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Panel Weighs Overhaul Of NSF's Grant System

An agency report suggests merit review revisions that would simplify proposals, extend grant duration, and give staff more autonomy WASHINGTON--A report of an in-house panel that examined peer review at the National Science Foundation proposes drastic remedies for what it says is an overburdened and inefficient system of selecting and awarding grants. Its recommendations--longer-term grants, more autonomy for program officers and less reliance on outside reviewers, fewer categories of grants,

Jeffrey Mervis
An agency report suggests merit review revisions that would simplify proposals, extend grant duration, and give staff more autonomy
WASHINGTON--A report of an in-house panel that examined peer review at the National Science Foundation proposes drastic remedies for what it says is an overburdened and inefficient system of selecting and awarding grants. Its recommendations--longer-term grants, more autonomy for program officers and less reliance on outside reviewers, fewer categories of grants, and shorter and simpler proposals--would have to be approved by Walter Massey, President Bush's nominee to be NSF director, assuming he is confirmed by the United States Senate. In the meantime, some early reaction from the scientific community has been positive.

For Tulane University physicist John Perdew, the panel's suggestions would mean good riddance to what he believes is now a lottery among highly qualified proposals. For population biologist Robert Wyatt of the University of Georgia, they would mean a...

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