scientifically engaged co-investigators, consultants, and collaborators as key personnel. Avoid the temptation to list largely uninvolved people or suggest reviewers.

We understand why some applicants might want to name-drop. Knowing that there is an "Investigator" review criterion, you might hope the extra names will show how well-connected you are to particular experts in your area of science. However, your application is not improved by identifying scientists who aren't significantly advising or participating in your proposed project.

There's another risk: naming people or suggesting reviewers can make your application’s review more challenging. To avoid a conflict of interest, NIH review staff can't allow anyone you name as key personnel in your application to review your application. That includes colleagues in your immediate area of science who might otherwise have been highly supportive of your application during a review.

Try not to point out any specific person as an appropriate reviewer. Instead, you should Use the PHS Assignment Request Form to list the areas of scientific expertise needed to understand and review your application.

For more advice on finding information on presumptive peer reviewers and how to write an application with them in mind, read Know Your Audience.

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