In a recent “Dear Colleague” letter, the National Science Foundation has announced that it will use an asynchronous review model for proposals submitted to its physics division.
The new review method, pilot tested in FY 2013, allows reviewers to provide input to other members of the review panel in the weeks leading up to the face-to-face review meeting. Previously, discussion of proposals was limited to the short time that reviewers spend together during the proposal review meeting.
Each of the physics division’s program officers will decide whether to employ this asynchronous mechanism or to use the traditional review process.
The NSF says the change change is intended to encourage deeper, more thoughtful comments and discussions on the proposals, leading to better evaluations and more helpful feedback to investigators. While the mechanics of the review process will change, the NSF emphasizes that the criteria used to evaluate proposals — intellectual merit and broader impacts — will remain unchanged.