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Report to the National Science Board on the National Science Foundation's Merit Review Process, Fiscal Year 2006
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nsb0722 Document Number: nsb0722
Author: National Science Board
Published: March, 2007
Keywords: Annual Report, Merit Review Process, Funding review, National Science Board, Award, Grant, 2006, Exploratory Research, Budget
Available Formats: PDF
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Abstract
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The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 directs the Foundation "to initiate and support basic scientific research and programs to strengthen scientific research potential and science education programs at all levels." NSF achieves its unique mission by making merit-based awards to researchers, educators, and students at approximately 1,740 U.S. colleges, universities and other institutions. The merit review process is at the very heart of NSF's selection of the projects through which its mission is achieved.


Executive Summary
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The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 directs the Foundation "to initiate and support basic scientific research and programs to strengthen scientific research potential and science education programs at all levels." NSF achieves its unique mission by making merit-based awards to researchers, educators, and students at approximately 1,740 U.S. colleges, universities and other institutions. The merit review process is at the very heart of NSF's selection of the projects through which its mission is achieved.

This year NSF made 10,425 awards from 42,352 proposals submitted. All proposals are evaluated using the two NSB approved criteria: intellectual merit and broader impacts. As stated in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide, consideration is also given to how well the proposed activity 1) fosters the integration of research and education, and 2) broadens opportunities to include a diversity of participants, particularly from underrepresented groups. Additional criteria, as stated in the program announcement or solicitation, may be required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs or activities. About 96 percent of NSF's proposals are evaluated by external reviewers as well as by NSF staff.

This FY 2006 Report on the NSF Merit Review Process responds to a National Science Board (NSB) policy endorsed in 1977 and amended in 1984, requesting that the NSF Director submit an annual report on the NSF merit review process. In this report, data are presented on both the merit review outcome in FY 2006 and the process itself. In this context, NSF has highlighted a few issues that impact the merit review process. Section II of this report provides summary data about proposals, awards, and success rates. Section III provides information about the process by which proposals are reviewed and awarded. Section IV provides information about special activities in FY 2006 on aspects of the merit review process; in particular, 1) quality and transparency of the review process; 2) impact of proposal and award management mechanisms; and 3) transformational research.


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