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Sponsor's Review of Proposals

Sponsors use several different kinds of evaluation procedures depending on the kind of organization and the policies and procedures governing their operations. Some of the more common kinds of sponsor review procedures are discussed below.

Peer Review

Many public sector organizations like the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Endowment for the Humanities use peer reviewers selected from faculty across the country who are acknowledged experts in the subject area. These agencies send copies of the proposal to the faculty reviewers for independent evaluation and scoring. The results of these reviews are then rank ordered and a determination is made on how many can be funded based on the basis of the sponsor's total allocated funds. Faculty members should ask to see the results of these evaluations. Should one's proposal be rejected, the evaluations are extremely valuable in reviewing the original proposal and learning how the proposal can be strengthened for submission in the next funding cycle. Office of Sponsored Projects staff can assist faculty in the revision and re-submission of these proposals.

Non-Peer Review

Many private sponsor organizations use their own Board of Directors or an internal review committee to evaluate proposals. These sponsors do not use a peer review system but do publish extensive guidelines on the criteria used to evaluate proposal submissions. Sometimes these sponsors will release a summation of comments or suggestions on why a particular project was not funded. These summary comments can be helpful in revising and resubmitting an application to the sponsor. However, these sponsors will usually only honor written requests for the release of this information.

Private Foundations

Private foundations' funding decisions are often significantly affected by the reputation of the applying institution, the reputation of the faculty member, or the previous experience the foundation has had with a particular researcher or officer of the institution. Staff from the OSP and the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations can assist faculty in approaching these organizations for feedback about funding decisions.

Military Review

Review of proposals submitted to the Department of Defense agencies (Army, Navy, and Air Force) are evaluated in a number of different ways varying from individual approval by the administrative head of the agency to extensive reviews by a board of peers. Faculty applying to these agencies should contact the program officer in the agency to understand the review process for that particular agency. Faculty should then contact the individuals responsible for programmatic decisions within these agencies to understand the evaluation process for that agency.

Last Updated: 10/28/09