CIHR Instructions for Readers

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In addition to their primary role, Internal Reviewers are also assigned other applications as "readers". Readers are responsible only for reading an application and are not required to submit a written review; they serve as a discussant in the committee and aid in reaching a consensus rating.

  • Readers must agree to abide by CIHR's Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Policy through ResearchNet.
  • Conflicts of interest with applications and levels of reviewer expertise are declared on ResearchNet. Please complete this task in a timely manner.
  • The primary tool for conducting peer review is ResearchNet. If you feel that accessing your assigned applications through ResearchNet is not sufficient and that you must use a portable storage device, please notify the program delivery coordinator. Paper copies of applications are no longer provided.Applications must be treated as protected information. You must not divulge their contents to others, or use any information herein for any other purpose than peer review.
  • Ensure that all Peer Review materials you use are handled safely and disposed of according to the document "Guide on Handling Documents used in Peer Review".
  • Be familiar with CIHR policies and procedures posted on ResearchNet and on the Internet. It is also important to be familiar with the objectives of the funding opportunity (see Find Funding).
  • Readers generally do not provide a written report, but participate in discussions and vote during the meeting.


  • Purpose: to provide critical assessment of the application based on the objectives and evaluation criteria described in the funding opportunity during the discussion of the application during the peer review committee meeting.
  • You may be asked to provide an initial score if the first and second reviewers are not in close agreement. This information will not be recorded and is only used for discussion at the committee meeting.
  • No written review is required. However, it is recommended that you prepare speaking notes based on the Internal Reviewer report to be prepared to discuss the application with the first and second reviewer at the committee meeting. For detailed information about this process, refer to the CIHR Peer Review Manual for Grant Applications.
  • In exceptional circumstances, you may be asked to replace the first or second reviewer and prepare a written report with short notice (for example, if a reviewer is unable to attend the meeting at the last minute, if a conflict of interest was overlooked, etc.).

Before the Committee Meeting

The following points should be considered when evaluating the applications assigned to you as a reader:

  1. A brief synopsis of the proposal:
    • purpose of the proposal;
    • hypothesis to be tested, or the research questions to be answered;
    • objectives to be achieved and approach proposed; and
    • progress made to date.
  2. An assessment of the proposal, based on the evaluation criteria as presented in the funding opportunity details:
    • consider all factors and the strengths or weaknesses of the applications in relation to each criteria;
    • not all factors are necessarily important to each application;
    • emphasis may be placed on specific criteria in the funding opportunity details in order to meet funding program objectives; consider this when formulating your rating; and
    • focus your comments on the factors most relevant to your evaluation.
  3. Comments on the budget requested and a formal recommendation, including clear and detailed reasons for any recommended budget cuts.
  4. If necessary, comments on issues that you feel should be flagged (see section 6.2.6 of the CIHR Peer Review Manual for Grant Applications). These concerns should not influence the rating or budget recommendations, unless they bear on the scientific merit of the application.

At the Committee Meeting (see Appendix)

  1. Presentation of reviews after all members in conflict have left the room:
    • Before the reviews are presented, the two internal reviewers announce their initial ratings and their overall assessment of quality ("top/bottom" group assessment), to determine if the application should be streamlined. The reader may be consulted during this discussion;
    • The reader is asked to comment on the proposal after the first and second reviewers have presented their reviews by addressing any areas not covered by the first or second reviewer; and
    • The Chair may ask the reader to comment on very specific issues if there was disagreement between the two internal reviewers.
  2. Rating of applications:
    • Following the discussion of the application by the whole committee, the Chair seeks a "consensus rating" from the two internal reviewers. The internal reviewers may revise their initial ratings as they see fit. The reader may be asked to provide an initial score if the first and second reviewers are not in close agreement. If a consensus cannot be reached, the Chair declares the consensus score, usually by using the mean value of the revised respective scores after discussion (round up, if necessary, to obtain a single decimal point); and
    • All committee members, including the two internal reviewers and reader but excluding the Chair and Scientific Officer, then cast individual confidential votes within ± 0.5 of the consensus rating. The rating assigned to the proposal is the average of these confidential votes.

At the end of the Committee Meeting

  1. Participate as the committee re-reviews one or a small number of applications if the committee feels that any applications have been treated inconsistently.
  2. Participate in providing feedback to CIHR Staff regarding the effectiveness and functioning of the committee and provide a discussion of policy issues.
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