Peer review at the National Science Foundation has been the focus of recent inquiries from the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology committee. Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, had requested the notes of the peer reviewers and program officers pertaining to five grants awarded by the NSF. In a letter to NSF Acting Director Cora Marrett, Smith said he had “concerns regarding some grants approved by the Foundation and how closely they adhere to NSF’s ‘intellectual merit’ guideline.” President Obama, White House officials, House Democrats and scientific societies all spoke out against Smith’s requests for the confidential peer review documents.
Yesterday, Marrett sent a letter to Smith refusing his request for the peer-review documents. The reason behind the refusal was the need to safeguard the confidentiality of the entire peer-review process. Smith said he was “disappointed” at the refusal, but he indicated that the discussion about peer review at NSF is not over.
The ASBMB staunchly defends the peer-review process. Check back next week for updates on how the society has made its voice heard on Capitol Hill with regard to the ongoing debate over peer review.