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  Information for Student Reviewers

Some simple rules for reviewing manuscripts and proposals.

ALL information in a manuscript or proposal is privileged. You should keep the information to yourself or request permission from the program manager or editor (in this case the faculty advisor of the panel) before showing it or discussing it with someone else. 

If you feel you have a conflict of interest, let the program manager or faculty advisor know. A conflict of interest may be that you received a proposal from someone that you work closely with, or may be your roommate’s proposal. If you do not feel that you can provide an objective review, don’t review the proposal.

Your review should be constructive. In other words writing a comment that says “this is a poorly written proposal” is of no help to the panel and of no help to the investigator who will be receiving your written comments. Be very specific and focus on the larger issues rather than picking out every single error.

Indicate the strong points of the proposal as well as the weaknesses.

Begin the review with your concept of the goal. 

When making a criticism, don’t attack the investigator – for instance: Joe should have known better than to say that – it's false and absurd. Instead you might say: “Evidence from other studies (cite them) does not support Joe’s statements."

Respond in a timely fashion.

Keep a copy of your review and your notes; you may be asked to review something for the same scientist at a later date.

If a proposal is outside your area of expertise, you should still be able to understand the introduction, the objectives, and the rationale. If the proposal is written clearly, you should also be able to determine if the objectives are addressed in the methods, even if you are not necessarily familiar with the details of the methods.

Following is a list of what should appear in each proposal.

The Project Description section should contain the following components:

  • Introduction: The objectives of the proposed study should be stated, including hypotheses to be tested.
  • Rationale and Significance: The rationale (underlying basis) of the proposed studies should be presented. The significance of the proposed research in regards to agricultural, food, or environmental issues (such as production efficiency, economic viability, social impacts, and environmental quality) should be presented. A summary of the most significant research published and current status of the area of the proposed research should be given.

The Research Methods section must include the following sections:

  • Design and Research Approach: A detailed description of the design and research approach should be given. If appropriate, a statistical model appropriate for analysis of the data to be collected should be presented. Sample sizes should be stated.
  • Methods: An outline of the methods/techniques to be used should be presented.
  • Analysis or Interpretation of Data: The means by which the data will be statistically analyzed and interpreted should be presented. A statement of Expected Results may be included in this subsection.
  • Means of Applying Results: Are presentations planned? Are papers to be published?
  • Potential Pitfalls and/or limitations of the proposed research: Are proposed procedures available or to be developed? If more than one objective is presented, are subsequent objectives dependent on success of the first objective? 

The References section should list only peer-reviewed articles, books, or reports cited in the proposal. Citations should be in an accepted journal format. 

Schedule of Activities: Is the schedule of activities presented reasonable and achievable in the time-frame of the grant proposal?

The Budget section must be itemized. The budget may contain items for materials and supplies, travel, publication costs, and other expenses. Salaries, stipends, tuition, and fees cannot be included in the budget. Expenses should be justified by the proposal. A subsection of budget justification may be included. The maximum award is $5,000 for Ph.D. students and $3,000 for M.S. students. If resources are being provided from other sources, it should be shown in the matching funds columns. The budget should reflect the work to be completed in the timeline that is outlined. 

The Budget Justification should break down the broader categories in the budget. For instance, materials and supplies to be purchased include laboratory disposables such as sample bags, pipettes, gloves, and field markers, $700. Travel is requested at $1,200 and includes one trip to ASAE national conference to present results, $900; $300 is requested for local trips to and from Piketon; 5 trips @ $60 each.

The Location, Facilities, and Equipment section should indicate where the research is to be conducted and what equipment and facilities will be available to conduct the proposed research. Research projects are not restricted to the Columbus or Wooster campuses of OARDC. They must be conducted under the guidance of the student’s faculty advisor, however.

The Curriculum Vitae (Resume) section must be included. The C.V. is limited to two pages and should include:

  • Education history
  • Employment history
  • Honors and Awards
  • Publications