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Research Validity and Integrity

NIJ provides objective and independent knowledge and tools to reduce crime and promote justice. NIJ follows widely accepted scientific processes and procedures to help ensure the validity and integrity of our research. On this page learn about:

Proposals Are Peer Reviewed for Relevance and Validity

Proposals received under a solicitation are reviewed by independent peer panels comprising experts from academia, industry, and government organizations, along with practitioners from federal, state and local agencies and professional associations. Once reviewers have completed evaluations, NIJ Program Managers recommend individual proposals to the NIJ Director, who makes final award decisions.

Noncompetitive awards. NIJ funds research, development and evaluation activities to meet the challenges of crime and justice primarily through competitive grant solicitations. The focus of the solicitations varies from year to year based on research priorities and available funding.

To a lesser extent, NIJ funds research, development and evaluation activities through agreements with other federal agencies and they may be noncompetitive in nature.

Applicants, Peer Reviewers and NIJ Staff  Must Identify and Address Potential Conflicts of Interest

Applicants. NIJ must be assured of an awardee's ability to identify and to effectively manage any factors that could affect the objectivity and independence of the awardee's work. Research independence and integrity require that awardees ensure that the design, conduct or reporting of research funded by NIJ grants, cooperative agreements or contracts will not be biased by any financial interest on the part of the investigators.

Applications for funding must explain the process and procedures the applicant uses to identify and manage potential financial conflicts of interest. If an applicant believes that there are no potential personal or organizational financial conflicts of interest, the applicant must provide a brief explanation of why that is the case. Where potential organizational financial conflicts of interest exist, the applicant must identify the safeguards in place to address those conflicts of interest.

NIJ Staff. All NIJ staff members involved in a pre-award evaluation process must review NIJ's official guidance on conflicts of interest. Before they begin reviewing applications, NIJ staff must identify every application for which they have a real or potential conflict of interest. If it is discovered there is a conflict, they are not allowed to review or discuss those applications. Conflicts of interest must be explained in writing and reviewed by the staff member's immediate supervisor. The supervisor must ensure that all work pertaining to the review of the application and any management of a subsequent grant award be assigned in ways that mitigate documented conflicts of interest.

Peer Reviewers. Each peer reviewer must sign a conflict of interest form certifying that they have no financial or ethical conflicts of interest. If a reviewer fails to return the form, NIJ will remove the reviewer from the panel.

Final Technical Reports Are Peer Reviewed

Recipients of NIJ funding provide a draft final technical report that describes the project's activities in sufficient detail to permit replication of the design, including a review of relevant literature, detailed description of data collection and analysis procedures, modifications to or problems with the original research design, and findings and conclusions.

The draft final technical report, along with the associated abstract and summary, are peer reviewed, with few exceptions. The recipients must be responsive to peer reviewers' comments and other issues raised in the review and understand that the review process has implications with respect to publication and dissemination decisions made by NIJ. The recipients make appropriate revisions to the final report based on the peer reviewers' comments, comments from NIJ or both.

Recipients also update and deliver any data and associated artifacts (such as specialized programming code, databases and queries, or images generated from the project data) that have changed as a result of any comments.

Datasets Are Made Available for Replication and Review

Recipients of NIJ research funding must submit data resulting from their projects for archiving with the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), with some exceptions. The Data Resources Program ensures the preservation, availability and transparency of data collected through NIJ-funded research and evaluation. Making these data available allows researchers to test each other's conclusions — verifying, refining or refuting original findings — and develop and test new conclusions. Learn more about the process for submitting and reviewing datasets.

Data are maintained at the NACJD, which provides online access to machine-readable files, data dictionaries, study abstracts and geographic data. Visit the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data.

Date Created: July 6, 2011