NSB Seeks Feedback on NSF's Merit Review Criteria

National Science Board
January 21, 2011

Dear Colleague:

I am writing today to ask for your assistance. The National Science Board (NSB) is undertaking a thorough review of the National Science Foundation's two merit review criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts). The NSB Task Force on Merit Review has been charged to consider all options when developing their final recommendations, from keeping the criteria just as they are to completely rewriting them, or anything in between. The Task Force is now gathering input from a wide variety of stakeholder groups, and will be developing its report and recommendations during 2011.

The merit review process is at the heart of NSF's mission, and the merit review criteria form the critical base for that process. In the recently enacted America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, the Broader Impacts Review Criterion was specifically mentioned. I urge you to take this opportunity to provide comments and suggestions for improvements, as the Task Force undertakes this important review. To ensure that all interested parties have an opportunity to provide input, NSF has established a web site through which you can submit your thoughts and ideas on several issues of interest to the Task Force (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/meritreviewform.cfm).

All proposals submitted to NSF are evaluated using the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts review criteria. The application of these criteria in the proposal review process has a critical role in shaping NSF’s increasingly complex and interdisciplinary award portfolio. The current review criteria have now been in effect for over a decade, and thus it is timely to evaluate the utility of the current criteria in enabling NSF to accomplish its mission.

The NSF is the primary Federal agency supporting research at the frontiers of knowledge, across all fields of science and engineering (S&E) and all levels of S&E education. Its mission, vision and goals are designed to maintain and strengthen the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise and to ensure that Americans benefit fully from the products of the science, engineering and education activities that NSF supports. To accomplish this, the Foundation invests in cutting-edge research that explores high risk/high impact ideas, and manages award portfolios of the highest quality research and education projects.

I do hope you will share your thoughts with us.

Thank you for your participation!

Ray M. Bowen
Chairman, National Science Board