in a comment from Evelyn:
As a grant writer, who has to learn a whole new field every 2 weeks, a good review is a life-saver! It gives me an accurate, hopefully an up-to-date snapshot of the field, leads me to the original research that I can then pull, read, and cite. A bad review is a an awful waste of my time but at this point, I can tell a bad one by about third paragraph and I don't bother reading the rest of it. When I can't find a good review, my life gets a lot harder since I don't have the time to read all of the junk research on every topic before I get to the good stuff. At that point, I hate to say it, but I search through glam-journals and usually, those original papers will have enough background to lead me to the important papers in the field.
So I don't care if the review authors are in the field or are first-year grand students, as long as they do a good job. But in my experience, the ones that are in the field usually give a better overview of the topic.
I need a cold compress.
Apparently review articles make it easy for a professional grant writer, who has no prior knowledge of a field, to simulate the expertise of the PI. Who, in most cases, the study section members presume did most of the writing.
If this minor deception* works then some PIs can afford to hire a professional grant writer to, presumably, submit more grants to out-compete those of us who cannot afford such luxuries.
I do not have sources of money available in my professional budgets that can be used to hire grant writers to craft more applications than I can write myself.
This professional grant-writer thing does not hearten me.
* There is absolutely nothing in the NIH grant rules that says that the people listed as participating Investigator staff need have anything whatsoever to do with the writing/crafting of the application.