Moving beyond the boilerplate: Reflections on equity-centered reviewing for granting organizations

Stefanie L. Marshall, Amy O. Salter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This essay centers on the voices of leading scholars in science and STEM education on how equity can and should be centered in reviewing proposals for granting organizations. As the decisions made as a result of the reviewing process significantly impact the future directions of the field, we recognize the urgency in considering how equity is considered in this process. Through their experiences, four researchers offer the science and STEM community a call to action. The scholars interviewed highlighted that equitable reviewing and funding research and professional development will require changes within the science education and STEM funding ecosystem. Three overarching themes include (1) changing the ideologies and culture of science and STEM education research funding will require centering the needs of the communities being served; (2) institutions and granting organizations should adopt equity-focused and holistic rubrics and models; and 3) we each have an individual responsibility to employ equity during the review process. Thus, this essay has the potential to both inspire and provide explicit examples of how we can all center equity as we strive to transform the future of science and STEM education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScience Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
exo (Funding decision‐making): for example, the program officers determining the grants to be funded;

Funding Information:
Horrobin ( 1996 ) described the projects funded by review panels in biomedical research in the UK to be “pedestrian” (p. 1293) rather than cutting edge innovation that would be revolutionary; essentially, the research granted by funding organizations has been to relatively “safe” projects (Greenberg, 1999 ; Horrobin, 1996 ). Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the worlds' largest source of funding for biomedical research, has been said to “[suffer] from scientific conservatism, risk aversion, and nit‐picking in grant applications” (Greenberg, 1999 , p. 577). Thus, there is a need to support innovative ideas that demonstrate potential impact (Greenberg, 1999 ). Generally, a panel is assigned based on the multidisciplinary expertise of the researchers needed to review proposals. Reviewers are assigned proposals to review, rate proposals based on a rubric or specific criteria, and write a report of the proposals they are assigned to do so for (Mayo et al., 2006 ). Overall, experts tend to constrain the progress of research through funding opportunities with limited rationale (Horrobin, 1996 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • grants
  • peer-review
  • science education
  • STEM education


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