HST Peer Review Guide

NOTE: STScI will have a full power outage starting ~noon EDT Friday April 12 through Sunday April 14. During this time, you will not be able to access SPIRIT or this website during this time, and STScI staff will not be contactable via email.

Thank you for taking part in the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) science peer review process!

This process is organized by the Science Policies Group (SPG) of the Science Mission Office (SMO) at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

More information on everything listed here can be found on subsequent pages. This page is intended to give a high-level summary of the overall process.

HST Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC)

The task of the HST Cycle 32 TAC is to recommend a Science Program to the STScI Director in response to the Call for Proposals. Proposals are selected through competitive peer review. Panelists are chosen based on their scientific expertise in the areas under review by the topical panels. Each topical panel is managed by a panel Chair and a Vice-Chair, and the Meeting (or TAC) Chair overseeing the review process. Depending on their size and type, proposals are divided between Discussion review (asynchronous preliminary review followed by a synchronous virtual panel meeting) and External review (fully asynchronous review).

Panelists read their assigned proposals, and then grade on an absolute scale against the primary criteria. Panelists also write Proposal Feedback Comments for a subset (Discussion) or all (External) of their assigned proposals.

The TAC Chair, At-Large TAC members, and panel Chairs and Vice Chairs form the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee reviews the proposals with large orbit requests or high legacy value. The Executive Committee also adjudicates any cross-panel scientific issues, as needed. All recommendations for the Cycle 32 science program are advisory to the STScI Director, who is responsible for the final allocation of HST observing time and funding.

To assist in the review process, each Discussion and External panel will also be assigned a Panel Support Scientist (PSS). The role of the PSS is to ensure the process runs smoothly and act as liaison between the panel and STScI. During Discussion meetings, PSSs also ensure the discussion remains focused on the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the proposals.

Accessing Proposals, Grading and Commenting

A lot of the proposal review work happens via the SPIRIT proposal review tool. There you will see which proposals you have been assigned and access the proposals under review in your panel. You can choose to read them online or download them for offline reading. You will also use SPIRIT to record your grades (both preliminary/External grades and final meeting grades), and to finalise your comments. There are places to leave private notes, and to share remarks with other panelists as well. You'll also find important contacts for your panel, including the Chair, Vice Chair, SPG manager and PSS.

Review Guides and Timelines

Guide for Discussion Panelists

Guide for External Panelists

Guide for Executive Committee Panelists (Chairs, Vice Chairs & At-Large)

Guide for Panel Support Scientists