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Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

Common Problems Identified During Peer Review

Below is a list of many common problems that result in non-competitively scored applications.

  • Uncertainty whether research will produce significant information.
  • Scientific basis not fully developed.
  • No apparent translatability of research into practice or policy.
  • Lack of a theoretical framework.
  • Overly ambitious research plan; volume of proposed work unrealistic.
  • Lack of original ideas.
  • Proposed methods not appropriate to answer research questions.
  • Research issues are more complex than investigator describes.
  • Too little detail in the research plan (leads to reviewers questioning investigators' ability to carry out the research).
  • Lack of focus in study hypotheses, aims and/or research plan.
  • Lack of generalizability of findings or methods.
  • Investigator lacks expertise in methodology.
  • Study team lacks expertise in all needed areas.
  • Proposed time and effort of study team members insufficient.
  • Lack of study controls.
  • Lack of adequate preliminary data.
  • Insufficient consideration of statistical needs.
  • Inadequate attention to protection of human subjects and/or population representation.
  • Lack of complete literature review.

Current as of February 2005

Internet Citation:

Common Problems Identified During Peer Review. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care