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Sep 09, 2015
BMJ Open
OBJECTIVE: With the use of teleconferencing for grant peer-review panels increasing, further studies are necessary to determine the efficacy of the teleconference setting compared to the traditional onsite/face-to-face setting. The objective of this analysis was to examine the effects of discussion, namely changes in application scoring premeeting and postdiscussion, in these settings. We also investigated other parameters, including the magnitude of score shifts and application discussion time in face-to-face and teleconference review settings. DESIGN: The investigation involved a retrospective, quantitative analysis of premeeting and postdiscussion scores and discussion times for teleconference and face-to-face review panels. The analysis included 260 and 212 application score data points and 212 and 171 discussion time data points for the face-to-face and teleconference settings, respectively. RESULTS: The effect of discussion was found to be small, on average, in both settings. However, discussion was found to be important for at least 10% of applications, regardless of setting, with these applications moving over a potential funding line in either direction (fundable to unfundable or vice versa). Small differences were uncovered relating to the effect of discussion between settings, including a decrease in the magnitude of the effect in the teleconference panels as compared to face-to-face. Discussion time (despite teleconferences having shorter discussions) was observed to have little influence on the magnitude of the effect of discussion. Additionally, panel discussion was found to often result in a poorer score (as opposed to an improvement) when compared to reviewer premeeting scores. This was true regardless of setting or assigned reviewer type (primary or secondary reviewer). CONCLUSIONS: Subtle differences were observed between settings, potentially due to reduced engagement in teleconferences. Overall, further research is required on the psychology of decision-making, team performance and persuasion to better elucidate the group dynamics of telephonic and virtual ad-hoc peer-review panels. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

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