Volkswagen Foundation introduces experimental Distributed Peer Review

Supported by RoRI researchers, the Foundation will run an experiment in parallel to its standard selection of proposals

With the latest call ‘Open Up – New Research Spaces for the Humanities and Cultural Studies’, the Volkswagen Foundation continues its commitment to trialing and evaluating innovations in research funding.

Supported by researchers from RoRI, the Foundation will run an experiment in Distributed Peer Review in parallel to the conventional Panel Review which is standard for selection of proposals to the Foundation. 

In Distributed Peer Review, applicants for funding review each other’s proposals. Such schemes have the potential to improve the speed and quality of feedback available to applicants, as well as increasing the stability and expertise of reviews, since a larger pool of reviewers is available, and each proposal is reviewed a greater number of times. 

The Foundation has made funds available to fund proposals selected by both the conventional Panel Review and Distributed Peer Review mechanisms. This ensures that no applicant or discipline will be disadvantaged by the trial. The parallel tracks also allow a formal comparison of the two mechanisms in terms of quality, efficiency and consistency. A full report of the evaluation will be published. 

The Volkswagen Foundation is committed to supporting, generating and using evidence on how research funding can be made more efficient, effective and equitable. 

We are looking at how to make research funding more efficient, effective and fair.

Tom Stafford, RoRI Senior Research Fellow, said: “Good funder experiments take rigour and imagination. It’s exciting to be part of a project which is able to draw on both, from across the RoRI network of expertise. Together we’ll be able to support more, better, experiments and use of experimental evidence to improve research funding.”

The Volkswagen Foundation added: “We are looking at how to make research funding more efficient, effective and fair. With this experiment, we look forward to contributing to the wider debate on the review system.”