Conducting peer reviews and managing information

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) ensures that scientific reviews are conducted in a professional manner and with a high degree of review integrity. Reviewers either participate in-person for panel discussions or through a secure network as part of a virtual peer review panel. To learn more about the differences between in-person and virtual panels, see ORISE’s study on technology and reviewer skill development (PDF).

For those participating in-person, ORISE eliminates administrative burdens by coordinating travel arrangements, travel reimbursements and onsite honoraria payments. ORISE compares very favorably in a study of benchmarked reviewer travel (PDF) and honoraria payments at various federal agencies and academic institutions. Workshops are coordinated to provide venues for funded investigators to highlight their work, often drawing insights from colleagues on results and interpretations, or help expose gaps in knowledge that may be addressed by a new solicitation. Equally valuable are the workshops conducted periodically throughout a project or at a program’s conclusion, which offer participants and program managers an opportunity to evaluate program accomplishments and performance, discuss progress to date and further refine future directions.

With hundreds of independent reviewers making comments and assigning ratings to thousands of pages of proposal or program content, ORISE uses a web-based peer review management application called PeerNet™. It is accessible 24 hours a day and provides electronic distribution of research proposals or products; collects reviewer comments and ratings; and reports on the evaluations submitted by the reviewers.

Once a review is completed, ORISE prepares reports of the technical evaluations, which are delivered to the sponsor in a timely manner. Input from independent reviewers, sponsors and ORISE staff are combined to identify ways to strengthen and broaden ORISE’s peer review capabilities, as well as identify new, more efficient processes. All feedback is incorporated into future peer review planning efforts.

Savings achieved by ORISE peer review planning 2011-2016

Each year the certified meeting planners at ORISE assertively negotiate vendor contracts resulting in significant cost savings. From April 1 ‐ Sept. 30, 2016, ORISE CMPs negotiated a total cost savings of $399,774 which is a $40,296 increase over the same time period in 2015. The costs savings resulted from strong negotiations with meeting facilities on sleep room rates under government per diem, meeting room rental cost less than advertised rate, audio visual fees less than advertised rate, and many other facility charges.