The Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC) is an external peer review committee that evaluates Division of Intramural (DIR) scientists on the basis of accomplishments since their last peer review, although careful consideration is also given to future plans. The BSC review evaluates an individual research program’s long-term objectives, accomplishments, innovation, relevance to the NIEHS mission and overall quality and impact. The review includes an evaluation of both the Laboratory/Branch leadership and the research performed by independent investigators. Each DIR Laboratory/Branch is subjected to this rigorous scientific review at least once every four years.
The BSC peer review also evaluates candidates for tenure, as well as scientists occupying tenure-track positions at the midpoint of their appointments. The BSC advises the Scientific Director on the following issues:
- overall scientific direction of the Laboratory/Branch research program of the under review and new directions that could be considered interactions and synergism of research within the Laboratory and the institute
- relevance of research to mission of NIEHS
- administration of the program
- allocation of resources
- tenure actions under consideration
BSC evaluations of individual investigators will address:
- quality of the research project(s), past accomplishments, productivity and future directions
- significance of research and relevance to NIEHS mission
- research innovation
- collaborations/interactions with other NIEHS scientists
- level of resources (i.e., space, budget, and personnel) supplied to the investigator
- mentoring and training of fellows
To address these issues in a systematic manner, the NIH has proposed the following evaluation criteria:
Have the investigator’s studies addressed important problems? Are the aims of the project(s) being achieved? Is scientific knowledge being advanced, and are the projects affecting the concepts or methods that drive this field?
In general are the approaches well conceived? When problem areas arose, were reasonable alternative tactics used?
Do the projects use novel concepts, approaches, or methods? Are the aims original and innovative? Does the project challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?
Is the investigator taking advantage of the special features of the NIEHS/NIH Intramural scientific environment or employing useful collaborative arrangements?
Is the support the investigator received appropriate?
Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out the projects being pursued? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and other researchers (if any)?
Considering the investigator’s other responsibilities (e.g., service or administrative), how would you rate his or her overall research productivity?
Recommendations to NIEHS Leadership
Is the investigator providing appropriate training and mentoring for more junior investigators? Recommendations about resources should be as explicit as possible, with a clear indication of which resources (budget, space, personnel) should remain the same, be increased, or be decreased.