NSF Releases Merit Review Digest and SED, FABBS Submits Comments on Strategic Plan

February 16, 2021

Each year the National Science Foundation (NSF) prepares an analysis of the merit review process for the National Science Board (NSB). The digest  shows that in 2019, 4,262 proposals (for $2.8 billion) that were rated “Very Good” or higher had to be declined. The digest also contains a description of the merit review process, funding rates, types of proposals, statistics of underrepresented groups with proposals, and award distribution.

NSF has also released the 2019 Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) data. The goal of the survey is to monitor the number of degrees awarded (along with fields of study), paths to the doctorate, postgraduation trends, and demographic information. This information is key to making informed advancements in the U.S.’s doctoral education system and crucial for NSF’s commitment to broadening participation. Overall, the number of doctorate recipients across all fields of study increased 1.1 percent from 2018, totaling 55,703 degrees awarded in 2019. Degree participation by minority groups has stayed relatively the same, except for people of Hispanic or Latinx descent which accounted for a 7 percent rise in 2019. The SED provides valuable data from U.S. academic institutions on the up-and-coming workforce. Data tables, resources, and the 2019 report can all be accessed on the NSF interactive website.

FABBS submitted comments on the NSF strategic plan, underscoring the importance of the NSF mission to support fundamental science, diversity, convergence science and clinically relevant research. The comments also urge NSF to clarify the meaning of ‘broader impacts’ for purposes of evaluating grant and fellowship proposals.