SciSIP (MOD): A Comparative Assessment of Models for Integrating Societal Impacts Concerns into the Peer Review of Grant Proposals

  • Frodeman, Robert (PI)
  • Burggren, Warren W. (CoPI)
  • Mitcham, Carl (CoPI)
  • Holbrook, James (CoPI)
  • Moen, William W. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Public science and engineering (S&E) funding agencies worldwide rely on the peer review of research proposals to make their funding decisions. Scientific and technical experts are best qualified to judge the scientific and technical merits of proposed research projects. Increasingly, however, society is requiring that S&E funding agencies demonstrate a return on the public investment in S&E research. In response, S&E funding agencies worldwide have incorporated considerations of broader societal impacts into the proposal review process. But asking scientists and engineers to assess the potential societal impacts of proposed research projects takes them beyond the realm of their scientific and technical expertise.

The fundamental question of this three year research project is: What is the best way to incorporate societal impacts considerations into the grant proposal peer review process? This research focuses on the ways in which different models of peer review incorporate the broader societal impacts of proposed research. The study assesses five different models of peer review across three US federal agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and two non-US contexts: the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Dutch Technology Foundation (STW). Using both qualitative and quantitative methods (data mining, literature review, surveys, and semi-structured interviews), this research develops usable knowledge by constructing a comparative matrix and analysis of these five models of peer review.

The Broader Impacts of this project include: (1) funding 2 graduate research assistants, thereby laying the foundation for continuing work in the Science of Science and Innovation Policy; (2) integrating this research with teaching at the undergraduate level (in UNT's Ethics in Science course); (3) expanding the network of researchers exploring the Science of Science and Innovation Policy; (4) enhancing the understanding of the process of grant proposal peer review by informing all stakeholders in the peer review process (scientists and engineers, funding agency officials, policy makers, and members of the general public) of the project's results; and finally, (5) improving the peer review of grant proposals, especially in terms of the capacity of various models of peer review to assess the societal impact of proposed S&E research. This project benefits society by improving the connection between the funding decisions rendered through proposal peer review and the societal impact of the funded research.

Effective start/end date10/1/089/30/12


  • National Science Foundation: $393,688.00


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