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NSF Makes It Easier To Appeal As It Opens Up Review Process

WASHINGTON -- The National Science Foundation, in the midst of declining funding rates and a growing debate about the nature of peer review, has decided to make it easier for scientists to appeal the bad news they receive. Procedural changes disclosed last month at a meeting of the National Science Board also are designed to help NSF identify the worthiest grant proposals and to provide applicants with more information about the factors that led to funding decisions. "We want to open up the pr

Jeffrey Mervis

WASHINGTON -- The National Science Foundation, in the midst of declining funding rates and a growing debate about the nature of peer review, has decided to make it easier for scientists to appeal the bad news they receive. Procedural changes disclosed last month at a meeting of the National Science Board also are designed to help NSF identify the worthiest grant proposals and to provide applicants with more information about the factors that led to funding decisions.

"We want to open up the process to the outside," NSF Director Erich Bloch told board members. "We want the PIs [principal investigators] to feel free to say what they think. And we also want to tell them as much as possible about how the decision [on their proposal] was made."

Critics of what NSF officials call merit review say they welcome the changes. They also claim partial credit for them. Last summer...

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