News FocusBiomedical Research

NIH Eyes Sweeping Reform of Peer Review

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1074-1076
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1074a

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is in the midst of a major drive to refurbish its peer-review system--updating it to fit today's biomedical science, setting standards of behavior to improve peer reviewers' manners and methods, and creating a mechanism to ensure that peer review will adapt as science evolves in the future. In the most dramatic reform proposal so far, a blue-ribbon panel headed by National Academy of Sciences president Bruce Alberts wants to completely restructure the array of study sections operated by NIH's Center for Scientific Review, which pass judgment on about three-quarters of NIH grant applications. But the changes that will finally emerge, after they are refined and tested over the next 2 or 3 years, may be considerably less sweeping than the Alberts panel blueprint.