What is double-blind and why are we piloting this scheme?

A double-blind review is one in which both the grant applicant and the reviewer do not know each other’s identity.

Research has shown that factors other than scientific merit can influence how reviewers score a grant, or judge a paper. Factors like perceived gender or ethnicity,1-3 the seniority or past success of the applicant or author,4,5 or where a researcher is based6 can unwittingly change how people assess the quality of a grant or paper.

Analysis of our internal data, which will be published soon,7 shows that women have received disproportionately fewer grants through our application process, particularly for grants aimed at senior career stages. This is true despite there being a healthy pipeline of female early career researchers successfully obtaining our fellowships.

To minimise the influence of external biases, we will be piloting double-blind review. We are committed to provide a fair review process that focusses primarily on scientific quality and the potential for impact on people with dementia.

Other similar work 

Piloting double-blind review is another part of the work that Alzheimer’s Research UK has undertaken over the last couple of years aiming to improve our processes, to provide better opportunities for all our researchers, and to foster a healthier research culture. You can read more about these efforts on the pages about Narrative CVs, our Early Career Researcher portal, and how we think about impact and metrics in research evaluation.

 

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0169534707002704
  2. https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.2113067119
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-020-0658-y
  4. https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.1719557115
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11192-017-2264-7
  6. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2556112
  7. Link to be added after publication