Review procedures

Review procedures

There is a single annual competition for Research Grant awards. Review of research grant applications is performed in two stages: applicants must first submit a letter of intent via the HFSP web site, with a deadline around the end of March/beginning of April. After review of the letters of intent, invitations are issued in early July to the teams selected to submit full applications. Full applications are then due around the middle of September.

HFSP is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA) which we consider to be an incentive to evaluate research proposals on the basis of their content and not solely by the criterion of Journal Impact Factors (JIF). Reviewers at all stages of the HFSP grant application process are advised that they should consider the quality of the research published and/or proposed in an application. While productivity may be an important factor, the assessment will be based on the content of articles and not the JIF. Furthermore HFSP reviewers are asked to consider the influence of candidates’ publications in advancing knowledge in a given field (or throughout biology).

The letters of intent are first examined by the Secretariat for formal eligibility and consistency with the scope of the Program as outlined in the application Guidelines. Letters of intent that are considered out of scope by three Scientific Directors are sent to the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Grant Review Committee. If both concur then the letter of intent does not enter the review procedure and the Principal Applicant is informed as soon as possible. Only letters of intent that have received five negative opinions are eliminated, the others are returned to the competition ‘unmarked’. Thereafter each eligible letter of intent is sent to two review committee members who are asked to classify the applications according to interdisciplinarity, novelty and innovation, need for collaboration. Importance is given to innovative approaches for cutting edge science. Interdisciplinarity is often an important criterion and HFSP actively encourages participation of scientists from physics, chemistry, informatics, nanoscience and engineering in research into frontier biological questions. A smaller Selection Committee then meets to discuss the review committee's ratings and issues the invitations for full applications. The Selection Committee consists of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Review Committee and members taken from past or present Review Committees or the HFSP Council of Scientists. Currently about 9% of teams submitting letters of intent are invited to submit full applications.

See HERE for members of the selection committee for the 2019 award round.

Each full application is reviewed by two members of the Review Committee and by expert opinions solicited from the scientific community. Every effort is made to obtain at least three independent external reviews per application. The Review Committee members submit their evaluations to the HFSP Secretariat before the committee meets. In cases where the opinions of the two Review Committee members assigned to an application differ significantly the application is sent to a third member. The committee members are also asked to read all the applications before the meeting to ensure thorough discussion and all full applications are discussed at the meeting. The same criteria are used to evaluate the full applications as were applied for the letters of intent. Between 30 and 35% of full applications are successful.

The Young Investigators' Grants and Program Grants are reviewed as two separate groups but the procedures are identical.

The recommendations of the Review Committee must be approved by members of the Council of Scientists and the Board of Trustees before the awards are announced at the end of March.

See HERE for current members of the Research Grant Review Committee.