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Become a Panelist

NIFA uses a Peer Review System (PRS) to collect volunteer information. If you are interested in serving on a peer-review panel, you can provide your contact information by visiting NIFA Peer Review System and clicking on the “Panelist Recruitment” link in the “Volunteer” section. You will be asked to provide your contact information and expertise. 

Depending on your previous involvement with NIFA, please follow the steps in the appropriate option below: 

Never an Applicant or PanelistApplicant but Never a Panelist Returning Panelists 
  • Visit PRS 
  • Complete "Panelist Recruitment" 
  • NIFA staff will review your submission and create an account 
  • "Activate Account" via PRS; must use same email from application 
  • Complete PRS questionnaire 
  • Log into established PRS account 
  • Update PRS questionnaire 

Once registered, please alert via email the program staff listed in the Request for Applications for the program you are interested in serving. Don’t forget to attach your CV/resume. 

In addition, a voluntary questionnaire will appear that is used to gather race, ethnicity, gender, and other information. NIFA collects this information from everyone who participates in USDA activities to allow us to evaluate participation and improve processes in accordance with applicable equal opportunity and civil rights laws. The information you provide will not be used to determine your eligibility to participate in this program. 

The use of this information will help NIFA to: 

  • Improve the operation of NIFA programs 
  • Design additional opportunities for program participation 
  • Monitor enforcement of laws that require equal access to NIFA programs for eligible persons 

Panelist Selection and Notification 

Once your submission is received, it will be evaluated by NIFA staff. Peer reviewers (panelists) are selected based on their expertise and credentials, as well as NIFA panel needs. Please keep in mind that volunteering may not always result in your participation in a panel due to recruitment requirements and expertise needed at the time. For more information, contact the program staff listed in the Request for Applications for the program panel on which you are interested in serving. 

Eligibility and Compensation

You are not eligible to review for a program if you are a Project Director, Co-Project Director, Collaborator or are substantially involved in an application submitted to the same program in the same year. Also excluded are all individuals receiving any form of financial compensation or other benefit (such as salary, subaward, consulting fee, honorarium) from any applications being reviewed by the same panel in the same year. 

Panelists (excluding Federal employees) may be provided a modest honorarium for their time and effort. Please refer to your employer’s policy and procedures when accepting the honorarium. 

Selected panelists are notified and provided with all relevant planning and travel information (if applicable). Please do not make travel plans prior to speaking with a NIFA representative. 

Panelist Roles 

Panelists are integral to the peer review process. Panelists are responsible for reviewing applications and entering individual rating scores and comments into NIFA’s online system prior to the meeting. They participate in panel discussions to reach a group consensus on application rankings. Panelists also submit written summaries of the discussion. 

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