Panel Reports

All proposers receive feedback. Primary Reviewers are responsible for compiling reports for their assigned proposals. These reports should take into account the panel discussion for proposals discussed at the in-person meetings. For triaged proposals, consensus reports should be based on the comments submitted by reviewers during preliminary grading.

The review comments are broken down into different subsections. The first two are compulsory, the rest are optional (and will likely not be required for most proposals):

  • Strengths: self-explanatory. Compulsory.
  • Weaknesses: self-explanatory. Compulsory.
  • Resources: notes about the Orbits or Targets or Funding levels, or instrument/configuration/filters, only needed if something is out of the ordinary. Optional.
  • Comments: anything else that you want to pass on that doesn’t fit under Strengths, Weaknesses, or Resources. Optional.
  • Technical Notes: updated based on technical reviews, usually relevant for Joint Observatory programs or if reviewers have concerns about instruments. In the latter case they must request a consultation from an instrument expert via the Panel Support Scientist, and the notes from that consultation will be entered in this section. Optional.
  • Instructions: for approved programs only. Additional instructions for the proposers to modify their final submission. Changes may be required if two non-identical approved proposals contain duplicate observations; in that case, one PI will be instructed to remove the duplicated observations, while preserving the unique elements of the proposal. Optional.

Panel reports should be concise. They should focus on the evaluation of the proposal by the reviewers. Please avoid “questions” in the comments. So, e.g., instead of “why have 6 targets instead of 5?” say, “the proposal did not sufficiently motivate the number of requested targets.” Likewise, refer to what the proposal says rather than what the proposers say.

Comments that may be perceived as derogatory or insulting must be avoided. The Panel Chairs are responsible for checking for any such improprieties in their review of the comments.

Except for triaged proposals, reviewers cannot be sure at the time of writing feedback comments whether the proposed observations will be scheduled for execution. The comments should be phrased in such a way that they are sensible and meaningful regardless of the final outcome.

Reviewers should avoid statements that create the impression that the low ranking of a proposal is due to a minor mistake. Many proposals do not have obvious weaknesses but are just less compelling than others: in such a case, acknowledge that the considered proposal is good but that there were others that were more compelling. However, never include in the consensus report an explicit reference to another proposal, such as the proposal ID. Whenever possible, make suggestions for possible improvements, but avoid giving the impression that following those suggestions guarantees that the proposal will be more successful in next cycle.

The Primary Reviewer is responsible for submitting a panel report that is as specific, accurate, clear and informative as possible. The Panel Chairs shall in the week following the TAC meeting review the panel reports of all the proposals that have been reviewed in their panel, with a view to ensuring that all of them achieve the necessary standard of quality in providing the PIs with meaningful feedback. The STScI Science Policies Group will undertake a final review of all comments before they are distributed to the community.

Next: Cycle 1 Review Confidentiality