Characterization of the peer review network at the Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 13;9(8):e104244. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104244. eCollection 2014.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest source of funding for biomedical research in the world. This funding is largely effected through a competitive grants process. Each year the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) at NIH manages the evaluation, by peer review, of more than 55,000 grant applications. A relevant management question is how this scientific evaluation system, supported by finite resources, could be continuously evaluated and improved for maximal benefit to the scientific community and the taxpaying public. Towards this purpose, we have created the first system-level description of peer review at CSR by applying text analysis, bibliometric, and graph visualization techniques to administrative records. We identify otherwise latent relationships across scientific clusters, which in turn suggest opportunities for structural reorganization of the system based on expert evaluation. Such studies support the creation of monitoring tools and provide transparency and knowledge to stakeholders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics
  • Biomedical Research*
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.) / organization & administration*
  • Peer Review, Research / methods*
  • Peer Review, Research / standards
  • United States