Protect the Integrity of Scientific Research

9 January 2012
AGU Science Policy Alert 12-3

A recent bill in the House of Representatives, the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act (H.R. 3433), strives to increase accountability and transparency of government-funded projects.  However, several provisions in the bill threaten our nation’s scientific research system and will hamper innovation and economic growth.

The most troubling provision in the GRANT Act is the requirement that grant proposals be published in full on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website.  Grant proposals typically contain propriety intellectual information related to the applicant’s hypotheses, novel experimental methods, and preliminary research findings.  Making these ideas and data publicly available to everyone via the OMB website would undermine the applicant and their institution’s right to their intellectual property.

A second disconcerting provision in the GRANT Act would require the public disclosure of peer reviews.  Anonymity of peer review is the foundation of the modern scientific method.  The prospect of negative career repercussions due to the public release of the name and contact information for peer reviewers and panelists would undermine the entire peer review process, hinder the ability of scientists to evaluate the credibility of research findings, and increase the likelihood that limited research budgets at federal agencies would be poorly spent.  Proper peer review is critical for fiscal responsibility and anonymity is foundational to the review process.

Representatives Rush Holt and David Price are preparing a letter for House leadership urging them to remove the damaging provisions before further consideration of the GRANT Act by the House.  Please contact your Congressional Representative and tell him or her to sign onto the Holt – Price GRANT Act letter.

For assistance on how to find and contact your Congressional Representative, please visit the AGU Science Policy webpage or contact ehankin@agu.org.