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Assessment of potential bias in research grant peer review in Canada

Overview of attention for article published in CMAJ, April 2018
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (97th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
8 news outlets
blogs
5 blogs
twitter
365 tweeters
facebook
2 Facebook pages
reddit
1 Redditor

Readers on

mendeley
13 Mendeley
Title
Assessment of potential bias in research grant peer review in Canada
Published in
CMAJ, April 2018
DOI 10.1503/cmaj.170901
Pubmed ID
Authors

Robyn Tamblyn, Nadyne Girard, Christina J. Qian, James Hanley

Abstract

Peer review is used to determine what research is funded and published, yet little is known about its effectiveness, and it is suspected that there may be biases. We investigated the variability of peer review and factors influencing ratings of grant applications. We evaluated all grant applications submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research between 2012 and 2014. The contribution of application, principal applicant and reviewer characteristics to overall application score was assessed after adjusting for the applicant's scientific productivity. Among 11 624 applications, 66.2% of principal applicants were male and 64.1% were in a basic science domain. We found a significant nonlinear association between scientific productivity and final application score that differed by applicant gender and scientific domain, with higher scores associated with past funding success and h-index and lower scores associated with female applicants and those in the applied sciences. Significantly lower application scores were also associated with applicants who were older, evaluated by female reviewers only (v. male reviewers only, -0.05 points, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.08 to -0.02) or reviewers in scientific domains different from the applicant's (-0.07 points, 95% CI -0.11 to -0.03). Significantly higher application scores were also associated with reviewer agreement in application score (0.23 points, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.26), the existence of reviewer conflicts (0.09 points, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.11), larger budget requests (0.01 points per $100 000, 95% CI 0.007 to 0.02), and resubmissions (0.15 points, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.17). In addition, reviewers with high expertise were more likely than those with less expertise to provide higher scores to applicants with higher past success rates (0.18 points, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.28). There is evidence of bias in peer review of operating grants that is of sufficient magnitude to change application scores from fundable to nonfundable. This should be addressed by training and policy changes in research funding.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 365 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 13 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 13 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Researcher 2 15%
Professor 1 8%
Unknown 10 77%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Unspecified 1 8%
Environmental Science 1 8%
Social Sciences 1 8%
Unknown 10 77%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 343. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 11 July 2018.
All research outputs
#24,758
of 11,483,896 outputs
Outputs from CMAJ
#51
of 5,323 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#1,471
of 244,269 outputs
Outputs of similar age from CMAJ
#3
of 120 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 11,483,896 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 5,323 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 21.8. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 244,269 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 120 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its contemporaries.