Guide for Preparing Research Scientist Position Descriptions and by MikeJenny


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Guide for Preparing Research Scientist Position Descriptions and
         Conducting Research Grade Evaluation Panels
                For Forest Service policy on the Scientist Career Plan
       FSM 6151.3 and FSH 6109.15, Position Classification Handbook, chapter 30
             Classification of Positions Under the Scientist Career Guide

                                 October 10, 2000

                                 Table of Contents

   Introduction     (page 6)

   Which Positions are Covered by the Research Grade Evaluation Guide (RGEG)?
   (page 6)
   Role of the Forest Service Research Advisory Committee (FSRAC) (page 7)

   Chapter 1Guidelines for Preparing Position Descriptions (page 8)

        General Format and Submission Information           (page 8)
          Position descriptions (page 8)
          Table 1—The four factors of the position description   (page 10)
          Exhibits (page 11)

        Factor IThe Research Assignment          (page 12)
             Research teams (page 12)
             Personal research assignment (page 13)
             Research-related assignments (page 17)
             Supervisory responsibilities and administrative assignments (page 17)

        Factor IISupervision Received        (page 18)

        Factor IIIGuidelines and Originality        (page 19)
             Available literature (page 19)
             Originality required (page 19)
             Demonstrated originality (page 20)

        Factor IVStature and Impact         (page 21)
             Personal data (page 22)
             Professional activities and recognition (page 22)
             Scientific accomplishments and contributions (page 25)
             Disseminating research results (page 34)
             Information and technology transfer (page 34)
             Authorship credit (page 35)
             Other significant information (page 38)
             Contact list (page 40)
             Privacy Act information (page 41)

Chapter 2Guidelines for Conducting Research Evaluation Panels
          (page 42)
 Panel Guidelines      (page 42)
     Why use panels? (page 42)
     When is the Research Grade Evaluation Guide applicable to a position? (page 42)
     Benefits and expectations of panel service (page 43)
     Panel service and conflict of interest (new) (page 43)
     Training aids in support of panels (new) (page 44)
     Types of panels and cyclic review (new) (page 44)
     Scientific technical or supergrade positions (new) (page 45)
     Paneling post doc’s and term employees (new) (page 45)
     Panel member qualifications (page 46)
        Panel chair
     Panel composition and peer groups (page 47)
     Table 2Peer groups for research scientists in the USDA Forest Service (page 49)

Roles and Responsibilities in the Panel Process (formerly Chapter 1)           (page 50)
     Scientist (page 50)
     Supervisors (page 51)
     Personnelist (page 52)
     Panel chair (page 54)
     Panelists (page 55)
     Subject matter reviewer (page 56)
     Washington Office Human Resources Management Staff (page 57)
     Station Director(s), Director(s) FPL and IITF, Deputy Chief(s), and Director of USDA,
        Office of Human Resources Management (page 57)

Procedures and Evaluation Tools for Panelists        (page 60)
     Guidelines for subject matter reviewers (page 60)
     Guidelines for all panelists (page 61)
       Key Points (page 62)
       Types of research accomplishments (page 63)
       Other Factor IV considerations (page 66)
     What to expect during the panel (page 69)
     Panel Evaluation Report (page 70)
     Table 3Degree levels for rating positions above GS-15 level (new)    (page 72)
     Table 4Panel recommendation options (page 73)
     What happens after the panel (page 74)
     Panel records maintenance (new) (page 74)
       Case file documentation (page 74)
       Materials forwarded to the scientist (page 75)
       Research Panel Participant Database (page 75)
       Chapter 3Research Grade Evaluation Guide ...........................

              New Draft Guide & Summary of Changes (To be added after new RGEG is released by

       Attachment A—Forms and Templates for Panel Participants (page 76)
                 Panel Critique Form (new) (page 77)
                 Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (revised)             (page 78)

              Checklists (new)
                 Panelists: Steps for Paneling & Timeline (page 88)
                 Scientists: Steps for Paneling & Timeline (page 89)
                 Panel chair: Steps for Paneling & Timeline (page 90)

               SMR Contact Interview Guide (new) (page 92)

              Suggested Letter from Scientist to Contact Person (new) (page 94)

       Attachment BFSH 6109.15 - Position Classification Handbook,
           Chapter 30 ............................................................................B-1

       Attachment CDelegation of Position Classification Authority C-1
       (Note that no changes or edits were made to these; they are to be modified and added later)

                                                LIST OF TABLES

       Table 1The four factors of the position description format ........................................
       Table 2Peer groups for research scientists in the USDA Forest Service ...................
       Table 3Degree levels for rating positions above GS-15 ..............................................
       Table 4Panel recommendation options……………………………………………….
              Changes from 1995 USDA Forest Service RGEG

In accordance with criticisms and suggestions made during the review process, the Forest Service
Advisory Committee has rearranged sections to make it more “user-friendly” (reduced number of chapters
to 3) and clarified sections that had proven confusing. More specific changes are outlined below.

• Added the role of the FS Research Advisory Committee (FSRAC)
• Added web page information

CHAPTER 1  Now contains “Guidelines for preparing position
descriptions” (Chapter 1 was formerly “Roles and Responsibilities”).
• Eliminated the requirement for listing number of reviews done by journal, grant organization, and year
• Changed the title of Factor IV from “Qualifications and scientific contributions” to “Stature and impact”
to conform to changes made in OPM’s updated RGEG
• Added a section entitled “Assessments, land management plans, and other policy-related products” to
  Factor IV.D
• Added a section entitled “Authorship credit” to Factor IV

CHAPTER 2Now contains three sections: Panel guidelines; Roles and
responsibilities in the panel process; and Procedures and evaluation tools for
panelists (Chapter 2 was formerly “Guidelines for Preparing Position

Panel guidelines

• Added assigned numbers to each of the peer groups (see Table 2)
• Moved “Benefits and expectations of panel service” (was formerly in Chapter 3)
• Added a section entitled “Panel service and conflict of interest”
• Added a section entitled “Training aids in support of panels”
• Added a section entitled “Types of panels & cyclic review”
• Added a section entitled “Scientific technical or supergrade positions”
• Added a section entitled “Paneling post doc’s or term employees”
• Revised section entitled “Panel member qualifications, composition, and peer groups”
• Explicitly stated that 50% of scientists time must be spent doing research to be paneled

Roles and responsibilities in the panel process

• Added information on what happens after a panel for a grade above GS-15 concludes
• Made supervisor of scientist a mandatory SMR contact
• Emphasized confidentiality of panel
Procedures and evaluation tools for panelists

• Under Factor IV – Stature & Impact, “Types of research accomplishments.” Rewrote the Special
assignments section
• Added section entitled “International recognition, and technology transfer”
• Added a new table (#3) reflecting degree levels in excess of Degree E and new point conversion table
eliminating grade point gaps
• Added section entitled “Panel records maintenance”
• Added section entitled “Research panel participant database”


• FY2000 revision of OPM RGEG  listed summary of changes to the beginning of Chapter 3
(Note: Chapter 3 will be added upon OPM’s Release of new RGEG)

• Added new “Panel Critique Form”
• Revised “Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet”
• Added new “Panelists: Steps for Paneling & Timeline”
• Added new “Scientists: Steps for Paneling & Timeline”
• Added new “Checklist for Panel Chairs”
• Added new “SMR Contact Interview Guide”
• Added new “Suggested Letter from Scientist to Contact Person”

Fair, accurate, and objective classification of a research scientist’s position description has two parts:
(1) assigning the proper series and title (such as GS-408 Research Ecologist or GS-482 Research Fishery
Biologist) and (2) assigning the proper grade level. For assigning the correct series and title, U.S. Office
of Personnel Management position classification standards are the appropriate reference.

The subject of this publication is the second part, assigning the appropriate grade level. The Research
Grade Evaluation Guide (RGEG), which is included as Chapter 3 in this guide for position evaluation, is
the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s government-wide reference for basic and applied scientific
research positions when personal research or leadership of a research team is the primary basis for the
position. However, each agency using the RGEG has evolved different methods for preparing a
scientist’s position description and evaluating the grade level of a research position. This publication
explains the methods used by the Forest Service, updating and replacing the Guide for Preparing
Research Scientist Position Descriptions, which was issued December 1, 1995.

This publication reflects important changes in the content of position descriptions and in the processes for
their evaluation in order to promote consistency among research units in conduct of panels; to award
proper credit for team research assignments and accomplishments; to reinforce the importance of
technology transfer; define expectations; and to emphasize the importance of evaluating the overall
quality, usefulness, impact, and significance of a scientist’s accomplishments. This updated version

1. Advice on how to prepare and evaluate Forest Service research position descriptions.

2. Referral to the Research & Development Panel Web Page (
   for access to the most up-to-date information on the panel process, training aids, issues, etc.

3. Advice supplementing direction in FSM 6151.3 and FSH 6109.15, chapter 30, to promote
   consistency, fairness, and accuracy in research grade evaluations.

4. An updated copy of the RGEG (dated / /2000) to serve as a ready reference for all parties in the
   research grade-level evaluation process.

This publication has three chapters. Chapter 1 describes how to prepare an accurate position description
for research scientists. Chapter 2 provides guidance on the panel process. It answers many of the
questions that panelists have about how to evaluate a position and what to expect during a panel. Chapter
3 reproduces verbatim the most recent version of the RGEG, which is the foundation for all preceding

Which Positions Are Covered By The RGEG?

Many different professional job series require scientific training and application of scientific skills.
Individuals assigned to such positions are usually called “scientists” and many have advanced degrees
(e.g., Masters of Science or Doctor of Philosophy). The RGEG is used to evaluate the grade of a
professional scientific position if the nature of the work performed is research. Research is
systematic, critical, intensive investigation using the scientific method to discover, develop, and apply
new or more complete scientific knowledge of the subject studied. The work need not be directed at a
specific application. Research includes, but is not limited to, theoretical and experimental investigations
that: (1) determine the nature, magnitude, and interrelationships of physical, biological, sociological, and
psychological phenomena and processes; (2) create or develop theoretical or experimental means of
investigating such phenomena and

processes; (3) develop principles, criteria, methods, and data of general applicability for use by others;
and (4) synthesize complex information into useful concepts which can be applied in a natural resources
management context.

A subset of scientific positions are equipment development positions. The Equipment Development
Grade-Evaluation Guide (EDGEG) and panels are used to determine grades of professional engineering
and physical science positions engaged in planning, formulating, defining, monitoring, managing, and
evaluating development work for new equipment and equipment systems. Like research, development
engineering is a creative process involving the continuous exploitation of basic scientific knowledge. But
it is further characterized by the creation of new or substantially improved end items or products that will
perform a useful function or be suitable for a particular task. The end items or products may take the
form of equipment, components, subsystems, materials, processes, procedures, techniques, and associated
equipment support hardware and software. Some scientific positions may appear to fit simultaneously
both RGEG and EDGEG criteria. FSH 6109.15, chapter 30, should be consulted for additional
information to help distinguish between research scientist positions and equipment development

The RGEG (or EDGEG) does not apply to scientific positions for which the work consists primarily of
(1) planning, implementing, or monitoring activities to attain a desired outcome, situation, or condition;
(2) providing advice; or (3) describing and interpreting data or performing analyses using established
guides, precedents, methods, or practices. The grade for those positions is determined using other Office
of Personnel Management position classification standards. The distinction between research and non-
research positions is discussed in detail in the RGEG (see chapter 3, pages ).

Role Of The Forest Service Research Advisory Committee

The Forest Service Research Advisory Committee (FSRAC) was created to provide the Deputy Chief for
Research & Development advice and assistance on issues that affect Forest Service research scientists.
One aspect of the Committee’s charter is to provide assistance on the use and modification of the Forest
Service research panel process. The Committee is comprised of a representative (scientist) from each
research station and the Forest Products Laboratory, a representative from the National Federation Federal
Employees (NFFE), and 3 field personnelists (with representation rotating among the units). Members
serve 3-year terms, with about one-third of the members being replaced annually. Ex officio members are
the Assistant Director for Policy, Human Resources Management Staff; Washington Office classification
specialist responsible for national panels; Washington Office research staff assistant; and Washington
Office Staff Director for Science Policy, Planning, Inventory and Information. The Committee meets
yearly at a minimum.

The Committee assists in the evaluation of the overall panel process and recommends modifications or
improvements as appropriate. It conducts service-wide surveys, identifies issues, provides process
clarifications, identifies training needs, and assists in answering questions or concerns about the process.
The Committee meets annually with the Deputy Chief of Research & Development to provide a report of
its progress and to discuss key issues. The Committee developed and maintains the Research &
Development Panel Web Page. Committee meeting minutes are also posted at this site.
                                              Chapter 1

 Guidelines For Preparing Research Scientist Position Descriptions
Position descriptions are used by management personnel in the Forest Service for different purposes.
Station directors use them to satisfy accountability requirements, such as defining organizational structure
or program planning and budgeting. Classification specialists use them to determine job series and grade
level. Supervisors use them to advertise, recruit, and select highly qualified individuals and to help frame
annual performance expectations. The person in the position uses the description to determine the nature
and scope of the assignment and the responsibilities of the job. Simultaneously satisfying all these
different information needs makes preparing position descriptions challenging.

Research scientist position descriptions follow a 4-factor format prescribed in the Office of Personnel
Management (OPM) Research Grade Evaluation Guide (RGEG), dated                     2000 (chapter 3 of this
publication). Each factor provides information on a different facet of the position influencing the grade
level. There is a definite relationship and some overlap among the 4 factors. Most of the information
included in the 4 factors is qualitative rather than quantitative, which adds to the challenge of conducting
fair, yet necessarily subjective, evaluations of grade level. Albert Einstein was correct when he said, “Not
everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

The position description must provide sufficient information to clearly assess the level of scientific
difficulty and complexity of the assignment, as well as the quality and impact on the position of the
scientific achievements of the person in the job. Therefore, position descriptions should be written in
concise, specific terms, avoiding jargon, generalizations, and conclusions. Position descriptions found to
be incomplete from the standpoint of providing adequate factual information will be returned to the
scientist for correction.

In addition to panel training (see chapter 2), scientists are encouraged to work with their supervisor in
acquiring example position descriptions. Example position descriptions will allow you to see how factors
link to provide consistency between factors. Other scientists may be approached directly for additional
sample position descriptions and pertinent advice related to the panel process.

General Format and Submission Information
Position descriptions

Position description should be written according to the outline in Table 1. Factors I, II, and the first two
parts of III are usually prepared in gender-neutral language because they are independent of the individual
in the position. Because the last part of Factor III and Factor IV refer to a specific individual, the first
person (I, me) or gender-specific language (he, she) are appropriate there.

The final version should be typed single-spaced in a font size of 11 to 12 points. Ten copies of the
position description with exhibits (see below) should be submitted through supervisory channels to the
station personnel office for panel and personnel office use. Forms AD-332 (Position Description Cover
Sheet) and SF-52 (Request for Personnel Action) should be prepared by the rating supervisor and
submitted as part of the package.

In addition to the above steps, position descriptions for scientists at grade 14 and higher require
coordination between the research station and the Washington Office. A roster of scientists to be
evaluated is sent to the station, FPL, or IITF director by the National Panel Coordinator (position
classification specialist with the Washington Office Human Resources Management Staff). The director
notifies each scientist of the pending evaluation and the approximate date of the panel. The scientist
prepares and submits the PD as described above. Three months before the approximate panel date, the
director transmits a final position description package for each scientist (including SF 52, AD-332, 10
copies of the position description, and 6 sets of up to 6 exhibits) to the national panel coordinator. The
National Panel Coordinator selects panel members from the National Panel Participant Database;
schedules the panel; sends copies of the position descriptions and exhibits to the panel chair and panelists;
completes the panel evaluation report after the close of the panel; and obtains the panel chair’s signature
on the report and final approval from appropriate officials.

See Chapter 2, section 2 for more information on the roles and responsibilities of the scientist,
supervisors, personnelists, and directors in the panel process (p. ___). The scientist will find additional
information in Chapter 2 helpful for preparing the position description, particularly the narratives on
international recognition, special assignments, and information and technology transfer. A timeline of
steps to be followed in preparing and submitting the PD can be found in Attachment A.

Table 1The 4 factors of the position description format

Factor I.   The research assignment
            A. Research teams
            B. Personal research assignments
            C. Research-related assignments
            D. Supervisory responsibilities and administrative assignments
Factor II. Supervision received
Factor III. Guidelines and originality
            A. Available literature
            B. Originality required
            C. Demonstrated originality
Factor IV. Stature and Impact
            A. Personal data
               1. Name
               2. Educational background
                   a. College degrees
                   b. Additional academic study
               3. Date of last promotion
               4. Professional experience
            B. Professional activities and recognition
               1. Honors and awards
               2. Society and professional activities
                   a. Membership in professional societies
                   b. Service in professional societies
                   c. Professional registration
               3. University involvement
               4. Presentations
                   a. Invited papers and posters
                   b. Offered papers and posters
               5. Participation in technical conferences and workshops
               6. Significant consultations
               7. Scientific exchanges
            C. Scientific accomplishments and contributions
            D. Disseminating research results
               1. Publications
               2. Patents
               3. Documented, archived, databases
               4. Electronic and audio-visual outputs
               5. Demonstrations, short-courses, and training sessions
            E. Other significant information
            F. Contact list
            G. Privacy Act information


Exhibits demonstrating the significance and impact of the scientist’s most important accomplishments
(IV.C) should also be submitted with the position description for panel evaluation. These may include
publications (in hardcopy or hypertext), patents granted, cooperative research and development
agreements (CRADAs) initiated, germplasm releases, review articles or policy summaries, and
assessments. Accomplishments emphasizing information and technology transfer (ITT) may be
documented effectively by supporting statements or other outputs, such as brochures, computer program
descriptions (README.TXT files included with the program disks must describe program structure and
content), patent or CRADA “exclusive” and “non-exclusive” licensing arrangements, task force reports,
training materials prepared for the National Forest System or State and Private Forestry, landowner
information packets, scientific exchange documents, and videos or other items demonstrating
accomplishments or highlighting the impact of accomplishments. All these items are valid exhibits for
research grade evaluation panels. Manuscripts that have been accepted for publication (i.e., “in press”)
can be included. Scientists may submit study plans, problem analyses, or grant proposals funded if they
do not have other significant outputs to submit for an accomplishment.

Exhibits should be selected with the following criteria in mind:

•   Exhibits must support statements of the individual’s role and the impact of his/her work on science,
    technology, programs, and policies.

•   A maximum of 6 exhibits may be submitted with a position description. The exhibits selected must
    reflect an appropriate balance among accomplishments (IV.C). The set of exhibits must also clearly
    support both the scientific aspects of the accomplishments and the ITT aspects of accomplishments.
    Some exhibits may do both. Fewer exhibits may be appropriate at lower grade levels. Typically, a
    grade 11 provides 3 or 4 exhibits. Quality of exhibits is more important than quantity.

•   To help establish the recency of accomplishments, some exhibits should have been produced since the
    last promotion (ideally, since the last panel evaluation). Others may be from earlier evaluations.

•   Whenever an accomplishment is not, or cannot be, appropriately documented with reference to an
    output listed in Factor IV.D, concise statements signed by some knowledgeable authority, such as a
    National Forest System line officer, state forester, Washington Office staff director, industry or
    interest group representative, or assistant station director or program manager will be acceptable as 1
    of the 6 exhibits. Such statements must elaborate on the accomplishment to provide evidence
    supporting the position description narrative, particularly the impact. For research accomplishments,
    the statement must also indicate why the research was not or cannot be published.

    Research under this CRADA involves the firm’s proprietary wood finishing system, hence,
    publication of results is embargoed for 3 years under terms of the exclusive license granted to the
    firm. However, as a direct result of this research, a new product line of finishing equipment has been
    introduced that materially reduces the volatile organic compound emissions to well below EPA air
    quality standards. Sales of the new equipment have already surpassed $10 million and provided
    royalties to the government totaling $500,000.

Exhibits must be referenced to the particular accomplishment supported and, in the case of publications,
to the publications list. Write in the upper-right-hand corner of the exhibit the accomplishment that it
supports, whether it is a scientific (S) or information and technology transfer (ITT) exhibit, and the
publication list cross-reference, if applicable.

    Exhibit #1: Accomplishment #3, S, Publication #62.

    Exhibit #6: Accomplishment #5, ITT, Publication #78.

Factor IThe Research Assignment
Most Forest Service research is performed in teams. Factor I describes the scientist’s team assignment
and personal research responsibilities on the teams. The primary team is the research work unit to which
the position is permanently assigned. Secondary teams are formal or informal entities assembled to attack
specific problems. Factor I should be less than 5 pages in length.

Research teams

The primary team to which the position is assigned should be identified. Indicate station name, research
work unit (or program title) and number, and permanent duty station. The research team’s mission, its
importance, and the titles of the assigned problems should be stated briefly. The RWU description or
program charter can be quoted directly. Finally, any other teams to which the scientist is formally
assigned or informally affiliated can be listed.

    The scientist is a research forester in Southern Research Station Research Work Unit FS-SRS-4111
    (Silviculture of Artificially Regenerated Southern Pines), located at Pineville, Louisiana. The mission
    of this team is to provide the fundamental information necessary to develop improved methods of
    artificial regeneration for the major southern pines and to determine the effects of site quality, stand
    dynamics, ecophysiological factors, and management practices on growth and quality of plantations.
     The four problem areas assigned to the team are (1) determining mechanisms by which stand
    density, competition and nutrition interact with climatic and edaphic factors to affect assimilation
    and allocation of carbon in stands and individual trees; (2) developing techniques for evaluating the
    physiological attributes of nursery stock that influence the success of artificial regeneration;
    (3) developing reliable models for accurately predicting site quality, growth, and yield in managed
    stands influenced by fusiform rust, bark beetles, climate, and edaphic factors; and (4) establishing
    studies to assess the impact of harvesting and regeneration practices on long-term soil productivity.
    The South's forest resource situation offers a unique challenge to research scientists. Demands for
    timber and related forest resources are expected to increase. There is evidence that radial growth is
    declining in some physiographic regions. Forest land is being converted to other uses, and
    environmental values and preferences for multiresource management mixtures are increasing. If
    forest productivity in the South is to be maintained or improved while the many other uses of the
    resource are provided, then the research information provided by this team is necessary for
    managing this region's most valuable cash crop.

    The scientist is a member of the assessment specialists team working on the 1998 RPA Assessment for
    the Chief's Office. The team is responsible for analyzing long-term supply and demand trends for
    renewable resources and preparing a decennial report as mandated by the Forest and Rangeland
    Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974. The team conceives and evaluates results from regional
    and national studies of resource demand, conducted by themselves and cooperators in academia, the
    Natural Resource Conservation Service, other federal agencies, and interest groups. These results
    are compared to regional supply estimates to identify places and times where potential shortages may
    develop. Because current and projected future supply and demand levels of renewable resources and
    the changing demographics of American society are closely linked, the team members interactively
    evaluate impacts of projected future demand and supply trends to highlight important resource
    management and policy implications for the RPA Program. Appointment to the team was made by
    the Washington Office Director, Recreation Valuation and Use Research Staff, with the concurrence
    of the Director of the Southern Research Station.

    The scientist is assistant compiler for the Eastern Region on the Ecological Classification and
    Mapping Task (ECOMAP) Team. The team’s mission is to develop a consistent approach to
    ecosystem classification and mapping at multiple geographic scales down to the sub-region (section)
    level. This information provides a scientific basis for disaggregating ecosystems into successively
    smaller, more homogeneous units for land management planning activities. Working with another
    GS-12 research ecologist and a GS-12 hydrologist, the scientist helps prepare land classification
    definitions based upon associations of those biotic and environmental factors that directly affect or
    indirectly express energy, moisture, and nutrient gradients that regulate the structure and function of
    ecosystems. These factors include climate, physiography, water, soils, air, hydrology, and potential
    natural communities. The team assignment was made by the Director of the North Central Forest
    Experiment Station at the request of the Regional Forester for the Eastern Region.

Personal research assignment

A description of a personal research assignment should cover the entire research cycle from initiating a
study through reporting results and helping users implement them (information and technology transfer).
This description normally includes (1) defining the research objective, (2) describing the research
(3) delineating ways of resolving complexities and ambiguities of the problems assigned, (4) describing
the expected results, (5) evaluating the significance of progress, and (6) listing the methods planned for
disseminating and applying results and transferring the technology. This section of Factor I should
briefly summarize all six aspects for each team to which the scientist is formally assigned or informally
affiliated. It should identify the field of research and outline specifically the study areas and lines of
investigation that constitute the individual’s research activities or program as part of the team.

Specific facts on the breadth of the problem and the depth or intensity of the required investigation are
essential. The extent to which related research has been done, the degree of difficulty in defining research
objectives, the number of unknowns, and the critical obstacles are indicators of research difficulty and
complexity. Describe expected research results as an extension of knowledge or development of new
principles, in terms of their impact on practices, processes, or products.

The relative newness of an assignment, such as resulting from a transfer of station or a recent major
revision of the work unit description, should be mentioned. There should be some evidence in Factor
IV of progress in a new team assignment before full credit is given in Factor I for the increased
complexity of a new team assignment. Some credit in Factor I may be given if progress is being made,
even though substantive outputs are not yet available. Factor I.B is usually 1 to 3 pages. Directors may
grant a delay from scheduled paneling when a significant impact that could negatively affect the outcome
of the panel has occurred.

    The scientist plans and conducts research to develop models that predict the interactive effects of
    fusiform rust, site quality, and intensive silvicultural practices on growth and yield of managed
    stands of the 4 major southern pines (loblolly, slash, longleaf, and shortleaf) (primarily RWU
    problem #3). Major objectives of the individual’s personal research include (1) comparing
    performance of these species on a wide variety of planting sites in the southern United States by
    relating growth and yield of each species to the climatic and edaphic characteristics of the site as
    well as their relative susceptibility to fusiform rust; (2) developing site-specific height-age
    relationships for each species; and (3) determining the effects of fertilization, thinning, and pruning
    on growth and wood quality of loblolly and slash pine. The scientist is primarily responsible for
    accomplishing problem 3 and coordinates a team of research scientists that includes 1 scientist from
    the unit, 2 scientists from other station units, and 3 cooperating scientists from universities across the
    region. A holistic approach (establishing single-purpose studies as well as complex
    multiple-objective studies designed to determine interactions) is used by the team to develop the
    desired models. Team members collaborate by developing studies to provide pieces for the total
    model, with each scientist’s individual expertise being an integral part. The individual develops the
    overall strategy and approach to the problem, determines and prioritizes the necessary studies to fill
    knowledge gaps, coordinates the cooperative efforts of the team, and manages the available budget.
    The scientist’s expertise in the area of forest genetics and tree physiology is focused on determining
    the complex role of genetics in controlling physiological processes necessary for growth in response
    to fusiform rust susceptibility, and changes in climatic and edaphic site factors. The scientist designs,
    establishes, and supervises the conduct of several individual studies specific to determining the
    interactions between genotype, site, and susceptibility to fusiform rust of slash and loblolly pine.
    Studies on tree nutrition and growth and yield modeling involve collaboration by the team.

    Although considerable knowledge exists relative to the genetic variation and selection of genotypes
    for superior growth and resistance to fusiform rust, very little is known on the interactions with site
    differences and virtually nothing has been developed into holistic prediction models. As the demand
    for forest products increasingly shifts to the South and as the Nation’s desire for multiple use of forest
    lands grows, there is a greater need for precise estimates of site productivity and methods whereby
    site productivity can be improved through intensive management practices on those lands most
    desirable for timber production. Public and private landowners need models that predict the desired
    future condition, productivity, and economic feasibility of practicing forest management on their
    stands. The focus of the scientist’s research assignment is to provide public and private land
    managers with the scientific information needed to make resource management decisions on over 50
    million acres of southern forests. In addition, basic scientific information will be derived, providing
    input for long-term site productivity models. The scientist disseminates this information through
    published literature and participation in symposiums, workshops, and short courses.

To be credited in Factor I, team responsibilities must be ongoing and relate to a specific research
problem. For scientists at higher grades whose panel evaluation interval is 4 or 5 years, some teams may
form and complete their assignments between panel evaluations. Describe the scientist’s personal
research assignment to them and their success in Factor IV.E (Other Significant Information).

Team responsibilities may be assigned formally by letter from a line officer (project or team leader, local
research field director, the Deputy Chief for Research and Development, or the Chief), or they may have
developed informally. If informal team responsibilities are listed in Factor IV, the signatures of the rating
and second-level supervisors on Form AD-332 (which certifies the accuracy of the position description)
constitute approval to give credit for them.

There are two types of team responsibilities: leadership responsibilities and membership
responsibilities. Leadership responsibilities usually have an administrative as well as a programmatic
component. Project leaders are considered team leaders because they have both administrative and
programmatic responsibility. However, there can be team leaders who only have a programmatic
assignment. Team leaders having only administrative responsibilities (e.g., the Chair of a station’s Civil
Rights Committee) should list such assignments in Factor I.E (Supervisory Responsibilities and
Administrative Assignments).

Team leadership responsibilities should be explained in terms of (1) the individual’s role on the team;
(2) a listing of the problems assigned to the team; (3) a brief description of the nature and complexity
of the problems; (4) the number, title, and grade of team members, and title and affiliation of non-Forest
Service employees; and (5) a description of the type of scientific leadership exercised by the team leader
from critical problem selection through transferring the team’s research results.

    The individual leads a team of scientists, supporting staff, and cooperators to develop an
    understanding of the physics of fires in wildland environments, and to translate their findings into
    computer systems for fire management. In addition to the individual, the permanent staffing of the
    team includes 2 research foresters (GS-12 & 13), 1 mechanical engineer (GS-14), 1 physicist
    (GS-13), 1 meteorologist (GS-11), 2 forestry technicians (GS-9), 1 computer programmer (GS-12),
    1 mathematician (GS-11), and 1 clerk (GS-5). There are approximately 5 additional FTE’s each year
    on temporary assignments, and there are usually about 4 major cooperators working on unit
    problems on cooperative agreements. Cooperators currently include scientists at the University of
    Oregon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of New South Wales (Australia),
    Toronto University (Canada), and Systems for Fire Sciences (a non-profit institute in California).
    The individual is responsible for overall coordination of activities to assure that studies address
    problems identified in the team’s research work unit description in an effective manner. This is
    facilitated in part through the development of problem analyses, interaction with scientists in the
    development of study plans and cooperative agreements, personal research on fire spread, and
    through careful management of all activities to assure timely focus of resources toward an orderly
    series of research accomplishments. Considerable additional effort is required of the team leader to
    work with management agencies to assure the accomplishments are in phase with agency needs and
    capabilities to place them into operation. Resulting fire management systems will be widely applied
    throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and to a lesser extent other countries by agencies in
    their planning of fire policy, in training for use of fire and fire suppression, and in actual fire
    suppression operations.

    When the work unit description was modified in 1993, a problem focused on wildlife impacts of
    silvicultural options was explicitly incorporated. The scientist has assumed an informal leadership
    role within the unit for this new problem area by helping the project leader plan specific studies and
    by coordinating field work among the Forest Service researchers in their unit and NE-4251 and
    university cooperators. The individual is responsible for informally coordinating the wildlife-related
    field work underway by 2 Cooperative Education students (GS-486-9 and GS-486-7), 8 seasonal
    employees of the unit, and 2 teams of university cooperators (15 individuals). Together, these 8
    studies cover work on amphibians, neotropical migratory songbirds, bats, and small mammals. Most
    of this research was initiated as a set of independent studies in the scientist’s unit, with several being
    initiated jointly with scientists in NE-4251. The individual recognized the importance of better
    coordination because the studies were all underway on the same experimental forest and they were
    all focused on the same broader question of how silvicultural treatment options affect wildlife
    habitats. Although not a formally assigned leadership responsibility, the leadership role filled has
    provided valuable quality assurance and quality control of the data being generated in the various
    studies and will enable more comprehensive findings to be developed in each study than originally
    envisioned when the separate studies were initiated. Further, through what started as spontaneous
    coordination evolved into an informal leadership situation where the scientist is now the principle
    wildlife research contact within the unit for technology transfer to resource managers, planners, and
    scientists on the White Mountain National Forest.

For team membership responsibilities, this section should provide (1) a listing of the problems
assigned to the team; (2) a brief description of the nature and complexity of the problems and why a team
is needed to tackle them; (3) the number, title, and grade of team members and title and affiliation of
non-Forest Service employees; and (4) a description of the individual’s expected scientific contribution to
the solution of the assigned problems. Showing an individual’s scientific contribution to the team (e.g.,
“... to determine if a decline in deer mouse predation is a proximate trigger for gypsy moth outbreaks...”)
is more important than showing his/her role (e.g., “... is the small mammal specialist on the gypsy moth
team”). When describing the individual’s scientific contribution to the team, the 4 aspects that should be
given strongest credit are (a) conceiving the study or defining the study objective, (b) defining the
hypotheses to test and the research approach, (c) interpreting the data, and (d) drawing conclusions from
the data.

Some scientists regard team research as worth less credit than the same research accomplished by an
individual working alone. This tendency stems from the incorrect assumption that “working alone” is
equivalent to “independent research.” However, the RGEG defines research independence in terms of the
level of technical supervision received and the definition varies depending upon grade level. At GS-11,
“independent” means that the researcher is capable of performing responsibly in all phases of research but
with close technical supervision, particularly review of the work performed. At GS-12, “independent”
means that the researcher is capable of accepting responsibility for all phases of research, with limited
technical supervision in various phases of research; i.e., less oversight by supervisor of work performed.
At GS-13 and above, “independent” means that the researcher requires essentially no technical
supervision in all phases of research. Note that in these definitions, independence is not synonymous
with working alone on a study.

Scientists do not surrender their independence (i.e., freedom from technical supervision) by joining a
team. Rather, the converse is often truea researcher demonstrates increased independence by joining an
interdisciplinary team. Often, it is precisely because a scientist has demonstrated his/her capability of
independent research at GS-12 or above (limited or essentially no technical supervision necessary) that
the scientist is invited to join an interdisciplinary team. For example, a research wildlife biologist may be
asked to join a team needing wildlife expertise because none of the other team members have it. If the
team lacks wildlife expertise, they certainly are not capable of technically supervising wildlife research.
Therefore, how can the researcher’s independence be compromised by joining the team?

What team membership does compromise is the researcher’s ability to act unilaterally to serve only goals
pertinent to that individual’s discipline. For example, the need to attain certain wildlife goals (e.g.,
improve waterfowl nesting habitat) may foreclose certain silvicultural options. Restricting the suite of
feasible silvicultural treatments that might be tested does not detract from the research silviculturist’s
independence. Defining the silvicultural hypotheses within the constraints imposed by the wildlife goals
or interpreting the data collected still requires silvicultural research independence. Integrating the
silvicultural and wildlife researchers’ contributions creates the synergy that results in the team’s
contribution (and the impact of that contribution) being greater than the sum of the individual parts.

As long as the individual scientists are fully participating as professionally responsible team members in
substantive aspects of planning the study, defining hypotheses, interpreting data, and drawing
they have not surrendered research independence as the RGEG defines it. The RGEG says that “specific
direction as to the plan of attack, detailed definition of the problem before assignment to the incumbent,
the taking over of analysis, inference, or reporting by others are limitations on independence”
(OPM RGEG page ).

    The scientist serves as a research geneticist on a cooperative support research team that is a special
    cooperative program in forest tree improvement with North Carolina State University and industry.
    The team focuses on loblolly and slash pines, and will determine the genetic testing plans for the 34
    cooperating members of the tree improvement cooperative. The problem assigned to the individual is
    developing genetic testing plans to quantify disease resistance. Understanding and improving
    disease resistance of new breeding lines is critical to success of the program and has been among the
    most unyielding aspects of the cooperative’s research agenda. The scientist independently defines
    studies to evaluate results from new genetic tests against current genetic testing protocols to
    determine what additional accuracy and precision might be attained and at what cost. Based on the
    findings, the individual makes recommendations to the team on which testing approaches appear
    most effective for improving prediction of disease resistance. The research requires development of
    new biochemical and molecular biological screening methods and the design of statistically valid
    approaches to assessing resistance. The scientist participates in team planning sessions and co-
    authors reports of the team.

Research-related assignments

This section describes current, continuing research-related assignments. Regularly assigned duties related
to research, such as special assignments, extended consultations, and task force projects, should be briefly
summarized. The summary should describe the individual’s contribution of insight, initiative, creativity,
and originality in helping to fulfill the assignment. Include a percentage of the time per year devoted to
each assignment. Past accomplishments in these areas are shown in Factor IV.B (Professional Activities
and Recognition).

    The individual represents the station as a member of the Inland West Fish Habitat Task Group. The
    mission of this group is to develop compatible guidelines for managing fish habitat in all
    participating state, federal, and private agencies in the Interior West. These include units of the
    USDA Forest Service National Forest System and USDI Bureau of Land Management and Fish and
    Wildlife Service units as well as the state lands departments in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana,
    Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. The scientist ensures that silvicultural research results are
    integrated into management guidelines and that related ecological research problems are prioritized
    for study by the Station and its cooperators. With the current high-level of concern over declining
    populations and stocks of anadromous salmon and native cutthroat trout, successful results from this
    group are of significance locally, regionally and nationally. Successful guidelines to maintain and
    improve these fisheries are necessary to continue forest operations on federal lands.

Supervisory responsibilities and administrative assignments

The nature and extent of supervisory responsibilities and administrative assignments, including civil
rights and multicultural activities, should be briefly described in this section. All positions having
formally designated and continuing supervisory responsibilities over permanent or temporary Forest
Service employees must include the following paragraphs, verbatim, which embody expectations for
supervisory positions.

    Individual exercises the full range of supervisory duties for  (specify employees by job series and
    grade, e.g., GS-460-12 Research Forester). Plans unit work, establishes work schedules and
    priorities, and assigns and reviews work. Communicates with subordinates the progress of work and
    problem areas as they arise. Recommends employee status changes, such as promotions,
    reassignments, and other personnel changes. Approves leave. Sets performance standards and
    evaluates performance. Identifies training needed by subordinates, and ensures that training
    opportunities are provided. Has the authority to resolve complaints and informal and first-level
    grievances, and the responsibility to advise employees of unsatisfactory performance and the
    obligation to assist such employees to improve performance to satisfactory levels. Keeps employees
    informed of management policies, procedures, and goals. Conducts periodic safety briefings and
    assures good laboratory and fieldwork procedures are followed to provide a work environment safe
    from unacceptable hazards.
    Provides leadership, allocates resources, and implements activities to accomplish multicultural
    organization direction and Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights requirements, goals, policies, and
    objectives. Supports and participates in the Work Environment Continuous Improvement Process.
    Ensures that all communication written, oral, visual, signed is nondiscriminatory and sensitive to all
    employees and publics. Creates a work environment that respects, appreciates, and accepts the
    contributions and perspectives of all employees. These supervisory and administrative
    responsibilities constitute ___ percent of the scientist’s time.

The estimate of time devoted to these activities is necessary for several purposes. Accomplishments and
their impact should be evaluated in light of the actual time devoted to research. As the percentage of time
devoted to supervisory responsibilities and administrative assignments nears 50 percent, the rating and
second-level supervisors should consider whether or not the position remains classifiable using the
RGEG. Options are to either reformulate the position to reduce non-research time demands, classify the
position using other non-research standards, or provide explicit supporting narrative in this section
justifying devoting significant time to supervisory responsibilities and administrative assignments while
still using the RGEG for the evaluation.

Individuals who are not project or team leaders may also have certain formally designated administrative
responsibilities. These may include assignments such as chair or membership of Station civil rights
committees, or leadership in formally sanctioned employee organizations. These assignments also
impinge on research time and add complexity to the research assignment. Panels should award credit here
in Factor I commensurate with the increased impediment created by the time requirements of such

    The individual is a zone representative to the NE/NA Civil Rights Committee, elected to represent
    employees at the Durham, NH, location. Duties include attending and actively participating in CRC
    meetings, assuring that local CRC meetings are held at least semi-annually, identifying issues and
    opportunities that should be dealt with at the station level, collecting and analyzing information to
    make the NE/NA CRC consideration of issues and opportunities efficient and effective, and providing
    advice to the station and area directors regarding specific issues and opportunities under
    consideration. This administrative assignment constitutes __ percent of the scientist’s time in 200_
    and 200_.

Factor IISupervision Received
The supervisor should be identified by title and organization, and the kind of supervision and the degree
of professional responsibility and independent performance permitted should be described. The extent of
technical and scientific supervision or control exercised by the supervisor and the organization should be
described, keeping in mind that there are different levels of supervision, depending on the ability, skill,
and experience of the individual scientist involved. The description should speak to the degree of
responsibility exercised by the scientist for selecting problem components for study, specifying
objectives, and organizing, planning, executing, interpreting, and reporting research. Also, the kinds of
action that require approval of the supervisor and team leader and the nature and extent of authority to
speak or act for the team, station, or Forest Service when dealing with professional, nonprofessional, or
other cooperating or interested groups should be listed. Factor II should be less than 1 page in length.
Internal inconsistencies must be avoided. For instance, the statement “the project leader reviews the
scientist’s work for technical validity and discusses research in progress” should not be followed by “the
scientist has full technical responsibility for the research.” Internal inconsistencies must be avoided both
within Factor II and among the factors. For example, a statement that the individual is an international
authority in Factor II should be made only if consultations with foreign entities or individuals and invited
papers at international meetings are shown in Factor IV.B.

    The scientist’s supervisor is the project leader of NC-4151, who provides guidance in the form of
    occasional discussions concerning research priorities, project resources and administrative
    procedures, as they relate to the team’s assigned mission. The scientist is responsible for informing
    the supervisor of research progress and results. The scientist selects the research approach and
    methods necessary for solving the assigned research problem and develops the problem analysis.
    Within the scope of the approved problem analyses, the scientist is responsible for identifying specific
    studies, defining objectives, organizing and conducting the research, interpreting the results, and
    presenting the findings in the form of reports, demonstrations, manuscripts, and other appropriate
    technology transfer/research application activities. Problems of administrative policy and research
    coordination are referred to the supervisor. The scientist is the station’s expert on the growth and
    yield of white spruce plantations.

Factor IIIGuidelines and Originality
This factor has three sections. The first two define expectations for whomever occupies the position,
while the third one ties the incumbent’s specific contributions to the former two. When writing a
position description for a vacant position, only the first two sections should be prepared. Factor
III.C, which demonstrates the originality that the selectee brings to the position, naturally should not be
prepared until after the selectee accepts the job. Study plans and problem analyses contain information on
the available literature and the state of the art that may be helpful in preparing Factors III.A and III.B.
Factor III should normally be less than 2 pages long. Each section should be no more than 1 to 2
paragraphs in length.

Available literature

In most fields, past research has established usable guidelines that can be followed or modified. Rarely
do no usable guidelines exist. Factor III should begin by briefly describing the available literature and
indicating the extent to which it applies to Factor I.B (Personal Research Assignment). The available
literature may come from within the discipline or the field of research assigned, perhaps even previous
work by the individual, or it may come from a different, perhaps distant, area of research. The linkage
between the available literature and the specific research objectives being pursued should be explained.

Originality required

The difficulties in identifying specific objectives, hypotheses, or expected results, and in converting
abstract concepts to easily understood statements or theories, needs to be described. Sometimes the
extent to which new areas of investigation have been or might be opened based upon the assigned
research and helps reflect the originality required. The innovation, originality, and creativity needed to
modify and build upon the existing guidelines must be clearly yet concisely described. If methodology
from another field or discipline is being borrowed or transformed in an innovative way, the changes
needed in the available methodology should also be described.

Demonstrated originality

For this part, the originality and creativity demonstrated by the individual that is applicable to the
research assignment and is considered the scientist’s best evidence of originality related to the current
assignment, should be described. Some specific accomplishments should be cited, but all the
accomplishments listed under Factor IV.C or IV.E should not be restated or described in unnecessary
detail. Items should be cross-referenced. Because this section begins to elaborate on the specific skills
and contributions that the individual researcher brings to the position, personal pronouns or the
incumbent’s name may be used in this section.

    A. A detailed complete mechanism of the failure of wood-finish systems and interface interactions
    during outdoor exposure is unknown. The wood surface is the most critical element in the long-term
    durability of outdoor finishes. Although paint companies work almost exclusively on formulating
    paints and other finishes, little research is being conducted on the surface modification of wood to
    increase service life of the various finishes. There are few guidelines to aid in the solution of the
    various problems in the individual’s interrelated but complex areas of work. There is some pertinent,
    published information on the performance of many potentially usable wood species in outdoor
    exposure. Available literature falls into 3 categories. Process-oriented literature is available
    describing methods to prepare wood surfaces to receive sample finishes and test longevity and
    durability of the painted surfaces in outdoor exposure trials. Examples are published by the
    American Society for Testing and Materials (e.g., ASTM, Journal of Testing and Evaluation). The
    second category of available literature describes results obtained when identical finishes are applied
    to a various wood species. This work has been done primarily for the home construction and
    furniture trades. Examples are papers by Feist and Williams (37), Feist and Owen (42), and Feist
    and Sell (46), with the work by Feist and Williams being the critical one for this research. The third
    category of available literature compares longevity and durability of finishes when applied to
    identical wood species that have received various pre-treatments. Examples are papers comparing
    the durability of various finishes on untreated southern pine with pine that received a
    CCA-water-borne preservative pretreatment. Papers by Feist and Ross (58) and Feist and Williams
    (37) are the most prominent works in this category.

    B. The researcher must devise new experimental techniques and specialized laboratory equipment to
    carry out many of the studies. Successful completion of these research assignments requires
    extensive interdisciplinary knowledge of wood chemistry, organic chemistry of polymeric materials,
    wood surface chemistry, microscopy, and interaction of wood surfaces with polymeric materials. The
    lack of sufficient fundamental knowledge regarding the chemical and physical changes of wood
    surface structure in response to weathering and the contribution of the wood constituents their
    reaction, and their mode of association with each other are the prime factors responsible for the gap
    in knowledge about the causes of wood and wood finish deterioration during natural weathering.
    The heterogeneous nature of the wood surface and the wood-finish interface makes accurate
    elucidation of degradative weathering difficult. The problems cannot be attacked by means of
    straightforward approaches using readily available, clear-cut methods, so much basic information
    needs to be developed.

    C. Dr. Feist has developed innovative laboratory and field methods for evaluating chemically
    modified wood surfaces and has established a critical link between accelerated weathering and
    outdoor weathering of wood surfaces (Feist and Mraz 52). On the basis of his research, other
    laboratoriesboth in the USA and internationallyhave adopted these test methods. In addition,
    the laboratory methods developed included computerized video techniques to measure surface
    wetting (Feist and Kalnins 56). The procedure required the development of new computer software
    and sophisticated instrumentation to evaluate specimens quickly in a non-destructive manner.
    Several other laboratories have also adopted this procedure. Additional research is underway to
    establish a test protocol to evaluate long-term water repellency. This development is critical to the
    wood and paint industries because of the rapid and unprecedented changes in formulation of water-
    repellent preservatives that are being mandated to decrease ozone pollution. Under the guidelines
    of the 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act, paint companies are being forced to change from
    solvent-borne to water-borne formulations. The development of a test protocol is essential to
    determine long-term durability of these new formulations.

Factor IVStature and Impact
Stature and impact (Factor IV) are considerably more complex than the other factors. It is designed to
provide a comprehensive statement of the quality, significance, and impact of a scientist’s qualifications
and scientific contributions. The quantities of consultations, publications, and other outputs are important
to demonstrate recency of accomplishment, but the numbers themselves are inadequate measures of
quality, significance or impact. Also, just describing what was found is insufficient. What’s important is
describing how findings are being used and the difference the findings have made to users. Broadly
defined, users are any clients or customers for a scientist’s research results, including policymakers, land
managers in federal and state agencies, consultants, landowners, other scientists, academicians,
cooperators, members of interest groups, and industrial firms.

Significance and impact of accomplishments are determined in large part by the use made of the results.
Every Forest Service research scientist should be able to link his/her findings to use at several spatial and
temporal scales. For example, findings may only be of immediate use to a small network of other
scientists or policymakers. Over the longer term, the results may be of use to broader network of
scientists (e.g., after value is added to the results by additional research of other scientists) or to others
(e.g., land managers, after the on-the-ground impact of policies based on the research results becomes
apparent). Accomplishments gain in significance and increase in impact as they are used more widely.
As this occurs, the accomplishment deserves more credit from a panel.

Users of basic research may well be other basic researchers. In this case, significance and impact are
measured by the extent that the incumbent’s results have influenced the direction or pace of others’
research. Findings resulting in major changes in research direction by others that definitively end work in
heretofore important areas of research, or that result in substantial increases in the pace of research
warrant more credit than findings with less impact on others’ work. For research results not yet used, the
scientist should be able to point out potential applications or uses.

An outstanding Factor IV cannot be written without the scientist’s obtaining feedback from peers and
users about his/her research accomplishments. Therefore, obtaining feedback should be an integral part
of the research process. Scientists must keep sufficient notes regarding peer feedback and the use of
results to prepare a Factor IV that obtains all the credit deserved for their career accomplishments.
Scientists should approach Factor IV terms of illuminating the highlights of their career rather than
enumerating every study, contact, or abstract.

Information in this factor may be written in the first-person singular, i.e., “I found ...” instead of “The
scientist found ...” or with gender-specific pronouns, i.e., “Her outstanding outreach skills helped transfer
the technology ...” because it is a summary of a particular individual’s qualifications and

Personal data
Provide the following information, as described:

    1. Name. The scientist’s current name and any previous names used (with dates) are listed.

        J. Broderick Cranston, also known as Jack Cranston (prior to 1987)
        Emily A. Wilson, also known as Emily W. Randall (1977 to 1984)

    2. Educational background. Only significant education and attained degrees should be listed
       including professional and scientific training since the scientist’s last degree--that which adds
       professional stature to educational achievement. To emphasize recency, this material should be
       listed in inverse chronological order(most recent first). Training not directly related to
       personal research, such as defensive driving courses, first aid, or management training, should not
       be listed.

        a. College degrees should be listed by degree, school, year, and major.

        b. Additional academic study should be listed by subject, hours, school, and year.

    3. Date of last promotion.

    4. Professional experience. The scientist’s professional experience should be listed in inverse
       chronological order with the dates, title, grade, employer, and location and only professional
       employment that is pertinent to development as a research scientist and contributes to
       professional research stature (omit nonprofessional assignments). Graduate research
       assistantships, college-level teaching assignments and post-doctoral fellowships should be

        1987 to present: GS-408-14 Research Ecologist, NE-4154, Durham, NH
        1982 to 1987: GS-408-13 Research Ecologist, NE-4154, Durham, NH
        1978 to 1982: GS-408-12 Research Ecologist, SO-4108, Monticello, AR
        1980 to 1982: Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Uppsala, Sweden
        1976 to 1980: Research Assistant, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Professional activities and recognition
The emphasis in this section is to describe the individual’s scientific stature by listing the recognition
received, scientific and professional society activities, university involvement, presentations, and
important consultations over his/her career. The items are to be listed in regular chronological order,
according to the following description:

    1. Honors and awards. The list of the scientist’s honors and awards throughout his/her career
       should include the name of the honor or award, date received, and why received (citation).
       Membership in honorary societies should be listed but grants received and the particulars about
       funding and content belong under factor IV.E (Other Significant Information).

      2. Society and professional activities.

          Participation and service to scientific societies as a committee member, committee chair, section
          officer, or society officer is a recognition of the stature of a scientist. Forest Service Research
          Development encourages this participation. However, scientists should be aware of their
          responsibilities relative to the USDA and Federal Government Code of Ethics. Periodic ethics
          Training highlights these responsibilities. Further information can be obtained from the USDA
          Office of Ethics web site ( If you are considering running for an
          Office in a scientific society consult with your Station ethics counselor first to get the latest

          a. Membership in professional societies. The scientist’s memberships and dates should be

              Society of American Foresters, 1962 to present
              Biometrics Society, 19771989

          b. Service in professional societies. Offices held by the scientist during his/her career should be
             listed by society, and the tenure of the position. Committee assignments should also be listed
             by position and committee name, organization, and tenure of assignment.

              Section leader of Division 1, Section 1.05-12, Northern Forest Silviculture and Management,
              in the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO).

          c. Professional registration. Current registrations should be listed by type (e.g. professional
             forester, pesticide applicator, certified wildlife biologist, etc.), state, or organization issuing
             the registration or certification; when first obtained; and expiration date.

      3. University involvement. The scientist should provide a brief description of activities over
         his/her career, including courses taught, lectures or seminars presented, adjunct faculty
         appointments, and service on graduate student committees. Cooperative research grants received
         with university cooperators should not be listed hereinclude that information in Factor IV.E
         (Other Significant Information).

          I am Adjunct Associate Professor of Forest Hydrology in the Department of Forest Science at
          Oregon State University. From 1990 to the present, I have led a graduate seminar in forest
          hydrology each winter term and team-taught, with 2 others, a graduate course in field methods.
          This year, I gave a seminar for the Department of Botany entitled "Mud Flows and Endangered
          Plants.” I am currently on the committees of 2 candidates for Master's and 3 for Ph.D. degrees,
          making a total of 11 and 6, respectively, since I first became an adjunct faculty member in 1982.
          Prior to 1990, my university involvement was at a lower level, consisting primarily of conducting
          2 or 3 field trips each year. A cooperative study initiated in 1988 in the Crescent River
          watershed with Dr. DeAngelis of the OSU faculty and her team of graduate students increased
          my level of university involvement. The most significant publications arising from graduate
          students I have worked with are numbers 56, 61, 67, 70, 71, 82, 84, and 88. Two of the current
          Ph.D. candidates are working under my supervision in this laboratory and I am the major
          professor of both.

      4. Presentations. List all presentations (invited or offered) over the course of a career in full
    bibliographic citation format and include information on whether the presentation was oral or a
    poster, what the presentation was about, who presented, and if there was a published abstract.
    The citation should contain all co-authors, the title of speech or poster, the name of the
    symposium, conference, workshop, or sponsoring organization, location, and date. If the
    presentation cited here resulted in a published proceedings paper, the paper should also be
    included in Factor IV.D.1 (List of Publications). Cross-reference the paper by putting its number
    in parentheses at the end of the citation here. If an abstract of the paper or poster was published,
    say so at the end of the presentation citation. If the same presentation or poster was used at
    several meetings, all the meetings must be put in a single entry (using the same poster at 4
    different meetings does not warrant 4 separate entries in the list of presentations).

    a. Invited papers and posters. The scientist should list any papers or posters prepared in
       response to a personal invitation from the organizing committee of the symposium,
       professional society, conference, or workshop for which the principal reason for contact is the
       scientist’s recognized stature in the field of science. Label “keynote” presentations that set
       the tone for the overall meeting to distinguish them from other invited papers.

    b. Offered papers and posters. List any paper or poster selected for presentation that were
       prepared in response to a “call for papers,” where the scientist prepared a proposal or abstract
       that the organizing committee then selected from the pool of competitive proposals received.

        Brissette J, Frank R. 1993. "Changing the spruce (Picea) component in a northern conifer
        forest through an array of silvicultural options.” The poster summarized 35 years of results
        from a long-term silvicultural experiment. Brissette presented it at the annual meeting of the
        International Boreal Forest Research Association in Biri, Norway (9/26-10/2/93) and at the
        joint NFS-Research National Silvicultural Workshop in Hendersonville, NC (10/31-11/4/93).
        Frank presented it at the 74th Winter Meeting of the New England SAF in Manchester, NH
        (3/22-24/94). (Published Abstract)

5. Participation in technical conferences and workshops. The scientist should list only those
   conferences or workshops where she/he served in an official capacity or had a significant role,
   such as serving on an organizing committee or as the chair of a concurrent session. The list
   should include the role filled and the location, sponsoring organization, and date of the event.
   Conferences or workshops attended should not be listed if the scientist had no official role.
   Presentations made should be listed in Factor IV.B.4, above.

6. Significant consultations. List up to 20 of the most significant consultations over the career.
   (Researchers at GS-12 typically have 4 to 6 significant consultations, researchers at GS-14
   typically have 8 to 10 significant consultations, and researchers at GS-16 and above typically
   have 15 to 20. By mid-career, most scientists will have had many more than 20 consultations, so
   selectivity and synthesis will be needed to prepare the ones with the most impact and significance
   for inclusion.) The description should include the name of the contact person and frequency of
   each consultation, the duration of the consultation, the nature and scope of the issue or problem,
   the scientist’s contribution to resolving the issue or problem, and most importantly, what the
   outcome was.

7. Scientific exchanges. There are 2 general types of domestic and international scientific
   exchanges: technical assistance visits and sabbatical training opportunities. International
   technical assistance visits, involving the scientist alone or as a team member, are initiated as part
   of a formal memorandum of agreement between 2 countries. Sabbatical training opportunities
   involve either the scientist being granted a period of time for long-term scientific training
   overseas or foreign scientist’s being awarded the opportunity to come and spend an extended
        period of time working with the scientist in his/her laboratory. Domestic scientific exchanges
        that include selection to participate in a scientific exchange as either traveler or host, are also
        indicative of scientific standing and professional reputation within the scientist’s discipline. The
        scientist should describe briefly how he/she was selected for the exchange opportunity and
        whether or not it was a competitive process; e.g., Rhodes Scholarships or National Science
        Foundation Fellowships are awarded through a competitive process.

        Various types of reports may be prepared to document scientific exchanges, including reports,
        letters of intent, memoranda of understanding, or cooperative agreements. Plans of work often
        are used to document technical assistance visits. Cross-reference papers produced during
        sabbaticals, such as book or book chapters or major refereed journal articles, with Factor IV.D.1.

        McFadden M, Gillespie AJR, Spivey R, Palmer, J. 1993. Letter of intent for future cooperation in
        setting up 2 sustainable forest demonstration areas near Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. USDA Forest
        Service Northeastern Forest Experiment Station and Region 9 and the Sukachev Institute,
        Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. The letter of intent was negotiated during a 2-week visit to Siberia during
        July 1993 and finalized over subsequent 4 months. It was signed December 1993, by NE Station
        Director Robert Lewis, Jr., and Regional Forester Floyd J. Marita of the Eastern Region during
        a visit to the U.S. by the Russian delegation. During a 2-week visit to Siberia in July 1994, the
        team developed a plan of work and budget for 1995 to implement the demonstration areas.
        Earlier cooperative research on forest insect problems by the individual and a scientist at the
        Sukachev Institute formed the foundation for developing the demonstration forest proposal. The
        scientist’s familiarity with forest inventory procedures and the role of fire in ecosystems enabled
        him to build rapport with the inventory branch of the regional Siberian forest management
        agency and facilitate cooperative efforts between that office and the Sukachev Institute,
        cooperation which heretofore had been infrequent.

Scientific accomplishments and contributions

This section of Factor IV is the most important one, requiring the most thought and synthesis. To
promote the creative synthesis needed to portray accurately the quality, significance, and impact of the
scientist’s major accomplishments and contributions, the scientist needs to use the following

The scientist needs to select and list, in chronological order, the most significant research
accomplishments over his/her total career. This should not be a list of accomplishments that is an
exhaustive recitation of all studies, but rather a distillation of activities into paragraphs that describe the
scientist’s most important contributions and those with the greatest impact. Scientists at GS-11 typically
present 2 or 3 accomplishments. Scientists at GS-12 typically present 3 to 5. Scientists at GS-13 to 15
typically present 6 to 8 accomplishments. Scientists at the ST level typically present 10 to 15.

Accomplishments prior to the last promotion may be the ones with the most significance or impact
because it takes time for significance and impact to mature and permit effective evaluation. At the same
time, having recent accomplishments is also an important aspect of RGEG evaluation. Thus, successful
scientists will usually have a blend of accomplishments from both before and after their last promotion.
A double line should separate accomplishments from before the last promotion from those after the last
promotion to help panelists evaluate the recency of your accomplishments.

The 3 most important accomplishments (from the scientist’s perspective) should be indicated with
asterisks after the accomplishment number. Each accomplishment should be cross-referenced to Factor
IV.D (Reporting of Research Results) by including publication numbers in the narrative. There must be
evidence of peer review and acceptance through a refereed process of the scientific content of an
accomplishment to justify full value. This review and validation may consist of acceptance of a basic
research output through a refereed process or widespread review, acceptance, and use of a developmental
product by peers and managers. In either case, impact is of paramount importance in receiving full
recognition for accomplishments. Assessing impact begins with careful selection and documentation of
original contributions and applications to a field of science, technology, and Forest Service programs.
The following information about selected accomplishments should be summarized in a brief concise
paragraph (no longer than a one-half of a page) for each.

•   What was accomplished? Emphasize what was done, not how it was done. Ensure that each
    paragraph states (1) the scientific accomplishment, including was it a new principle, concept, or
    discovery made, or an extension, clarification or substantiation of a theory or principle attained; (2)
    the development, application, or technology transfer activities undertaken to accelerate adoption and
    use; (3) the major users, including names, titles, organizations, and telephone numbers; and (4) the
    nature of the quality assurance/quality control steps taken or peer validation obtained to confirm the
    quality of the accomplishment. Users for basic research may include other scientists as major users.

•   What was the scientist’s role in the accomplishment? This is particularly important for
    accomplishments involving a team effort. The RGEG is a position classification system for
    individuals; not groups. Therefore, it is necessary to describe as accurately as possible what the
    scientist contributed to the group’s total accomplishment.

•   What is the impact and significance of the accomplishment on a scientific field, on technology,
    and on programs, policies, or economies? The actual impact of an accomplishment frequently
    changes with time. Often, the actual impact is not evident for some time after an accomplishment has
    been achieved. Also, negative or partial results are recognized as potentially having an impact on
    science as great as positive results in other contexts.

Forest Service Research and the RGEG recognize 6 types of research accomplishments: (1) knowledge
discovery; (2) knowledge development; (3) knowledge synthesis and assessment; (4) modeling and
systems integration; (5) special assignments; and (6) leadership. The type(s) of accomplishments reported
will naturally depend upon the scientist’s past and present research assignmentsno scientist is expected
to have one of each type. Neither should a scientist with accomplishments of several types be considered
more or less of a researcher than one with only knowledge discovery ones. All types of accomplishments
warrant full credit as research.

KNOWLEDGE DISCOVERY accomplishments describe research directed towards discovering new or
fuller scientific knowledge about a particular topic. The results may not have immediate application, but
the scientist should be able to describe the future conditions under which they might be applied. These
accomplishments are the most prevalent research type. Basic research is more commonly found in this
type of accomplishment than the others.

   Homogeneous climatic zones for the Lakes States were developed. Soil productivity and growth of
   forest stands vary significantly from one climatic zone to another. These zones are likely to identify
   regions where tree growth and stand regeneration, stand structure, and composition are similar.
   Using zonal information improves regeneration prescriptions and leads to better, more precise,
   predictions of regeneration success and subsequent growth responses. Results of this project were
   published in a refereed scientific journal (exhibit 1, publication 62) and have been cited 43 times,
   according to the Science Citation Index. The findings of this research effort are being utilized by (1)
   Dr. James Bean, University of Wisconsin (phone 612/443-0000), in connection with a 3-year $80,000
   McIntire-Stennis soils-productivity research project; (2) Dr. Jane Collins, Michigan Technological
   University (phone 517/123-0000) to help analyze data in support of ecological land classification of
    the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; and (3) Okemo Nagbakla, Chequamegon National Forest
    (phone 715/762-0000) in conjunction with a STEMS database to determine if climatic stratification
    may increase the precision of growth predictions. Technology transfer activities have included
    training Dr. Bean’s doctoral student in interpretive methods, developing a popular article
    (publication 81), and spending 80 hours over 2 years working with the Chequamegon National
    Forest on implementing the procedures.

    The researcher is an active member of a large team conducting long-term research on the effects of
    fire on ecological processes. As the only soil scientist in this group, she determined changes in soil
    physics, chemistry and microbiology. In addition, she has collaborated with other team members in
    planning studies, accumulating and interpreting data that relate soil effects of the burn to erosion,
    water quality and plant regeneration patterns. Approximately three-fourths of the scientist’s time has
    been devoted to this team effort. The team project, begun in 1992, has resulted in 5 refereed journal
    articles in 3 years, providing important information on the early effects of fire on erosion, nutrient
    availability and biomass production. She is an author on 3 of these papers (15, 17, 18). It is
    expected that resource managers will apply information from these studies to regeneration decisions.
     Team results are being shared with users through the Regional Certified Silviculturist Training
    Program (Frank James, 415/705-0000) after successful operational testing on the San Bernardino
    and Cleveland National Forests (Cole Younger, 909/383-000).

KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPMENT accomplishments translate research results into viable products,
processes, services, policies, or management guides. Often, scientific findings are abstract (e.g.,
principles and concepts), having no immediate utility to users. Additional research is needed to develop a
practical use for the new knowledge that meets recognized customer needs. This additional work may be
either applied research or development research. For example, consider the paper-recycling researcher
who discovers a wastepaper de-inking innovation that improves brightness (knowledge discovery) of
recycled fiber in the laboratory. Additional work in a pulping pilot plant is needed to determine the
operating parameters and acceptable tolerances for producing pulp with the desired brightness from
varying mixtures of recycled and virgin fibers and to obtain acceptable levels of other characteristics (e.g.
web strength, surface uniformity, effluent constituents, and paper machine speed). The pilot plant work is
knowledge development research, classified under the RGEG.

A question often asked is, “When are development activities classifiable under the RGEG versus the
Equipment Development Grade Evaluation Guide (EDGEG)?” The Forest Service Scientist Career Plan
(FSH 6109.31.52) distinguishes between research and equipment development. Key points defining
equipment development include extending research results to improve a specific procedure or perform a
specific task, working toward a pre-determined set of specifications or a specified result, absence of the
scientific method, no experimental design or analysis, no hypotheses evident, and judicious use of trial
and error. Work that has these characteristics is classified under the EDGEG, not the RGEG. The
handbook also notes that if development engineering activities are included in a research position
description as short-term continuations of the research cycle and do not dominate the position, then the
position is still classified under the RGEG. Continuing the pulping example from the preceding
paragraph, adapting pilot plant results to full-sized pulping operations and paper machines or helping a
succession of firms install the same technology and fine tune their production processes is development
engineering work. If these activities are the major focus of the position, then it is more properly classified
under the EDGEG rather than the RGEG.

Activities commonly performed as part of a Research and Development (R&D) Program or Research,
Development, and Applications (RD&A) Program are sometimes confused with equipment development.
 Development activities performed as part of R&D or RD&A programs are almost always classifiable
under the RGEG because the development activities are not working towards a pre-determined set of
specifications or a specified result, they employ the scientific method, hypotheses are evident, an
experimental design exists, and trial and error is not the usual treatment method. The knowledge
development activity most commonly found at the borderline between research and non-research is
adaptive management. However, a well-designed implementation plan for adaptive management that
includes elements of experimental design, monitoring and feedback, and use of control plots, should still
enable scientists who are members of adaptive management teams to remain classifiable under the RGEG.
 This is especially true if their participation on an adaptive management team is presented as a short-term
extension of the full research cycle and essential to providing top-notch customer service.

Research that involves equipment is another area where confusion sometimes arises. Research generally
includes activities through “proof of concept” up to and including “pilot-scale” operations. Integrating
computer-driven numerically controlled routers into a furniture-parts production system (NE-4701,
Princeton, WV) or developing composite products using recycled wood fibers and plastics (FPL-4706,
Madison, WI) are examples of equipment-related research classified under RGEG. Neither the words
“equipment” nor “development” are sufficient to void classification under the RGEG. It is the nature of
the assignment that determines if the work is research classifiable under the RGEG, equipment
development or development engineering activities classified under the EDGEG, or work classified using
some other OPM position classification standard.

    European Pine Sawfly Nucleopolyhedrosis Virus (NPV), Neochek-S. Frank Lewis and I developed
    and registered Neochek-S with U.S. EPA as a microbial insecticide. Because the product is as
    efficacious as chemical pesticides for sawfly control, its registration altered conventional chemical
    approaches to sawfly control. This was a major advance in forest protection technology. My
    research results on bioassay (41), persistence (44), environmental accumulation (46), epizootiology
    (45), and efficacy (48) were required information for securing registration of Neochek-S. Results
    from the studies were shared with U.S. EPA in both published reports and through consultations and
    technical reports. My findings and the approaches I developed to obtain them in a series of studies
    are being used by U.S. EPA as guidelines for future registrations of other insect viruses and by the
    Italian, Canadian, and British governments to support the registration of sawfly NPV products for
    use on those countries.

    Modeling Insects as Vectors of Hardwood Diseases. I coordinated a national project to develop a
    single-model framework for analyzing insects as vectors of hardwood diseases. This included
    soliciting participation of Forest Service, Agriculture Research Service, and state extension service
    entomologists and foresters; coordinating acquisition of constituent models from participants;
    developing a conceptual structure to link the various constituent models into single framework;
    arranging and leading a workshop where the constituent models were integrated into the single
    model framework; and conducting technology transfer workshops with USDA APHIS, FS, and ARS
    on using the single-model framework. In 1990, the Forest Service selected development of the overall
    model as the most significant research accomplishment in entomology research. I received a
    Superior Service Citation for development and technology transfer of the model. My personal
    technology transfer efforts have resulted in widespread acceptance and application of the model by
    FS, APHIS, ARS, EPA, and BLM, numerous state universities, consulting firms, and foreign
    countries. (exhibit #4, publications 51, 64, 66, and 72).

    Gypsy Moth Nucleopolyhedrosis Virus (NPV) Development. Pioneering disease-complex studies of
    the gypsy moth uncovered relationships between gypsy moth parasitoids and NPV (14) and showed
    that NPV disease and a complex of physiological diseases are the key regulatory factors in dense
    gypsy moth populations (24, 33). These results led to a major research effort to register the gypsy
    moth NPV (Gypchek) as a microbial pesticide. My studies on environmental persistence (26, 36),
    acute wildlife safety (17, 19, 35), environmental effects on mammals and birds (20, 21, 13, 28), and
    NPV production and quality control (22, 34, 47) provided critical scientific justification for
    registration of this virus by U.S. EPA. My contributions toward successful registration were
    recognized with a Superior Service award. Since registration, I have been involved in a number of
    studies to improve the efficacy of Gypchek. Sunlight is a major factor in the inactivation of Gypchek
    on foliage. I examined a variety of sunscreen formulations and identified two with promise--folic
    acid and Orzan, a lignosulfonate. Through laboratory and field-testing, I developed recommended
    concentrations of sunscreen for standard Gypcheck formulations and dosages (54, 56, 63, 65, 66,
    68). I also conducted research on in vivo production of Gypcheck to develop a product more refined
    and effective than earlier versions. Aqueous separation and lyophilization protocols were developed
    to replace less efficient techniques. Gypchek manufactured using the new protocols contains from 3
    to 5 times more active ingredient per unit weight than earlier products and is compatible with all
    aircraft and ground spray systems. Results have been communicated at meetings and in publications
    (74, 78, 79, 83, 91) and through intensive technology transfer with commercial interests, including
    Espro, Inc., the French company Calliope, American Cyanamid Co., and Novo Nordisk. Results have
    formed the basis for the production line design of an American Cyanamid Gypchek processing facility
    at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, slated to begin commercial production next year.

KNOWLEDGE SYNTHESIS AND ASSESSMENT accomplishments arise from agency information
needs and from requests from outside parties. Examples of the former include assignments to the Forest
Ecosystem Management Assessment Team (FEMAT), the Eastside Forest Ecosystem Health Assessment
team, or serving as an RPA Assessment specialist. Requests from outside parties include an invitation
from a university colleague to co-author a major textbook or an invitation by a journal editor to prepare a
major state-of-the-art paper for a particular monograph. This involves considerably more work than a
literature review for a problem analysis. Three major points help determine significance:

•   Was the scientist asked to participate because of specific scientific qualifications? For example,
    did the scientist’s previous research in, say, riparian zone management make him/her the best
    individual for the assignment?

•   Will the assignment require a substantial commitment of time, such that the schedule of
    research that was previously agreed to with the scientist’s rating supervisor must be
    substantially modified and reapproved?

•   Does the task require a substantial amount of synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of a large
    or broad body of previously published research such that the outcome of the review or
    assessment provides significant additions or extensions to existing scientific knowledge?

The scientist’s accomplishment statements should describe the extent of the time commitment required,
the priority of the review and assessment task in comparison to other assigned work, the scope of the
literature synthesized or assessed, and the relationship of the task to current scientific problems, policies,
and agency programs.

    In 1993, the PNW Station Director appointed me to the Aquatic/Watershed Group of the Forest
    Ecosystem Management Assessment Team (FEMAT). This assignment occupied 100 percent of my
    time for 4 months. The team’s mission was to fulfill President Clinton’s mandate to produce a plan
    that would break the gridlock over federal forest management in northern California, Oregon, and
    Washington. My contribution was to help develop the Aquatic Conservation Strategy that is aimed at
    maintaining and restoring the ecological health of aquatic ecosystems. I focused particularly on
    identifying a system of large refugia comprising watersheds that are crucial to at-risk stocks of
    anadromous salmonids and for high quality water. I wrote portions of Chapter V of the FEMAT
    report. My contributions to the conclusions provided the rationale for a major redirection of

    monitoring priorities for region 6 watershed and air staff officiers (Noel Larson 503/326-0000) and
    for development of guidelines to identify stream reaches within adaptive management areas that are
    critical spawning habitat on both Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands (Gordon
    Haugen 503/326-0000).

MODELING AND SYSTEMS INTEGRATION accomplishments include scientific model building,
methods development, and systems research, integration, and testing. In every sense of the word, these
tasks are research. To develop a model or a method, or to understand a system based on fundamental
scientific principles and processes, requires research. One must systematically assess and define the
problem, review the literature, determine researchable questions, develop plans, set priorities, perform the
work, and document the results. Scientific judgment and innovation are required to synthesize and
organize the process. Model building, methods development, and systems integration are part of the
theory development process. For complex models and systems, computers are required to store and
manipulate the massive amount of information necessary. Failure to take into account the results of past
research is a frequent barrier to progress in expanding the frontiers of knowledge for complex systems.
Thus, modeling includes development of basic theories and the synthesis of this knowledge into
organized modules and systems that help to give others an understanding of the mechanism.

Large and complex systems in which many elements simply cannot be subjected to independent
experimental manipulation or control are typical in the fields of work for Forest Service scientists. Model
and methods development and systems integration for complex systems often require an interdisciplinary
approach. The process of building models or developing methods may expose gaps in knowledge
requiring additional basic research. The model or methodology itself can serve as a linking framework to
effectively organize the work of different scientists in a team effort whose product is much greater than
the sum of its parts.

    Expert System for Management of Gypsy Moth. I am coordinating development of a decision support
    system for managing the gypsy moth. Principal personal research responsibilities include designing
    the hazard rating portion of the system and designing the user interface. Coordination
    responsibilities have both a programmatic side—outlining the framework of the decision support
    system as both a subject matter expert and expert in the computer systems used—and an
    administrative side— making funding allocation decisions and workload allocations among the
    cooperating scientists. To date, prototypes of both the full GypsES system and a stand-alone version
    of the hazard rating system have been distributed. These have been tested by the Cheat Ranger
    District, Monongehela National Forest (William Woodland, 304/478-3251) and are being used
    operationally by both the district and S&PF Forest Health Protection (Peter Rush, 304/285-1540) to
    develop control strategies for 740,000 acres in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. State and
    local gypsy moth control program managers use this hazard-rating system to assign priorities to
    specific areas for specific control treatments. As a result, 12,000 more acres were treated in 1992
    than in 1990 with the same funding and egg mass counts in the winter of 1993 were at acceptable
    levels. Development of the full system is ongoing. Progress reports have been distributed on the
    system as a whole (IV.B.2.a.6 and publication 25) and on the utility of the prototypes (19). Original
    research integral to the development of the system has also been reported (IV.B.2.b.7, 9,10; and
    publications 17, 18, and 24).

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS AND PROJECTS, which are not themselves research but are considered
related or complementary to assigned research, are credited when the accomplishments:

•   Have impact on science, technology, or agency programs or policies equivalent to that of the
    conduct of research.

•   Maintain the scientist’s level of expertise, allowing full credit to be given for past research

Full credit will not be awarded for a special assignment unless the specific contribution of the scientist
and the impact of his/her assignment are fully described. Further, accomplishments may only be counted
if the duties are part of the personal research assignment and listed in Factor I.C.

     A complex compound extracted from the bark of the Pacific yew was identified as a possible anti-
    cancer agent. It appears to be effective against a wide range of tumors, and good responses have
    been obtained in the treatment of refractory ovarian cancer. It takes 60,000 pounds of dried yew
    bark to prepare 9 pounds of crystalline taxol sufficient for 1 year of clinical testing. Because the
    average yew tree only yields 19 pounds of dried bark, clinical testing in 1988 and 1989 required the
    bark from 7,000 trees. Yew is usually a minor component of conifer stands and, until recently, was
    treated as worthless except for craft and specialty products. Consequently, yew trees were not
    included in federal forest inventories. On non-federal lands, only an estimated 700,000 trees exist in
    California, Oregon, and Washington. The National Cancer Institute’s desire to expand clinical trials
    in 1990 put great pressure on federal forests to provide larger quantities of bark. In response to the
    increased demand on a Pacific yew resource about which very little was known, the Regional
    Forester created the Pacific Yew Management Guidelines Team in 1990. The team was charged with
    developing direction for managing Pacific yew on national forests on the Pacific coast, including
    management, harvesting, and protection guidelines for the species. I was appointed to the team to
    develop the harvesting guidelines. The harvesting guidelines developed by the team are now used by
    all national forests in regions 5 and 6 (Ed Whitmore, 415/705-0000 or Robert Devlin, 503/326-0000)

LEADERSHIP accomplishments arise from both formal team assignments and informal team activities
described in Factor I. Credit there comes from being assigned to a position that is more complexwith
team leadership or membership expectationsthan otherwise. In Factor IV, credit arises from actual
accomplishments as a leader. Accomplishments related to membership are usually one of the other five
types, above. Scientists having formal leadership responsibilities are encouraged, but not required, to list
at least one leadership accomplishment as part of the current grade-level quota of accomplishments.

The underlying philosophy of a leadership accomplishment is that a leader can change a team’s research
productivity. The change may either be a change in the direction of the team’s research or an increase or
decrease in the quality or quantity of research accomplished. The level of credit assigned should be
proportional to the impact on the scientific field. As stated on page 13 of the RGEG, "In the case of a
true team leader ... a level should be credited which reflects the scope and character of projects
conducted by this team.” Except for the nature of the accomplishment (indirect effect rather than direct
effect), a leadership accomplishment should be treated no differently than a personal performance
accomplishment when assigning level of credit.

The most important concept in a leadership accomplishment is that a leader must be directly responsible
for the change claimed. To illustrate, consider a situation where a new leader inherits a team that has low
productivity of mediocre quality in a low-priority area of research. The new leader plunges in, investing
considerable time and personal effort over several years to redirect the team into higher priority research
and to coach the team members to improve. As a result, the team focuses on higher priority research, the

of the team’s work increases, and the user’s outcomes from applying the research results better satisfy
their needs. The leader should get substantial credit, commensurate with the amount of time and energy it
took to make the change and the impact of the change on users.

A new leader assigned to a smoothly functioning, highly productive team working on problems of critical
importance often faces important challenges too. Often, there are important deadlines with policy and
political overtones that must be met. Keeping research quality high in the face of deadline pressures and
fostering the interpersonal relationships so important to sustaining elevated productivity takes
considerable leadership talent. So, sustaining high productivity in the face of political and policy
pressures also warrants substantial credit.

In some cases, formal leadership responsibilities are not assigned in Factor I, but an individual is truly a
leader in the scientific community. In such instances, scientific leadership consists of actions, apart from
supervisory and managerial duties, that promote research activity on the part of other scientists and lead
that activity in desired directions. This sort of scientific leadership is properly documented and evaluated
as part of Factor IV in the same manner as are the formal leadership accomplishments. Scientists not
officially designated as supervisors may submit scientific leadership accomplishments. The governing
criterion in such instances is that the scientist is able to substantiate, by credible documentation in
narrative, reports of research results, and exhibits, the fact that he/she did achieve a leadership

Some criteria to assist in evaluating leadership accomplishments follow. Because leadership can occur at
all levels, the word “group” is used as a generic term to describe a team, work unit, laboratory, institute,
or other appropriate grouping of personnel.

•   Is there a change in the performance of the group? Changes may be exemplified in quality or
    quantity of publications; initiation of new research approaches, thrusts, or programs; cooperation with
    other scientists in the group; or acquisition of outside funds.

•   Is there evidence of an increase in effectiveness of customer service? There should be evidence of
    new programs, different outputs, development of teams for new projects, or shifting budgetary and
    staffing resources from old to new programs to improve customer service? Consider the size and
    diversity of the group led and the group composition needed to meet increasingly diverse customer

•   Is the group receiving increased recognition? Look for increased invitations, more advisory and
    consultation activities, awards for scientists, an increase in participation in professional society
    affairs, and other such activities. Is there evidence that the Forest Service is utilizing the talents of its
    scientists in research-related activities?

•   Is there an improvement in the quality of the group’s outputs? Look for the impact of the results from
    the group. This impact may be an acceptance by other scientists, resource managers, policymakers,
    state forestry agencies, consultants, or other users. Awards to the group are especially useful in
    helping to evaluate quality.

•   Has the leader maintained the high productivity of an already productive group? It is recognized that
    maintaining a high level of excellence may demand as much or more good leadership as required to
    turn an unproductive group around.

•   Is the leader acting as a mentor? Look for items such as giving assistance, as needed, to members of
    the group on specific research programs, providing opportunities for development (e.g., training,
    sabbaticals, etc.), or sharing ideas or helping to set goals (especially for new members of the

•   Is the group attracting visiting scientists, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, or scientists on
    sabbaticals, etc.? Look for evidence that other scientists want to work with people in that group.

•   Has the leader initiated or implemented a needed change in program direction? Look for changes in
    the number and kind of personnel in the group and whether the changes improved the effectiveness of
    the group or broadened the ability of the group to respond to more diverse clienteles.

•   Has the leader demonstrated an ability to communicate the necessity of changes in a way that builds
    or maintains support of the group? Have harmonious relationships been established or existing ones
    strengthened through personal initiatives of the leader? The leader must work well with those below
    and above her or him in the organizational structure.

•   Does scientific leadership extend outside the group? Look for the impact the individual has had on
    the programs of other scientists, groups, or agencies. Because of the individual’s knowledge and/or
    stature, the impact may cause a change in direction or may accelerate efforts in a major research area.

    Since assuming leadership of the RWU, the project leader has pulled together a strong cohesive
    program as evidenced by the following: the publication rate of scientists in RWU has more than
    doubledan average of 3.3 publications per scientist per year during the past 3 years; the RWU’s
    visibility has increased markedly over the 3-year period, with scientists being called upon for
    significant consultation (e.g., the New York State Governor’s Task Force on Deer-Automobile
    Accidents) at twice the rate of 5 years ago, and on a growing array of subject areas including T&E
    species, wildlife-habitat relationships, monitoring, study and program design, deer population
    biology, radio-tracking methods, and range management to improve deer habitat. Project personnel
    have become widely recognized and respected as important authorities in their fields and are called
    upon for consultation, seminars, training sessions, and related technical information by national
    forest wildlife biologists, state wildlife agencies (4), the university community. The initial training
    session for 15 people conducted 2 years ago led to requests to repeat the training at 3 additional sites
    for 98 additional people (Ann Teller, PA Game Commission, 814/789-0000).

    The scientist has assembled a team of postdoctoral associates, visiting scientists, students, and
    temporary technicians to develop new yeast strains for producing ethanol from hardwoods. The team
    is supported largely with outside funds ($875,000 in Department of Energy grants) obtained by the
    individual. In 3 years the team has identified the rate-limiting enzyme in the fermentation of
    hardwood hydrolysates and used that knowledge to develop superior yeast strains through molecular
    genetics techniques. A patent covering the new strains has been licensed by 6 companies. With
    approximately a 25% rise in petroleum prices, production of fermentation ethanol from hardwood
    would be commercially competitive with petrochemical sources, allowing relatively high-value use
    for currently underutilized hardwoods, plantation-grown hardwoods, and manufacturing residues.
    Scientist has articulated the team’s objectives, prepared its problem analyses, kept the research on
    target and participated directly in all aspects of the research.

    Although the individual has no formal team leadership responsibilities, she has assumed the
    responsibility of being the station’s expert on Nectria canker of maple and coordinates research
    efforts within the station team, which consists of herself (GS-12), 1 post-doctoral associate (GS-11)
    and 2 full-time forestry technicians (GS-4 & 6). Her assistance has resulted in unusually productive
    post-doctoral experience for 2 successive employees, and resulted in junior authorship on 3 of their
    publications in the last 2 years. In addition, the researcher has established a network of
    collaborators, mediated by 5 cooperative agreements with other federal, state, and private
    institutions. At her suggestion, these collaborators have established plots for long-term comparisons
    of genotype susceptibility under varying climatic conditions and cultural practices in New York
    (senior extension associate, Cornell University), New Jersey (assistant professor, Rutgers University),
    Maryland and the District of Columbia (principal ecologist, National Park Service) and North
    Carolina (GS-12 silviculturist, NFS Region 8 Tree Improvement). These results are expected to affect
    cultivar choices for urban uses in this popular street tree and to evaluate the cost-return of cultural
    changes designed to reduce disease impact.

Disseminating research results

This section documents activities by which research results are reported and distributed throughout a
scientists career. To create the most impact and significance, results often need to be reported through
more than one channel. For example, publishing basic research results in peer-reviewed outlets may be
essential to secure peer-validation of the quality of research and presentations given at scientific
conferences are important opportunities to distribute information about one’s work, and receive additional
feedback from peers. However, many users of research do not read peer-reviewed journals nor attend
scientific conferences, and thus other avenues must be used to get the peer-reviewed results out to users in
a form that meets their information and technology needs. The methods chosen for disseminating
research findings vary according to the nature of the findings, the audience targeted, the confidentiality of
the information, and the availability of outlets.

Information And Technology Transfer

Including information and technology transfer (ITT) as an important aspect of disseminating research
results is based on the philosophy that research accomplishments have no ultimate effect until someone
uses the scientist’s findings. Therefore, proactive steps taken by scientists to transfer their scientific
findings or technology developed to users are considered research activities for grade classification
purposes. Often, developing effective and efficient information and technology transfer techniques takes
as much originality and creativity as planning and conducting the research. Originality and creativity
exercised in ITT should be mentioned in Factor III. The following are examples of ITT efforts:

•   Directing communication concerning research discoveries with scientists employed by industrial
    firms, trade associations, interest groups, and universities, State and Private Forestry or National
    Forest System personnel, and policy makers.

•   Publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals, station publications, and other media. For example,
    electronic publishing by placing reports on an Internet server in hypertext for access by users also

•   Presenting papers and participation in poster sessions at professional society and industry-sponsored
    meetings and conferences.

•   Joint research with potential users of research results, including Cooperative Research and
    Development Agreements (CRADA’s).

•   Participating in preparation of patent applications and licensing agreements.

•   Holding technology transfer meetings, such as field days, open houses, workshops, conferences, and
    training sessions, under Forest Service sponsorship or that of interest groups, industries, or
    professional societies.

•   Assisting public affairs officers in preparation of articles, news releases, newsletters, brochures,
    interpretive summaries, video and radio tapes, etc.

•   Preparing and maintaining websites.

Dissemination of results is often a shared experience. Team reports often have a large number of authors.
 Panelists should bear in mind the team contributions outlined in the other 3 factors and use that
information to help infer the scientist’s contribution to multiple-authored or team-issued reports. Much
Forest Service research is also the result of cooperative relationships with research partners.

Authorship credit

Giving appropriate credit in authorship is of utmost importance to the paneling process because a proper
evaluation of a scientist’s work can be done only if authors are honest in describing their participation in
joint projects and if authorship is awarded only when it is deserved. Authorship requires substantial
involvement of the scientist in the research process. Authorship of manuscripts implies that the author
has made major intellectual contributions to some or all parts of the study, including its conception,
design, data collection, data analysis, and/or conclusions, and made significant contributions to its
preparation. Authorship should not be claimed if the scientist provides only instruction, laboratory space
and/or supplies, or financial support to others.

In some cases, the Forest Service scientist serves as a mentor for a graduate student, and intellectual credit
is warranted beyond authorship on resulting publication(s). Graduate student mentorship should be
mentioned under Factor IV.B.3 (University Involvement) and cross-referenced to the lists of outputs
presented in Factor IV.D

Guidelines concerning ethical authorship can be found in the Forest Service Research &
Development Code of Scientific Ethics, dated August 2000. A copy of the policy is also posted on the
Panel Web Page (

Activities that disseminate research results should be listed according to the following guidelines:

1. Publications. The list of all the publications produced by the scientist over his/her entire career that
   have been published or accepted for publication by a journal or other outlet should be numbered in
   chronological order with names of all authors in the order shown in the publication. When there is
   more than one author, the scientist’s particular contribution must be described briefly after the
   bibliographic citation. All entries should give full reference information including journal, volume,
   and complete pagination. So that panelists from outside the scientist’s discipline can determine which
   articles have been reviewed by peers selected by the journal editor (i.e., externally peer reviewed),
   such articles should be noted by the word “refereed.”

    Popularized versions of refereed articles and peer-reviewed abstracts should be listed as separate
    entries and cross-referenced to the full-length paper(s) from which they were derived. Abstracts
    printed in conference proceedings in lieu of a full paper or abstracts printed in conference programs
    (to help attendees decide which concurrent session to attend) should only be listed at the end of the
    citation in the Presentations section (Factor IV.B.4.a or b) as “Published Abstract”. Abstracts that are
    not peer-reviewed or do not support an oral presentation or poster are not of sufficient importance or
    significance to mention in Factor IV.

Shoulders E, Tiarks AE. 1980. Predicting height and relative performance of major southern
pines from rainfall, slope, and available soil moisture. Forest Science 26:437-447. (refereed).

    Shoulders outlined the paper based on 20-year results of a site-species study he helped plan
    and install. He supervised the analysis and interpretation of the data and wrote the initial
    draft of the manuscript. Tiarks suggested rainfall variables that markedly improved the
    equations and independently determined that residuals from the equations were related to
    phosphorus levels in soil and foliage.

Thibault PA, Zipperer WA. 1994. Temporal changes of wetlands within an urbanizing
agricultural landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning 28:245-251. (refereed).

    This paper was based on Thibault’s masters thesis. Zipperer was a member of his graduate
    committee. Thibault conceived the idea and Zipperer helped him convert the idea into a
    feasible thesis project and secure committee approval. Thibault did the study. Zipperer
    coached him through the analysis of data and interpretation of results. After Thibault wrote
    and successfully defended the thesis, he wrote the first draft of the journal article. Zipperer
    rewrote the paper, making substantive changes that were essential to responding to referees’

Nance WL, Froelich RC, Dell TR, Shoulders E. 1983. A growth and yield model for unthinned
slash pine plantations infected with fusiform rust. In: Jones EP Jr, ed. Gen Tech Rep SE-24.
Proc. of the Second Biennial Southern Silvicultural Research Conference, Nov. 4-5, 1982,
Atlanta, GA. Asheville, NC: USDA Forest Service, p 275-282.

    Shoulders provided one-half of the plots and data for this study, reviewed the initial draft of
    the manuscript, and suggested revisions that improved it substantially.

Colbert J, Racin G, Sharov A, Sheehan K, Valentine H. 1995. Gypsy moth life systems model.
Report on Internet server,

    Colbert was responsible for the conceptual approach. He directed the team that developed
    model components and coordinated the testing and integration of the subsystems. Sharov,
    Sheehan, and Valentine were each the major developers of three key subsystems. Colbert
    took the subsystem outputs and with the help of Racin programmed them into an integrated
    model with a convenient user interface.

Insert a double line between publications before and since last promotion and place an asterisk in
the left-hand margin by the publications furnished as exhibits.

Manuscripts submitted to journals and undergoing review, but not yet accepted and in final form,
cannot be listed as contributions. However, because they do serve to verify whether or not the
scientist is engaged in current and vigorous professional development, they may be listed
separately at the end of the publications list, beneath a subheading “Manuscripts Under
Consideration” and their status given (e.g., identify the journal the manuscript was sent to, the
date sent, and status). Manuscripts still being written or undergoing internal station peer review
    or editing, or those that have not yet submitted to a journal for consideration may not be listed.

    Manuscripts under consideration:
    Guldin RW. "Bids for silvicultural services: estimating reasonable costs and identifying bidding
    errors.” Submitted to Canadian Journal of Forest Research on June 27, 1984. Peer review
    comments received and incorporated, and revision submitted to journal editor February 5, 1985.

2. Patents. Patents are to be listed chronologically, giving the patent name and number, identifing
   who has licensed the patent and whether the license is for exclusive or non-exclusive use, and the
   amount of royalties paid to the government.

    Patents are of equal value in the RGEG evaluation process to publications in refereed journals.
    As with publications, the number of patents is not as significant as the impact of the invention.
    Impact is measured largely in terms of technological or commercial impact. There are two points
    to consider when evaluating credit for patents. First, the award of a “Notice of Allowance” by the
    U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office (PTO), is equivalent to
    acceptance of a manuscript by a refereed journal. Only patents that have received a Notice of
    Allowance should be listed here. Patent applications submitted to PTO should be listed
    separately under a subheading “Patent Applications” and status described. Second, exclusive
    licenses should receive more credit than non-exclusive licenses. An exclusive license restricts
    use to one or a very limited number of firms. By prohibiting competitive use of the invention and
    guaranteeing to a greater extent the licensee’s profit, exclusivity encourages investment of
    development funds required to make an invention commercially available and useful to the

3. Documented, Archived Databases. List the subjects included, the number of records or entries,
   geographic coverage/scope of the data, potential uses, known uses or examples of use,
   accessibility (how and from whom), and a brief description of your contribution to creating and
   archiving the database or improving its accessibility for others.

    Whatney K, Douglas D. 1987. RPA National Timber Database. This is the only existing
    database that accounts for all forested land and timber resources in the United States. It
    provided foundation information for the 1990 RPA Assessment and Program and has been used
    by scientists in the National Global Change Program for the assessment of carbon storage in
    U.S. forests.

4. Electronic and Audiovisual Outputs. Major software or systems that have been developed as
   part of the scientist’s personal research assignment and made available to targeted users should be
   listed, giving full reference, including title, date of completion and through what organization it is
   available. Published software should be included under section IV.D.1. and cross-referenced with
   scientific accomplishments and technology transfer efforts described in section IV.C. To use
   computer software as an exhibit, the program documentation must be provided, not just a floppy
   disk with program code on it. If documentation is in a README.TXT or similar file on the
   disk, instructions for accessing and reading the file must be included. If the scientist develops a
   web site and runs an on-line bulletin board to disseminate research information, the level of
   activity should be described.

    Video tapes, slide tape programs, and films are also eligible outputs. The authors/creators, year,
    title, brief content, audience, and specific known uses (or examples of use) should be listed.
    Audiovisual materials may be provided as exhibits.

        DeGraaf R, Yamasaki M, Leak W, Lanier J. 1993. New England WildlifeManagement of
        Forested Habitats. A video summary of the relationships between types of habitat, habitat
        management, and habitat needs for 338 terrestrial vertebrates, developed as a technology
        transfer tool, summarizing 10 years of research and 2 major publications (IV.D.1.104 and
        IV.D.1.147). Used by national forest staff officers to explain wildlife program activities to
        landowners and interest groups. Over 100 copies produced and distributed; the report upon
        which it is based is into its second printing, with over 3,000 copies in circulation. The technology
        transfer effort won the 1994 Chief’s Award for Technology Transfer. Available from the second

        Zhu Z, Evans DL, Winterberger K. 1992. Forest maps of the United States1993 RPA
        Program. Forest type groups and forest density maps for the United States developed from
        analysis of satellite digital data and disseminated as a CD-ROM disk as well as printed copy
        (50,000 sets). The product is the definitive contemporary generalized forest type may of the
        United States. It is used for general reference throughout the world. Available from the
        Southern Station’s Communications Office.

    5. Demonstrations and Short-courses. The scientist’s role in any demonstrations or short-courses
       he/she was invited to present should be briefly summarized, as these recognize reputation and
       standing among peers. Each event, including the date, place, title of demonstration or course, and
       sponsoring organization should be listed, but not duplicated in Factor IV.B.4 or 5.

    6. Assessments, land management plans, and other policy-related products. Assessments,
       National Forest land management plans, and other policy-related products in which the scientist
       had input but was not separately identified as an author are to be listed here. If the author can be
       identified, the accomplishment is to be put in Publications (Factor IV.D.1) as a normal
       publication (and not included here). Role, contributions, length of service, and the significance of
       the involvement need to be described.

Other significant information

Information important to the evaluation of the scientist and not covered elsewhere in Factor IV may be
explained in this section:

•   Lists of outputs arising from formally sanctioned duties as team members (e.g., station civil rights
    committee, safety representative, task forces, or scientist committees).

•   Reports of accomplishments arising from activities sanctioned by the rating supervisor (e.g., natural
    resource education programs, urban tree house presentations, Project Learning Tree training,
    mentoring programs for employees, students, or interns).

•   Lists of journals that have solicited peer reviews and the average number of reviews done per year,
    and programs for which granting agencies have solicited the scientist’s participation in a competitive
    grant review process.

•   The numbers of competitive research grants received from sources both external and internal to Forest
    Service Research and their dollar value, including the date of award, title, co-investigator(s) and their
    affiliation(s), amount of award, length of time, granting agency, and role of the scientist as

    May 1992, "Evaluation and Prediction of the Regeneration Potential of Wetland Bottomland
    Hardwood Forests;” Dr. Kent Oaks and Dr. Jim Ash (Mississippi State University), and the scientist;
    $50,000; 2 years; National Science Foundation. The scientist was involved in initial design of study
    and co-author of grant proposal. Will be responsible for obtaining data and monitoring plots on 2 of
    5 sites and will be involved in analysis, interpretation, and publication of data.

•   Any journal editorships over the scientist’s career.

•   Sabbatical opportunities accepted, and any resulting published outputs, such as a book or book
    chapter (either as sole author or co-author) or major refereed journal article. These should be cross-
    referenced to Factor IV.D. Where the sabbatical was taken, the reason the individual was selected
    (especially whether or not it resulted from an open competition), the research or other activity
    undertaken during the sabbatical, the length of time, and the source of funding support should be

•   Any special circumstances affecting scientific productivity or recency of accomplishment.

        In 1990, Hurricane Hugo destroyed or partially damaged plots for 18 studies maintained by the
        individual’s unit in coastal South Carolina. Consequently, for the following 18 months, the
        scientist and other scientists in the unit were involved in collecting what data could be salvaged
        from the damaged sites. These field activities were given top priority because of the South
        Carolina State Forester’s desire to rapidly remove downed timber to reduce fuel loadings and
        mitigate fire danger. Further, several studies important for the long-term research program of
        the unit were reinstalled. As a result of these post-hurricane field activities, the individual’s
        publication record for 1992 and 1993 contains significantly fewer outputs than expected. This
        should not be taken as evidence of poor recent performance. With the data collected post-
        hurricane, the scientist has prepared 8 final study reports and 12 manuscripts in the past 18
        months, these are currently undergoing internal peer review or in the station editing queue. Six
        are targeted for station publications and the balance for refereed journals (2 for Forest Science,
        3 for Southern Journal of Applied Forestry, and 1 for Forest Ecology and Management).

•   Examples of research results selected as “Research Accomplishments” for the annual Report of the
    Forest Service or Book of Explanatory Notes accompanying the annual President’s Budget to
    Congress, or selected as “Research Highlights” for the Deputy Chief’s report.

•   List of published book reviews.

•   Community service tied to Forest Service program goals, such as judging at local science fairs.

        For the past 3 years, the scientist has been active in the math-science network, sponsored by the
        West Virginia Chapter of the Association for Women in Science. She has participated in annual
        conferences for 6th to 9th grade girls aimed at increasing interest in mathematics and science
        through hands-on workshops, presenting information about career opportunities in these fields,
        and serving as a role model of women working in non-traditional careers. She provides
        counseling to individuals who express an interest in math and science careers. She also provides
        classroom presentations, and hosts field trips for local elementary and secondary school science
        classes. Preparing, presenting, and following-up on these activities through the network takes
        about 2 weeks per year.

Contact list.

A short list of contacts (between 8 and 15 individuals) provided by the scientist is the starting point
for the subject matter reviewer to contact peers and users to obtain a fuller understanding of the
quality, significance, and impact of the individual scientist’s research and accomplishments. The list
should include people from a variety of organizations users of the scientist’s research as well as
those familiar with the recognition and scientific stature of individual. Names may include other
Forest Service employees, employees of other federal and state agencies, members of interest groups
or academia, landowners, resource managers, or industrial representatives. The list should include the
name, affiliation, current mailing address (as well as e-mail address) and telephone numbers, and the
topic (e.g., number of the accomplishment) with which the contact is most familiar. The list should
include the immediate supervisor’s name, telephone number, and e-mail address as a mandatory
contactthe immediate supervisor is the only contact that the SMR must interview.

Professional courtesy suggests that while preparing Factor IV, the scientist should discuss with the
individuals listed the possibility of their being contacted and asked to describe how the scientist’s
accomplishments have been of use (see Suggested Letter From Scientist To Contact Person, exhibit
___, ____________, for proposed letter format). The scientist may wish to provide copies of
pertinent pages of Factor IV, such as accomplishment statements, to each individual on the contact
list so that, if contacted, they may refer to the same written material as available to the subject matter

Privacy Act information

The following Privacy Act Notice is a verbatim reproduction of Exhibit 6, from Forest Service
Handbook 6109.15 - Position Classification Handbook, Chapter 30, dated 4/87 Amendment 6.

                                   PRIVACY ACT NOTICE

                           Preparation of Factor IV, Qualifications and
                       Scientific Contributions, Research and Development
                                   Scientist position descriptions

    This information is provided pursuant to Public Law 93-5 (Privacy Act of 1974), December 31,
    1974, for individuals supplying information for inclusion in a system of records.


    Section 5107 of Title 5 of the United States Code requires agencies to place positions in the
    appropriate grade and series by reference to standards published by the Office of Personnel
    Management (OPM). The Research Grade-Evaluation Guide and Equipment Development
    Grade-Evaluation Guide are issued by OPM and provide guidance and criteria for evaluation
    research and development positions. The duties and responsibilities of such positions are
    dependent upon the interplay between the assignment and the scientific qualifications and
    contributions. Providing information prescribed for Factor IV of scientist position descriptions is
    voluntary, but is essential to the classification process.

                                       Purpose and Scope

    Factor IV information is collected to provide a research evaluation panel with essential facts on
    the novelty and complexity of the research assignment and the contributions and professional
    stature of the incumbent so that the panel may adequately evaluate the position. This information
    is also used to document the classification of the position. The information may be disclosed to
    appropriate officials of the Forest Service, the Department of Agriculture, and the Office of
    Personnel Management involved in the research scientist evaluation process.

                                   Effects and Nondisclosure

    Since Factor IV contains information on which a research panel evaluates a position, you should
    provide specific and complete information in Factor IV. Omitting an item may result in a lower
    evaluation score than is appropriate.

Include the following statement at the end of the position description:

    “I have received a copy of the Privacy Act Notice for Preparation of Factor IV, Qualifications and
    Scientific Contributions, Research Scientist Position Description.”

                                 Signature of scientist             Date

                                              Chapter 2
           Guidelines For Conducting Research Evaluation Panels
This chapter contains three sections that describe the overall research panel process. The first section
provides overall guidance for Forest Service Research & Development panels, the second describes
individual roles and responsibilities in the panel process, and the third describes procedures and
evaluation tools for panelists.

                                          Panel Guidelines
Why use panels?

Classification of research positions must consider the impact of the person in the job, in terms of
individual scientific accomplishments and competence, along with other typical classification factors,
such as the nature and complexity of the assignment and degree of responsibility. Because of this unique
interplay between the research assignment, the researcher’s scientific capabilities, and the impact and
significance of the researcher’s accomplishments, the work assigned to a given position may be
performed at any one of several grade levels.

Any position classification decision necessarily involves a series of subjective judgments. The challenge
is to make those judgments consistently and fairly, due to the interplay between the person and the job.
The RGEG recommends that a panel of scientific peers and a personnelist work together to recommend
grade levels for scientists.

“Since some of the judgments called for by the guide can best be made by researchers, with their fund of
relevant technical knowledge, and since joint participation on the panel affords an excellent opportunity
for close cooperation and the merging of the contributions which can be made by professional personnel
and by classifiers, joint researcher-classifier membership on panels is recommended.

If panels are used, we suggest that they include a reasonable diversity of disciplines to assure a better
perspective with respect to the relationship of the specific position to broader areas of research. (The
limited statistical evidence available indicates that panel members in other disciplines than that of the
position being rated can rate accurately if the facts regarding the position are clear.” (OPM’s Research
Grade Evaluation Guide, RGEG)

When is the Research Grade Evaluation Guide applicable to a position?

The Research Grade Evaluation Guide (RGEG) is the OPM standard for classifying positions involving
the personal performance of professionally responsible research. Several extremely important concepts
are contained in the RGEG, including a definition of research, along with qualifying criteria and
exclusions. The Introduction in this guide summarizes some of this material. Proper interpretation of the
definitions is critical to using the degree definitions at the end of the RGEG. Incorrect or overly narrow
interpretations can result in serious inconsistencies among panels. As the percentage of time devoted to
supervisory responsibilities and administrative assignments nears 50 percent, the rating and second-level
supervisors should consider if the position remains classifiable using the RGEG.

Benefits and expectations of panel service
Serving as a panel member is one of the highest priorities for each scientist or administrator in Forest
Service Research & Development. In fairness to fellow researchers, individuals are expected to serve as
panelist, subject matter reviewer (SMR), or panel chair when asked by a personnelist. To help attain the
expected consistency and fairness in all Forest Service research stations and the Forest Products
Laboratory (FPL), and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), panels will usually include
one or more panelists from outside the scientist’s local research station, (FPL), or (IITF). The
responsibility to serve on panels is an obligation to Forest Service Research & Development as a whole
and not to any single station. Therefore, scientists should feel motivated to serve as a courtesy to fellow
researchers Forest Service-wide.

Each research station, the FPL, and IITF have delegated authority to classify scientists and determine
their grades. A significant responsibility rests upon each panel to provide a consistent and fair evaluation.
 Forest Service scientists have the right to expect that if their position descriptions were evaluated by
panels at different research stations, FPL, or IITF, the same grade level recommendation would result.
Attaining such fairness and consistency requires each scientist to take panel service responsibilities

Because there are fewer scientists at upper grade levels than at the lower ones, upper grade scientists
should expect to serve on panels more frequently than lower grade scientists. As scientists are promoted,
their panel responsibilities necessarily increase.

The benefits of panel service include the gain of a greater understanding of proper writing of position
descriptions and of the panel process. This may increase the probability of promotion as scientists prepare
their own panel packages. Service also allows each scientist in Forest Service Research & Development
input on the quality of science within the organization. The level of success of Forest Service Research &
Development is determined by the quality of its science.

Panel service and conflict of interest

Scientists are expected to participate on research evaluation panels. Occasionally, they are asked to serve
as a panelist to evaluate a scientist with whom they have interacted previously. This relationship may be
as a friend, colleague, co-author, or competitor. There is conflict of interest if the relationship interferes
with the panelist’s ability to objectively rate the scientist. A panelist who has a conflict of interest must
contact the personnelist immediately and decline the assignment for reasons of conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to determine when a relationship is such that a conflict of interest exists. The
following criteria may help define conflict of interest. These criteria are fashioned after conflict of
interest criteria for committees that award competitive research grants.

Examples of conflict of interest:

1)   Co-authoring a publication with the incumbent in the last 3 years.
2)   Collaboration on a joint research project with the incumbent in the last 3 years.
3)   Working in the same RWU as the incumbent in the last 3 years.
4)   Supervising or being supervised by the incumbent in the last 3 years.

In addition, the scientist being paneled may request that a particular scientist be excluded from serving on
the panel. Likewise, the scientist may submit suggested names of individuals who are knowledgeable
enough of the work to serve as Subject Matter Reviewers or Peers panel members. Such requests are
normally submitted through supervisory channels at the time the scientist submits the position description
(PD) package.

Training aids in support of panels

Training videos and other materials are available from your local human resources management office
regarding preparation of research position descriptions and the panel process. Scientists and personnelists
are encouraged to review this material in addition to this Guide. Many scientists have found it useful to
observe a few panels prior to either preparing their own position description or before serving as a rating
panelist. The Research & Development Panel Web Page also contains valuable information: .

Types of panels and cyclic review

Within Forest Service Research & Development, there are three types of research evaluation panels:

   1) Local panels are conducted by individual station or laboratory personnelists. Such panels involve
      evaluating scientists up through the GS-13 grade level. The panels are held either in person or via
      conference call. Approval authority on panel results rests with the appropriate director. Panels
      are held within 48 months of the most recent previous panel for scientists at grades GS-11, GS-12,
      and GS-13.

   2) National panels are conducted by a personnelist assigned to the Washington Office Human
      Resource Management (HRM) Staff. Such panels involve evaluating scientists already at the GS-
      14 level or above. These panels are normally held via conference call and consist of members
      throughout Forest Service Research & Development as well as other agencies. Approval
      authority for panels resulting from remain in grade decisions at the GS-14 level rests with the
      appropriate Director; for panels involving GS-15 level decisions, the approval authority rests with
      the Deputy Chief for Research & Development; for panels involving decisions for scientific
      technical (ST) level positions, the approval authority rests with the USDA Office of Human
      Resources Management (OHRM) Staff. Panels are held every 5 years for scientists at grade GS-
      14 or higher.

   3) Vacant positions may be evaluated via a mini-panel, i.e., 2 scientists who are knowledgeable of the
      work and a personnelist review the first 3 factors of the PD to insure that the target grade is
      described. Factor IV may be reviewed upon selection of the incumbent to confirm the final grade
      outcome of the position. Panels should be held within 3 years of the scientists’ hire date.

Directors may submit packages for accelerated panels for any scientist before the required minimum
timeframes described above. They may also request reevaluation prior to the mandatory cyclic reviews;
or request delay in scheduling due a significant impact experienced by a scientist; e.g., transfer of station,
long-term detail such as an IPA Assignment, change in the research assignment or reassignment to a new
research work unit, etc.

Scientific technical or supergrade positions

Scientific Technical (ST) positions are positions that are classifiable above the GS-15 level but do not
meet the Senior Executive Service (SES) functional criteria. ST positions may be established only under
a position allocation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Forest Service does not have
delegated authority to classify positions above the GS-15 grade level. Through the panel process, the
Forest Service makes a recommendation to the USDA Office of Human Resources Management Staff for
an ST approval. USDA and OPM are the approval echelons. ST slots are limited and final approval of
the position is not received until a slot becomes available. Position cases normally are placed in a queue
with other USDA scientists until a slot opens up.

ST Panel Philosophy/Criteria

Panels evaluating GS-15 researchers for possible ST positions should assure that:

• the Forest Service submits only “world class” scientists for USDA/OPM approval, the panel should
  take a conservative approach and not be inclined to “give the benefit of the doubt.”

• the panel focuses almost exclusively on RGEG Factor IV’s “In Excess of Degree E” level criteria.

• all four of the Factor IV “In Excess of Degree E” criteria listed below must be met (or the case must
  be so strong in three as to offset weakness in a fourth):

   (a) The scientist has received honors/awards from major national organizations for accomplishments;
   (b) is sought as advisor and consultant on scientific and technological programs/problems well beyond
   own field; (c) serves as a recruiting attraction for recent graduates (or visiting scientists); and (d) the
   scientist’s personal competence is a major consideration in Agency sponsorship of programs in his/her

• scoring at the ST level is not based on “just more GS-15 stuff.”

Once positions are approved as ST’s by USDA-Office of Human Resources Management, they will
to be reviewed under the panel process on a 5-year basis. Panels evaluating scientists already at the
ST level must include a minimum of 2 members (preferably the SMR and Peer) already at the ST level
(remaining members must be at the GS-15 level).

Paneling Post-Doc’s and Term Employees

Post-doc’s and term employees are not automatically included in the mandatory panel cycle. However, a
formal panel may be held if requested by management, the employee, or their supervisor.
Panel Member Qualifications

There are several reasons why panel members must meet different qualifications. The reasons include the
broader scope of responsibilities for higher graded positions and regional responsibilities for lower graded
positions. Scientists at upper graded positions are expected to make contributions at the national and
international levels. Diversity in this context means that panelists will have broader responsibilities and
wider experiences. Experienced panelists are selected who have demonstrated ability to evaluate
positions having broad responsibilities and experiences, nationally and internationally.

All panels will be composed of 4 scientists from the USDA Forest Service or other government research
agencies such as USDI, USDA Agriculture Research Service, etc.; a panel chair; and a personnelist. In
extremely rare situations, the line officer (director) with authority for classification may document and
approve an exception to the panel member qualifications. Each panel will include a Subject Matter
Reviewer (SMR), a second member from the same peer group as the position being evaluated, and two
members from unrelated peer groups.


For panels at GS-13 and below, panelists
• Must have observed a panel and received training on the panel process and RGEG
• Must occupy a position that is classified under RGEG
• Must be at or above the grade level of the position being evaluated and be up-to-date in their
     scientific field
• May include members from other research stations, (FPL), (IITF) and agencies

For panels at GS-14 and above, in addition to the qualifications above, panelists
• Must have served on at least 3 panels evaluating positions at grade GS-13 and below
• Must currently occupy a GS-14 (no more than 2 members may be at the GS-14 level) or higher
• Must have attained at least a GS-14 through the panel process and be up-to-date in their scientific
• Will include members from a number of research stations, (FPL), (IITF), the Washington Office, and
    other agencies

At least 2 of the panel members must currently occupy positions evaluated under the RGEG.

For panels of ST positions, in addition to qualifications above, panelists must be at GS-15 level or above
• Two members (preferably the SMR & Peer) must be at the ST level

The subject matter reviewer, in addition to qualifications above
• Must be the same grade or higher than the position being evaluated
• Must be in same peer group as position being evaluated

Being in the same discipline as position being evaluated is desirable.

Panel chair

Individuals who qualified to chair panels before December 1995 are “grandfathered” and therefore not
required to meet the requirements below. However, they must be trained in the new RGEG process.
None of the positions evaluated should come from within the chair’s area of responsibility. Individuals in
the following positions qualify to chair panels:

For panels at GS-13 and below
• Project leaders, assistant station directors, program managers, or scientists at GS-14 or higher

They must have served as panel member on 3 panels and as SMR on at least 1 panel.

For panels at GS-14 and above, in addition to qualifications above
• Research administrators at the GS-15 and above and members of the SES, i.e., assistant station
    directors for Continuing Research, program managers, deputy station directors, Washington Office
    staff directors, or associate deputy chiefs for Research & Development

In addition, they must have experience as chair of at least 2 panels for scientists at the GS-13 or below
and have served on or observed at least 3 panels for scientists at GS-14 or higher.


The personnelist must have the following qualifications:

    •   Be GS-11 or higher
    •   Have delegated classification authority up to GS-14 for local panels and up to GS-15 for national
    •   Have observed a panel
    •   Have received training on the panel process and RGEG

Panel composition and peer groups

Panels are convened to provide position classifiers with the technical advice and counsel they need to
assign correct grade levels. To the maximum extent practical, panel members should be active research
scientists who are at or above the grade of the researcher whose position is being evaluated. Panel
members can also be scientists who are serving as research managers or administrators but have remained
current in their scientific fields. However, to serve on GS-14 and above panels, panelists must have been
paneled to the GS-14 level through the research panel process.

The RGEG gives the agency substantial freedom to define panel composition, provided that a reasonable
diversity of disciplines exists among the researchers on the panel. To assure that the panel members
represent the reasonable diversity of disciplines called for by the RGEG, the Forest Service has
established 7 peer groups for scientists (Table 2). Each Forest Service Research and Development
scientist is responsible for choosing a peer group to belong to. A peer group is composed of scientists in
the same or related fields of research who use similar research methodologies and subjects, are familiar
with similar technical literature, and have similar technical knowledge. Affiliating oneself with a
particular peer group says that among all the scientists in the Forest Service, people in the selected peer
group are doing research that is closest to the individual’s research.

For each panel, 2 voting members must come from the same peer group as the scientist whose position
description is being evaluated, and 2 voting members from different peer groups. Selecting panelists
from 2 of the 7 peer groups provides a mechanism to obtain the reasonable diversity called for by the
RGEG while at the same time guaranteeing that half the panelists have technical knowledge that is similar
to that required by the position. Personnelists may use the panel participant database to aid in
membership selection from peer groups.

Because peer group affiliation is the basis for selecting panelists, the group an individual scientist chooses
to join should be the one whose members that scientist feels most qualified to evaluate. A secondary peer
group may also be identified if the interdisciplinary nature of an individual’s research warrants. The
panelist who is appointed to be the SMR is selected from the same peer group (and if possible from the
same discipline within the peer group) as the scientist whose position description will be evaluated.
When a suitable panelist is not available within the primary peer group, one may be selected from the
secondary peer group.

Table 2Peer Groups for Research Scientists in the USDA Forest Service

Ecology and Applied Plant Research (Peer Group 1)
   Forestry, plant ecology and physiology (both wildland and urban settings), landscape ecology,
   dendrochronology, field ecology, botany, range science, plant genetics and biotechnology,
   entomology, plant pathology, horticulture, agronomy

Wildlife and Fisheries Research (Peer Group 2)
   Wildlife biology and ecology, fisheries biology and ecology, aquatic and marine biology and ecology,
   zoology, animal biology and physiology, range science

Basic Plant and Animal Sciences Research (Peer Group 3)
   Microbiology, genetics, plant pathology, entomology, plant and animal physiology, pharmacology,
   biochemistry, biotechnology, physics

Earth Sciences Research (Peer Group 4)
   Geology, hydrology, geomorphology, soil science, meteorology, geography, remote sensing

Physical Sciences and Engineering Research (Peer Group 5)
   Forest products technology, materials science, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, hydraulic
   engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, general engineering

Quantitative Sciences Research (Peer Group 6)
  Biometrics, mathematical modeling, statistics, mathematics, inventory methods, experimental design

Human Dimensions Research on Natural Resource Management and Planning (Peer Group 7)
  Environmental psychology, social ecology, ecological economics, natural resource economics and
  marketing, sociology of natural resource use


                      Roles and Responsibilities in the Panel Process

Determining the appropriate grade for a Forest Service research scientist is an important part of the
position classification process. Many different people are involved in properly classifying a scientist’s
position description. Those with various roles and responsibilities include the person in the position; the
rating supervisor of the position (typically the project or team leader); the second-level supervisor
(typically the assistant station director, deputy director, or program manager); a personnel specialist with
delegated classification authority; a panel of peers composed of a panel chair and 4 members; and the
station director or director of FPL or IITF. For positions where the correct grade is GS-15 or above, the
Forest Service Deputy Chief for Research and Development, the Deputy Chief for Business Operations,
and the Director of the USDA Office of Personnel may also be involved. Some of the responsibilities
must be fulfilled before a panel convenes, and some are completed after panel deliberations are
concluded. The objective of this section is to briefly describe the basic roles and responsibilities for the
scientist, supervisors, personnel specialist, panel chair, panelists, and the station director, director (FPL or
IITF), or deputy chiefs.


Using the outline provided in this booklet (see Chapter 1), the scientist and rating supervisor accurately
and concisely describe the research assignment, supervision received, guidelines and originality used, and
the qualifications and contributions of the scientist, emphasizing their impact and significance.

The scientist

• Selects a primary and secondary peer group affiliation if appropriate (Table 2). The scientist may
request a change in peer group affiliation at any time by sending a request to the appropriate personnel
office. However, any changes requested after a panel has been scheduled and panelists selected will take
effect after the panel concludes.

•   Prepares a draft position description in consultation with the rating supervisor.

•   Ensures that the position description clearly presents all the relevant facts the panel needs to make an
       accurate grade determination.

•   Consults the rating supervisor or personnel specialist, as necessary, for assistance.

• May also identify potential panel members that may have a conflict of interest in serving, and inform
the   personnel specialist.

Supervisors play important roles in the process; their responsibilities are outlined below.

Before the panel convenes, the rating supervisor

•   Prepares the position description for vacant positions as part of the hiring process.

•   Coaches scientists in recording, synthesizing, and presenting information in position descriptions
    accurately and consistently, following the guidelines in this book.

•   Checks the draft position description prepared by the scientist for accuracy. Ensures that the position
    description adequately reflects the actual level of supervision received, the guidelines available and
    the originality required by the position, and the contribution and impact (and resulting scientific
    stature and recognition) of the scientist.

•   Assures consistency among all scientists in the unit in how personal research assignments are
    described and their link back to the research work unit description or program charter.

•   Provides guidance in revising the position description.

•   Certifies that the final position description and Form AD-332 (Position Description Cover Sheet) are
    accurate and submits Standard Form 52 (Request for Personnel Action), along with Form AD-332
    and the position description to the second-level supervisor.

•   With input from the scientist, nominates 3 individuals from the primary or secondary peer groups
    with which the scientist is affiliated for consideration by the personnel specialist as the SMR. In
    addition to Forest Service scientists, other trained scientists from federal research agencies, for
    example USDI or USDA Agricultural Research Service, in similar peer groups may be nominated as
    potential SMR’s.

During the panel, the rating supervisor is available in the event the panel needs clarifying information.

Before the panel convenes, the second-level supervisor

•   Checks for consistency of position descriptions, both within the given research work unit as well as
    among work units.

•   Coaches rating supervisors in synthesizing and presenting information accurately and consistently,
    following the guidelines in this booklet.

•   Verifies that the scientist is not currently under a performance improvement plan (PIP) arising from
    an annual performance evaluation or other investigation that would preclude reclassification of the

•   Advises the personnelist or chair regarding sensitive information that should not enter into the panel

•   Approves Form AD-332 and Standard Form 52 and forwards the package to the servicing personnel

After the panel concludes, the second-level supervisor receives the classification action decision through
supervisory channels and reviews its contents including a summary of the informal comments section of
the worksheet. The rating supervisor reviews the classification action decision with the scientist after
receiving it from, and discussing it with, the second-level supervisor.


Personnelists (personnel specialists) assigned to a panel must have delegated classification authority for
the highest potential grade level of the positions being evaluated (with the exception of ST level
positions). The personnelist is the technical advisor who facilitates the panel process and assures that the
following activities occur annually: identification of scientists to be paneled; scheduling of panels;
provision of assistance in preparing position descriptions; training in the panel process for panelists and
chairs; nomination of panel members and Chair and advice on matters of personnel management policy;
and periodic assessment of the unit’s panel review system for consistency and compliance with the
RGEG, Forest Service Manual, and Handbook direction, and procedures outlined in this publication.

Before the panel convenes, the personnelist

•   Upon receipt of the panel package, reviews position descriptions and returns any that appear
    incomplete or inadequate to the rating supervisor through supervisory channels for additional

•   Reviews the roster of scientists in the same peer group as the scientist whose position will be
    evaluated to determine potential panel members.

•   Using the panel participant database, contacts prospective panel chairs and panel members; reviews
    their qualifications, training, and availability to serve; and selects individuals to serve. Establishes
    the panel date and location and makes arrangements to bring the panelists together, either in person or
    by teleconference.

•   Contacts the panel chair and panelists to review their duties with them.

•   Sends all materials to the panel chair and panelists at least 4 weeks before the panel date.

•   Reminds panelists that panel participation is confidential and must take place in a location where
    discussions will not be over heard (i.e., office with a closed door or an off-site location).

During the panel meeting, the personnelist

•   Serves as technical advisor to the panel chair and panel members on personnel management questions
    that arise.

•   Documents the panel deliberations in coordination with the panel chair. This includes editing the
    combined Research Position Evaluation Worksheet to conform with the panel’s consensus on
    evaluation statements, scores, grade determination, and recommendation.

After the panel concludes, the personnelist

•   Finalizes, with advice from the panel chair, the panel evaluation report, which includes the final
    Research Position Evaluation Worksheet with consensus ratings and the recommendation for the
    position. Gathers any panelist(s) comments on the position description and appends them to the

•   Secures the concurrence of appropriate line officers on the panel evaluation report and prepares the
    final classification action package for decision.

    A. For local panel decisions resulting in classification of scientists at grades 14 and below, the
       personnelist obtains concurrence from the Station Director (including Directors of FPL or IITF),
       after reviewing the panel evaluation report.

    B. For a national-level panel (GS-14’s and above) recommending a “remain in grade” for a grade
       GS-14 scientist, the WO-HRM Staff personnelist obtains concurrence from the appropriate
       director, and sends the results directly to the scientist’s home unit for local approval and

    C. For national-level panel recommendations for either promotion of scientists to grade GS-15 or a
       “remain in grade” for a grade GS-15 or ST scientist, the WO-HRM Staff personnelist obtains
       concurrence from the appropriate director. The Deputy Chiefs for Research & Development and
       Business Operations jointly approve the final classification decision. Results are sent to the
       scientist’s home unit for processing.

    D. For national-level panel recommendations for promotion of scientists above grade 15 (ST levels),
       the WO-HRM Staff personnelist obtains concurrence from the appropriate director, and the
       Deputy Chiefs. The Director of the USDA-Office of Human Resources Management approves
       the final classification decision and obtains an ST slot from the Office of Personnel Management
       (OPM). ST slots are limited and a delay may occur before a slot is received. Once approved, the
       case is sent to the scientist’s home unit for processing.

•   The local HRM Office implements the classification action after the final decision is made.

•   Prepares the transmittal letter that provides a copy of the final report (the Research Position
    Evaluation Worksheet, see attachment A, & PD) and decision (Standard Form 50-B, Notification of
    Personnel Action) to the scientist through supervisory channels.

•   Updates the panel participant database with the results of the panel.

•   Returns exhibits to scientist if requested.

Panel Chair

The panel chair is appointed by the local director (for GS-13 scientists and below) or the Deputy Chief for
Research & Development (for GS-14 and above) to convene the panel. Forest Service Handbook
6109.31.11 and 32.12 define qualifications for panel chair and panelists. Panel chairs shall be
experienced panel members, having served on at least 3 panels. The chair sees that panelists are fully
aware of their responsibilities, coordinates discussion of each factor making certain that all data are
considered, and prepares consensus ratings and recommendations. The chair does not rate the scientist
and must remain neutral in all discussions and evaluations.

Before the panel convenes, the panel chair

•   Reviews all panel materials, including position descriptions and exhibits, for each scientist to be
    evaluated by the panel.

•   Examines PD for possible conflicts of interest.

•   Contacts the personnel specialist to review arrangements for conducting the panel and to assure
    mutual understanding of their duties and responsibilities during the panel.

•   Advises the SMR regarding any sensitive information that should be avoided in interviews.

During the panel meeting, the panel chair carries out the following duties:

•   Calls the panel to order and states its purpose: to recommend one of five decision options
    (Table 4 – Panel Recommendation Options) for the incumbent’s position description. The chair leads
    the discussion and ensures that facts concerning the position, qualifications, and accomplishments of
    the scientist are understood by panel members so that they arrive at a fair, accurate, and consistent
    consensus decision.

•   Emphasizes the confidential nature of all panel discussions, findings, and recommendationsthey are
    to be discussed only with panel members.

•   Reminds panelists they may have access to technical experts or the scientist’s rating supervisor or
    second-level supervisor, if necessary, during panel deliberations.

•   Informs panelists that scientists being evaluated may request and receive the names of panelists.

•   Reminds panelists that during the evaluation of accomplishments, all 6 types of accomplishments are
    legitimate research accomplishments worthy of appropriate credit (see chapter 1).

•   Reminds panelists that technology transfer activities must be recognized and evaluated as long as
    technology transfer efforts are part of the complete cycle of the incumbent’s research.

•   Reminds panelists that team participation must be recognized and credit must be based primarily on
    the scientist’s individual contribution to solving the problems assigned to the team, and secondarily
    on the relative importance and complexity of the problem and the impact and significance of the
    team’s solution. Teams may include participation in land management planning and/or assessments.

•   Reminds panelists to evaluate the impact and significance of authorship based on the scientist’s actual
    contribution to the publication and not solely on senior authorship or co-authorship.

•. Reminds panelists that synthesis within and across scientific disciplines, synthesis of science covered
   by the RGEG with development activities not covered by the RGEG, and synthesis of science with
   policy must be considered and given appropriate credit when evaluating the impact of a scientist’s

•   Reminds panelists to modify, initial, and submit to the personnelist any changes made on their
    worksheets as a result of panel deliberations (panelists may make “electronic” changes if panel is
    conducted via conference call).

•   Coordinates the discussion of each factor, and after each factor is discussed, determines the consensus
    rating and recommendations for that factor and records them.

•   Concludes deliberations with a reminder of the panel’s obligation to maintain the confidentiality of
    the proceedings.

After the panel concludes, the panel chair reviews and signs the Research Position Evaluation
Worksheet edited and finalized by the personnel specialist to reflect the panel’s consensus rating and
recommendations; then the chair returns the signed panel report to appropriate personnelist for
coordination of approval signature(s).


Panelists are appointed on behalf of the station director(s) or director(s) of (FPL or IITF) for local panels
and the Deputy Chief, Research & Development for national panels. Panelists review all information
regarding the position and the scientist’s qualifications and contributions, evaluate each factor, and
participate in the discussion that results in a consensus rating and panel decision recommendation. If the
panel is convened to consider more than one scientist’s position description, a panel member may be
called on to act as SMR for more than one position being considered. The subject matter reviewer makes
additional contacts with peers and users, both outside and inside the Forest Service, to obtain affirmation
of the impact and significance of the scientist’s accomplishments and to answer questions that may arise
before and during the panel.

Before the panel convenes, each panelist

•   Reviews this publication to refresh their knowledge about panel responsibilities.

•   Reviews the position description and all exhibits supplied for each scientist being evaluated, treating
    all information in Factor IV as confidential.

•   Evaluates each factor using criteria in OPM’s RGEG (see Chapter 3).

•   Contacts the chair or SMR when additional facts are needed to fairly, accurately, and consistently
    complete evaluations, ideally two or more weeks before the panel.

•   Considers that the significance and impact of a scientist’s findings can be demonstrated in many ways,
    including any of the categories of accomplishments, technology transfer efforts, special assignments,
    individual or team contributions, and consultations.

•   Assigns preliminary numerical score to each factor in the position description. For each factor, each
    panelist provides a meaningful detailed narrative rationale for each score and documents briefly how
    team accomplishments, technology transfer efforts, and special assignments were considered in rating
    appropriate factors.

•   Sends a completed draft of the Research Position Evaluation Worksheet via electronic mail or express
    mail to the personnelist, in time to arrive at least 3 business days before the panel. This provides time
    for the personnelist to forward copies to the chair, assures that panelists and chair have completed
    their pre-panel work, and improves the efficiency of panel deliberations.

During the panel meeting, each panelist:

•   Participates with other panelists in discussions of each factor to achieve consensus on scores for each
    factor, the consensus grade, and the panel recommendation.

•   Modifies rationales on his/her individual worksheets to conform with the individual final score, as
    each factor is considered.

•   Maintains strict confidentiality by participating in the panel at a location from which discussions may
    not be overheard.

After the panel concludes, each panelist

•   Refers any questions received from the incumbent or supervisors to the personnel specialist.

•   Initials and returns to the personnel specialist his or her worksheets with modified rationales and final

•   Returns to the personnel specialist all position description materials and exhibits as requested.

•   Maintains strict confidentiality of material reviewed and discussions held during the panel, shreds any
    material not returned to the personnel specialist with the exception of exhibit material.

Subject matter reviewer

The subject matter reviewer (SMR) has important responsibilities beyond that of a regular panelist. One
important responsibility is to gather and summarize for the panel information from individuals contacted
(including the supervisor). The information documents the impact and significance of a scientist’s
accomplishments to user and peers in their field. The definition of users is purposefully broad. Obtaining
feedback from several different users is indispensable for assessing the effectiveness of information and
technology transfer and fulfilling the unit’s accountability for providing efficient customer service.

Serving as SMR requires more time than just serving as a regular panelist. Dedication and good work as
SMR are absolutely essential to ensure that the system works accurately, fairly, and consistently and is
regarded as such by all Forest Service scientists.

Before the panel convenes, the SMR

    • Completes a draft of the Research Position Evaluation Worksheet (see page ) before making any
    • Beginning with the contact list provided by the scientist, the SMR obtains information
      documenting the impact and significance of the scientist’s accomplishments (see Guidelines for
      Subject Matter Reviewers page ).
    • Organizes and summarizes a contact report for presentation to the panel.
    • Revises worksheet if score is affected by information from contacts.

During the panel, the SMR

  •     Makes an oral report of the information gathered during the contact process.
  •     Clarifies the information provided by the scientist in the position description as needed.

After the panel,

The SMR’s responsibilities are the same as other panel members after the panel. The SMR shreds or
discards any written notes from contact interviews.

Washington Office Human Resources Management Staff

The Branch Chief of the Classification, Employment, Benefits, and Organizations Branch, Human
Resources Management Staff, located in the Washington Office, is responsible for overall administration
of position classification procedures for the Forest Service. Part of the job is responsibility and
accountability to the Department of Agriculture and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for proper
classification of research scientist grade levels using the RGEG. The Branch Chief has authorized the
National Panel Coordinator to carry out these duties. Duties include developing necessary Forest Service
Manual and Handbook direction, overseeing the training of personnel specialists in use of the RGEG, and
working with the Deputy Chiefs for Research and Development and for Operations to develop
supplementary materials (e.g., informational brochures, training materials, and guidebooks).

Human Resources Management Staff manages the Forest Service Research Panel Participant Database.
The database has two primary purposes: to identify the scientists whose positions need to be evaluated in
the coming fiscal year and to identify potential panelists. Personnelists use the database to identify
potential panel members by peer group, their qualifications for panel service, and to allocate panel service
workload fairly. The database is also used to track each scientist’s and research administrator’s training
and qualifications to serve on research grade evaluation panels and their panel service record. This helps
assure high-quality, equitable panel participation. The database will also be used to assess panel trends.

Planning GS-14-and-higher panels

The WO personnelist who manages the national panel process will query the Panel Participant Database
to develop a list of grade-14-and-higher positions whose grades need to be evaluated in the coming fiscal
year. A letter will be sent to research field units identifying scientists for evaluation and outlining
position description and panel package due dates. In the same time frame, directors are asked to nominate
scientists deserving accelerated grade evaluation before the next regular cyclical review.

Station Directors, Director(s) of FPL and IITF, Deputy Chief(s), and Director of USDA
Office of Human Resources Management

Station Directors (including Directors of FPL & IITF), the Deputy Chief for Research & Development,
and the Deputy Chief for Business Operations are the line officers responsible for assuring that the panel
system operates fairly, accurately, consistently, and objectively. Specific roles and responsibilities are
listed below.

Two key decisions are made after an RGEG panel concludes. The first decision is either concurring with
the panel recommendation as to grade or preparing an alternative grade recommendation. The second
decision is approving the classification action, which includes proper job title, series, and grade. For
panel recommendations of GS-14 and below, the director(s) normally makes both decisions. For panel
recommendations for “remain in grade” at the GS-15 and above levels, or for promotions to GS-15, the
director(s) provide their concurrence and the Deputy Chiefs jointly make the approval decision. For
grades above GS-15, i.e., ST levels, the director(s) and the Deputy Chiefs jointly provide their
concurrence and the Director of the USDA Office of Human Resources Management Staff makes the
approval decision.

Before the panel convenes for GS-13-and-below scientists, the director(s)

•   Reviews and approves the SF-52, AD-332, and position description before they are sent to the
    personnel specialist.

•   Communicates with other directors to resolve situations when qualified scientists or administrators
    from the other units repeatedly turn down requests to serve on requested panels.

After the panel for GS-13-and-below scientists concludes, the director(s)

•   Receives the panel evaluation report from the personnel specialist, which includes the panel’s grade
    recommendation, consensus scoring by factor, and the research position evaluation worksheet. While
    deciding whether or not to concur with the panel report, they may also consider annual performance
    information, assessments by the assistant station director or program manager, or other relevant
    information pertinent to a classification decision.

    A. If the director concurs with the panel evaluation report, it and the director’s concurrence are
       forwarded to the classification specialist in the local servicing personnel unit. The classification
       specialist prepares the classification package for processing and forwards it to the director for
       final approval. The approved classification action is then transmitted through supervisory
       channels to the scientist.

    B. If the director does not concur with the evaluation report, the director provides the classification
          specialist with an alternative grade recommendation and supporting information. This becomes
       part of the documentation supporting the classification action. The supporting information should
       contain sufficient detail to provide the classifier with a reasonable basis for overriding, if
       appropriate, the panel’s consensus score for one or more factors, and ultimately, the overall grade
       assigned to the position.

The most likely situation leading to the outcome described above in B occurs when information surfaces
after the position description is submitted but before the panel meets. An example is notification that the
scientist is a recipient of a major award, which might raise scores in Factors III and IV. Such situations
are usually outside of the director(s) control.

There are other possible reasons why directors might object to concurring with panel recommendations.
These include performance problems, allegations of misconduct, or other unusual events. Federal
personnel regulations state that if a performance problem exists or a misconduct investigation is
underway, a person’s position description should not be reclassified until the problem or investigation is
satisfactorily resolved. Information may also exist that is so confidential that to safeguard the privacy of
the individual scientist, the supervisor or director may choose not to disclose it to the panel. In this event
and if the information has a material impact on the classification action, the confidential information
should be shared with the classification specialist as described in B, above, and the position classified

Before a panel for a GS-14-or-above scientist convenes, the director

•   Reviews and approves the SF-52, AD-332, and position description before they are sent to the
    Washington Office personnelist organizing the panel.

After the panel for a “remain in grade decision” at the GS-14 level concludes, the director

•   Receives a personal communication from the personnelist soliciting the Director’s concurrence with
    the panel evaluation report. If the director concurs, the personnelist prepares the final decision report
    and forwards it to the director for approval.

After the panel for a GS-15 level scientist concludes, the Deputy Chiefs for Research &
Development and for Business Operations

•   The personnelist obtains the director’s concurrence to the panel evaluation report, and drafts the
    decision letter. As part of the review, the Deputy Chiefs may consider annual performance
    information, assessments by the director or Washington Office Staff Directors, or other relevant

    A. If the Deputy Chiefs approve the classification action, notification of the decision is transmitted
       to the scientist through supervisory channels.

    B. If the Deputy Chiefs do not approve the classification action because of specific concerns about
       strengthening or weakening aspects of one or more of the four RGEG factors that were not
       considered by the panel, the resolution process parallels that described for directors, above.

    C. If the proposed grade is above the GS-15 level, i.e., ST level, and the Deputy Chiefs concur, the
       WO-HRM Staff forwards the classification action package to the Director of the USDA Office of
       Human Resources Management for decision. If the Deputy Chiefs do not concur, the package is
       returned to the Branch Chief of Classification, Employment, Benefits, & Organizations for
       resolution of concerns.

After the panel for a grade above GS-15 (ST level) concludes, the Director of the USDA Office of
Human Resources Management

•   Upon receipt of the case from Forest Service, the director obtains an ST slot from OPM and approves
    the case (slots are in limited supply and may take time to obtain); OR if the Director of OHRM does
    not concur, the package is returned to the Forest Service, HRM Staff, Branch Chief Classification,
    Employment, Benefits, & Organizations for resolution of concerns.

                      Procedures and Evaluation Tools for Panelists

This section describes procedures and evaluation tools to help panelists serve effectively on research
grade evaluation panels. It integrates and augments the individual roles and responsibilities discussed in
this chapter and the position description content described in Chapter 1 into a process for use in all
research grade evaluation panels.

Guidelines for subject matter reviewers

Doing a good job as subject matter reviewer (SMR) requires more time than just serving as a regular
panelist. Dedication and good work as SMR are absolutely essential to ensuring that the system works
accurately, fairly, and consistently and is regarded as such by all Forest Service scientists.

Objectivity of the SMR is more important than specific disciplinary knowledge. The job of the SMR
is to gather the information from users and peers that the panel needs to conduct a fair evaluation, not to
be the sole, original source of the information. As experienced panel chairs will be quick to point out,
peers sometimes have difficulty being objective and may be reluctant to bring information from users and
peers to a panel that does not agree with their personal views. Objectivity is more critical than specific
disciplinary knowledge to do a quality job as a SMR.

A minimum of 5 individuals should provide a broad sample of user insights. Although there is no
maximum number of contacts, common sense should prevail: 5 contacts might be adequate for a
relatively straightforward case at the lower grades but would rarely be adequate when evaluating a more
complex, higher-graded position. Seldom, however, will more than 8 to 10 contacts be needed, unless the
position has unusual breadth and a wide variety of users, or unless significant discrepancies among
respondents’ perspectives are encountered. Begin with persons on the contact list. If, during the course
of the interviews, the SMR realizes that someone not on the contact list might have valuable insights on
the importance of the scientist’s work, then these people should be contacted. The SMR is authorized to
contact anyone (except the incumbent) who he/she believes can provide insights into the impact and
significance of the scientist’s accomplishments. The SMR is not restricted to the names on the contact list,
and one of the contacts must be the rating supervisor of the position under review.

In making contacts, the SMR should focus on the impact and significance of the scientist’s
accomplishments. Other information that relates the impact of the person in the job to the grade level of
the position is also germane. Many people inherently like to be interviewed, and if contacted, will
frequently give valuable information or perspectives if they are given the opportunity to respond to
general questions about the scientist (e.g., “Of all Dr. Smith’s scientific accomplishments, what are the
top two or three, from your perspective, and why?”). In situations where an accomplishment was
achieved via team research, it is especially critical to confirm the scientist’s relative contribution to the
overall team accomplishment. This may also be important when there is a question about the roles of
multiple authors of a paper. In contacting users, the SMR should seek explicit confirmation of the impact
or significance of the scientist’s accomplishments, such as how the scientist’s findings have been used
and their benefit to specific users or the general population of users. It is valuable to contact several
different users to gain insights into the impact and significance of specific accomplishments serving
different user groups.

The SMR must maintain confidentiality while making contacts. The confidentiality of the panel
process is not compromised when users and peers are asked to express their opinions about the scientist’s
accomplishments. One of the scientist’s responsibilities is to advise persons on their list that they may be
contacted. It is the use of information collected from users and peers that determines if confidentiality is
maintained. When the SMR greets a contact initially, he/she should state the purpose and the intention to
keep their information confidential, e.g., “I am calling you today to obtain your thoughts about the impact
and significance of Dr. Jones’ research results. Your responses will be treated confidentially by the panel
evaluating her position description.” Part of confidentiality is being careful not to volunteer information
provided by other contacts. For example, it is inappropriate to say, “Dr. Smith claims that Dr. Jones’
finding was not a significant breakthrough. How do you feel about it?” Also, the SMR must decline to
comment if the contact asks what others have said about Dr. Jones, e.g., “I would prefer to hear your
views about her findings.” You are gathering information for the panel, not sharing information among
those contacted.

The SMR’s task is to seek information in an unbiased manner. The SMR’s Contact/Interview Form
is located at the end of this chapter. The SMR needs to resist the temptation to reveal personal opinions
or evaluations of the scientist to the people being contacted; must not reveal tentative factor scores to
persons contacted, and also must not ask leading questions such as “Should Dr. Jones be promoted?” “Is
Dr. Jones doing a GS-14 job?” or questions that are not germane to the panel evaluation process, e.g.,
“How does Dr. Jones get along with co-workers?” If people who are contacted volunteer such
information, it must be ignored and not reported to the panel. The SMR is required to exercise discretion,
good judgment, and common sense in reporting objective observations to the full panel. If concerns
regarding ethics violations, etc., arise the SMR must contact the personnelist assigned to the panel so that
such comments can be investigated appropriately.

The SMR should begin making contacts soon after receiving the panel materials. The SMR should
read through the position description and prepare tentative factor scores before making contacts. A due
date with sufficient lead-time before the panel helps prevent the SMR from missing vital information
because a contact has “just left the country and won’t be back for 2 weeks”! After the contacts are
interviewed, the information should be summarized, tentative scores reviewed and adjusted as necessary.
Then, the draft rating worksheet and contact summary should be sent to the personnelist.

The final step in performing a first-class job as SMR is to bring a solid draft report to the panel.
When the panel convenes, the SMR has more information than the other panelists. The SMR’s
responsibility is to report the additional information objectively to the other panelists so that everyone has
the same information before discussing individual factors.

Guidelines for all panelists

For each factor, there are a number of key points that each panelist should keep in mind while completing
the preliminary scoring before the panel. The following questions are presented below to stimulate
thinking about position description contents and are not replacements or supplements to the degree level
definitions in the RGEG. Although not exhaustive, these points illustrate the kinds of questions panelists
should ask themselves when reviewing a position description. Answers to them should help panelists
assign the
appropriate degree level to position description narratives. Table 3 is a comprehensive list of degree-
point scores.

Panelists must remember that only the subject matter reviewer for a position description should make any
contacts. Contacts from several persons on a panel can be confusing and irritating. Rather, if a panelist
has questions after completing the preliminary scoring of a position description, the panelist needs to
contact the SMR so that if the SMR does not already have the answer, he/she may get the necessary
information before the panel.

Key Points

Factor IThe research assignment. The following questions need to be considered by each panelist:

1. Is the assigned work really a research assignment, suitable for evaluation under the RGEG? If
   not, this needs to be discussed with the personnel specialist.

2. What team responsibilities are described? Are they leadership or membership responsibilities?
   Do the team assignments link logically with the primary research team to which the individual is
   assigned and to the personal research assignment? Is the individual’s contribution to the team
   assignment clearly described?

3. Are supervisory and administrative responsibilities formally assigned so that they may receive
   credit in Factor I? The narrative should explain the nature of the assignment, not describe
   accomplishments. Accomplishments should be listed in Factor IV. Because these assignments take
   time, expectations about productivity and impact of accomplishments should be adjusted to reflect the
   formally approved responsibilities outlined in this section.

Factor IISupervision received. The following questions need to be examined:

1. What freedom does the scientist have to do research within the scope of the research
   organization and the personal research assignment? If the freedom is substantial, statements
   about the complexity of the work and/or the alternative research approaches available but not chosen
   need to be looked for.

2. What general technical supervision is received? Technical supervision refers to the theoretical,
   experimental, and practical aspects of planning specific research activities and defining hypotheses
   within the scope of the personal research assignment.

3. What freedom does the scientist have to analyze, interpret, and report results? In reporting
   results, what is the nature and extent of the supervisor’s review of manuscripts and outputs?

4. In contrast to technical supervision, what broad supervision is received? For example, what is the
   frequency and nature of contact with the rating supervisor? How much authority does the scientist
   have to make changes in the research program or changes of resources allocation (e.g., supplies,
   equipment, budget, staffing) committed to the work?

Factor IIIGuidelines and creativity. The following questions relate to originality and creativity:

1. Does the narrative describe the extent to which current literature applies to (a) the assigned
   area of research, (b) the specific objectives currently being pursued, or (c) the methodology
   being used? It is extremely rare that no current literature applies, or that current literature in some
   other field does not provide a point of departure. The narrative should describe “what” and “how” the
   current literature from “where” provides a foundation for the scientist’s work.

2. What difficulties exist in identifying specific objectives, hypotheses, or expected results, and in
   converting abstract and often diverse concepts into easily understood statements or new
   theories? To what extent are new areas of investigation described that might help reflect the
   originality required by the research assignment?

3. What originality and creativity has been demonstrated by the scientist, applicable to the
   current research assignment? What is the best evidence of originality and creativity and is it
   cross-referenced to accomplishments and outputs in Factor IV?

4. What originality and creativity have been demonstrated by the scientist regarding technology
   transfer? Often, recasting or reformulating technical research results into outputs understandable
   and usable by resource managers, policy makers, or others requires as much (or more) ingenuity than
   doing the science. Originality and creativity in information and technology transfer are important and
   creditable in Factor III because the research process is incomplete until information and technology
   transfer occurs.

Factor IV Stature and impact. The importance of this factor is reflected in the double-weight given
to the Factor IV score in the grade evaluation process.

Factor IV.C, Scientific Accomplishments, is the most important section. All the other material in Factor
IV is documentation supporting the accomplishments narratives. Evaluating an accomplishment requires
consideration of 3 aspects: (1) What was accomplished? (2) What was the role of the scientist in the
accomplishment? and (3) What was the impact of the accomplishment? Panelists should seek answers to
all the questions and specifically emphasize the second (quality) and third (impact) ones. An
accomplishment will not receive all the credit deserved if the scientist has not addressed the quality and
the impact questions. Compounding the challenge of writing and evaluating accomplishments is the fact
that opinions can vary widely about the impact of an accomplishment and impact is rarely reflected in the
number of scientific publications. A key responsibility of the SMR is to sample a variety of users and
others familiar with the quality and impact of a scientist’s work and bring a synopsis of their views to the

Types of research accomplishments

Six kinds of research accomplishments can be given credit in Factor IV, section C: knowledge discovery;
knowledge development; knowledge synthesis and assessment; modeling and systems integration; special
assignments; and leadership accomplishments. No scientist is expected to have one of each. Most
scientists will have only two or three types. The content and examples of each were described in chapter
1. Different types of accomplishments require a somewhat different perspective to fairly and consistently
evaluate its impact and significance.
Knowledge discovery and knowledge development. Key points to consider include answers to the
following questions:

•   Has the research made a major advance in scientific knowledge?
•   Has the research opened the way for extensive further research or enabled novel applications?
•   Have the findings solved a problem of major importance or conclusively shown that an approach will
    not work?
•   Have the results been reported in a combination of peer-reviewed outlets and outlets targeted to
    specific customers?
•   Who is using the results, and how?
•   What difference have the results made to users?
•   How have the results influenced research plans of other scientists, actions of resource managers,
    activities of developers, or applications of users?
•   What is the geographic scope, or the size, of the program that benefited?
•   What policy would not be formulated or implemented, or what opportunities would be foregone, if
    this knowledge had not been developed or applied?

Knowledge synthesis and assessment. This type of accomplishment requires considerable synthesis of
existing research information, much more than preparing a problem analysis. Key points to consider
include answers to the following questions:

•   Does the review or assessment synthesize and interpret scientific knowledge of broad scope?
•   Are significant additions or extensions to existing knowledge provided by the synthesis and
•   Is the review or assessment something that peers must consult in order to stay abreast of leading
    developments in the field?
•   Is the accomplishment comparable to making a major scientific advance?

The following counter questions indicate that less credit is warranted:

•   Do the reports restate, with essentially no change, the reported conclusions from previously published
•   Are only a limited number of sources included?
•   Were resultant additions or insights to existing knowledge of limited scope or importance?

Modeling and systems integration. This type of accomplishment also requires considerable synthesis of
existing research information. Key points to consider include answers to the following questions:

•   Has the model construction, validation, or operation identified knowledge gaps or led to additional
    researchable hypotheses?
•   To what extent have known concepts and results of others been modified to develop the model or
•   To what extent has the model or system influenced private, commercial or governmental operations?
•   What is the geographic scope or complexity of the model or what size resource management program
    has benefited from the integration accomplishment?
If the accomplishment is a computer model or expert system, here are some key questions:

•   What is the geographic scope of the model or system?
•   Does the model incorporate basic, scientifically sound processes that will apply broadly or is it based
    on empirical relationships that have a limited scope of applicability?
•   How many different ecotypes does the model cover?
•   How complex are the interactions modeled?
•   Who uses this model or system and what is the real benefit?
•   Has using the model or system led to changes in customers’ resource management strategies?
•   Is the model or system accepted for policy analyses, policy making, or registration, regulation, or
    enforcement actions, and if so, of what scope?

Systems integration accomplishments can also include development of new production methods and
processes. Key points include answers to the following questions:

•   To what extent has the developed method or process influenced a firm’s or an agency’s operations?
•   Has a whole new market been created, and if so, what are its characteristics?
•   Is the method or process suitable for a patent; and if so, how many licenses have been granted and
    what amount of royalties has been generated?

Special assignments. Regular or recurring special assignments should be mentioned in Factor I. The
outputs of a special assignment are often equivalent to research accomplishments, and therefore should be
included in Factor IV even though the traditional research approach may not have been completely
followed. For example, a scientist might be involved in research on a new biological control agent. As a
result, the scientist is asked to work with an environmental impact statement team evaluating where and
how the agent might be used. Alternatively, the scientist might work with a firm under a cooperative
research and development agreement (CRADA) with the outcome being registration of the new product.
In both cases, being selected to participate in the special assignment reflects upon the scientist’s
professional stature and extends or amplifies the impact of his or her research. The same kinds of
questions considered in the knowledge discovery, knowledge application, or leadership types of
accomplishments can be used for special activities accomplishments. However, a separate peer-reviewed
technical publication may not be available to document that accomplishment.

Research-related special assignments include details and work projects that generally must be done by a
research specialist in an area of their knowledge and experience. Examples include preparing white
papers for the FS, USDA, or Administration on various topics (environmental concerns of salvage timer
sales, the benefits of paper recycling, the prospects of alcohol production by the fermentation of wood
hydrolysis liquors, etc.), serving as an official representative of the FS on task groups, panels, and
committees, consultations, staff details at local and WO levels, and working on reports for Congressional
mandates under tight deadlines. The scientist should receive a letter describing the duties and expected
length of the special assignment to document participation.

As currently practiced, special assignments with a nexus to the research assignment garner due credit in
Panel evaluation. When position descriptions are prepared, effort should be made to carefully relate these
research special assignments to the primary research assignment, and to fully describe their impact. All
significant special assignments and authorized activities will be noted in scientist position descriptions,
including an estimate of time spent away from the primary research assignment. Panelists must give full
credit for these activities; Chairs are to oversee this requirement. No scientist shall be penalized for
performing any authorized special assignment. That is, failure to accomplish prime duties (the conduct
and reporting of research) because of authorized time spent on a special assignment shall not result in an
unsatisfactory performance appraisal or in a score below-grade classification decision.
While there is generally great value in special assignments, it is clear that not all will contribute to
career development for research scientists. It is important that the scientist and the immediate supervisor
clearly understand the impact of any special assignment prior to agreeing to accept it or to approve it.
Special assignments of a non-research nature are listed in Factor IV.E. “Other Significant Information.”
Panelists must consider the time spent on such assignments as mitigating factors in assessing the
scientist’s overall research accomplishments.

Team accomplishments

The most important criterion of leadership accomplishment is the individual contributions made by the
leader to a team’s productivity. The leader must have made clear and distinct impact, not automatically
given credit for leading a highly productive team. Key questions are

•   How has the scientist’s leadership contributed to team coordination, capability, and efficiency?
•   Has the scientist’s leadership resulted in improved research quality?
•   Have the scientist’s training and guidance resulted in team members who are better able to participate
    in other multidisciplinary teams or to lead special projects?
•   Has the scientist’s leadership resulted in increased impact on science or technology through a change
    in the direction of the research program?

If the productivity of several scientists is increased, that accomplishment is worth as much or more than
increasing the personal productivity of a single scientist. Except for the nature of a leadership
accomplishment (indirect rather than direct) leadership should be treated the same as a knowledge
discovery or knowledge application accomplishment.

Team membership accomplishments are typically one of the other 5 accomplishments. The same points
mentioned above should be considered in evaluating the individual’s contribution to a team, which is the
key point determining credit awarded. On some very successful teams, certain members play passive
roles or make only minor contributions. Just because the team’s accomplishments are highly acclaimed is
not sufficient justification for awarding every team member significant credit for the team’s

Other Factor IV Considerations

Recency of accomplishment. Recency of accomplishment is important. On page 15, the RGEG states
that recent research or similar activity that assures maintenance of research competence is essential
for full credit of past accomplishments. If there is no documented evidence of recent productivity, the
possibility exists that the position does not currently require research and therefore should be classified by
other means. Another possibility is that the individual has failed to sustain the position’s current grade

When evaluating the various degree levels, panelists must bear in mind a basic classification principle:
the full intent of RGEG degree criteria must be substantially met to warrant credit at a given level. This is
particularly important when considering whether assignment of the undefined degrees B or D is
appropriate. Degrees B and D are appropriate where some interpolation between degree definitions is
required. Interpolation means that a narrative meets some of the criteria of two different degree levels.
For example, if a narrative meets all of the degree C criteria and none of the degree E criteria, then the
appropriate level is degree C. A “very strong” degree C narrative does not warrant degree D. Some
degree E elements must be attained before interpolation to the degree D level is possible. When a factor
appears to warrant credit of the undefined degrees B or D, panelists should be prepared to present a short
summary statement as rationale for the interpolated score. For example:
    The personal research assignment meets degree C in scope, but falls short of other degree C
    characteristics, especially in validating or modifying existing scientific theory or creating important
    changes in existing techniques, therefore degree B is assigned.

    The guidelines and originality meet degree C in all aspects and the scientist is applying a very high
    degree of imagination and creativity to solving the problems assigned, which is worthy of degree E.
    But the problems being addressed are not of such marked importance that degree E is warranted.
    Therefore, degree D is appropriate.

Professional activities and recognition. Section B, Professional Activities and Recognition, is the
second-most important section in Factor IV. Material in this section often provides only an indirect or
second-hand measure of a scientist’s contributions. The basic issues here are matters of geographic
scope, scientific breadth, and impact. For example, international honors, awards, or invitations to speak
warrant more credit than national ones. National ones are more important than regional ones. Having
results used in several regions is worth more credit than use in a single region. Examples of scientific
breadth pertain to the scope of professional societies. Some groups have fairly narrow interests; others
have broader interests. The American Fisheries Society is broader than the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
Some groups are active in the natural resources policy arena; others are not. A scientist who is a national
officer often has more impact than one who serves on a regional committee. The regional committee
member has more impact than someone who is just a member. Credit for recognition and scientific
stature from participating in professional groups comes from the interaction of the organization’s
scientific breadth and the individual’s level of participation. Similar questions may be asked for
university involvement. Interaction with several universities connotes more recognition than with only
one. Mentorship of graduate students in addition to cooperative research with academic peers speaks to
interaction at several levels instead of just one. For consultations, geographic impact should be examined.
 A consultation leading to changes in on-the-ground management deserves more credit than one where the
advice is not used. Throughout this section, reviewers should watch for descriptions that signal impact.
For example, instead of just listing an award by name, the savvy scientist will add the award’s citation to
help explain why the award was given. Scientists who go beyond describing what they have done or
what awards were received and who highlight why they were honored or recognized will receive more
credit. Contact the subject matter reviewer for answers to questions about the geographic scope, scientific
breadth, or impact of an item mentioned if the position description explanation seems incomplete.

International recognition. The Forest Service has both Congressional and Departmental direction to
implement significant international research and technical cooperation programs. The significance of
international recognition is found in Factors III and IV. Factor III, Guidelines & Originality states
“…The third consideration is the impact of theories, principles, concepts, techniques, and approaches
developed by the incumbent upon the scientific field of the research effort.” Factor IV, focuses on “…the
total qualifications, professional standing and recognition and selective contributions of the researcher, as
these bear on the dimensions of the current research situation and work performance.” Quality,
significance, and impact of the science as well as scalar dimensions of scope and complexity are
emphasized. Demonstration or evidence of these three attributes, impact in particular, is often difficult to
quantify regardless of the scope or complexity of the research.

Although not a specific requirement, international recognition of a scientist is increasingly used to reflect
scope as well as “quality, significance, and impact” in considering both the global scale of some scientific
problems as well as the international team approach to solving them. However, it is possible that an
individual scientist or research team may not have received direct recognition, but their results may have
international significance and impact. For example, an accomplishment (IV.C) may indicate the product
the scientist’s or team’s research is being used in other countries. Thus international recognition does
not necessarily require travel to international meetings or foreign locations. Most important is evidence
of the use of the research.

Specific examples would be appropriately listed in Factor IV (B., C., and D.5.). Additionally, it is
appropriate to indicate the scope of the originality demonstrated by the scientist in Factor III.C. In
addition to receiving awards from international organizations, scientists can receive recognition at the
international level for participation in the following types of activities:

•   Collaboration with scientists from other countries
•   Consultations with international scientists and agencies
•   Consultations regarding scientific problems of international scope and impact
•   Short-term or sabbatical visiting-scientist positions or lectureships
•   Reviews of international research and development programs
•   Service on the editorial boards of international journals
•   Development and conduct of international training courses
•   Organization and coordination of international conferences and workshops
•   Technology assistance to other countries or international organizations
•   Training foreign graduate or post-graduate students
•   Holding an office in an international scientific organization
•   International scientific assessments
•   Writing publications, particularly books, that are syntheses of internationally important topics

Information and technology transfer. ITT activities are discussed at numerous places in the RGEG as
key components of Factors I, III, and IV. In assessing the inherent difficulty and complexity of the
research assignment in Factor I, the nature of the expected research and development results and the
necessity to convert abstract results into products and/or easily understood statements of theory (page 13
of the RGEG) must be considered. In assessing the creativity of the position in Factor III, considerations
include the creativity required to interpret findings, to translate findings into a problem solution, and to
record the findings and interpretations in a form usable by others as well as in application to specific end
products (page 14, RGEG). In Factor IV, the effectiveness of ITT activities contributes heavily to creating
professional standing and recognition in a specialized field (page 15, RGEG) and the impact and
significance of the individual’s accomplishments.

ITT efforts are given credit under the RGEG and panel process only when they are part of the complete
research cycle of the scientist. When ITT is the primary assignment of an individual, and/or where it
involves transferring the information or technology results of others, then the assignment is no longer a
research assignment and must be classified using other standards and methods. An exception is when the
individual is part of a team. Individuals presenting an integrated package of team results, which include
their own contributions, are engaging in the complete research cycle (FSH 6109.15, section 39, exhibit

Those participating in RGEG panels must keep the Handbook policy in mind. If they believe that the
position described spends more than half of his/her time focused on ITT activities that transfer the results
of other scientists, then the appropriate panel recommendation is “Guide Not Applicable” because
personal research is no longer the primary activity of the position. If ITT activities, especially for the
results of other scientists, are a minor (less than 50 percent) yet recurring part of the position, then that
expectation should be documented in Factor I.C. When considering the exception for team results, the
individual rewarded for ITT of team results should be making a holistic presentation of the team’s results,
and the individual’s personal research contribution to the team should be an integral component of the
team’s results.

What to expect during the panel

Confidentiality is important while conducting the evaluation panel. Panels should be held in a
confidential area (no cubicles or open areas). Each panelist is “an appropriate official of the Forest
Service” in the context of the Privacy Act Notice, reproduced at the end of chapter 1. The Privacy Act
permits officials of the Forest Service to obtain essential facts needed for an adequate panel evaluation.
The position description provides some of those facts. Comments solicited by the SMR are also essential
facts. Thus, contacts’ comments may be discussed freely and attributed to the specific person contacted
during the panel deliberations. Confidentiality requires, however, that what those contacted said
must not be shared outside of the panel. Forest Service policy is to provide the list of who was
contacted to the scientist, if requested, but not release specific comments made by an individual contact.

The procedural sequence for a panel meeting is the same for all grade levels:

1. The panel opens with introductions and a review of procedures by the panel chair and personnelist.
   The chair stresses the necessity of maintaining the confidentiality of all deliberations.

2. Consideration of the position description begins with the panel chair asking for confirmation that each
   panelist could apply the RGEG to the position. Everyone should respond affirmatively; negative
   responses should have been communicated to the personnel specialist in the weeks preceding
   the panel.

3. The panel chair asks all panelists to reveal their preliminary scores for each of the four factors. If the
   panel is meeting together, these are posted on a flip chart. If via teleconference, each panelist records
   the others scores for personal reference during discussions. The chair allows a few moments of
   silence so that each panelist can digest the preliminary results, noting areas of similarity and areas of

4. The panel chair asks the subject matter reviewer to present a brief oral report (5 to 10 minutes) to the
   panel summarizing the major points from the users and peers contacted. The report highlights for the
   other panel members those accomplishments that have the greatest significance to users and peers
   contacted. The report should also point out which ones make the biggest impact on the position, and
   why. A short discussion (10 to 15 minutes) of the comments among the panel members follows.
   During this discussion, comments may be attributed to individual contacts. This does not violate the
   confidentiality of the panel. However, to repeat those comments outside the panel is a violation of
   panel confidentiality.

5. The panel chair asks the subject matter reviewer to begin discussing Factor IV. The double-weighted
   importance of Factor IV warrants evaluating it first. Evaluation of Factor IV proceeds with the chair
   asking each panelist to present individual rationales for assigning a specific degree level.

6. Factor I is considered after consensus is reached on Factor IV, so that close comparisons can be made
   between the qualifications and contributions of the scientist and nature of the research assignment.
   Then, factor III is evaluated, tying the ingenuity and creativity of the position to the assignment and
   the qualifications and contributions of the scientist. Finally, Factor II is considered, the level of
   supervision received. Discussions of Factors I, III, and II should each be led by a different panelist.

    The discussion of each factor has two objectives. First, the panel chair is seeking a consensus rating
    score for the factor. Consensus is defined as three panelists agreeing on the same degree level for a
    factor with the fourth panelist no more than one level higher or lower and the fourth panelist not
    objecting to the degree level of the majority. As the discussion progresses, the chair and personnelist
    take notes recording the salient points justifying the consensus score. As mentioned in a previous
    section, the role of the chair is to facilitate the discussion among the panelists, identifying points of
    difference among the panelists and helping them reach consensus. Specific questions may be
    asked of the subject matter reviewer or other panelists to obtain additional or clarifying information.
    Subject matter reviewers are encouraged to bring their notes from contact discussions to the panel
    meeting and refer to the notes to help answer questions.

7. If a consensus cannot be reached within a reasonable time, the panel chair will pursue one of the
   following two options:

    a. The panel chair may assemble a list of unanswered questions and telephone the rating supervisor,
       assistant station director, or program manager for the scientist, or one of the persons previously
       contacted by the subject matter reviewer. The entire panel should be able to listen to the dialogue
       between the chair and the person(s) called. If the additional information gathered using this
       option does not successfully resolve the impasse, then option b is selected.

    b. The panel concludes with a “No Decision” recommendation. If there was insufficient factual
       basis for recommending the appropriate grade level, the position description is returned to the
       assistant station director or program manager, along with a report (the Research Position
       Evaluation Worksheet) that specifies what additional information or clarification is needed. The
       position description is then revised and resubmitted to another panel. Alternatively, the panel
       may disagree on a consensus recommendation (Table 4). The Research Position Evaluation
       Worksheet is finalized, but for those factor(s) where consensus is not reached, a “majority” and
       “minority” page is prepared stating the different perspectives, linked to RGEG rationales. These
       alternative reports are forwarded to the director.

8. When the panel has completed its work and reached a recommendation (Table 4), the panel chair
   formally announces the decision and closes panel deliberations on the position description.
   Immediately afterwards, and before moving to consider the next position description, if any, the chair
   asks the panelists for any comments they may wish the chair to convey informally to the Director and
   second- level supervisor on the expository quality of the position description narrative. Was it clear,
   concise, and easy to understand? The emphasis here is on how the material was presented in the
   position description, not on what was presented. All the major points of content and fact should have
   come out previously during panel deliberations, so the points raised here should be relatively minor
   and focused on how the content was presented. This is a quality assurance/quality control opportunity
   on the organization of the position description and the readability of the narrative. In cases of poor
   exposition, the panel should have returned a “no decision” and the position description should be
   rewritten clearly and concisely and re-evaluated by a new panel. Scientists may wish to obtain
   editorial assistance when drafting a position description to help overcome expository difficulties.
   Complimentary feedback is sought as well as suggestions where narrative could be rewritten to
   improve clarity or understanding. Negative feedback should be phrased in the same sensitive fashion
   normally used when providing peer review on manuscripts. Panelists are reminded that nothing may
   be said about what needs to be done or how things should be phrased to obtain a “promote” decision
   the next time.

Panel evaluation report

The panel’s product is a recommendation of the correct title, series, and grade for the position. This is
documented in an evaluation report. The report consists of evaluation statements about each of the
following four factors—I. The nature of the research assignment, II. Degree of supervision received, III.
Prevailing guidelines and creativity the scientist brings to the assignment, and IV. Stature and impact— as
well as scores based upon those evaluation statements, an overall grade determination based upon the sum
of the individual factor scores, and a panel recommendation based upon a comparison of the scientist’s
current grade and the grade determined by the evaluation. A common misperception is that RGEG
evaluation panels are “promotion panels.” When the grade determined by the panel evaluation is higher
than the current grade, the

logical recommendation of the panel is to promote the individual. However, promotion is the only one of
five possible outcomes (Table 4) and actually is recommended only half of the time.

The panel evaluation report is sent to the appropriate director. The director makes two decisions:
whether to concur with the panel recommendation or provide additional information, and whether to
approve the classification action. For GS-14 and below, classification authority is delegated to station
directors and directors of FPL & IITF. For GS-15, classification authority remains in the Chief’s Office.
For grades above GS-15, i.e., ST levels, classification authority is retained by the Director of the USDA
Office of Human Resources Management. The panel evaluation report is an important factor in the
ultimate classification decision, but it is not the only factor. Other relevant information (such as
published classification standards for specific job series, non-research aspects of the assignment, or
annual performance information) may also influence the classification decision.

Table 3Degree levels. (The RGEG does not provide definitions for Degree B and D (Factors I-III) or
Degree A+, B/B+, C+, and D/D+ (Factor IV). Forest Service Panels may use these Degrees with the
following point scores).


                                              Degree Levels

        Factors     A           A+   B         B+   C         C+   D      D+      E       E+

        I            02             04             06           08            10      
        II           02             04             06           08            10      
        III          02             04             06           08            10      
        IV           04         06   08        10    12       14   16     18      20      22

              Guidance for Rating Positions Point Values for in Excess of Degree E

                          Factors    F        F+    G         G+   H      H+

                          I          12             14           16     
                          II         12             14           16     
                          III        12             14           16     
                          IV         24        26    28       30   32     34

                                     Point Conversion Table

                                     Points               Grade

                                     06-15                GS-11
                                     16-25                GS-12
                                     26-35                GS-13
                                     36-45                GS-14
                                     46-55                GS-15
                                     56-65                ST-01
                                     66-75                ST-02
                                     76 & up              ST-03


Table 4Panel recommendation options

Scored Below Grade
   The panel finds that the quality and/or quantity of research contributions by the scientist have
   deteriorated to the extent that impact, and resultant stature and recognition, are insufficient to sustain
   the current grade level. The panel report will specify deficiencies. The position’s next mandatory
   panel review date is set 18 months from the date of the “scored below grade” recommendation. The
   rating supervisor and scientist together take 30 days to prepare a performance improvement plan (PIP)
   that outlines steps to be taken to address the deficiencies specified by the panel and bring the quality
   and quantity of research contributions back up to the level expected of the current grade. If, at the end
   of the PIP, the second panel also makes the same “scored below grade” recommendation, this
   recommendation is sufficient basis for demoting the scientist. If the negative panel determination is
   due to a change in research assignment (Factors I, II, or III), action must be taken in accordance with
   Federal Personnel Manual 351, which applies to erosion of duties.

Remains in Grade
  The panel finds that the scientist is performing research of a level of quality, quantity, and impact to
  maintain the current grade level of the position.

   The panel finds that the scientist is performing research of the quality, quantity, and the impact
   normally expected from a scientist at the next-higher grade level. The recommendation is to classify
   the scientist at the next higher grade level.

Guide Not Applicable
  The panel determines that the scientist is not performing the full range of professionally responsible
  research and is therefore excluded from RGEG coverage. This position may have been misclassified
  originally, or it has changed over time to the extent that the RGEG is no longer the appropriate
  classification standard. The panel will report the existence of a position management problem, and
  the personnel specialist will work with the supervisors and director to resolve the problem. Either the
  assignment must be changed to permit performance of an actual research assignment or the position
  must be reclassified. Normally, one of these options should be accomplished within 60 days.

   A panel may encounter a mixed position, one requiring work covered by the RGEG and work not
   covered by the RGEG. In such instances, the panel applies the RGEG to the research aspect of the
   position and the personnel specialist grades the non-research aspect using conventional classification
   standards. The recommendation is to classify the position at the highest-grade level determined for
   the two parts of the mixed position.

No Decision
   The panel does not have sufficient factual information upon which to render a fair evaluation applying
   the RGEG criteria. The case may be overwritten (“science fiction”) or underwritten (inadequate
   clarity), or there may be major discrepancies between the position description narrative and facts in
   the subject matter reviewer’s report. In a few rare instances, the facts may be so unclear that it may be
   impossible for the panel to determine whether a position is covered by the RGEG. The panel report
   will identify the discrepancies and recommend that the position description be rewritten and
   resubmitted for evaluation by the next available panel. In rare cases, a panel cannot reach consensus
   on the evaluation of one or more factors, which in turn, makes it impossible to reach consensus on the
   overall grade level. In this event, majority and minority reports are prepared for the factor in dispute,
   signed by the respective panelists, and submitted to the classifier for decision.

What happens after the panel

The Chair, personnelist, and panelists individually critique themselves on forms (see Panel Critique form
in Attachment A) provided by the personnel specialist. The critique is intended solely to assist in
identifying training needs and developing ideas for improving panel operations.

Producing the panel evaluation report is the final step in the panel process. The Research Position
Evaluation Worksheet is finalized by the personnelist during the discussion of each factor to reflect the
views of the panel as a whole. When completed, the Chair of the panel reviews the document and signs
the final worksheet. It documents the results of the position classification review for official personnel
purposes and it provides classification feedback to the scientist and supervisors.

Because the panel process touches on the scientist’s professionalism, judgment, capabilities, motivation,
and accomplishments in relation to the research assignment, it is a highly personal matter to the scientist.
It may be difficult for some individuals to read the report in an objective fashion. Therefore, the report
language must be factual and carefully worded. When shortcomings or suggestions are made, they must
be clearly and concisely stated. Highly subjective, personal, or controversial information has no place in
a panel report.

Additional steps taken after the panel by the personnel specialist to secure the concurrence of the Director
with the panel recommendation as to grade and to secure approval of the classification action are
described under the roles and responsibilities section of the director, the Deputy Chiefs for Research and
Development and for Operations, and the Director of the USDA Office of Human Resources

Panel records maintenance

Case file documentation

The Human Resources Staff will maintain a research file on each paneled scientist. This file will consist
of a copy of the current official position description (less exhibits) with a fully completed Form AD-332
(Position Description Cover Sheet); and a copy of the SF-52, Request for Personnel Action; the Summary
Sheet reflecting the names of the panelists and consensus scoring; a signed copy of the final panel
evaluation report; and any transmittal letter or correspondence pertinent to the case.

Individual panelists evaluation reports (both hard copy and electronic) are destroyed upon completion of
the final panel report. At no time are individual reports to be shared with the paneled scientist or with
anyone else besides the panel chair and the personnelist writing the final evaluation report. Panelists are
not authorized to keep copies of any case materials (except exhibits) on positions they review. All initial
scoring data containing individual scores will be disposed of at the conclusion of the panel meeting (only
consensus scoring information is maintained).

Research panel files maintained by the Human Resources Staff are subject to the provisions of both the
Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act. The case write-up cannot be released without the
written consent of the incumbent for any purpose other than position evaluation. Copies of a scientist’s
panel evaluation records maintained by the Human Resources Office are available to the scientist upon
written request.

Materials forwarded to the scientist

Upon approval of the evaluation report, the personnelist will transmit through the scientist’s supervisory
channels a copy of the approved evaluation report, position description with AD-332 Position Description
Cover Sheet, and any excess copies of exhibits that are available. Normally, the paneled scientist should
receive this material no later than 30 days after the official approval of the evaluation report has been

Research Panel Participant Database

The database has a record for every scientist at GS-09 and above; every research administrator, GS-14
and above; and every personnelist who will be assigned to panel duty. A data record contains the
following information:

•   Name

•   Organizational location

•   Title, series, and grade

•   Date of most recent grade evaluation panel (or date of hiring, whichever is most recent)

•   Guide under which the position is evaluated (RGEG, Equipment Development Grade Evaluation
    Guide, other classification standard)

•   Primary (mandatory) and secondary (optional) peer group affiliation under RGEG

•   A code indicating if the scientist is trained and qualified as panelist for GS-14-and-above panels, is
    qualified for GS-13-and-below panels, or not qualified to serve on any panel

•   A code indicating if the scientist is trained and qualified as panel chair for GS-14-and-above panels,
    is qualified as panel chair for GS-13-and-below panels, or is not qualified to serve as panel chair

•   Number of GS-14-and-above panels served on as panelist

•   Number of GS-14-and-above panels served on as panel chair

•   Date of most recent service on a GS-14-and-above panel

Local research field personnelists update the records for their scientists as changes occur. Upon
completion of panels, personnelists for panels update panel service information.


                                        Panel Critique Form
This form is an evaluation of the panel operations leading up to and during the conduct of this research
scientist panel. This critique is intended solely to assist in identifying training needs and developing ideas
for improving panel operations. Upon completion, please forward this form to the panel chair, who will
discuss the results with the personnelist responsible for the panel. Matters of concern should be
forwarded to the Station’s, FPL’s, or IITF’s Forest Service Research Advisory Committee (FSRAC)

Panel meeting

Date: _________________________          Method held: Conference call______ or in person_______

Name of scientist paneled and unit:_____________________________________________________

Your name/title/unit (optional):________________________________________________________

Rating scale:     E = Excellent, G = Good, F = Fair, P = Poor, U = Unacceptable
(Please provide an explanation of any “Poor” or “Unacceptable” ratings in the other comments section

PART A (to be completed by members)

1. Selected members seemed an appropriate match for this panel __________
2. Materials were received well in advance by panel members for review ______________
3. Preparation of panel before the meeting was organized and information met members’ needs
4. Personnelist was knowledgeable of panel policy and procedures and could answer questions _______
5. Panel chair conducted the session in an appropriate manner _______
6. Discussions stayed on track and policy and procedure were adhered to ________________
7. Overall operation ______________

PART B (to be completed by panel chair and personnelist)

1.   Panel was held within 6 months of completion of position description and panel package _________
2.   Preparation/quality of draft panel reports _________________
3.   Members were able to discuss reasoning for scores __________
4.   Members interacted well and were flexible and cooperative _________
5.   Subject matter reviewer’s oral report _________
6.   Members identified who need additional training on panel process (list names) __________

Comments (use reverse side if additional space is needed).

                       Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet
Instructions [revised August 2000]
Please refer to the Forest Service Guide for Preparing Research Scientist Position Descriptions prior to
the completion of this worksheet. Remember that the proceedings of the panel and all written materials
regarding the panel are confidential. If you are concerned about a possible conflict of interest, contact
the panel chair before proceeding (see next page and examples).

Panelists and Subject Matter Reviewer (SMR)
Read the position description and then complete the designated portions of the form, including the
preliminary score section. For each factor, provide a detailed justification describing the basis for your
rating. To simply state in your write-up that a “Factor meets a specific degree level as provided in the
Research Grade Evaluation Guide,” is not sufficient information or justification. Feel free to use
additional space but not to exceed one page for Factors I to III and two for Factor IV. Key points (with
parenthetical examples) are provided for your consideration in evaluating each factor. These key
points are drawn from the RGEG; you are encouraged to refer to these pages as you contemplate
assigning a score for each factor. You may wish to address each bullet item independently or in a
summary narrative.

All panelists, including the SMR, should send completed worksheets either electronically, by fax, or by
express mail to the designated personnelist to arrive 3 days before the start of the panel (this allows
the personnelist sufficient time to review worksheets and share them with the panel chair before the panel
convenes). Personnelists will postpone panels if necessary until adequate worksheets are received.

The personnelist will summarize panel evaluation worksheets and panel discussion, and return the
approved evaluation report to the paneled scientists through appropriate supervisory channels with the
classification results.

Reminder for the SMR
The SMR must allow appropriate time to conduct the required interviews with peers and “users” of the
research see contact list provided by the scientist being paneled. Refer to the Guide for Preparing
Research Scientist Position Descriptions, Chapter 1, Factor IV. F. “Contact List,” and most importantly
Chapter 2, Section on Procedures and Evaluation Tools for Panelists—“Guidelines for Subject Matter
Reviewers.” The SMR prepares a summary, highlighting the major points, from the interviews and
makes a brief oral report at the start of the panel. Following this presentation, the panel chair asks the
SMR to begin discussing his/her preliminary rating of Factor IV.

                   Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (page 1)

Name of scientist paneled: ___________________________________________________________

Scientist’s current title, series, grade, peer group, & unit/location: ______________________________

Panel member (your name): __________________________________________________________

Your preliminary score (note that factors do not appear in numerical order):

Factor IV         + Factor I        + Factor III      + Factor II      =         Pts.
(List your individual score for each of the above factors - a consensus score will be finalized during the
actual Panel discussion/meeting. Consensus means that 3 of the 4 panel members agree on the rating of a
factor, and the fourth panel member has a rating within one degree of the other panel members [2 points
for Factors I, II, and III, and 4 points for Factor IV] and does not object to the overall majority score.)

The summary table below is provided for use during the panel as an overall score sheet:

Name of panel member             | Factor IV score | Factor I score |Factor III score | Factor II score |Totals
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |______
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |______
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |______
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |______
                                 |                 |                |                 |                 |
 Final consensus scores          |                 |                |                 |                 |
 and point total                 |                 |                |                 |                 |______

Bias and conflict of interest
For purposes of serving as a panel member, there is a conflict of interest if the relationship interferes or
appears to interfere with the panelist’s ability to objectively rate the scientist. This relationship may be as
a friend, colleague, co-author, or competitor. A panelist who has a conflict of interest must contact the
personnelist immediately and decline the assignment for reasons of conflict of interest.

Some examples of conflict of interest
1.   Co-authoring a publication with the incumbent in the last 3 years.
2.   Collaboration on a joint research project with the incumbent in the last 3 years.
3.   Working in the same RWU as the incumbent in the last 3 years.
4.   Supervising or being supervised by the incumbent in the last 3 years.
                Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (page 2)
Factor IVStature and Impact
The objective of this factor is to evaluate the quality, significance, and impact of the scientist’s work. Is
this factor consistent with the assignment as described in Factors I, II, and III? Consider:

• Qualifications (education, experience)

• Professional activities and recognition
  -Voluntary and invited participation in professional activities

• Scientific accomplishments and contributions
  -Consider the 6 types of research accomplishments
   (all types warrant full credit as research, Chapter 1) in previous and current assignments
  -Whether the full cycle of research is represented including dissemination of results
  -The impact/potential impact of the research
• Dissemination
  -Quality (peer-review publications, stature of journal)
  -Reaching appropriate audiences (technology transfer)
  -Reasonable level of productivity (quantity)

• Overall consistency with assignment

(Note that in general, there will be a high degree of correspondence between accomplishments and
assignment [Factor I]; however, there are a number of reasons why the accomplishments listed would be
expected to be inconsistent with the assignment, such as new work unit description changing direction of
unit research or recent appointment to a new position.)

I have assigned Degree (      -      pts.) for Factor IV because (please insert your rationale
in the space provided for each of the appropriate sub-elements listed below in bold type – use
as much space as needed):


Professional activities & recognition:

                 Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (page 3)

Scientific accomplishments and contributions:


Overall consistency with assignment:
               Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (page 4)

Factor IResearch Assignment

Consider the scientist’s roles in terms of team assignments, personal research assignments, research
related assignments, and supervisory/administrative assignments as they affect:

•   Scope (local/regional/internationalnarrowly/broadly focused)
•   Complexity (few, independentmany, complex, interrelated studies)
•   Difficulty (routineunconventional)
•   Expected Impact (limitedcritical to advancement of field)

I have assigned Degree (      -      pts.) to Factor I because (please insert your rationale in
the space provided for each of the appropriate sub-elements listed below in bold type – use as
much space as needed):




Expected Impact:
                Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (page 5)

Factor IIIGuidelines and Originality
Consider for the research assignment the following:

• Existence and applicability of literature, theory and methods

• Required creativity (adaptation/difficultynovel, conceptual development and interpretation)

• Demonstrated capability of scientist related to the current assignment

(Note that the first 2 items primarily refer to the current research assignment and that the third item
primarily refers to the capability and accomplishments that the scientist brings to the assignment.
Although previous work by scientists in new assignments will most likely be related to the new
assignment, it is possible that evidence of capability will derive from substantially different types or areas
of research.)

I have assigned Degree (      -      pts.) to Factor III because (please insert your rationale in
the space provided for each of the appropriate sub-elements listed below in bold type – use as
much space as needed):

Existence and applicability of literature, theory and methods:

Required creativity:

Demonstrated capability of scientist related to the current assignment:
               Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (page 6)

Factor IISupervision Received
Consider the type of supervision and degree of assigned professional responsibility of the scientist in
planning, executing, reporting, and communicating research as they affect the following:

• Level of independence (research is assignedidentifies research areasidentifies problem
    areasinfluences research beyond the unit)
• Technical authority (work reviewedtop technical authority)

I have assigned Degree (      -      pts.) to Factor II because (please insert your rationale in
the space provided for each of the appropriate sub-elements listed below in bold-typeuse as
much space as needed):

Level of Independence:

Technical authority:
Research Panel Evaluation Worksheet (page 7)

Informal Comments
All Panelists: Please complete the following (Note that these topics will be discussed after the completion
of the rating portion of the panel; comments will be summarized and shared in the same way as other
panel comments):

Adequacy of the position description:

Career development:

Other comments and/or kudos:

(WARNING: All suggestions in this section are for guidance only. These suggestions reflect the thoughts
of this particular panel and should be viewed the way comments would be viewed from a peer-review
                               Research Panel Cover Sheet

(Note that this portion of the worksheet assigns the panel’s recommendation after consensus is reached and
is completed by the personnelist in charge of the panel. The personnelist produces a final evaluation
summary of the panel based on the panel discussions and written narratives provided by panelists and

Name of scientist paneled: _____________________________________________________

(Personnelistin the space below, insert appropriate “Panel Recommendation” from the option list
provided in Table 4 of Chapter 2, Section III, of the guide)
Panel recommendation:

Choose one of the following paragraphs and delete the one not used:

Non-supervisory position

The position requires the professional knowledge of the *, GS-*, classification series with skills in
formulating and conducting research. Based on the above panel evaluation, this position is properly
classified as *, GS-*-*.

Supervisory position

The position requires the professional knowledge of the *, GS-*, classification series with skills in
formulating and conducting research. This position also has supervisory responsibilities that meet or
exceed the requirements of the General Schedule Supervisory Guide. Therefore, based on the above panel
evaluation, this position is properly classified as Supervisory *, GS-*-*.

___                               _______               ________________________________________
Personnelist            Date                             Panel chair               Date



(Insert director’s name for local panels or Deputy Chief, of R&D for national panels)

                    Summary of Research Panel Evaluation
                   (Do not distributeFor HRM records only)
Person evaluated                        Peer group

Present title, series, and grade

__________________________________________________                 Consensus Scoring:
Panel chair
                                                                      Factor I     ________
Panel member             Peer group                                   Factor II    ________

__________________________________________________                    Factor III   ________
Panel member             Peer group
                                                                      Factor IV    ________
Panel member             Peer group                                   TOTAL POINTS ________

Panel member             Peer group


[ ] PROMOTE to ____________________________________________________________
                 (Recommended Title, Series, and Grade)
[ ] NO DECISION because ___________________________________________________

We certify that this position was evaluated on ____________________ under the guidelines of the
[ ] Research Grade Evaluation Guide
[ ] Equipment Development Grade Evaluation Guide

______________________________________ ______________________________________
Panel chair         Date                  Personnelist    Date

Local director or Deputy Chief of Research & Development Date

Panelists: Steps for Paneling and Timeline

                                                                                      Recommended due

 STEP 1. Personnelist arranges location, date, composition of Panel. Panel           8 to 12 weeks before
 chair and Panelists appointed and commit to serve.                                  panel

 STEP 2. Panelists formally appointed by letter. Panel package sent to panel         4 to 8 weeks
 members and panel chair with letter.

 STEP 3. Subject matter reviewer (SMR) contacts peers/users for comments and         2 to 4 weeks
 prepares to give brief summary to panelists during the panel.

 All Panelists review Guide for Preparing and Evaluating Research Position
 Descriptions; review PD and exhibits for each scientist; evaluate each factor
 using criteria in the RGEG (ch. 3) and assign a preliminary numerical score for
 each factor, with rationale and notes. NOTE: If unable to evaluate PD, notify
 personnel specialist immediately.

 STEP 4. Panelists send completed draft Research Position Evaluation                 3 to 4 days
 Worksheet to personnelist.                                                          (Received no less than
                                                                                     72 hours before panel)

 STEP 5. Panel meets. At this time individual worksheets are modified to             At time of panel
 conform with final score.

 STEP 6. After panel: worksheets signed and returned to personnelist with            Same day
 modified rationale and final score. All panel materials, except publications, are   as panel
 turned in or destroyed.

Scientists: Steps for Paneling and Timeline

                                                                               Recommended due dates
                                                                                    before panel

 STEP 1. Review and select or change primary and secondary peer              More than 6 months
 group affiliation, if needed, and send to personnel office.

 STEP 2. Prepare draft position description (PD); carefully follow           5 to 6 months
 format and guidelines in the Guide for Preparing Research Scientist
 Position Descriptions (ch. 1); send draft to supervisor.

 STEP 3. Supervisor reviews PD, returns to scientist.                        4 to 5 months

 STEP 4. Revise PD, if needed. Remember to sign and date Privacy             3 to 4 months
 Act Notice and send PD and Forms AD-332 (Position Description
 Cover Sheet) and SF-52 to supervisor for certification and transmittal to
 next-level supervisor.

 STEP 5. Second-level supervisor (usually AD or program manager)             8 to 12 weeks
 checks PD for consistency with other PDs at Station, and requests
 changes if necessary.

 STEP 6. Second-level level supervisor approves AD-332 and SF-52             6 to 7 weeks
 and forwards with final PD package (10 copies of PD & 6 sets of up to
 6 exhibits) to Station personnel office.

 STEP 7. Personnelist sends all materials to Chair and panelists.            4 to 8 weeks

 NOTE: If relevant accomplishments occur between the time the PD is
 approved and time of panel, scientist should send an addendum to the
 PD through supervisors for inclusion in panel package.

Checklist for the Panel Chair
1. Call the panel to order, introduce yourself (name, title, work location), identify the scientist to be
   paneled, and ask panelists to introduce themselves (name, title, work location, and nature of their
   personal research).

2. State the purpose of the panel: “This is an evaluation panel, not a promotion panel. Our
   objectives are (a) to assure the position under review is covered by the Research Grade
   Evaluation Guide (RGEG), and (b) to correctly classify positions using the person-in-job concept.
    After our deliberations we must reach consensus and recommend one of five decision options:
   recommend classification at the next higher grade, the current grade, or the next lower grade, or
   determine that the RGEG is not applicable, or that we were not able to reach a decision because
   of insufficient information or lack of consensus.”

3. Determine whether panel members agree the position is appropriate to evaluate under the RGEG.

4. Reminders:

      a. All panel discussions, findings, and recommendations are confidential.

     b. Panelists may have access to the scientist’s supervisor, if necessary, during panel

      c. Scientists being evaluated may request and receive the names of panelists, consensus scores,
but          not individual scores, and the evaluation report, but not individual panelist’s comments.

     d. All six types of research accomplishments (knowledge discovery, knowledge development,
             knowledge synthesis and assessment, modeling and systems integration, special
assignments, and           leadership accomplishments) are legitimate and worthy of appropriate credit.

      e. Technology transfer activities must be discussed and evaluated as long as technology transfer
            efforts are part of the complete cycle of the incumbent’s research.

     f. Team participation must be recognized and credit must be based primarily on the scientist’s
            individual contribution to solving the problems assigned to the team, and secondarily on
the              relative importance and complexity of the problem and the impact and significance
of the team’s          solution.

      g. Evaluate the impact and significance of authorship based on the scientist’s actual
contribution to         the publication and not solely on senior authorship or co-authorship.

     h. Synthesis within and across scientific disciplines, synthesis of science with policy must be
           considered and appropriate credit for these activities must be given when evaluating the
impact          of a scientist’s accomplishments.

       i. Modify and initial any changes made on their worksheets as a result of panel deliberations
and            instructions if making changes electronically.

5. Note that each panelist should have a score sheet. State the order of the names as you have them
   on your own sheet, starting with the Subject Matter Reviewer. Explain that you will go through,
   in rotation, starting with a different panelist for each factor with the SMR first on Factor IV. Ask
   all four panelists for their preliminary score for each factor (IV, I, III, and II) and have each
   panelist record all scores on their worksheets, then go back for discussion of each factor.

6. Solicit oral report from the SMR.

7. Coordinate the discussion of each factor, separately and in the appropriate order (IV, I, III, and
   II). Instruct each panelist to “Read your evaluations completely as the other panelists have only
   heard your score, but have not seen your rating sheet comments.” Emphasize that they need to
   address specifically several individual concepts under each factor, pointing out why these
   concepts are met.

8. After each factor is discussed, determine the consensus rating and record it. Attempts to reach
   consensus on each factor: (3 of 4 agree and the 4th within 2 points for Factors I through III, and
   within 4 points for Factor IV).

9. Ask all panelists for their recommendation for grade, based on the total score, and insure panel
   reaches consensus on grade.

10. Orally review the panel decision to make sure all panelists are in agreement that a consensus was
    reached and restate the recommendation that will go forward for decision.

11. State “the panel is now officially over.” Invite comments or questions from any trainees or
    observers present.

12. Discuss the adequacy of the position description, career counseling, and training suggestions.

13. Instruct panelists to sign the Research Position Evaluation Worksheet, initial any changes, and
    return it to the personnelist in charge of the panel.

14. Remind the panelists to destroy all position description materials and either keep or return
    exhibits to the personnel specialist.

15. Conclude deliberations with a reminder of the panel’s obligation to maintain the confidentiality.

16. Remind the panelists to complete the Panel Critique Form and return it to you for further
    discussion with the personnel specialist.

17. Thank all panel members for their contributions to the classification process.

    Subject Matter Reviewer (SMR) Contact Interview Guide (1/99)
          (Refer to Guide for Preparing & Evaluating Research Scientist Position Descriptions,
                             Chapter 2, Section III, “Guidelines for SMRs”)

Name of person contacted:
Organization and work title:
Phone number:
Date of Interview:

Subject matter reviewer

The following is provided to help guide you in your role of interviewing the contacts from the contact list
provided by the scientist being paneled. The Scientist should have already explained the interview
process to the potential contacts and provided them with this list of possible generic questions. The
following information can help you gather your thoughts and prepare for the interview. You may use e-
mail to communicate with contacts.

Suggested Telephone Script

Hello, this is                                         , with the                  Research Station.
I am serving on a Forest Service Research Panel that is evaluating the research accomplishments of
                              , who is with the                  Research Station located in
                                      .                         gave your name as someone who could
comment on the quality, significance, and impact of their work and research accomplishments.
Do you have a few minutes to talk now?

First, let me explain that these evaluations are held every few years for all Forest Service Research
Scientists. The main purpose is to review the scientist’s research accomplishments. The evaluation may
potentially impact the scientist’s salary and position status. As the Subject Matter Reviewer for this
panel, I will be giving a brief oral report to the panel summarizing the comments obtained from several of
the contacts provided by                                        . Please be as candid as possible about your
knowledge/impressions of                                        research. All comments are kept confidential
by the panel.                                       (will not see your specific comments).

List of Possible Interview Questions

The following list of questions are provided to help guide your interview with the contact person - you
do not have to follow this list closely. Not all of these questions will apply to all scientists; and you will
want to add questions addressing specific aspects and issues relating to the position description you are

•       How are you familiar with                                       research work (e.g., as a scientific
        colleague/collaborator or as a user of his/her research)?

•       How has his/her work been helpful to you?

                               SMR Contact Interview Guide (page 2)

•      What is your assessment of                                     technology transfer efforts or the
       practical applicability of his/her work? Which publications of                  __ do you use the

•      In situations where an accomplishment was achieved via team research, can you confirm this
       scientist’s relative contribution to the overall team accomplishment (especially important where
       there is a question about the roles of multiple authors of a paper)?

•      Is there any other information relevant to this scientist’s accomplishments you would like to
       provide before the close of this interview?

Well, that concludes our interview. I appreciate your time and cooperation. It was good talking with
you! Please give me a call at _                                   should you have something else to add
later to this interview.

Thanks again for your time!
                Suggested letter from Scientist to Contact Person (1/99)

          Refer to Guide for Preparing & Evaluating Research Scientist Position Descriptions,
                                   Chapter 1, Item F “Contact List”

     (Note to user - you may change or edit this suggested letter as you so desire to meet your needs)

Person’s address


This is in follow-up to our recent conversation regarding my upcoming review under the Forest Service
Research Scientist Evaluation Process. Thank you for agreeing to serve as a “contact” familiar with the
quality, significance, and impact of my work and research accomplishments. Evaluations are conducted
on a regular review cycle for every Forest Service research scientist. During my evaluation, a panel of
scientists will review my research accomplishments and make recommendations regarding the correct
grade level of my position.

Since I have listed you as a possible “contact person,” you may be contacted by a subject matter reviewer
(SMR) and asked a series of questions regarding my work and research accomplishments. The
perspectives of several different users of my research are considered by the evaluation panel in order to
demonstrate the spectrum of clients served, the breadth of their interests, and the consistency with which I
have demonstrated success in research, development, and applications. The main reason you may not be
contacted is that enough other contacts were reached and responded within the time frame. I urge you to
be as candid as possible about your knowledge/impressions of my work. The SMR will provide the panel
members with a brief oral report summarizing the comments and other input from five or more contact
individuals. All comments are kept confidential by the panel—I will not hear or see your specific

So that you may prepare for this possible interview, listed below are a few typical questions asked by
SMRs. The person interviewing you may or may not follow this list closely.

•       How are you familiar with this person’s research work (e.g., as a scientific colleague/collaborator
        or as a user of their research)? How has his/her work been helpful to you?

•       What is your assessment of his/her technology transfer efforts or the practical applicability of
        their work? Which publications of his/hers do you use the most?

•       In situations where an accomplishment was achieved via team research, can you confirm this
        scientist’s relative contribution to the overall team accomplishment (especially important where
        there is a question about the roles of multiple authors of a paper)?

•       Is there any other information you would like to provide before the close of this interview?

Please remember that you may not be asked these exact questions by the SMR. You may not have
enough knowledge of my work to answer some of the questions. That is okay. (OPTIONAL -- I am
enclosing for your information, some pertinent material that all panelists have received. This may be
helpful so that you can refer to the same written material as the SMR.) Please give me a call at
    ________ should you have questions.

Thanks again,

S/ (Scientist being reviewed)

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