Thinklab open grant proposal review has arrived!

Seven months ago @b_good suggested Thinklab could be used as a vetting system for traditional grants. I loved the idea, and now I'm happy to announce we have a first version ready for everyone to start using!


Proposals can be posted as an "idea" first

Grant writers may post a 1-2 page idea before investing the time to write up a full proposal. This provides an opportunity for feedback on major directional changes. It also creates an opportunity for finding collaborators, or perhaps learning that others are already conducting the same research. For funders the idea stage can perform the same role as a letter of intent.

Thanks to @b_good for suggesting this and @daniel_mietchen for sharing his thoughts.

Text annotation

Reviewers can highlight text to annotate it. This feature was derived from @jonathanwren's idea for gamifying grant proposals. While we didn't implement Jonathan's full idea, it seemed that a text annotation feature would clearly be valuable.


Inline comments

Inline comments can provide further detail when an annotation is not enough. We experimented with several different UIs for doing this, but we found a Google Docs like UI to be the best. Comments appear in the sidebar and clicking the comment or the text annotation will position the comment next to the annotation. Unlike Google Docs, Thinklab comments are tied to a specific version of the document.


Thanks to @caseygreene for requesting inline comments.

Inline discussion links

Not all comments are appropriate as an inline comment. If the reviewer has some feedback they think may lead to significant discussion, they can post the comment as a new discussion. This uses Thinklab's existing discussion features while placing a link to the discussion from within the proposal


Guaranteed review payments

I suspect a proper review of a research proposal could take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours (including follow up discussions). With this kind of time investment, it only seems right that reviewers be compensated. Typically, Thinklab pays reviewers based on peer assessment of their contribution. However, we wanted grant writers to be able to invite their peers and give some clarity on how much they would be compensated. So for this reason we've made it so up to 3 reviewers can be offered a guaranteed payment for review.

A demonstration of proposal review on Thinklab

Here I demonstrate proposal review using, Pathways4Life: Crowdsourcing Pathway Modeling from Published Figures from @alexanderpico. Best viewed full screen.

Please share any feedback by replying here or posting to Thinklab Meta. I expect this to be a powerful tool for improving research proposals. And currently we're offering to post $1000 in reviewer rewards per proposal.


Public comments


Creative Commons License