Rigorous peer review is the cornerstone of MSFHR funding programs. It ensures the Foundation supports research that meets the highest scientific standards, invests in BC’s best and brightest researchers, and builds our province’s capacity for world-class health research.
At MSFHR we adhere to six principles shared by all members of the National Alliance of Provincial Health Research Organizations (NAPHRO): integrity, accountability, transparency, balance, confidentiality and impartiality.
In line with these principles our review cycles follow the steps below:
- Applications by theme
Depending on the program, applications are categorized by theme with a review panel for each (e.g. biomedical, clinical, health services and population health research). The Chairs and Scientific Officers of all review panels cross check these groupings to ensure the research proposed within each application aligns with the panel it is assigned to.
- Match reviewers to applications
Once the application deadline has passed, we recruit reviewers who are subject matter experts in areas that directly align with the applications we’ve received. These reviewers are selected for their research excellence, breadth of knowledge, and maturity of judgment. We’ve been matching reviewers to applications based on expertise for 15 years, drawing on ‘external readers’, often from the international community, for highly specialized applications.
- Hold in-person review meetings
Review panels for our major funding awards are held in person. Each reviewer is encouraged to share unbiased feedback and discuss scoring for each application (excluding those with conflicts). We find that through this frank and open discussion, reviewers challenge and hold each other accountable for adjudication decisions.
The Convening & Collaborating and Reach Awards which provide smaller funding amounts are not reviewed in-person.
- Have three rounds of scoring
For each application, two lead reviewers (chosen for their subject matter expertise) share their assessments and initial scores. The panel discuss the application, and based on these additional insights the lead reviewers have the opportunity to revise their scores. This creates the ‘consensus score’ which forms the basis for the voting range. Finally, all panel members (excluding those with conflicts) score the application anonymously, the average of these scores is the final score for the application.
- Debrief with all reviewers
Our reviewers are seasoned researchers and many sit on panels for a number of funding organizations. At the end of each review meeting we invite them to share feedback on the program, the resources provided to applicants and the review process itself. This ensures we continue to refine our programs and processes to ensure they are of high quality and we continue to meet the highest scientific standards.
MSFHR’s structured peer review process is tailored to meet the needs of each individual funding program. Below is a visual overview of the process for our Scholar program which has been running since 2001.