The review process
The reviewing of project proposals received by KWF Dutch Cancer Society go through a process with the following stages and sub-stages:
- Eligibility check
- Eligibility check
- Scientific eligibility check
- External review
- Board review
- Review by individual board members
- Board Review Meeting
- Prioritization meeting
The estimated lead time for the review process is 6-8 months.
During the eligibility check, KWF will check research project proposals for (formal) errors and will verify whether the project proposal has been submitted in accordance with the requirements. If not, after the deadline has passed, the project leader will be given the chance to adjust the project proposal on specified errors. The project leader will be informed within a few days after the deadline has passed. After notification the project leader can adjust only the requested correction items in the project proposal within 48 hours. Changes to any other item will result in rejection of the proposal. If the project proposal passes these checks, it will be taken into consideration.
Subsequently, three members of the Internal Review Committee of the KWF Board of Advisors will determine whether the project proposal is scientifically eligible: does it fit KWF’s mission and/or does it contribute to existing knowledge about the causes and development of (the effects of) cancer? In addition, it will be decided whether the project proposal meets the minimum criteria and is sufficiently developed to go through the entire review procedure and be sent to external reviewers. The three members of the review committee are assigned to a project proposal on the basis of expertise. If a project proposal is taken into consideration, it will be submitted for external review to (inter)national experts (reviewers/referees). If not taken into consideration, the project proposal will not proceed to external review. Reasons not to submit a proposal to reviewers include: the proposed research is not cancer-related, insufficient preliminary research has been performed, the proposal is sloppy and/or badly written, or the proposed research is unethical.
During the external review, the project proposal is reviewed by external (scientific) experts in terms of scientific quality, relevance, and feasibility, and input is provided for potential improvement. At least 3 external (inter)national scientific reviewers will review the project proposal using three criteria:
- Relevance for KWF: the way in which, and the extent to which, the Project Proposal contributes to the mission goals of KWF, or contributes to knowledge about the causes and the development of (the effects of) cancer.
- Scientific quality: the extent to which a Project Proposal satisfies all the scientific requirements in order to achieve the set objective.
- Feasibility: the extent to which the necessary resources are available, and all the preconditions have been satisfied, in order to achieve the set objective.
In addition to the external (scientific) experts, the Patients’ Advisory Committee
(PACO) will provide an analysis of the project proposal, based on the Dutch summary, and information about the relevance and feasibility from the patient’s perspective.
In addition to scientific reviewers and patients, other expertise will sometimes be required to review certain project proposals from other experts or specialists. These experts/specialists can include entrepreneurs, statisticians, implementation experts, caregivers, pharmacists, (end) users, or other relevant parties in oncology. They will review the feasibility of the development plan within the project proposal from a specific expert angle, such as business, statistics, or health care.
To allow for the comparing of project proposals, project proposals will be categorised for review based on the different types of funding that are linked to the different research phases. Two review committees have been set up to review scientific research proposals:
- The Exploration Review Committee;
- The Development & Implementation Review Committee.
The Exploration Review Committee consists of approximately thirty members of the KWF Board of Advisors, and the Development & Implementation Review Committee consists of approximately forty members of the KWF Board of Advisors. Together they cover a wide range of expertise.
The Development & Implementation Review Committee also has two additional members who are (appointed) representatives from the PACO, and 1 to 2 members who are representatives of non-scientific expertise.
Review by individual committee members
The three members of the Internal Review Committee assigned to a project proposal will receive all the external reviewer reports. KWF will also provide a summary of all facts related to the project proposal. On the basis of the external reviewer reports, and taking into account the input from various perspectives and their own scientific expertise, the three committee members will independently provide an objective review of the project proposal’s scientific quality, relevance and feasibility, together with the reasons for their review.
The review committees can always decide to hold interviews for the types of funding other than the Young Investigator Grant in order to make the final selection. The review committee will then formulate its definitive advice based on a combination of the pre-selection procedure and the interview.
Board Review Meeting
During the internal review meeting, all the project proposals submitted to the reviewers are discussed, and the individual review of the three committee members are combined to form one final review for each project proposal, which will reflect the opinion of the entire Internal Review Committee.
On the basis of the reviewers’ reports, the PACO advice, the feedback, the three committee members’ reviews (incl. motivation/explanation), and the discussion at the Board Review Meeting, the Internal Review Committee will then establish a final review.
The following classification is used for this review:
A: very good project proposals; top 20%
B: good project proposals, eligible for funding
C: project proposals not eligible for funding
During the prioritisation meeting, the final advice of the Internal Review Committees to the KWF manager is formulated in terms of impact-oriented funding.
The prioritisation meeting will take place with the (vice) chairs of both review committees and KWF. The input for the prioritisation meeting will be the advice of the review committees, with a summary and criteria based on arguments from the different perspectives. From this point onwards, the same procedure is used within both the Exploration track and the Development track. The advice about which project proposals to grant will be based on the comparison of all the project proposals against each other, and with input from KWF at policy level. Project proposals with an A score will be funded before project proposals with a B score. KWF will make the final decision. This will result in a reasoned definitive advice that will be communicated to the project leader, including the comments of the external reviewers and PACO.