NHMRC’s peer review process is integral to supporting the best health and medical research in Australia.
Peer review helps NHMRC make decisions on funding based on impartiality and expert advice. The ongoing voluntary participation of the research community in the peer review process ensures that NHMRC continues to fund the best health and medical research and researchers. NHMRC’s principles of peer review underpin the peer review of all of its funding schemes. Peer review relies on peer reviewers complying with these principles, where appropriate, and providing rigorous assessment of applications for NHMRC funding to ensure transparency, probity and fairness of process. NHMRC appreciates and values the contribution that peer reviewers make to this process.
Benefits of participating in peer review
Contributing to peer review is an important step in your professional development, and provides the opportunity to contribute further to Australia’s health and medical research. Participating in peer review offers you the opportunity to see the breadth of research conducted in Australia and to examine new research in your field of expertise. By improving your understanding of NHMRC’s peer review process and reviewing applications, you have the possibility of strengthening your own applications in the future.
Guiding principles for peer review nomination and appointments, and self-nomination
Nominations and appointments of NHMRC peer reviewers across any NHMRC scheme is guided by the below principles.
NHMRC also invites researchers to self-nominate for consideration to undertake peer review for our funding schemes. A guide to self-nomination has been developed to assist researchers to consider which funding scheme would be most appropriate.
Peer review honour roll
The effectiveness and sustainability of NHMRC peer review processes depends on researchers with excellent track records and wide-ranging expertise in Australian and international health and medical research fields, who contribute as panel members and external assessors, and individuals from the broader community who independently observe and report on processes and proceedings used by NHMRC during peer review.
Yearly honour rolls of peer reviewers, panel chairs, community observers and external assessors who have contributed to NHMRC peer review processes are provided below.
NHMRC thanks all researchers for their contributions and asks institutions to include such service to medical research in their appointments and promotions activities.
Previous years’ honour rolls are available on the Australian Government web archive.
Resources and training materials
Several training modules for peer reviewers are available on the NHMRC website.
Peer review guidelines
Scheme-specific peer review guidelines are available on the GrantConnect website. The peer review guidelines are designed specifically for peer reviewers, and outline the peer review process and associated policies for each scheme.
Peer Review Mentor video
NHMRC has produced short videos featuring experienced peer reviewers to address some of the key questions and themes relating to peer review for the Investigator Grant and Ideas Grant schemes. These videos can be viewed at the below links.
Guide to evaluating industry-relevant experience
Peer reviewers should appropriately recognise an applicant’s industry-relevant experience and outputs. To assist peer reviewers with their assessment, a guide to evaluating industry-relevant experience is provided below.
Peer Review Evaluations
Relative to Opportunity
In 2021, NHMRC trialed a new approach to the assessment of Relative to Opportunity in the Investigator Grant scheme, where all applicants were required to provide:
- A career context summary describing their individual circumstances and opportunities for research and how these circumstances have positively and/or negatively affected their research productivity
- Additional structured information on their career stage, career history, career disruptions and research (in)active periods.
This approach was intended to ensure that each applicant’s track record and associated productivity were considered in the context of their specific career circumstances. It also reinforced the objective that all applicants must be assessed relative to opportunity, as researchers have diverse careers and life circumstances.
NHMRC evaluated this trial approach to the assessment of Relative to Opportunity in the 2021 Investigator Grant round by surveying both applicants and peer reviewers for the scheme. Overall, data from both applicant and peer reviewer surveys indicated that information collected as part of ‘relative to opportunity’ was useful in application and/or assessment of career circumstances. These findings indicate that the revised approach to Relative to Opportunity is mostly effective in achieving its objectives and intended outcomes.
The evaluation report is now available in the download section.