PCORI's Merit Review Process is unlike that of any other U.S. research funder, bringing together patients and others with a stake in the research, along with research experts. To ensure that the benefits of the very different perspectives were realized and to ensure ongoing merit review program quality PCORI has actively evaluated the process and outcomes of merit review. Funding applicants are asked about their experiences with the PCORI application process while reviewers are asked about their view of the process and how we can make it better.

We continue to use information from our ongoing surveys of PCORI applicants and reviewers to streamline the application process overall and guide us in fine-tuning our merit review process. We have used focus groups with reviewers to solicit in-depth feedback about ways to improve the training and resources PCORI provides. We have analyzed reviewer critiques in depth to understand how different types of reviewers view the applications. We analyze review scores to understand the role each of the PCORI merit review criteria plays in evaluation of funding applications and the impact of including patients and other stakeholders in review of health research funding applications. All this work has led to changes intended to improve the process and ensure that the most promising research is funded.

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