The National Science Foundation has joined the National Institutes of Health in considering changes to its peer-review system of rating grant applications (T.W. Durso, The Scientist, Dec. 9, 1996, page 1). NSF's current four-criteria system-assessing research performance and competence, intrinsic merit, utility or relevance, and the research's effect on science and engineering infrastructure-has been in place since 1981. NSF officials say it's time to revisit the criteria and that the proposed changes would be clearer to applicants and easier for them to respond to. The new, two-part system, recommended by a Task Force on Merit Review established by the National Science Board (NSB), NSF's governing body, would require applicants to describe the "intellectual merit and quality" of their proposals, as well as their "broader impacts." The proposal is posted on NSF's Web site (, where researchers can respond with their views. Comments also can be...

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