Smith’s “High Quality Research Act,” embedded below, scraps the NSF’s current peer-review process, which solicits the opinions of independent experts as to the “intellectual merit” and “broader impacts” of proposed research. In its stead, a new set of non-scientific standards for science funding are proposed.
Those proposed standards are three-fold, requiring the NSF’s director to certify that all accepted research proposals are: “in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science; the finest quality, is groundbreaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.” The draft bill also requires that the NSF director report to Congress how the same criteria can be applied to “other Federal science agencies.”
In addition to the problem of stripping out a transparent, peer-review process, the new standards also discount the importance of research duplication, an important part of the scientific process. Without overlapping research, scientists cannot independently verify experimental results from other laboratories.
I'm not entirely sure what's going on here. Are they attempting to remove peer review? Are they going to prevent the use of the scientific method on...scientific research?