NSF Refuses to Hand Over Reviews

The agency told a Congressional committee that it would not forward peer-reviewer comments of social science grants the committee had requested.

By | May 17, 2013


Last month (April 25) House of Representatives science committee chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) sent a letter to acting National Science Foundation (NSF) head Cora Marrett asking that the agency send his committee peer-review documents on five accepted social science grants, which the committee suspected did not meet the agency’s standards. Yesterday (May 15) the NSF said it would not hand over the reviews, citing concerns about confidentiality.

Instead, Marrett said that the NSF would provide information on why the projects were funded and a brief explaining how the agency evaluates grants. Since peer reviewers of grants are anonymous and their reviews confidential, the agency does not feel comfortable circulating them, according to ScienceInsider.

“I am disappointed the NSF declined to provide Congress with additional information that would show why they are spending taxpayer dollars on specific research grants,” Smith told ScienceInsider.

Smith also helped draft a bill last month that would require all NSF-funded research to “advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare” and “secure the national defense” of the United States. Currently the NSF evaluates research based on “intellectual merit” and “broader impacts” to society. 


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Avatar of: BJWestleigh


Posts: 1

May 17, 2013

Good call NSF. I stand behind you 100%
No member of our congress has the qualifications to dictate the value of scientific research. 

Avatar of: MaxFurr


Posts: 1

February 17, 2014

Very good! Keep the anti-science "science" committee as far away for setting policy as possible.

Lamar was offered enough information to understand why the grants were made, but he dosn't want that. He wants names, and he should never get them.


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