FROM THE ARCHIVES: Science Board Approves New NSF Merit Review Process (April 7, 1997)

In celebration of COSSA’s 40th anniversary, we are diving into the decades of Washington Update archives to share articles from years past that resonate with today’s news.

On March 28 the National Science Board approved a new merit review process for proposed grants submitted for National Science Foundation (NSF) funding. Proposed by a Task Force of the Board in November (see Update, December 16, 1996), NSF took comments from the community for three months and made some changes for their final recommendations.

The new process tries to simplify and clarify rules for those who evaluate proposals. Under the old system reviewers were asked to consider four general criteria. The new system asks for assessments of proposals based on the answers to two broad questions: What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? And 2) What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? For each of these, there are a series of more specific questions that should be considered, including how the proposal broadens participation of women and minorities, enhances the infrastructure of sciences, and benefits society. […]

The new process also includes a single composite rating, separate comments for each criterion, and a summary recommendation that addresses both criteria. The new system will go into effect for all proposals received beginning October 1, 1997.

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