Funder Review

The Review Process

After submission, proposals are received by the funder and undergo standard eligibility and compliance checking. From there, most go on to some form of peer review. In proposal writing, as opposed to manuscript writing, it is critical to understand the review process and the review criteria. This will help you to write with the reviewers in mind, thus producing a competitive proposal.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to serve as a reviewer yourself. By serving as a reviewer you:

  • Improve your grantsmanship
  • Learn what makes a proposal successful
  • Build and maintain professional contacts
  • Keep abreast of your field
  • Become a better mentor
  • Give back to the scientific community
  • Shape the future of science

Below you will find information on some federal agencies review process as well as volunteering as a federal agency reviewer. You may also volunteer to review RII’s internal grants and limited submissions.

Volunteer to be a reviewer for RDS

Learn about the proposal review process and how to volunteer to be a reviewer at individual agencies.

Proposal Review at Other Agencies

Video Resources


NSF’s merit review process determines which research has the greatest potential
Written and produced by Cliff Braverman and Amina Khan at the National Science Foundation, Published on YouTube, June 21, 2014, by the National Science Foundation:


Jumpstart Your Research Career with CSR’s Early Career Reviewer Program

Produced by the Center for Scientific Review, Published on YouTube, February 24, 2020 by NIH:

NIH Peer Review Process Revealed 

Published on YouTube, November 9, 2021 as a recording from the 2021 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding & Grants Administration

NIH Tips for Applicants

Produced by the Center for Scientific Review and NIH Division of Events Management Multi Media Department and Rocket Media Group, Published on YouTube, June 14, 2010, by NIHOD:

More NIH Video Resources


Crafting a Competitive NEH Proposal

Published on YouTube, March 8, 2018, by Duke Franklin Humanities Institute:

Note video is 1:16:49 (h:mm:ss) in length. Time stamps relevant to the NEH review process are:

15:58   Evaluation Criteria for NEH proposals
17:21   Remember your audience and write well
19:16   Ingredients of a strong narrative
27:01   Specialist language and the review committee dynamic
29:30   Reviewer selection and review process at the NEH
34:15   Digital Humanities selection process
41:48   How do reviewers assess the “timeline” or “work plan”
49:29   Do some proposals promise too little?
55:55   Budget: what do reviewers notice?

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