On October 17, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced to the Senate U.S. Committee of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs a bill titled “BASIC Research Act.” This apparent innocent title covers the real intention of this legislation – an attempt to defund basic research and make it subject to partisan politics. This legislation would change the way grant proposals are evaluated by all federal agencies, from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These and other federal agencies are the main funders of scholarly work in higher education in this country. How does Paul intend to do that? According to the bill he introduced, these agencies will be mandated to include in their peer-review panels an “expert” in a field unrelated to the research proposed in the grant application in question who could not have worked at or been affiliated with a college or university for 10 years prior to the grant review. In other words, someone who is not really connected to higher education.
Romero, A. 2017. Assault on peer review a new threat. The Edwardsville Intelligencer 6 December 2017, p. A3.