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OPE Peer Reviewers: Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. What are the responsibilities of peer reviewers?
  2. How are peer reviewers selected?
  3. What are the qualifications and our expectations of peer reviewers?
  4. What are the benefits of being a peer reviewer?
  5. What is the time commitment for participating in a review?
  6. How do I apply to be a peer reviewer?
  7. Is there a deadline to register as a peer reviewer?
  8. Who do I contact if I have a question?

1. What are the responsibilities of peer reviewers?

The primary responsibilities of reviewers are to participate in the OPE program orientations and trainings, and to read and evaluate applications. This is done utilizing U.S. Department of Education scoring and selection criteria worksheets, forms and documents prepared for the review, as well as participating in discussions with fellow reviewers when applicable. Each reviewer must commit to providing detailed, objective, constructive, and timely written reviews for each assigned application. These reviews will be used to recommend applications for funding. They will also be shared with each applicant following the reviews; reviewers are anonymous and are not identified to applicants. Most reviews are conducted electronically, so travel will not be necessary. Selected peer reviewers will receive a copy of each assigned application electronically. Occasionally, hard copies of applications may be mailed. Peer reviewers will assess applications at their home or office and enter comments and scores for each application electronically into the Department's online database. Panel discussions of assigned applications will generally be conducted through pre-scheduled conference calls that require the participation of all panel members. All scores and comments must be entered into the online database by the date designated by the U.S. Department of Education program staff.

When travel is necessary, the Department provides peer reviewers with roundtrip travel, lodging, and meal allowances.

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2. How are peer reviewers selected?

Reviewer selection is determined for each grant competition through a needs analysis that assesses the overall pool of applications and one that ensures reviewers are broadly representative of the applicant pool. Reviewers are selected for competitions based on education and experience specific to a grant competition. Once a new reviewer candidate has applied, and it is determined that the reviewer’s background is appropriate for a competition, an OPE representative will contact that person to confirm availability to participate in a particular review. We often have more peer reviewer applicants than we need for a year, but will maintain all applications in our database for future reviews. Interested persons must be deemed qualified for a particular reading, indicate their availability for a reading, and be selected before they actually become a reviewer.

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3. What are the qualifications and our expectations of peer reviewers?

We seek a diverse group of people with expertise in a variety of relevant areas and ability to objectively assess the quality of grant applications. Reviewers are held to high-standards of writing and the paramount responsibility of preserving the integrity of the review (by omitting or reporting potential bias, or conflicts of interest). Reviewers should be comfortable reading a large volume of material in a defined period of time and be capable of providing in-depth individual analysis, and/or participating in small group discussions about the applications.

  • A Bachelor’s degree is required, Masters or Doctorate degree preferred for most programs
  • At least two years of full time, professional or managerial experience in education, or experience and training relevant to the program that is in need of a reviewer, such as a background in innovation and technology
  • Ability to efficiently organize and evaluate information and prepare reports
  • Ability to work independently and as a member of a diverse team of professionals
  • Ability to travel to Washington, DC, depending on the grant program
  • Access to a phone, computer/printer and the Internet, depending on the grant program
  • [Note, this position is reimbursed as a non-benefit, part-time contract non-federal employee.]

We are especially interested in individuals with the following qualifications:

International Education

  • Teaching, research, and practical experience in international education
  • Recent experience in administering international education programs or programs of a similar nature
  • Research, and/or practical experience overseas in international education
  • Area studies and/or foreign language specialization
  • When accessing the “Reviewer Specialization Information” page in the G5 system, select the "Preferences" tab, and use the dropdown list to choose those related to International Education. This step helps us to identify peer reviewers interested in evaluating and scoring applications for international programs.

Special Needs Education

  • Expertise/experience in postsecondary programs/services for students with disabilities, across all areas of the disability spectrum.
  • When accessing the “Reviewer Specialization Information” page in the G5 system, select “Disabilities and Rehabilitation Services.” This step helps us to identify peer reviewers interested in evaluating and scoring applications for these specific programs.
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4. What are the benefits of being a peer reviewer?

Participating in a review is an excellent professional development opportunity, as well as a chance to serve the education community. OPE provides training and preparation, as well as individual support for each review. You will be exposed to new and innovative ideas in your field and engaged in the grant-making process while meeting and networking with other experts in your profession. The review experience also provides an in-depth look at the work and efforts of a grant evaluation process; this provides perspective and skills that are applicable in other professional endeavors.

Most reviewers, with the exception of federal employees, receive a modest compensation for their participation in the grant review. Peer reviewers will receive a flat fee honorarium and, in some cases, a stipend for supplies (paper and ink) for the entire review period based on the established number of reading days and applications. Since the number of reading days and applications to be reviewed may vary, reviewers will be informed of the amount of the honorarium at the time of they are selected to be a reviewer.

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5. What is the time commitment for participating in a review?

OPE’s grant application review process is a time-intensive and time-sensitive activity. The components of a review and an estimate for the amount of time each item takes are as follows:

  • two to four hours for orientation conference calls and overview of instructions for each review
  • three to seven hours per application reviewed (reading, completing all documents, entering assessments into G5, participating in panel discussions, and reviewing and certifying final forms)
  • The total time commitment ranges from 30 hours over a five-day period to 60 hours over a 15-day period.
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6. How do I apply to be a peer reviewer?

All peer reviewer applicants will need to have a G5 account to apply. If you are a new applicant and do not have a G5 account, you can create one via the G5 Home page at www.g5.gov. Just click on the "Not Registered? Sign up." link and follow these next steps:

  1. Upon logging in, select "My Profile" under the “Main” tab in the top navigation bar;
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page, select “Reviewer” in the Available Type list, and click "Continue";
  3. Complete your reviewer profile tabs to the left of the page;
  4. Submit your resume through this online process. Please ensure your resume (maximum of five pages) includes a brief list of career highlights and/or outlines your specific expertise;
  5. Make sure to “Submit” your inputs upon completion.

If you already have an account in G5, please follow these steps:

  1. Log into G5 at www.g5.gov. If you do not recall your password, clink on the "Forgot Password" link and follow the password reset steps;
  2. Upon logging in, select "My Profile" under the "Main" tab and follow steps 2-4 from above.

Again, if your education and expertise align with a particular competition, an OPE representative will contact you by e-mail to confirm your availability.

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7. Is there a deadline to register as a peer reviewer?

We invite you to complete the Online Reviewer Application at any time. OPE staff regularly review submitted applications and determine if your experiences match the expertise needed for specific program reviews.

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8. Who do I contact if I have a question?

If you have specific questions about the content of the Online Reviewer Application, or additional questions about the review experience, please call OPE’s main telephone line, 202-453-6914.

Should you have a question or need assistance specifically when using the G5 system, please contact G5 Hotline at 888-336-8930 or edcapsuser@ed.gov.

Applicants shall follow all ED guidelines to avoid conflicts of interest as outlined in Chapter 3.5 from the Handbook for the Discretionary Grants Process and Grants Policy Bulletin 13-01.

Back to OPE Peer Reviewers page

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Last Modified: 03/08/2016