2. Reviewers in NIH study sections rate proposals that are of acceptable quality on a scale from 1.0 (outstanding) to 5.0 (acceptable). The average rating is multiplied by 100 and is called the priority score. Priority scores are ranked within the review group to allow the proposals to be prioritized. Based on its available funding, an institute decides what percentage of proposals can be supported and establishes a “payline,” which is a percentile number such that proposals ranked at that percentile or higher among all those reviewed are normally funded. For continuing review groups, percentiles are normally calculated on the basis of the past three rounds of ratings. Funds are normally granted in percentile order, with funding going to proposals scoring above the payline regardless of which study section conducted the review. One effect of this procedure is that study sections are normalized to account for any systematic differences among them in how members rate proposals.

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