Based on the feedback from the research community and the results of the public discussion during the RSF Expert Council meeting this June, RSF announced the steps to improve its review processes.
Under the gradual rotation of its 63 Expert Council members selected for a three-year term, in 2017 RSF held for the first time the elections to select volunteer scientists and academics to serve on its review boards. The voting system and the voting process were set up to ensure ballot confidentiality. Over 2 000 Russian researchers could decide who will represent their subject area on the RSF review boards. From these nominations, the RSF Supervisory board approved a list of 17 new members. Review board members serve on a voluntary basis and make an important contribution to furthering excellence in their respective fields.
This election procedure is expected to be carried out every year so that all council members by 2019 will be selected by the scientific community in a uniform way. We hope that this will ensure the highest possible trust among the research community in Russia for their represnetatives.
RSF will also continue to upgrade its Information and Analytical System (IAS). It is constantly being improved based on the feedback from the applicants and the reviewers. RSF IT specialists set up the form of the electronic application in a way in order to minimize possibility for the applicants of making technical mistakes when filling out application forms. As a result, the number of applications considered ineligible due to the formal reasons does not exceed now a few percent, and these failures are mainly because of the flaws in the preparation of paper versions of applications.
Taking into account the suggestions from the expert community, we changed some of the codes of the RSF classifier. We are also planning to implement additonal guidelines for the reviewers as a part of the internal documents that determine the rules for carrying out the review.
RSF will continue expanding the database of reviewers. Within the post-review rebutal process the Foundation considers carefully all the objections to the results of the review. If it turns out that the reviewer violated existing review guidelines or does not possess the necessary qualifications, RSF bans the further review services of that reviewer. Russian Science Foundation banned approximately 200 reviewers for such reasons in the past 3 years.
To increase the transparency of the review process, RSF agreed to familiarize the applicants not only with the text of the review report but also with all the reviewer's answers to the questions about the respective proposal.
Russian Science Foundation strives to maintain the world-class peer-review process for assessing the quality of scientific research. We plan to work further together with other stakeholders to examine our peer review system periodically to ensure its continued effectiveness.