Tips for a Smooth Review
Tips for having a smooth experience reviewing JWST proposals.
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Budget your time and make a plan
Anticipate around 30-45 minutes per proposal, depending on your role: ~20-30 minutes for reading and grading, ~10-15 minutes for writing comments. (The first few proposals may take longer, don't panic, once you get used to the process, you will get faster.)
Note the deadlines and block off reading time in your calendar early. It is a lot less stressful to do a few proposals per day than to do all the work at the last minute. This also leads to better reviews and comments.
Read the abstracts
It helps to start by reading the abstracts for all for your assigned proposals before diving straight in to reviews.
This will give you an overview of the task and the pool of proposals, and is especially useful for identifying any additional Conflicts of Interest (e.g. competing proposals or unidentified close collaborators).
I'm not qualified to review this proposal!
Yes, you are! The proposals are graded on both their in-field impact and out-of-field impact, having reviewers with closely-overlapping expertise and others with more distant expertise is extremely useful. Proposals should be written to be accessible and compelling to both experts and non-experts. If you do not find a proposal to be such, consider that this may be the fault of the proposal, not you as a reviewer, and your grades should reflect the lack of clarity.
Each proposal in External panels is read and graded by 5 panelists. Each proposal in Virtual panels is read and graded by 5 panelists in the preliminary grading phase and by all (unconflicted) panelists during the meeting. It would not be possible to recruit enough panelists such that every proposal can be read by 5 unconflicted niche experts, neither is it possible to assign to a reviewer only proposals perfectly aligned with their expertise. Nor would we wish to for a well-rounded review.
I'm pretty sure I know who wrote this anonymous proposal
Please do not spend time trying to guess the proposers, this is directly contradictory to the goals of Dual Anonymous Review. Nor should this guess influence your review of the proposal. Not least because, in our experience, most guesses about an individual or team responsible for a proposal are usually incorrect. In particular, do not assume that the proposers are the same people as the authors of any heavily cited papers or included figures, or the same investigators as those on other referenced programs.
JWST is a shared resources and we receive proposals from all over the world, many from non-native English speakers. The proposal should be understandable, but please take care to judge the science in the proposal, not the quality of the language or the grammar.
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