(This is a great post from a friend and fellow reviewer, Karen Y. Williams.  Think I will quit whining and get back to work!) 

I thought that I would share a few comments about my experiences reading Title III grant applications for the U.S. Department of Education “back in the day.”  I often chuckle when I head new reviewers complain about the current review process.  So I thought that I could offer some perspective on how far things have come.  Back in the 80’s, we did not read applications online.  We did not type our comments on the computer.  We did not read at home.  I recall arriving in DC on Sunday, and attending a four hour orientation session.  Review panels were  comprised of three members; two seasoned reviewers and one new to the process.  A  DOE staff member was assigned to each panel and a seasoned review served as chair of the review process.  We would meet with the DOE staff member after the orientation, sign the conflict of interest forms and pick up our grant applications.  Back then there was no page limit for applications.   The rules were different.  Applicants could put their responses in the appendix and single space the text.  The grants were often over 500 pages!  So when I attempted to pick up my applications, I remember having to make multiple trips because the applications were so heavy I could only carry two or three at a time—and I usually would have eight to ten—and sometimes twelve—applications.  And, the pay rate was one flat rate for the week—it was not based on the number of applications reviewed!   Back then, we hand-wrote our comments.  If there were conflicts, spelling errors, illegible handwriting, or any changes, it was time to pull out those bottles of “white-out” and paint!   And, when changes were really substantial, there was lots of staple-removing, collating, and re-stapling.  By the end of the week, I remember having to carry those heavy grant applications back to the DOE staff member.  Yes, those were the good old days!