Guidelines for Virtual Panelists

Virtual panelists are assigned to topical panels that are responsible for reviewing Small GO programs requesting 16-34 orbits and Medium GO programs requesting 35-74 orbits. In addition, virtual panelists advise the panel Chairs and Vice Chairs (except for Solar System) on a subset of the Large, Treasury and Legacy proposals assigned for review to the Executive Committee.

The Cycle 29 Peer Review comprises eight topical panels, one each for:

  • Solar System Astronomy,
  • Exoplanets and Exoplanet Formation,
  • Stellar Physics and Stellar Types,
  • Stellar Populations and the Interstellar Medium,
  • Galaxies,
  • Intergalactic Medium and Circumgalactic Medium,
  • Supermassive Black Holes and Active Galaxies,
  • and Large-Scale Structure of the Universe

Each panel except Solar System is managed by a Panel Chair and a Vice-Chair; Solar System has no Vice-Chair. There is also a TAC Chair who oversees the review process. Each panel is also assigned a Panel Support Scientist (PSS) and a Leveler; the role of the PSS is to ensure the process runs smoothly and act as liason between the panel and the institute; the Leveler ensures the discussion remains focused on the scientific merits of the proposals. More information about the panel review process is given in the section on Virtual Panel Meetings.

General Responsibilities

Panelists access the proposals assigned to their panel using the SPIRIT webtool following the Selection Criteria and Scoring System. Panelists do not have access to proposals where a conflict has been identified; panelists should identify any additional proposals where they feel that they have a conflict. Each panelist is assigned to grade a subset of the proposals assigned to the panels. They review those proposals and submit preliminary grades prior to the virtual panel discussion. We encourage panelists to enter comments in SPIRIT as they conduct the preliminary reviews. The preliminary grades from panelists are combined to determine the initial ranked list. The lowest-ranked 40% of proposals are marked for triage.

The top 60% of proposals are discussed at the virtual panel meeting. Each panelist has the option of raising one proposal from triage for discussion. The Panel Chair and Vice Chair will organize the discussion. Each proposal has a panelist assigned as a Primary Reviewer and a panelist as the Secondary Reviewer; those panelists lead the discussion of each proposal; at the conclusion of the discussion, all unconflicted panelists grade the proposal. Once all proposals are graded, the panel inspects the ranked list as has an opportunity to re-rank proposals. The re-ranking process is described in detail in the section on Selection Criteria and Scoring System.

Once the ranking is complete, the panelists can review the team expertise to determine whether the composition of any team raises significant concerns.

Each panel is also allocated a number of proposals that will be graded by the Executive Committee. Those proposals are included as a downloadable package in SPIRIT. Panelists do not grade the Executive Committee proposals. However, they are asked to review the proposals and provide comments to the Panel Chair and the Vice-Chair to assist their discussion at the Executive Committee.

Cycle 29 Virtual Panelist Schedule

DateActivity
May 3Receive proposal notifications, open Spirit, identify proposals assigned for preliminary grades; this includes, but is not limited to, proposals where I am assigned as the Primary or Secondary Reviewer. Download the Executive Committee proposals to be discussed by the panel.
Throughout MayReview panel proposals, enter comments and grades.
Throughout MayReview the Executive Committee proposals assigned to the panel and prepare comments for the Chair and Vice-Chair.
May 6Attend virtual panel orientation meeting.
May 7Deadline to inform STScI if I believe that I am conflicted on any assigned proposals.
June 2Submit preliminary grades for all assigned proposals, not just proposals where I am Primary or Secondary Reviewer.
June 4Receive the list of top-ranked proposals slated for discussion; identify which proposals are new to me and review them; determine whether I want to raise any triaged proposals for discussion.
June 7-11Finalise comments for proposals where I am Primary or Secondary Reviewer.
June 16Virtual Panel Discussion meeting starts.
June 18 through June 22Collect comments on proposals where I am Primary Reviewer, particularly from the Secondary Reviewer,  and compile the final review

Proposal Comments

Panel members are required to provide Proposal Feedback Comments for all proposals for which they are the Primary reviewer, in consultation with the Secondary reviewer – incorporating comments from other panelists and from the discussions.

We encourage the use of Slack to message the whole panel or individual panelists to assist in the writing of reviews.

Software and Hardware

The meetings will be run using BlueJeans. We encourage all panelists to show their videos to allow for face-to-face communication, but recognize this may not be possible in cases where panelists have limited bandwidth. To that end, we encourage panelists to use a wired or stable wireless internet connection, but again recognize that may not be possible in all cases.

Conflicts of Interest

Any panelist who is conflicted on a proposal for any reason must leave the virtual meeting for the duration of the discussion of that proposal (both in the individual proposal discussion phase and the ranking phase if the conflicted proposal is being compared to another). The preferred solution is to add any conflicted panelists to a breakout room in BlueJeans and then recall them to the main meeting once the discussion is over. An alternative solution is for any conflicted panelists to disconnect from the meeting entirely and rejoin once the discussion is over. It is not allowed to turn off audio and video but remain connected to the main meeting.

Ahead of the meeting, panelists should identify the best way to contact them to tell them that the discussion has ended and they can rejoin the meeting. Panelists should also be vigilant during that time and aware that they could be called back at any time. We have set up a Slack channel for each panel and strongly recommend using this, but other methods (email, text, WhatsApp) could be used instead if Slack does not prove to work well. Panelists should make sure that notifications are turned on and/or alert sounds are turned on, as appropriate, for the method they choose.

Proposal Comments

Panel members are required to provide Proposal Feedback Comments for all proposals for which they are the Primary reviewer, in consultation with the Secondary reviewer – incorporating comments from other panelists and from the discussions.

We encourage the use of Slack to message the whole panel or individual panelists to assist in the writing of reviews.



Next: Blue Jeans and Slack Guidelines