[Editor’s note: In December 1987, geologist Jon Kalb received an apology and $20,000 from the National Science Foundation after agency officials acknowledged that an NSF peer review panel had discussed a false rumor that KaIb was working for the CIA while conducting research in Ethiopia. The incident, which took place during a review of an application that KaIb had submitted in 1976, led Kalb to question many aspects of the agency’s peer review system. In July, Kalb—with the help of attorney Eric Glitzenstein—submitted to NSF a 37-page petition pushing for reforms of the system that Kalb sees as necessary if other scientists are to be assured of receiving fair and unbiased treatment from NSF. Among other things, KaIb charges that NSF maintains a secret filing system and systematically deprives applicants of their right to know of all reviewer comments and discussions considered in connection with their proposals.

According to Jim...

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