In DepthPeer Review

NIH looks to punish reviewers who violate confidentiality

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Science  06 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6384, pp. 17
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6384.17

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The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week it is investigating violations of confidentiality rules designed to protect the integrity of its peer reviews that score funding applications. A violation of NIH rules involving one peer-review panel led the agency recently to re-review 60 applications that the committee had evaluated. NIH officials were mum about the number of cases and most other details but said at least one violation involved "reciprocal favors"—a term that typically means an applicant offered a favor to a reviewer in exchange for a favorable evaluation of a proposal, or vice versa. NIH rules suggest possible sanctions could include suspending or barring violators from obtaining federal research funds.