Open Grant Review?

If scientific papers can be publicly reviewed either pre-publication or post-publication, and if one day soon the public can have a voice on the patents, then why not also grant proposals? Now, Michael does not go that far – he only proposes a more direct communication between the researcher and the reviewer – but, why not? Some people write good proposals. Others can sell them better in a different way: by talking about them. I would certainly like to be able to try to sell my grant proposal by shooting a video and posting it on a site like Scivee.com, where both the reviewers and the public can add their commentary.

2 responses to “Open Grant Review?

  1. I like the idea of completely open research proposal reviewing. It is very much an idea that has reached its time (well almost). Also it would probably help to eliminate problems that occur when a referee has been asked to review a proposal, who know very little about the subject area. I am sorry to say that I think that happens a lot. Some reviewers will review a proposal even though they don’t feel expert for a number of reasons (ego, political pressure, etc. ). This of course can be very disheartening for the person who has submitted the proposal.

  2. Bora – Jean-Claude Bradley and you are the two science bloggers I have read and learned from the most since I started thinking about these issues a bit over a year ago. I only read blogs sporadically, so pardon the late comment to this post.
    One organization that demonstrates the power of open research proposals is the Gotham Prize Foundation (http://www.gothamprize.org). They put up $1 million for proposals to treat cancer, with proposals being posted on their site for comments and collaboration.
    Another idea that wouldn’t necessarily need to rock the boat so much (at least initially) would be to create a centralized proposal repository (CPR). Scientists could submit proposals in a standardized format to CPR at any time (ie no time wasted on filling out different applications for different agencies at different deadlines). Funding agencies could search through CPR for proposals matching their interests. Bureaucratic and administrative details could be worked out between agencies and investigators later in the process.
    To allay the fears of traditionally secretive scientists, CPR could be hosted by an independent organization, with search access granted only to funding agencies who agree to maintain privacy (unless a submitting investigator indicates willingness to share his or her idea publicly).
    I’ve posted more details/arguments on this topic on my still-under-construction website at http://noamyharel.googlepages.com/universalproposalrepository. I’ve also sent a similar letter to Google.org to see if they’d be interested.
    Thanks, Noam Harel