Serving on scientific and proposal review committees is one of the best ways to learn first-hand how to develop and craft strong proposals. It also provides insight on the award decision-making process from the sponsor's perspective, and helps to understand the most common mistakes found in proposals. One of the essential benefits of serving on scientific and proposal review committees is that it affords an opportunity to build relationships with other colleagues and program officers.
Fortunately, federal agencies require thousands of reviewers each year, and are always seeking reviewers with applicable expertise. While some agencies collect the names of potential reviewers year round, others may put out calls for specific programs.
The following is a listing of opportunities to serve on review committees from various federal agency sites:
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH) - The NIH peer review system is the foundation of the NIH extramural research enterprise, and its continued excellence depends on the ability to recruit and retain the most accomplished, broad-thinking and creative scientists and experts to serve as peer reviewers. Such qualified individuals are needed to serve on scientific review groups in the initial peer review of applications.
How to become a reviewer: Individuals who possess expertise in areas supported by the NIH and who wish to volunteer to serve in the NIH peer review process should send an e-mail to the Enhancing Peer Review Mailbox (ReviewerVolunteer@mail.nih.gov) along with a brief description of their areas of expertise in the body of the e-mail (1-2 sentences) and a copy of their biosketch as an attachment.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (NSF) - The success of the peer review process, which enables NSF to make wise investments in all fields of science and engineering research and education, depends on the willingness of qualified reviewers to share their time and expertise. Their experience and up-to-date knowledge provides helpful advice to NSF program officer on the merits of proposals and constructive comments to proposers that strengthen their projects. In making its decisions on proposals, the counsel of these merit reviewers has proven invaluable to the Foundation in the identification of meritorious projects.
How to become a reviewer: Send an e-mail to the NSF program officer(s) of the program(s) that fits your expertise letting them know that you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer. Include an up-to-date CV and current contact information. Click here to find the NSF Program Officer that best fits your expertise/field.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement, is interested in individuals to serve as peer reviewers for future Investing in Innovation (i3) grant competitions.
How to become a reviewer: Reviewers must have expertise in at least one of the programs' priority areas or in educational evaluation. For details in those priority areas, click here. In addition to the expertise requirements, peer reviewers must generally be available for a 4-week time period and will work remotely and via teleconference. If interested, follow the directions in this link to register yourself in the DOE online peer reviewer database.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - The International and Foreign Language Education office (IFLE) of the U.S. Department of Education administers a variety of international education programs. IFLE continually seeks qualified individuals, in particular, world language and area/international studies specialists, to serve as readers for grant competitions.
Selected readers participate in a panel review of applications and are provided with modest compensation. Most reviews are conducted electronically via the Department’s G5 system and travel will not be necessary. In cases where travel is necessary, readers are provided with roundtrip travel, lodging, and per diem. The review process involves orientation, reading of applications, and regularly scheduled discussions with other panelists. Application scores are based on pre-determined selection criteria and any announced priorities for each program. Panel reviews normally last one to two weeks.
Individuals with the following qualifications are encouraged to apply:
Teaching, research, and practical experience in international education
Recent experience in administering international education programs, or programs of a similar nature
Research, and/or practical experience overseas in international education
Area studies and/or foreign language specialization
Generally, private foundations do not call for external reviewers as they typically use reviewers that are in-house. If information regarding external reviewers for private foundations becomes available, we will add it here.