June 2002 Bulletin

OREF’s peer review process

Grant applications receive thorough review

For more than 45 years, the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) has supported advancements in orthopaedics through educational and research grants to individuals, institutions, and orthopaedic organizations. Some of this research has contributed to important developments in the practice of orthopaedics, benefiting practitioners and their patients. Many OREF grant recipients have gone on to conduct significant research later in their careers, and a number have assumed positions of leadership in the Academy, academic institutions and specialty societies.

In 2001, OREF received 270 grant applications requesting more than $14.7 million dollars in funding. In order to properly select which proposals to fund, OREF evaluates their scientific merit through a careful peer review process that is modeled after the process used by the National Institutes of Health, including ‘key criteria’ and the scoring system.

Grant application submission and review

OREF grant applications are accepted in August of each year. Every application is assigned a primary and secondary reviewer from the members of the Peer Review Committee most knowledgeable in the applicant’s field of work. Each application for the Career Development Award—one of OREF’s most prestigious awards—is assigned three reviewers. All Committee members evaluate and score each application individually (unless there is a conflict of interest), but only the primary and secondary reviewers are responsible for preparing a written critique of the application.

In November, members of the Peer Review Committee meet to evaluate the applications, breaking into subcommittees to discuss and review the projects by category. Evaluations are made according to the following eight key criteria:

Following the discussion, scores are collected, and the applications ranked. Every Committee member scores each applicant on the scientific merit of the project. Scores are then tallied and an average score is computed for each applicant. The lowest score receives the first ranking; the second lowest score receives the second ranking, etc.

Grants Awarded

While applicants are understandably anxious to know the results immediately, funding is not based solely on the scores and ranking received from the Peer Review Committee. Rather, funding is contingent upon the amount of money raised by the Foundation each year through the Annual Campaign, as well as funds available through the Endowment. The final determination of funds available for distribution in a given year is made only after the OREF books are closed in January.

The Foundation’s Board of Trustees meets during the February/March AAOS Annual Meeting to determine recipients and announce awards for the year. The recommendations of the Peer Review Committee are presented to the Board at that time. Decisions made by the Board of Trustees are then communicated to the investigator.

Work in Progress

The Peer Review Committee continues to play a role throughout the projects’ funding. Committee members review progress reports at the nine-month mark, and each year thereafter. Prior to the second year and each subsequent year of funding, multiple-year grants are again approved by the OREF Board, and are based upon the evaluation of the reviewers.

Conclusion of the Project

At the conclusion of all OREF funded research, investigators must submit two final reports: one for the scientific community and one written in lay terms. The primary reviewer evaluates the project one final time through an examination of the final report.

OREF is grateful for the tremendous commitment of its Peer Review Committee members. Through their significant commitment of time, knowledge, and energy, OREF has been able to fund more than 1,600 grants and awards totaling over $47.5 million in quality orthopaedic research over the past five decades. The Foundation is also grateful for the many supporters whose generosity makes these grants possible.

For more information on the various grants offered by OREF, or to download an application, log on to the foundation’s Web site at www.oref.org, and click on "grants."

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