The ICRG’s research program is funded primarily by companies involved in the gambling industry. Because of concern about undue influence or bias, the ICRG created a firewall to insulate the research from industry influence. First, all of ICRG’s funding initiatives are developed and approved by the Scientific Advisory Board, an independent panel of prominent scientists in the addictions. Second, calls for proposals are distributed to more than 1,000 scientists around the world. Third, grant applications submitted to the ICRG are vetted by independent peer review panels composed of leading scientists in the gambling field. Fourth, their evaluations are then reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Board, which makes the final funding decisions. Neither the governing board nor the donors have any input into this process, and research findings are not announced until published in a peer-reviewed journal. The successful publications records of ICRG-funded investigators—more than 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals since 1996—demonstrates that quality is what drives the ICRG research grants program.
Grant Review Criteria
The ICRG seeks proposals of high scientific merit from investigators who show promise of disseminating their work at high-impact conferences and in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Proposals are evaluated by peer-review panels of experienced researchers in the field of addictions according to the following criteria, which are adapted from the National Institutes of Health:
- Significance. Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services or preventative interventions that drive this field?
- Investigator(s). Are the principal investigator, collaborators and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early-Stage Investigators, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?
- Innovation. Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions proposed?
- Approach. Are the overall strategy, methodology and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies and benchmarks for success presented? If the project involves clinical research, are the plans for protection of human subjects from research risks justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?
- Environment. Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations or collaborative arrangements?
The following scientists reviewed grants applications for the ICRG in 2020-2021:
Bethany Bray, PhD
Department of Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago
Adam Goodie, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Associate Department Head
Director, Center for Gambling Research
Director, Georgia Decision Lab
Behavioral and Brain Sciences Program
University of Georgia
Scott Huettel, PhD
Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Professor of Neurobiology
Sarah E. Nelson, PhD
Director for Research
Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
Dipali Rinker, PhD
Behavioral Sciences and Population Health
American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine
Krishna Vaddiparti, PhD
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
University of Florida
Jeremiah Weinstock, PhD
Professor, Clinical Program
Department of Psychology
Saint Louis University
Michael J.A. Wohl, PhD
Professor of Psychology
ICRG Policy on Academic Integrity and Research Misconduct
“Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification and plagiarism, and does not include honest error or differences of opinion.” (ORI 2005)
ICRG is committed to ensuring the academic integrity of all research funded with its grants. ICRG conducts multiple reviews of grant applications and related proposals every year. Peer reviewers who believe they have identified research misconduct in the form of fabrication, falsification or plagiarism are required to alert ICRG’s Senior Research Director immediately upon such concern. The allegation must not be discussed during peer review, and the reviewer making the allegation will be reminded of the ICRG policy on confidentiality. An application flagged for possible misconduct will still be put through the peer review process.
Within 30 days of being alerted to possible misconduct, the Senior Research Director will convene a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to discuss the allegation. The Senior Research Director will be required to assess any conflicts of interest within the SAB prior to the meeting.
Within 30 days of such meeting, the SAB will decide by at least a two-thirds/majority vote of all of its then members if the alleged misconduct should be reported to the grant applicant’s institutional office of research integrity. Alleged misconduct must be deemed egregious in the eyes of the SAB to be so reported. The Senior Research Director will then be solely responsible for any communications with the applicant’s institution on behalf of ICRG.
NIH Office of Scientific Integrity Definitions for purposes of this Policy: Fabrication: Making up data or results and recording or reporting them. Falsification: Manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented Plagiarism: The appropriation of another’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit
Handling Misconduct | ORI - The Office of Research Integrity. (2005). The Office of Research Integrity. https://ori.hhs.gov/handling-misconduct
Eisner, R., & Vasgird, D. (2003). Responsible Conduct of Research : Research Misconduct. https://Ccnmtl.Columbia.Edu/Projects/Rcr/Rcr_misconduct/WinResources.Html.