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Conduct the Peer Review

ORAU Maintains a Flexible, Structured Approach to Conducting the Peer Review

Man conducting a peer review

Advancing opportunities for scientific and technical research is a fundamental aspect of Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ (ORAU) mission. We are the primary coordinator of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science peer reviews and work with a number of other federal and state agencies to provide an independent and objective review process that supports decision makers as they select which research to fund and support.

Conducting a successful peer review requires implementing a flexible, yet structured process to ensure that customers acquire the information necessary to make informed decisions. This allows reviewers to participate in postal reviews where evaluations are submitted with or without group discussion, or in panel reviews in which the reviewers meet in person to discuss evaluations.

No matter how the actual review takes shape, we ensure that it is conducted in a professional manner and with a high degree of process integrity.

Our customers receive results in a timely manner and appreciate the superior level of customer service we provide by minimizing the administrative burden, coordinating travel and processing travel reimbursements, providing on-site honoraria payments, and responding with flexibility to unanticipated situations.

Some of the different scientific peer review methods we implement include:

  • Varied size of reviews—ranging from one proposal to hundreds of proposals in a single review.
  • Varied complexity of reviews—such as a single panel, several concurrent panels, or series of multiple panels.
  • Varied purposes—including research proposals, reports of in-process research, reports of completed research, scientific review assessments, poster sessions and abstracts.
  • Varied locations—while many of the reviews are conducted in the Washington, D.C., area, we are flexible and can conduct reviews at almost any location.

Redesigning PeerNet for increased efficiency and security

In FY16, ORAU redesigned and modernized PeerNet, its Web-based application system for administering peer reviews. Reviewers can now move effortlessly among desktop computers and a range of mobile devices to provide their input. The redesign improved the technologies for security and created a centralized list of ORAU’s subject matter experts. Additional enhancements will continue to be made for proposal intake and enriched reporting. Feedback from pilot users has indicated the new system is significantly more intuitive, and existing users need little to no training before using the new system. This redesigned system should increase efficiency of peer review throughput, which will result in cost savings for customers; will create time savings for experts who agree to participate in reviews; and will better ensure the security of proposal details, data and research information contained in the system, which protects the integrity of the review process.