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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Human System Integration
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education


Review of Disability and Rehabilitation Research

NIDRR Grantmaking Processes and Products






Consensus Report


Report Brief


Report Summary


The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) is a federal agency that supports research and development designed to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. The agency's mission is tied to improving long-term outcomes of these individuals in terms of independence, employment, and participation in their communities.


As part of an effort to assess and improve its performance, NIDRR asked the Board on Human-Systems Integration to (1) evaluate the processes by which it establishes priorities and awards and monitors grants; and (2) examine the quality of the results of agency-funded research based on a sample of publications, devices, and other "outputs" produced by NIDRR grantees.


A 16-member committee conducted the evaluation and reviewed a sample of outputs from 30 grants funded through a variety of NIDRR's program mechanisms. 


The committee determined that NIDRR's long range planning, priority-setting, peer review, and grant management processes were generally successful and made recommendations as to how NIDRR could further strengthen them, such as by forming an advisory council, expanding the pool of high-quality peer reviewers, and continuing to improve monitoring procedures that affect grant-level planning and budgets.


In order to assess the quality of NIDRR outputs, the committee developed a set of criteria including the four domains of technical quality, advancement of knowledge or the field, likely or demonstrated impact, and dissemination. About 75 percent of the reviewed outputs received ratings of "good to excellent" across these four domains, while about 25 percent fell in the lower-quality range. The committee made recommendations as to how NIDRR could improve the quality of outputs through clarifying expectations and including bibliometric analysis as part of performance measurement.


Results and Recommendations of the External Evaluation of NIDRR and Its Grantees

On July 2, 2012, BOHSI staff members, committee member Bruce Gans, and NIDRR staff members conducted a workshop on the recently released report Review of Disability and Rehabilitation Research: NIDRR Grantmaking Processes and Products at the annual meeting of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America.


Click here for more information and to view presentations from the workshop, available in the BOHSI Meeting Archive.


Resources on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


National Rehabilitation Information Center


Disability Statistics


National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research


National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research


Veterans Administration Rehabilitation Research and Development Service









































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