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News Release 12-092

National Science Foundation Hosts Inaugural Global Summit on Merit Review

Fifty heads of international research councils released a statement of merit review principles and established a Global Research Council

Global Summit logo.

Summit participants identified best practices and standards that will cultivate global research.

May 15, 2012

View a webcast of the Global Summit press conference.

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Arlington, VA -- Leaders from a two-day inaugural Global Summit on Merit Review, hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), today released a set of merit review principles and established a Global Research Council. Heads of research councils from about 50 countries participated in the summit and joined the Global Research Council.

The merit review principles crafted by the summit leaders include expert assessment, transparency, impartiality, appropriateness, confidentiality, and integrity and ethical consideration.

NSF hosted members from G20/OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, which are typically most research intensive, and countries with emerging scientific enterprises, including those involved with the State Department Science Envoys program. The merit review process, as practiced by NSF and other leading funding agencies, is recognized as an essential tool for evaluating scientific research.  In releasing a set of common principles, the Summit participants identified best practices and standards that will cultivate multinational research cooperation among countries and across continents.

"This global summit is the first step toward a more unified approach to the scientific process," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "Science can rise above economic and cultural differences to help develop trust and clear the path for agreements in other areas. Global scientific collaboration expands the pool of knowledge that belongs to everyone and serves as a tool to improve health, security and opportunity throughout the world. Good science anywhere is good for science everywhere."

The newly established Global Research Council is comprised of about 50 heads of research councils from around the world and will be governed by a board with equal numbers from developing and developed countries. The statement of merit review principles was developed with two primary objectives. First, the worldwide agreement on core, high-level principles will foster international cooperation between funding agencies that support the scientific research community.  Second, for those countries that are developing new funding agencies, the principles provide a global consensus on the key elements necessary for a rigorous and transparent review system. The following merit review principles were released at the May 2012 Global Summit on Merit Review:

  • Expert Assessment -- Collectively, reviewers should have the appropriate knowledge and expertise to assess the proposal both at the level of the broad context of the research field(s) to which it contributes and with respect to the specific objectives and methodology. Reviewers should be selected according to clear criteria.
  • Transparency -- Decisions must be based on clearly described rules, procedures and evaluation criteria that are published a priori. Applicants should receive appropriate feedback on the evaluation of their proposal.
  • Impartiality -- Proposals must be assessed fairly and on their merit.  Conflicts of interest must be declared and managed according to defined, published processes.
  • Appropriateness -- The review process should be consistent with the nature of the call, with the research area addressed, and in proportion to the investment and complexity of the work.
  • Confidentiality -- All proposals, including related data, intellectual property and other documents, must be treated in confidence by reviewers and organizations involved in the review process.
  • Integrity and Ethical Consideration -- Ethics and integrity are paramount to the review process.

The next global summit will be hosted by Brazil and Germany in 2013. For more information, go to the Global Summit on Merit Review website.


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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