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Canada’s scientists demand end to online peer-review ‘experiment’

More than 1,000 researchers have called on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to suspend the roll-out of its online peer-review system and reinstate face-to-face meetings of review panels.

The researchers signed a letter to federal health minister Jane Philpott, dated 27 June, which said that they were alarmed at how the recent first use of the online system to review applications for CIHR’s Project Grants scheme was turning out.

The agency scrambled to find enough reviewers, some of whom turned out not to be qualified, and was late in sending applications to the reviewers, they said. Around 15 per cent of reviews were not submitted by the deadline, and the virtual chairs, who were tasked with guiding the process, complained of poor quality reviews, and that some reviewers did not take part in the online discussions of applications.

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