Professor Elena Erosheva (UW Statistics and Social Work) and Professor Carole Lee’s (UW Philosophy) project on “NIH peer review: Criterion scores completely account for racial disparities in overall impact scores” appears in Science Advances. This project grew out of the NIH Peer Review prize they won in 2014, and was eventually partly supported by a contract with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a research grant from the National Science Foundation. The interdisciplinary and cross-institutional team included Sheridan Grant, a PhD student in Statistics, and researchers from the Center for Scientific Review at the NIH. 

The project focused on studying the earliest stage of the NIH peer review process where reviewers provide initial criteria and overall scores for applications that are then used to determine which applications go on to the discussion stage for continued consideration. They find racial disparities in the preliminary criterion scores fully explain the racial disparities in the preliminary overall impact scores. In contrast, it does not appear that differences in how reviewers weigh the importance of different preliminary criterion scores explain black-white differences in preliminary overall impact scores.

The study has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education; Chemistry World, the Royal Chemistry Society’s magazine; and STAT News, a sister publication of Boston Globe that is focused on national and international news in biomedicine. 

For more details, please also see the news brief from the School of Social Work.