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Many institutions evaluate applications for local seed funding by recruiting peer reviewers from their own institutional community. Smaller institutions, however, often face difficulty locating qualified local reviewers who are not in conflict with the proposal. As a larger pool of reviewers may be accessed through a cross-institutional collaborative process, nine Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) hubs formed a consortium in 2016 to facilitate reviewer exchanges. Data were collected to evaluate the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of the consortium.
The CTSA External Reviewer Exchange Consortium (CEREC) has been supported by a custom-built web-based application that facilitates the process and tracks the efficiency and productivity of the exchange.
All nine of the original CEREC members remain actively engaged in the exchange. Between January 2017 and May 2019, CEREC supported the review process for 23 individual calls for proposals. Out of the 412 reviews requested, 368 were received, for a fulfillment ratio of 89.3%. The yield on reviewer invitations has remained consistently high, with approximately one-third of invitations being accepted, and of the reviewers who agreed to provide a review, 88.3% submitted a complete review. Surveys of reviewers and pilot program administrators indicate high satisfaction with the process.
These data indicate that a reviewer exchange consortium is feasible, adds value to participating partners, and is sustainable over time.
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