How to Participate in the Peer Review Process
by Kathy Steligo
Peer review is one component of cancer advocacy. It is the process by which research proposals submitted to funding agencies are scored to determine which projects are ultimately funded. Many funding agencies now include consumers in the peer review process. Some agencies only allow people who have been diagnosed with cancer to participate. The Department of Defense, one of the largest funding agencies for breast and ovarian cancer, requires cancer survivors to sit as peer reviewers on all research funding reviews.
The review process involves a panel of researchers who reviews and scores each proposal according to its scientific merits. Consumers, who may not need any formal training to participate, are asked to rate the relevance or importance of proposals, without necessarily evaluating a proposal’s scientific merits.
Opportunities to Participate
- The nonprofit Research Advocacy Network is devoted to consumer advocate participation in research. The Network maintains a list of consumer participation opportunities for national organizations involved in research.
- The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is working to place ovarian cancer education, policy and research issues prominently on the agendas of national policy makers and women’s healthcare leaders.
- Local funding organizations and hospitals may need consumer input for research projects as well. Contact volunteer services at your local cancer center to inquire about advocacy opportunities.
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