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Hubble Space Telescope

Cycle 21 Peer Review Guidelines

Prelimimary Grades and Triage

We require a set of preliminary grades from each reviewer. The Space Telescope Users Committee (STUC) has emphasized the importance of ensuring that proposals are reviewed by a broad cross-section from each panel. Reviewers are required to submit preliminary grades on all proposals before their panel, except where a conflict of interest exists. Panelists are not required to submit preliminary grades for the TAC proposals. You will submit your preliminary grades through our Web-based Reviewer system at: https://tac.stsci.edu/tacreview by the May 9th deadline.

STScI works with a system of grades that runs from 1.0 to 5.0. The best grade available is 1.0 and the worst is 5.0. (Note that this scale runs opposite to that used by some NASA review panels!) Grades need not be integer numbers. Reviewers should attempt to spread out their grades over the full range if at all feasible. The grades have the following meaning:
  1. Outstanding; project must be done (if technically feasible).
  2. Very Good; should be done (if technically feasible).
  3. Good; worth doing if time permits.
  4. Fair; lowest priority for implementation.
  5. Unsatisfactory; not recommended for implementation.
The preliminary grades are used by STScI to make an initial ranking of the proposals. The proposal oversubscription in Cycle 21 is sufficiently high that proposals near the bottom of this preliminary ranking (approximately the bottom 40%) are highly unlikely to be approved. By default, these proposals are rejected without further discussion by the whole panel. This process of triage has been shown to work well in the past. Panelists have the option of reviving for discussion any triaged proposal they think worthy of approval (unless they have a conflict on the proposal in question). The concept of triage is critical to the HST review process; without it, it would not be possible to review 80 or more proposals per panel in a 2 1/2 - day meeting. For proposals not rejected by triage, the grade voted during the review supersedes any preliminary grade.

In other reviews that you may have participated in, preliminary grades may have carried little value, so it may not have been important whether your preliminary grades were received on time or at all. This is not the case for the HST review! We must have preliminary grades by the May 9th deadline in order to return triage lists to the panels in advance of the review. If the grades of only a single panelist are missing, we cannot adequately perform triage, and the fairness of the review for your entire panel will be jeopardized.