Global Research Council Established by Heads of Research Councils of 50 Countries

bridges, vol. 33, May 2012 / Noteworthy Information

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On May 14-15, the heads of research councils from about 50 countries convened at the inaugural Global Summit on Merit Review and announced, on this occasion, the establishment of a Global Research Council. The Summit was hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia.

The merit review principles crafted by the Summit leaders include expert assessment, transparency, impartiality, appropriateness, confidentiality, and integrity and ethical considerations.

NSF hosted members from G20/OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, which are typically the most research intensive, and countries with emerging scientific enterprises, including those involved with the State Department Science Envoys program. The merit review process, as practiced by NSF and other leading funding agencies, is recognized as an essential tool for evaluating scientific research. In releasing a set of common principles, the Summit participants identified best practices and standards that will cultivate multinational research cooperation among countries and across continents.


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"This global summit is the first step toward a more unified approach to the scientific process," said NSF Director Subra Suresh. "Science can rise above economic and cultural differences to help develop trust and clear the path for agreements in other areas. Global scientific collaboration expands the pool of knowledge that belongs to everyone and serves as a tool to improve health, security, and opportunity throughout the world. Good science anywhere is good for science develop trust and clear the path for agreements in other areas. Global scientific collaboration expands the pool of knowledge that belongs to everyone and serves as a tool to improve health, security, and opportunity throughout the world. Good science anywhere is good for science everywhere."

The newly established Global Research Council is composed of about 50 heads of research councils from around the world and will be governed by a board with equal representation from developing and developed countries. The statement of merit review principles was developed with two primary objectives. First, the worldwide agreement on core, high-level principles will foster international cooperation between funding agencies that support the scientific research community. Second, for countries that are developing new funding agencies, the principles provide a global consensus on the key elements necessary for a rigorous and transparent review system. The following merit review principles were released at the May 2012 Global Summit on Merit Review:

  • Expert Assessment – Collectively, reviewers should have the appropriate knowledge and expertise to assess the proposal both at the level of the broad context of the research field(s) to which it contributes and with respect to the specific objectives and methodology. Reviewers should be selected according to clear criteria.
  • Transparency – Decisions must be based on clearly described rules, procedures, and evaluation criteria that are published a priori. Applicants should receive appropriate feedback on the evaluation of their proposal.
  • Impartiality – Proposals must be assessed fairly and on their merit. Conflicts of interest must be declared and managed according to defined, published processes.
  • Appropriateness – The review process should be consistent with the nature of the call, with the research area addressed, and in proportion to the investment and complexity of the work.
  • Confidentiality – All proposals, including related data, intellectual property, and other documents, must be treated in confidence by reviewers and organizations involved in the review process.
  • Integrity and Ethical Considerations -- Ethics and integrity are paramount to the review process.

The next global summit will be hosted by Brazil and Germany in 2013. For more information, go to the Global Summit on Merit Review Web site

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