Before being requested to submit a full application, researchers submit a one-page letter of intent that describes the purpose of the proposed study and a brief description of activities that could be undertaken during the grant term that would facilitate incorporating the research findings into practice. The letter of intent is submitted to LOI reviews without the name of the applicant or their institution. In this way, the LOI is evaluated only on the research idea.

Full applications are evaluated by the Foundation's science advisory committees based on the scientific merit of the research and its potential for impact. The committees are composed of individuals with expertise from a wide range of clinical and public health research experience, health-related policy, and statistical methods. Written feedback from reviewers is sent to all applicants.

In general, a standing review committee is used and at least three reviewers are assigned to each application. Each reviewer presents their critique at the review committee meeting and, following discussion by the full committee, reviewers score the application. We have estimated that every application receives approximately 15 person-hours of review prior to and during the meeting.

Occasionally, the Foundation encounters opportunities to support meritorious research that is outside existing program categories. In these instances, the application is reviewed by individuals who have been specifically chosen because of their expertise in the study topic and methods that are proposed in the application. As far as is possible, the process for evaluating these applications by assigned experts is done in a manner that is similar to that used by the Foundation's standing committees.

The R3 program, which is designed to promote knowledge created from previously reviewed and funded Donaghue research grants, uses the expertise of the R3 Advisory Committee, which focuses on the potential for the future use of the intervention previously tested.

In all cases, decisions regarding grant awards are made by the Foundation Trustees after considering the committee recommendations.

Guiding Principles for Donaghue’s Application Review Process

One of the most important functions responsibilities of the Donaghue Foundation is to ensure that every application to its grant programs receives a thorough and fair review of its merits and its potential contributions to improving health. Therefore, we strive to conduct a review process that is equitable, based in expertise, transparent, accessible, and efficient.

  1. The process is equitable to all applicants.

Every applicant gets the same opportunity to describe their proposed work. This means, among other things, that we do not allow additional material to be submitted after a deadline, and deadlines are uniformly observed.

  1. Our reviewers have the required expertise to evaluate the applications and the review process is based on written standards.

Reviewers thoughtfully engage with the substance of the proposal and base their critiques and scores on only the considerations that are specified for each grant program. The collective review committee will have broad expertise in the fields related to the grant program and to the implementation and use of the knowledge being created, and Donaghue will recruit reviewers who are respected in their field and who observe the Foundation’s conflict of interest policy.

  1. We are transparent as to components of the review process and timelines.

All necessary grant materials and a description of how we review applications are published on our website.

  1. We are accessible to applicants and reviewers throughout the application and review process.

We will strive to answer all questions that we receive about the grant program and review process in a timely way and circulate the answers, where it makes sense, to other applicants or reviewers.

  1. We make the process to submit an application and to review an application as efficient and straightforward as possible.

We know that our applicants and reviewers have many demands on their time, so we work to structure a process that provides the needed information without extraneous requirements.