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Fractured Prism

Welcome to the Fractured Prism. This is my domain (I love the sound of that, kind of like my kingdom), where I will share reflections of the many facets of my life. At the very least, I am a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, homemaker, teacher, counselor, and grant writer. Through the years, I have been professionally cut and polished or just accidental fractured into thousands of pieces and have thoughts about them all. I have found that I am writing for many reasons but mostly to share my small bits of wisdom. Come back often because each reflection will be different. My ultimate goal is to have a place where grant writers, grant reviewers and funders can network. So if you are into grant writing or grant reviewing please leave your name and email. Linda Beason

Peer Reviews

The peer review section is provided for those who are interested in being peer reviewers. I am not sure that all the contact information is current but you can always call the office and get current information.

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Become a Panelist or Peer Reviewer for National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

 
Applications submitted to NEH are evaluated by peer review. Add your name to PRISM, NEH’s database of potential panelists and peer reviewers.

The Panelist/Reviewer Information System (PRISM) is a database of prospective reviewers used by the staff of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH peer review system relies on the advice of humanities scholars and experts in other relevant fields.

Go to this website to register:

https://securegrants.neh.gov/prism/

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2011 Peer Reviewers for Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) needs new and experienced grant reviewers with expertise in

  • Health professions training
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Maternal and child health
  • Organ transplantation
  • Primary care for underserved people
  • Rural health

Grant reviewers help HRSA select the best programs from competitive groups of applicants. Reviewers are chosen for specific grant programs, based on their knowledge, education and experience. Grant review panels are selected to reflect diversity of ethnicity, gender, experience and geography.

Reviewers use their expertise to objectively evaluate and score applications against published evaluation criteria. Reviewers gain understanding of the grant-making process while enjoying the opportunity to network with colleagues.

HRSA grant reviews usually are held in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and last for 3 to 5 days. Some reviews are conducted via teleconference or field reader reviews (a type of objective review approach where reviewers independently review applications from where they are based, with no group discussion of the applications).

HRSA makes all logistical arrangements and pays for travel expenses and other costs. Each reviewer receives an honorarium.

If you have expertise in the areas noted above and are interested in becoming a HRSA Grant Reviewer, you can submit your application by filling out the grant reviewer application at
 

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Serve As An 2011 National Science Foundation Volunteer Peer Reviewer

This came from the NSF website.  I do not see anywhere that mentions a stipend or payment.  This seems to be voluntary (no pay). 

Reviewers are Essential – NSF needs YOU

The success of the peer review process, which enables NSF to make wise investments in all fields of science and engineering research and education, depends on the willingness of qualified reviewers like you to share your time and expertise. Your experience and up-to-date knowledge enables you to provide helpful advice to NSF program officers on the merits of proposals and constructive comments to proposers that strengthen their projects. In making its decisions on proposals, the counsel of these merit reviewers has proven invaluable to the Foundation in the identification of meritorious projects. The Foundation also may ask reviewers to serve on panels, for which NSF pays travel expenses. 

To implement peer review, NSF depends upon the reviewer community for nearly 240,000 reviews per year. We try to limit the number of requests made to any single individual, recognizing the many demands our reviewers have on their time. Therefore, NSF strives to increase both the size and diversity of the pool of reviewers to ensure that the NSF merit review process benefits by receiving broad input from a variety of different perspectives. You can help by volunteering to review proposals in your area of expertise. 

Benefits to You as a Reviewer

In addition to providing a great service to NSF and the science and engineering community, reviewers benefit from reviewing and serving on panels. For example, reviewers gain first hand knowledge of the peer review process; learn about common problems with proposals; discover strategies to write strong proposals; and, through serving on a panel, meet colleagues and NSF program officers managing programs related to your interests. 

How to Become a Reviewer

To become an NSF reviewer, send an e-mail to the NSF program officer(s) of the program(s) that fits your expertise. Introduce yourself and identify your areas of expertise, and let them know that you are interested in becoming a peer reviewer. It is most helpful if you also attach a 2-page CV with current contact information. We also encourage you to share this request with other colleagues who might be interested in serving as NSF reviewers. NSF welcomes qualified reviewers from the academic, industrial, and government sectors. 

If you are selected as a reviewer, NSF will ask you to provide some demographic information on a voluntary basis. Although submission of demographic information by reviewers is voluntary-and there are no adverse consequences if it is not provided-reviewers are strongly encouraged to provide this information to NSF. These data are used in the design, implementation, and monitoring of NSF efforts to increase the participation of various groups in science and engineering. 

Contact NSF Now

Please take a few minutes now to contact NSF. If you need to find the appropriate NSF Program Officer to contact, just go to the NSF Website: www.nsf.gov. Select one of the program areas listed in the pull down menu on the left side of the home page. This will take you to the selected home page of the NSF Directorate or Office. Select the Staff Directory and you will find names of Program Officers by division or programs they manage. You can then send the Program Officer an email with the information indicated above in the paragraph on “How to Become a Reviewer.” 

Collection of personal information is authorized by the NSF Act of 1950, as amended. The data are protected by the Privacy Act and Public Burden Statements (see http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/privstat.htm), which means NSF will not give this information to anyone outside NSF, unless legally required, or specifically authorized by law.
 

 

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The Hybrid Peer Review

This type of review consists of reading applications, evaluating them , writing the comments and then posting comments on the funding department’s website (usually G5).  Following that you spend a few days (3-5) in Washington DC paneling and making corrections.  For me this procedure has much less stress than the onsite or at-home process.

The review starts with a phone orientation or “webinar” where the department goes over all the program requirements and their expectations.  This generally is 2-3 hours long.  Be sure and mute your phone so that a large number of reviewers do not hear things going on in your home that you really might not want them to hear.  I don’t think I’ll pass along any examples as they still make me shudder. 

The applications may be mailed to you or you may download them from the department’s website.  Perhaps this is the place to mention that the websites do make some people pull their hair out and disappear into the night never to be heard from again.  I would say that 75 percent of the time they work as expected (which is not to say they are good, just average).  The other 25 percent— let’s just say it is problematic.  The good news is that the technical staff is very helpful.

You should always write your comments in a Word document and then cut and paste them into the system.  The system has a bad habit of tossing you out so that if you are not saving frequently— you lose your work.  I have seen grown men cry when they lost hours of work.  

The hybrid review is actually the best of both worlds.  You get to do the majority of the work at home in your pjs, cat on your lap, sipping coffee and then you get to go to DC and meet your friends (and make new ones) while you panel face-to-face.

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Pitfalls of the At-Home Peer Review

There is a type of peer review that is done completely at home with no travel (this part is good because I can work in my pjs and don’t have to brush my teeth).  However, you should not try this type of review unless you are willing to commit the necessary time (and it is significant). 

Following an orientation conference call or “webinar” explaining the program guidelines and expectations, grant applications are posted on a website such as G5 or E-Reader.  You download the applications (you are paid an extra $100 for printing), evaluate and score and post your comments back to the website.  This is about a three week process with the last week dedicated to panel conference calls.  Like the onsite or hybrid review there are generally three reviewers and a chairperson who monitors the calls.  There are about three calls that ideally last about 90 minutes as panel members come to consensus on 8-10 grants.  Calls can usually be at panel members’ convenience.  The chairperson emails your corrections and you go on line and finalize comments.   To avoid errors, comments are generally written in Word and then cut and pasted into the system.  

Personally I find this type of review more difficult because the panel discussion is often hard to follow on the phone.   This is especially true when there are crying babies or barking dogs in the background.  I actually think one woman was washing dishes.   In addition, reviewers tend to be a tad bit more aggressive because they are not face to face (not me of course).  It is easier to be a bully when on the phone line a thousand miles away rather than sitting across the table and looking into my blue eyes and sweet face.  Therefore more reviewers tend to “stand” on their scores.  “Standing” is a little term used to say, “I absolutely think I am right and I am not going to change!”  So much for flexibility. 

In addition, reviewers tend to disappear.  I had a friend on a panel where a woman wasn’t heard from for three weeks.  When she finally showed up she said she had to attend her daughter’s wedding.    Usually those reviewers are replaced but not until after the panel’s work is long overdue.  This tends to make the paycheck way overdue!

Then there are the worst case scenario calls.  Take this one (oh please take this one):

Twenty minutes into the call….silence…sound of shuffling paper

Panel monitor:  “What page were we on?”

Panel members two and three in unison:  “Criteria 1, PAGE 1!!!”

Long silence….much more shuffling paper

Panel member one:  “uhhh, where are we at?”

Panel members two and three in unison:  ” CRITERIA 1, PAGE 1!!!”

More silence, more shuffling paper and finally there is slow-tooth-pulling discussion on the first selection criteria. 

After many shuffling paper repeats and nearly two hours, we are only halfway through ONE application and the panel monitor says, “Let’s see— did we address criteria one?”

At this point my instant messenger pops up and panel member number two inquires, “Are we being punk’d?”

My best advice for this type of review is to print off your comments and scores and have them in front of you during the discussion.  Don’t make me wait on the phone while your slow computer cranks up so you can find your comments.  Also there is a very real chance that the website will kick you out at least five times during the call and I have to wait while you log back in. 

All this said I have had some very good at-home reviews.  Put three hardworking reviewers together and it is a very rewarding experience.

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How to Get Started as a Peer Reviewer

The Federal government has been contracting outside peer reviewers to review grant proposals for about 65 years (no, I was not there for the first one…it just seems like I have been around forever).  These reviewers evaluate grant proposals for programs that offer millions of dollars every year. Most government grants provide funds for specific activities over specific time periods.

The key to becoming a grant reviewer is to research the many grants that are available and determine if you are qualified and have the needed expertise.  You might be surprised what you qualify for as not all programs require reviewers to have expertise in the subject area of the grant. To work as a grant reviewer, you must have the ability to read and analyze proposals, the ability to evaluate proposals in terms of specific criteria, strong written communication skills, the ability to work effectively in a group and the ability to maintain confidentiality.  The first grant program that I ever reviewed was a bilingual program…and I am definitely not bilingual and do not know much about bilingual education programs.  However, I am an educator and I worked diligently to understand the program requirements/criteria.  I found that I could easily determine if the applicant was addressing those requirements.  From that point on it was simply a matter of providing appropriate comments (and that is definitely the subject for a later blog). 

You should research grant opportunities that you might be qualified to review.  The best way to find government grants is addressed in my blog, “Find Federal Grants Fast”.  Also, be sure and look at the many agencies listed in this blog who have databases for grant reviewers.  Sometimes you apply directly from their websites or you may contact the Program Officer listed in the grant announcement to request information about the agency’s application process.  Usually they ask for a resume.

In order to review you will need a computer with Internet access.  You will also have to be able to travel and commit the required time for each review.

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A Week in the Life of an Onsite Peer Reviewer

All the work for an onsite review is done during five days in Washington DC.  Everything is paid for and you generally stay in very nice hotels.   However, the time commitment for this review is intense.   You generally travel on Sunday, start work on Monday morning and leave (after five) on Friday. 

Monday starts at a reasonable hour with an orientation that can last a major part of the day depending on how many people have not read the preparation materials and have a lot of dumb questions to ask (or how many of the “I just like to hear myself talk” people are in the crowd).  Following orientation, you meet in a designated panel room and introduce yourself to your panel (usually three reviewers and a chairperson).  The panel develops a work plan and if you are lucky enough to have your own computer, you go to your very nice room and start work because you generally have to have one review done by about five and two more done before noon of the next day.  If you do not have a computer, you might check one out from the department and still get to go to your nice room.  If that doesn’t work out, you go to the computer room and pray there is an open station.  That creates a new problem when they close down for the night because they do get to sleep.  You?  Not so much.  The first grant is always the hardest and takes much longer to complete.  The good news about Monday is that they usually provide at least one working meal that day so you do not have to worry about finding time to spend your generous per diem for food  (it may not seem generous at first but just try to find time to spend it all!)  Limited sleep on Monday night. 

Tuesday, you are a bit sleep deprived but proud of yourself as you show up on time, with your work completed, to your first panel meeting.  If you have a good panel (which is discussion for another blog) they will also show up on time with work in hand.  However, when I say your work is completed that is very misleading…you have only just begun!  You have to panel, come to a consensus, make corrections, give comments to chairperson, make corrections, send comments to control room, make corrections (and this may take two or three trips to get it right) and so on.  You may be seeing grant number one on day five…before it gets finalized.  But back to panel discussion and consensus…this varies with different reviews but 10 points is a good rule of thumb.  No one wants to have one reviewer score perfect points while another scores 39 out of a 100.  Grant applicants get really testy about that and usually call their congressman.  The point here is to discuss what you found that another reviewer did not or what they found that you missed.  The system works well if everyone is flexible (when they are not….ahhhggg).  Usually by about 5pm you are finished with paneling and maybe even a few corrections.  Done for the day?  Not!  Now you must prepare three more for the next day because everything has to be in to the control room by Thursday so corrections can be finalized on Friday.  Oh, did I mention Tuesday is the day the Department usually decides to throw a little mandated “mixer” to socialize.  The good news is that there is usually tidbits of food.  Lucky you… you made extra money today because you did not spend your per diem.  Very limited sleep on Tuesday.

Wednesday is a repeat of Tuesday except that you are five pounds lighter (no food) and really needing rest.  Also about this time, the niceness wears off of your panel (not to mention that your own ragged sleep-deprived rage comes into play) and you tend to have some major battles over consensus.  The slackers are usually shouting the loudest in order to make everyone think they really did read the application even though we all know they were drooling on their pillow.  In desperation you do spend a little of your per diem on whatever food products are the closest (usually a vending machine).  If you are extremely resourceful, tough, and on time, you might be fortunate to make it to the daily “snack time”, provided by the department and ranging from cracker jacks to ice cream….and lots of cookies that disappear fast.  Three more applications due.  Limited or no sleep on Wednesday.

Thursday defies description.  In an ideal world you only have one more application.  About 6 pm is when you finally throw caution to the wind and eat a real meal at a restaurant.  You actually venture out of the hotel and are amazed to see that you are in Washington DC!   Fresh air is everywhere.  I mean, what can they do?  Fire you?  Well yes, I have seen this happen but only to those who have cratered.  They escort them out of the hotel whimpering and crying out for medication as you are coming back in after making a hefty dent in the day’s per diem.  Usually at this point you have at least three frantic voice mails from your chairperson who has heard the ugly rumors and is afraid  that it is you they have sent packing.  He/she has at least 30 corrections for you that have to be done immediately.  No sleep on Thursday.

Friday…by this time you are either a weeper or a boaster.  You are weeping because it does not look like you will ever finish and leave the hotel; or you are boasting that you are finished and just waiting for everything to be finalized.  If you are a boaster, you are among the rare few who have a few minutes to get packed and go sightseeing.  Bad news is that you are too tired and generally find a chair in the lobby (or bar) and fall asleep.  Make sure you ask someone to wake you up in time to get to the airport.

There you have it…five fun filled vacation days in the Nation’s capital paid for by the government!

So why do I do it?  Actually, I love it.  It is a mental and physical challenge and I have learned more about grant writing than anyone could ever teach me.  I have met new friends from all over the nation and look forward to seeing them.  And at the end I know I have been responsible for helping many deserving programs.   It is quite a rush!

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Peer Review Time Commitment

There are at least three different types of reviews and each one takes a significant amount of time.  Most departments pay at least $100 per application and you generally review about ten applications.  However, there have been reviews where I am sure that I did not make minimum wage due to long hours.

The first type of review is onsite.  All the work is done during five days in Washington DC. The time commitment for this review is intense (see blog, “A Week in the Life of an Onsite Reviewer”).   The second type of review is done at home and you generally have about two weeks to work at home and then a week for panel conference calls and corrections.  This review can be problematic if the telephone system is not functioning well or if a panel member has a barking dog (not to mention the missing panelist who might have gone to Jamaica for a vacation).  This is also a bit dicey because people tend to be more rude over the phone than they are face-to-face and the discussions can get heated.  The third (my favorite) type of review is a hybrid where you do the work at home and go to Washington DC for 2-5 days for paneling.     

In any case, be prepared to make a substantial time commitment to the grant review process.  This is a very serious commitment.  When you leave the review, make sure you have been fair to each and every applicant.  Your scores and comments can literally make or break programs.

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JOBS- Short-Term Consultants to Review Grant Applications, UN Women (CIS Regional Office), Home-Based

This review is very specialized but I decided to add it because I have worked with some very talented reviewers who are qualified and might be interested.  (Thanks to Lyn McCoy)

Distrib. by: Central-Eurasia-L – Announcement List for Central Eurasian Studies

Location: Home-based

Application Deadline: 09-Jan-11

Type of Contract: SSA

Post Level: International Consultant

Languages Required: English

Starting Date: (date when the selected candidate is expected to start)  21-Jan-2011

Expected Duration of Assignment: 10-15 days depending on number of proposals to be reviewed

 Background

The UN Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against  Women (“UN Trust Fund”) was established through UN General Assembly Resolution 50/166 in 1996 with UNIFEM (part of UN Women) as its Administrator on behalf of the UN system. The UN Trust Fund is a leading global multi-lateral mechanism supporting national efforts to end one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world.  The UN Trust Fund’s annual grant-making process, through its widely publicized Call for Proposals, operates on core principles of ensuring an open, fair, transparent, competitive and merit-based process. The UN Trust Fund focuses on supporting country and local implementation of laws, policies and action plans to address violence against women, while maintaining flexibility in terms of responsiveness to a wide range of forms of violence, national and emerging priorities and needs, and diverse approaches. By 2010, the UN Trust Fund had supported 317 programmes in 124 countries and territories with over US$ 60 million.  On 23 November 2010, the UN Trust Fund launched its annual Call for Proposals for an eight-week period spanning 23 November 2010 – 20 January 2011 (see UN Trust Fund Call at

http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/violence_against_women/trust_fund.php). 

 Online applications for proposals will be accepted from  governments, civil society organizations and United Nations Country Teams in English, French, and Spanish.  In this regard UNIFEM CIS (part of UN Women) Sub-regional Office is seeking the services of two short-term consultants to screen incoming applications through an online system and make recommendations based on criteria set forth by the UN Trust Fund.

Duties and Responsibilities

The consultant is expected to have sound knowledge of gender-based violence and will review applications submitted by governments and civil society organizations from the CIS region, which includes the following:

  * Verifying that each proposal complies with the elements stipulated in the 2010 Call document and cross-checking that all supporting documentation received is accurate

 * Providing an objective assessment of applications based on guidelines and criteria set by the UN Trust Fund

 * Recommending the top 10 applications (in collaboration with another consultant reviewing the same set of applications), and providing the necessary justifications for their selection

 * Providing a summary of recommendations for each recommended application, based on the Fund’s criteria and an assessment of the needs, quality, and rationale of the proposal

 * Preparing an introductory note for each of the countries where the recommended initiatives would be implemented. The note should include a brief country context, the relevant provisions against violence   against women in each country (legal framework and policies), and the main institutions involved in the implementation of these provisions

 * Preparing an analytical brief that documents trends and emerging topics in the field of violence against women as can be observed from the demand for UN Trust Fund resources specific to the region,    including highlighting any lessons learned or feedback from the application review process itself.

Competencies

 Corporate Competencies:

 * Demonstrates integrity by modelling the UN’s values and ethical standard

 * Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNIFEM (part of UN-Women)

 * Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality, and age sensitivity and adaptability.

Functional Competencies:

 * Proven ability to meet tight deadlines and work well under pressure

 * Knowledge of women’s rights and gender issues globally, expertise on violence against women programming

 * Communicates sensitively, effectively and creatively across different constituencies

 * Familiarity with UNIFEM (part of UN-Women) and the UN system

 * Familiarity with goals and procedures of international organizations

 * Demonstrated excellent analytical and writing skills as well as spoken language skills in English (Russian would be an asset)

 * Ability to produce a high volume of quality content

 * Good knowledge of gender issues in CIS region

 * Expertise on violence against women programming

 * Prior experience in grant-making and in the United Nations System and/or non-governmental organizations is an asset

 * Understanding of programme cycle and monitoring and evaluation frameworks

* Knowledge of women’s organizations and governmental agencies working on women’s rights and violence against women around the world.

Required Skills and Experience

 * University degree in International Development Studies, Women  Studies or related Social Sciences field

 * Minimum of 5 years experience in the field of women’s rights.

 Application Process:

To apply please visit: http://jobs.undp.org/cj_view_job.cfm?job_id=20843

 All applications must include (as an attachment) the completed UNIFEM Personal History form (P-11) which can be downloaded from http://www.unifem.org/attachments/about/employment/UNIFEM_personal_history_form_P11.doc

Kindly note that the system will only allow one attachment.   Applications without the completed UNIFEM P-11 form will be treated as incomplete and will not be considered for further assessment. In the on-line application form please also insert a CV in English.  The application must be submitted not later than 9 January 2011.  Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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Prayer

Dear God, if you wanted me down to it, well here I am.  If you wanted me on bended knee, here I am… but I am still asking, why?  This can’t possibly be about me because I am not that important.  But she is.  She is the kindest and most giving person I know.  Her whole life has centered round your existence.   Where is the sense in all this? 

I am hoping this is your way of showing us all that prayer works.  The heavens have to be flooded with prayers for this special little sister…all the way from the darkest depths of Africa where she slept on the cold ground to help strangers in need to her Texas home.   

Please keep her safe.

Matthew 9:20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: – she said if I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. Jesus turned -and- when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.  Believe the impossible –

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