Community Reviewers: Involving the Canadian Public in the CIHR Peer Review Committees
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have committed to enhancing public and stakeholder engagement in health research in Canada. One of the mechanisms to accomplish this goal is through inviting Community Reviewers to sit on CIHR's Peer Review panels. By Community Reviewers, we mean members of the public who are not currently involved in academia or research, but who have a demonstrated interest in health and science. These individuals may include: practitioners and/or volunteers who work with various health research or health care providing organizations, business leaders, policy makers, program administrators, care givers, and individuals that work in such institutions as the media or education.
The peer review committees for the main CIHR competition (the Operating Grants Program) are composed of roughly 5 to 12 leading health researchers in approximately 50 fields of health research (more information on the mandate of each committee can be found on the Peer Review Committees and Mandate page). Twice a year, the committees meet to discuss health research proposals submitted by Canadian scientists and, in some cases, their international collaborators. CIHR helps support over 11,000 health researchers.
The Community Reviewers program objectives are:
- To provide a mechanism for public accountability by providing feedback to CIHR on his/her observations of the peer review process.
- To increase transparency of CIHR's peer review process by attending the committee meetings.
- To provide feedback on the lay abstract portion of the application, specifically the extent to which the intent and importance of the proposed research is well explained and in a language clear to members of the general public.
- To communicate the merits of investment in health research, by understanding CIHR's scientific review process and the value of CIHR's investment in research. This is accomplished by having the Community Reviewer participate in public engagement activities organized by various branches within CIHR.
The criteria that will be considered in selecting Community Reviewers include:
- Value and support mission of CIHR
- Value scientific inquiry
- Not currently involved in academia or health research
- Work cooperatively in a group
- Experience working on a committee
- Communicate effectively both orally and in writing in at least one of the official languages
- Demonstrate knowledge of, or experience with, a health issue and/or have an interest in scientific research
Although Community Reviewers do not score nor appraise the scientific quality of the applications, they are nonetheless considered CIHR committee members and must follow the same privacy and conflict of interest guidelines as voting committee members. All Community Reviewers are selected through a formal process in consultation with the committee Chair.
Community reviewers will not receive any formal science training, but they will be given a thorough orientation in what to expect when they meet with the scientists at the committee meeting.
Both scientific reviewers and Community Reviewers perform this valuable work on a volunteer basis, however all economy transportation, hotel, food expenses necessary for participating in the committee meetings are paid by CIHR.
How to apply to become a Community Reviewer
CIHR accepts Community Reviewer applications on a year-round basis. The Community Reviewer is initially appointed for one committee meeting and the term is renewable for up to an additional five meetings.
* Effective April 1, 2010, CIHR discontinued the use of Web Forms and applicants are now required to submit their volunteer applications to CIHR using the ResearchNet automated application process.
There are three steps to apply to become a Community Reviewer:
Step 1) Get ready
- ResearchNet account. If you don't already have an account, access ResearchNet and use the 'Register' link to request a new account.
- CIHR PIN. If you don't already have a CIHR PIN, connect to your ResearchNet account and use the 'Register for a CIHR PIN' link to request a new PIN.
- Common CV account. If you don't already have an account, access Common CV and use the 'click here to register' link to request a new account.
- Common CV PIN Validation. If you didn't previously validate your CIHR PIN in CCV, connect to your Common CV account and use the 'Confirm my agency PINs' link.
Step 2) Create a Common CV
- Connect to your Common CV account.
- Complete, validate and submit a CIHR Knowledge User or Full CV.
Step 3) Submit your application through ResearchNet
- Connect to your ResearchNet account.
- Create a Volunteer application or update an existing one.
- Attach your updated Common CV.
- Submit your application.
For assistance on the application process, contact Recruitment-CommunityReviewers@cihr-irsc.gc.ca.
For general technical assistance, contact the ResearchNet Help Desk or by phone at 613-941-9080 between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm EST Monday to Friday.