NSF peer review revisited



Much recent attention has been focused on the peer review system, the process by which research grants are awarded by the various divisions within the National Science Foundation (NSF). A recent study by Cole, Cole, and Simon found that grant approval to proposals submitted to NSF depends about as much on the selection of reviewers as it does on the scientific merit of the proposal (Eos, December 15, 1981, pp. 1181-1182). One critic of the study, geologist John Hower, points out that Cole et al. failed to evaluate the most valuable part of the peer review system. Hower, director of the NSF geochemistry program from 1976–1978, refers to a second panel review, such as that carried out by the Division of Earth Sciences.