NIH peer review percentile scores are poorly predictive of grant productivity

Ferric C. Fang, Anthony Bowen, Arturo Casadevall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Peer review is widely used to assess grant applications so that the highest ranked applications can be funded. A number of studies have questioned the ability of peer review panels to predict the productivity of applications, but a recent analysis of grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US found that the percentile scores awarded by peer review panels correlated with productivity as measured by citations of grant-supported publications. Here, based on a re-analysis of these data for the 102,740 funded grants with percentile scores of 20 or better, we report that these percentile scores are a poor discriminator of productivity. This underscores the limitations of peer review as a means of assessing grant applications in an era when typical success rates are often as low as about 10%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13323
Issue numberFEBRUARY2016
StatePublished - Feb 16 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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