More than 100 organizations have signed a letter to Congress in defense of peer review. The letter was prompted by recent congressional actions that called into question the merit review process used by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award research grants.

“It is imperative that NSF’s system of support for basic research be based upon excellence, competitive scientific merit, and peer-review,” states the letter. “While Congress does play an important role in oversight of federally funded research, it should avoid legislative attempts that could undermine a decades-long system of success and ultimately impede discovery and innovation.”

Among the congressional actions that prompted concern within the scientific community is the High Quality Research Act, a draft bill that would require the director of NSF to certify that any grant is of the highest quality, in the best interests of the United States, and not duplicative of other research efforts.

Three former directors of NSF and three former chairmen of the National Science Board spoke out against the draft bill in a recent letter to the leaders of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. The former NSF leaders said that the draft bill would have “a chilling and detrimental impact on the merit-based review process.”

The American Institute of Biological Sciences contributed to the letter and was one of the organizations to sign the letter. AIBS member organizations endorsing the letter included: American Society of Agronomy, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Society of Plant Biologists, Association of Ecosystem Research Centers, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Botanical Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Ecological Society of America, Entomological Society of America, Genetics Society of America, Long Term Ecological Research Network, National Association of Marine Laboratories, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, and Soil Science Society of America.

Read the letter at


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