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Evaluation of stakeholder views on peer review of NIHR applications for funding: A qualitative study

Evaluation of stakeholder views on peer review of NIHR applications for funding: A qualitative study
Evaluation of stakeholder views on peer review of NIHR applications for funding: A qualitative study

Objectives Innovations resulting from research have both national and global impact, so selecting the most promising research studies to fund is crucial Peer review of research funding applications is part of the selection process, and requires considerable resources This study aimed to elicit stakeholder opinions about which factors contribute to and influence effective peer review of funding applications to the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and to identify possible minor improvements to current processes and any major changes or potential innovations to achieve a more efficient peer review process Design Qualitative interviews with 30 stakeholders involved in the peer review process Participants Participants were drawn from three NIHR coordinating centres and represented four types of stakeholders: Board members with responsibility for making funding decisions, applicants, external peer reviewers and NIHR staff Methods All interviews were conducted by telephone apart from three that were face to face with NIHR staff Data were analysed using a thematic template method Results The responses from NIHR staff, board members and reviewers differed from those received from applicants The first three groups focused on how well the process of peer review did or did not function The applicants mentioned these points but in addition often reflected on how their personal application was assessed Process improvements suggested included: Developing a more proportionate review process; providing greater guidance, feedback, training, acknowledgement or incentives for peer reviewers; reducing the time commitment and amount of paperwork; and asking reviewers to comment on the importance, strengths and weaknesses of applications and flaws which are potentially 'fixable' Conclusions Overall, participants were supportive of the need for peer review in evaluating applications for research funding This study revealed which parts of the process are working well and are valued, and barriers, difficulties and potential areas for improvement and development.

Peer review, Process evaluation, Research funding
2044-6055
Turner, Sheila
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Bull, Abby
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Chinnery, Fay
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Hinks, Jeremy
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McArdle, Nicola
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Moran, Rebecca
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Payne, Helen
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Woodford Guegan, Eleanor
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Worswick, Louise
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Wyatt, Jeremy C.
8361be5a-fca9-4acf-b3d2-7ce04126f468
Turner, Sheila
42f19397-8e9f-435d-a348-2cc1639b5eb4
Bull, Abby
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Chinnery, Fay
57bc237a-8d07-4af1-b469-e801dff5715b
Hinks, Jeremy
8d997f2b-107a-43e5-bb60-828e551105b9
McArdle, Nicola
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Moran, Rebecca
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Payne, Helen
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Woodford Guegan, Eleanor
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Worswick, Louise
c776b523-c340-4c7c-bf27-1c8a6f97c2c1
Wyatt, Jeremy C.
8361be5a-fca9-4acf-b3d2-7ce04126f468

Turner, Sheila, Bull, Abby, Chinnery, Fay, Hinks, Jeremy, McArdle, Nicola, Moran, Rebecca, Payne, Helen, Woodford Guegan, Eleanor, Worswick, Louise and Wyatt, Jeremy C. (2018) Evaluation of stakeholder views on peer review of NIHR applications for funding: A qualitative study. BMJ Open, 8 (12). (doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022548).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Objectives Innovations resulting from research have both national and global impact, so selecting the most promising research studies to fund is crucial Peer review of research funding applications is part of the selection process, and requires considerable resources This study aimed to elicit stakeholder opinions about which factors contribute to and influence effective peer review of funding applications to the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and to identify possible minor improvements to current processes and any major changes or potential innovations to achieve a more efficient peer review process Design Qualitative interviews with 30 stakeholders involved in the peer review process Participants Participants were drawn from three NIHR coordinating centres and represented four types of stakeholders: Board members with responsibility for making funding decisions, applicants, external peer reviewers and NIHR staff Methods All interviews were conducted by telephone apart from three that were face to face with NIHR staff Data were analysed using a thematic template method Results The responses from NIHR staff, board members and reviewers differed from those received from applicants The first three groups focused on how well the process of peer review did or did not function The applicants mentioned these points but in addition often reflected on how their personal application was assessed Process improvements suggested included: Developing a more proportionate review process; providing greater guidance, feedback, training, acknowledgement or incentives for peer reviewers; reducing the time commitment and amount of paperwork; and asking reviewers to comment on the importance, strengths and weaknesses of applications and flaws which are potentially 'fixable' Conclusions Overall, participants were supportive of the need for peer review in evaluating applications for research funding This study revealed which parts of the process are working well and are valued, and barriers, difficulties and potential areas for improvement and development.

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Accepted/In Press date: 14 August 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 14 December 2018
Published date: December 2018
Keywords: Peer review, Process evaluation, Research funding

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427232
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427232
ISSN: 2044-6055
PURE UUID: 16fdb54d-d8db-488c-9dac-f28d5f0940d6
ORCID for Fay Chinnery: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8082-9016
ORCID for Eleanor Woodford Guegan: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7225-6249
ORCID for Louise Worswick: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1184-5722
ORCID for Jeremy C. Wyatt: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7008-1473

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 09 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 17 Sep 2019 01:01

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Contributors

Author: Sheila Turner
Author: Abby Bull
Author: Fay Chinnery ORCID iD
Author: Jeremy Hinks
Author: Nicola McArdle
Author: Rebecca Moran
Author: Helen Payne
Author: Eleanor Woodford Guegan ORCID iD
Author: Louise Worswick ORCID iD
Author: Jeremy C. Wyatt ORCID iD

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