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Overview of Review Process

The primary purpose of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Hydrogen Program Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting (AMR) is to facilitate a critical review of the research and development (R&D) projects funded by the Program. A secondary purpose is to provide opportunities for researchers, government representatives, and other stakeholders to share information and network.

To achieve these goals, the AMR includes oral and/or poster presentations from many of the projects funded by the Hydrogen Program. DOE determines which projects will be peer reviewed based on several factors, including each project's current phase, availability of new data and/or approaches, and the date of previous project reviews. The peer review process follows the guidelines in the Peer Review Guide developed by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

Principal investigators whose projects are going to be presented and reviewers selected to review projects can expect to be contacted by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), a contractor to DOE, with detailed instructions and logistical information.

The instructions for oral presenters and poster presenters include the review criteria and their weights. Additional details about the review criteria can be found in the following documents:

All projects that are reviewed at the AMR are assigned at least three different individual reviewers, and most are assigned four to eight reviewers. The number of reviewers per project varies by program area and level of project scope or funding. Reviewers include experts from a variety of backgrounds related to hydrogen and fuel cell technologies; they represent national laboratories, universities, various government agencies, and industry (including manufacturers and fuel producers). Each reviewer is screened for conflicts of interest as prescribed by the Peer Review Guide.

Reviewers are provided with copies of the presentations they are assigned to review two to three weeks prior to the AMR. This should allow sufficient time for them to preview the projects and prepare questions in advance of the AMR. They are also provided with the previous year's AMR presentations for their assigned projects and the latest Hydrogen Program Annual Progress Report for their assigned projects, where applicable. Reviewers also have access to links to the previous year's AMR report and the Program's Multi-Year Research, Development, and Demonstration Plan.

During the AMR, reviewers are asked to provide comments and numeric scores (on a scale of 1–4, including half-point intervals, with 4 being the highest) for five aspects of the work presented. Scores and comments are submitted to an online, secure database called PeerNet, allowing for real-time tracking of the review process. Reviewers are given priority during the question and answer periods after each presentation. Upon completion of the AMR, reviewers have approximately 1 week to complete their project reviews in PeerNet. Find additional information for reviewers, including answers to frequently asked questions.

For each project, individual reviewer scores for each of the criteria are weighted to create a final score for each reviewer for that project. The average score for each project is then calculated by averaging the final scores for individual reviewers. The individual reviewer scores for each question are also averaged to provide information on the project's question-by-question scoring. In this manner, a project's final overall score can be meaningfully compared to that of another project in the same technical track session.

DOE uses the results of this merit review and peer evaluation, along with additional review processes, to make funding decisions for upcoming fiscal years and to help guide ongoing performance improvements to existing projects. Additionally, the project comments, recommendations, and scores are provided in an annual AMR report.

Questions about the review process should be directed to DOE or to ORAU (H2AMR@orau.org).