Back in January, the National Science Board (NSB) released a report – National Science Foundation’s Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions – recommending that NSF “better define the two criteria for the benefit of the science community.” The report specified three principles governing the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) approach to utilizing these criteria. Last month, the NSF, together with research councils from 50 countries, established a Global Research Council and issued six merit review principles at the conclusion of the first-ever Global Summit on Merit Review.
The principles (following the link):
- Expert Assessment – Collectively, reviewers should have the appropriate knowledge and expertise to assess the proposal both at the level of the broad context of the research field(s) to which it contributes and with respect to the specific objectives and methodology. Reviewers should be selected according to clear criteria.
- Transparency – Decisions must be based on clearly described rules, procedures and evaluation criteria that are published a priori. Applicants should receive appropriate feedback on the evaluation of their proposal.
- Impartiality – Proposals must be assessed fairly and on their merit. Conflicts of interest must be declared and managed according to defined, published processes.
- Appropriateness – The review process should be consistent with the nature of the call, with the research area addressed, and in proportion to the investment and complexity of the work.
- Confidentiality – All proposals, including related data, intellectual property and other documents, must be treated in confidence by reviewers and organizations involved in the review process.
- Integrity and Ethical Consideration – Ethics and integrity are paramount to the review process.
According to NSF:
The statement of merit review principles was developed with two primary objectives. First, the worldwide agreement on core, high-level principles will foster international cooperation between funding agencies that support the scientific research community. Second, for those countries that are developing new funding agencies, the principles provide a global consensus on the key elements necessary for a rigorous and transparent review system.
As NSF director Subra Suresh noted in an editorial in last week’s Science (subscription required), this month’s Global Summit was the first in a series of meetings to identify core principles for the global research community:
Going forward, regional meetings over the next year will focus on identifying core principles of scientific integrity, seeking consensus on potential subjects such as authorship, accuracy of data, and human subjects protocols. Much work has been done on this topic, but the [Global Research Council] hopes to identify principles on which there is widespread concurrence and explore compliance mechanisms. The objective will be to adopt basic principles at the 2013 Global Summit, which will be co-hosted by Germany and Brazil in Berlin. Regional meetings will also begin to address the very complex challenge of open and shared access to scientific information — both data and publications. By harmonizing the standards that underlie different national systems, we can create the smoothly operating system of global science essential to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges.
(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)