2012 Global Summit on Merit Review

© Sandy Schaeffer

The Global Summit on Merit Review was hosted by the U.S. National Science Foundation from May 13-15, 2012.  Almost 50 Heads of Research Councils, primarily representing the G-20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, attended the event.  The participants endorsed a high-level Statement of Principles for Scientific Merit Review, and launched the Global Research Council.

The Statement of Principles for Scientific Merit Review is designed to provide a framework for increased international research cooperation, and to convey accepted international standards for science funding agencies.  The Statement was developed under the leadership of an International Steering Committee composed of representatives from Africa, the Americas, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, and the Middle East/North Africa.  Steering Committee members convened Regional Meetings in late 2011 and early 2012 to gain input to the Principles from all regional stakeholders.  The Steering Committee synthesized the regional contributions into a single, high-level document.

The merit review process, as practiced by leading funding agencies worldwide, 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.  In addition, for those 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, Transparency, Impartiality, Appropriateness, Confidentiality, and Integrity and Ethical Considerations.

The participants at the Global Summit on Merit Review enthusiastically supported the establishment of the Global Research Council (GRC).  The GRC will be a virtual organization with no permanent secretariat, and will focus its activities on topics of broad international interest to funding agencies.  To this end, the Global Research Council will identify one or two topics for action annually, and then coordinate Regional Meetings to develop a consensus document for consideration at the Annual Meeting.  Following on from the 2012 meeting at NSF, the 2013 meeting will be held in Berlin and co-hosted by DFG (Germany) and CNPq (Brazil).  The two topics for 2013 are Scientific Integrity and Open Access.

Speaking at the conclusion of the meeting, NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh said "This global summit is the first step toward a more unified approach to the scientific process.  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 everywhere."

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