Distrust in grant peer review — reasons and remedies
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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With the increasing reliance on competitive grants to fund research, we see a review system under pressure. While peer review has long been perceived as the cornerstone of self-governance in science, researchers have expressed distrust in the peer review procedures of funding agencies. This paper draws on literature pointing out ability, benevolence, and integrity as important for trustworthiness and explores the conditions under which researchers have confidence in grant review. Based on rich survey material, we find that researchers trust grant reviewers far less than they trust journal peer reviewers or their colleagues’ ability to assess their research. Yet, scholars who have success with grant proposals or serve on grant review panels appear to have more trust in grant reviewers. We conclude that transparency and reviewers with field competencies are crucial for trust in grant review and discuss how this can be ensured.