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Box 3 Summary points for review boards and funding organizations in public health research

From: Applying for, reviewing and funding public health research in Germany and beyond

• Depending on the composition of the review board, initiate discussions and reflections on public health research, its similarities and differences with clinical and laboratory research, and the resulting implications for the reviewing and decision process
• Reviews on the often inter-/transdisciplinary proposals will usually be done by specialists in one discipline/method; if several disciplines and methods have been covered by different reviewers, encourage and moderate exchange among them
• Be aware of the cumulative effect of critical remarks in reviews; the number of critical remarks is likely to increase with the number of theories and methods employed and the number of reviewers involved even if the quality of the project remains the same
• There is a potential trade-off between internal validity and relevance; if a public health research question is stripped of its context the internal validity may be high but the relevance low. On the other hand, a low internal validity cannot lead to relevant results
• Strengthening the ‘relevance-under-real-life’ perspective can also be achieved by including potential users of research-results in the review board
• Projects comprising a combination of disciplines and methods can be expected to result in enhanced insights; however, they may require more resources than projects that are confined to one discipline and employ only one method