Guidelines for Communication Scholars as Reviewers for National Funding Agencies
The time is right to seek funding for communication scholarship for two reasons. First, communication research, in the social sciences as well as the humanities, is gaining in visibility due to the relevance of critical areas of study such as risk communication, health communication, deception, and critical and cultural studies. Second, at the campus level, expectations to seek extramural funding are increasing for scholars other than those in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). These two factors suggest that opportunities and expectations now exist for communication scholars to seek and gain funding for their research. However, many of our scholars have neither been mentored nor acculturated into the “funding culture.”
One way for communication scholars to become involved in funded research and to promote awareness of the breadth and depth of our discipline’s research among funding agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) is to serve as reviewers of grant proposals to these agencies. Each of these agencies approach reviewing somewhat differently, so the best idea is to consult the websites listed below for details
Qualifications for Reviewers
First, the main qualification for serving as a reviewer is experience as a researcher and having published research in peer-reviewed outlets. Those running review panels will typically pull vitae or do a citation search for reviewers they are considering. . While previous funding by the agency may be preferred, it is not always a pre-requisite. Second, some funding agencies prefer to have reviewers at different levels of seniority and others are looking for more senior scholars. Third, of course funding agencies are looking for scholars who have the subject matter and methodological expertise to match the proposals they need to have reviewed. Program Directors at the major funding agencies often point to participation in reviewing as a first step in the process of learning to write effective grants and proposals. If you review proposals you begin to see what it takes to prepare a good one.
Reviewing for funding agencies is an important service and opportunity for communication scholars. Slater, Viswanath and Buller (2005) explain, “If a reviewer is well-versed methodologically and sophisticated substantively, is open to good ideas no matter what their disciplinary origin, and is committed to seeing quality work move forward regardless of discipline, that reviewer will earn the personal respect of a distinguished group of interdisciplinary colleagues, and will do a great deal to enhance the reputation of our field.”
To Become a Reviewer
Individuals interested in serving as a review should consult the websites of the agency for information. The websites of each agency provides a description of the various programs and the type of research each funds.
National Institutes of Health: Contact the Center for Scientific Review: http://www.csr.nih.gov
National Science Foundation: Contact Program officers or directors of review panels: http://www.nsf.gov/events/advisory.jsp
National Endowment for the Humanities: Scholars in the humanities may register to serve as a reviewer directly with NEH. Log on to the National Endowment for the Humanities Panelist and Reviewer Information System and enter your information: http://securegrants.neh.gov/PrismNew/(h4xovsylo0bu1m2obiemdcai)/login.aspx
The Research Board of the National Communication Association has developed a database of reviewers for each of the three funding agencies and is issuing a call for qualified scholars to submit their vita and a form outlining their background to serve as a reviewer.
For more ore information consult the NCA Research Board website: or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Slater, M. D., Viswanath, K, & Buller, D. (2005). Reviewing grant proposals for communication scholars. Unpublished document, available from the National Communication Association.