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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Project Plan Revision
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After the peer review, scientists will receive a composite 'Action Class' score. This describes the level of revision required, the timing of revision and whether the revised project plan will be re-reviewed (Go to the OSQR Handbook).

Panel Recommendations will contain expandable text boxes labeled “ARS Response” for answering the queries and recommendations of the panel. Responses are needed ONLY where a response box is present. In most cases, scientists review and respond to the guidance provided. (See Appendix 10: Sample Peer Review Recommendations and ARS Responses)When comments involve recommendations or questions about project objectives, NPLs share responsibility for formulating the response.

While all recommendations must be carefully considered, there is no requirement that all be incorporated. It is entirely acceptable to disagree with a panel recommendation. The response should be professional and convey a respectful difference of opinion.

The TONE of the response should be neutral and never defensive or condescending.

The CONTENT of the response should indicate that the scientists have made all reasonable efforts to accommodate the suggestions made. Lack of adoption of a given suggestion must be justified.

Each 'ARS response' should be sufficiently detailed to stand on its own. Be sure to cite the page where those changes appear or, clearly explain why changes were not made.

Example of an ARS Response

There are no page limits for the revisions, but content and clarity are preferable to volume. Revised text should focus on the comments/recommendations and be of appropriate length. Responses must clearly indicate which components of the recommendation(s) were adopted, indicate if alternative changes were made, and if applicable, the rationale for not accepting a recommendation. A suitable response includes commentary or answer to the stated issue and notation (i.e., page number) where any changes based on this issue appear in the text. In the body of the plan revisions should be highlighted in bold.


When the panel recommendations form comes back to OSQR with the ARS responses, please replace the words “Panel Recommendations” with “ARS Response”.

Example: 303 Oscar 1234-56789-000-00D Panel Recommendations with 303 Oscar 1234-56789-000-00D ARS Response

Rename the revised project plan using this format: NP# Lead Scientist Project # PostPlan. Example: 303 Oscar 1234-56789-000-00D PostPlan

If the project plan is coming back for a re-review, use this format:  NP# Lead Scientist Project # Re-Review Plan.  Example: 303 Oscar 1234-56789-000-00D ReReview Plan

When the project plan has been revised, the same administrative approval process is required as for the initial plan, however, it should now have the post signature page with Area Director's original signature. This revision process typically takes eight weeks. Projects that are classed as 'Major' or 'Not Feasible', and which are revised, are re-reviewed by the panel.

Last Modified: 2/7/2017
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