Science, Security, & the NSF

Reflections on the latest efforts to politicize the National Science Foundation

Science magazine reports today on a US House of Representatives bill that would revamp both the review criteria and the review process for National Science Foundation grants. Under the proposed legislation, the current criteria employed by peer reviewers — under which referees assess whether a proposed research project has “Intellectual Merit” and whether it will have a “Broader Impact” on the scientific community and society — is to be replaced by a three-part test under which each grant must be found to be:

  1. “…in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science;
  2. “… [of] the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and
  3. “…not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.”


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