The Dec. 9, 1996, issue of The Scientist discusses researcher disagreement with the National Institutes of Health plan to improve its peer-review processes [T.W. Durso, page 1]. My reading of the peer-review literature, supplemented by the conduct of hundreds of peer reviews, leads me to the following documented conclusions on the subject (R.N. Kostoff, "The Handbook of Research Impact Assessment," 6th ed., Summer 1996, Defense Technical Information Center Report No. ADA296021; R.N. Kostoff, "Federal Research Impact Assessment: Axioms, Approaches, Applications," Scientometrics, 34:2, 1995). For evaluating basic research proposals, the three main criteria are research merit, research approach, and team quality. These map quite well into the three criteria proposed by the NIH Rating of Grant Applications committee (significance/approach/feasibility).

For research sponsored by a mission-oriented organization, a fourth factor related to mission relevance is useful. To ensure equity for evaluating truly fundamental research, a very liberal interpretation...

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