Prof-like has a pair of questions up.
1) should unfunded PIs be included on panels or study sections?
2) Should postdocs (if funded by Federal funds) be included on panels or study sections?
The implication here seems to be that the NSF allows professorial rank people without NSF (or other major governmental?) awards to review proposals. Perhaps also that postdocs (or perhaps research scientists?) that do have funding to review grants. If so, this is most unlike the NIH where the vast majority of reviewers have to be of Associate Professor status or higher. Also unlike the NIH expectation that reviewers have to have been awarded a grant similar to those which s/he is reviewing. My answer got a little long so I thought I'd pop it up as a post.
I'm on record in favor of PIs who are not yet funded by the NIH being represented on review panels. So Yes on #1. I throw out a "maybe even some senior postdocs as well" but I always figured that was an extreme Overton shifting position. Are you telling me that NSF lets postdocs review research grants? Interesting.
I'm in favor of this because it seems like basic fairness, one, and the only way to combat biases, two.
Look at it this way- The NIH has explicit rules that study sections must have diversity. Check this link
There must be diversity with respect to the geographic distribution, gender, race and ethnicity of the membership.
In my experience this seems to be taken quite seriously. Ethnic minorities would appear to be well represented on panels on which I've served. Women run about 35-40% I think at one point I check this for my most frequent section against the CSR overall numbers. Through conversations suggesting reviewers to an SRO or discussing why so-and-so had been ad hoc'ing for two years and not appointed, it became clear to me that the geographic distribution is a pretty hard line.
Notice anything missing in this "diversity" statement? No? Well how about this comment...
There is a need for balance in the level of seniority represented among members of a study section. Too many senior-level reviewers are just as problematic as too few.
Right on. And too few junior reviewers are as problematic as too many....what? Where is that statement? Not to be seen...
So why do we have diversity requirements if not to make things *fairer* for all applicants? What would be the point of requiring a diversity of reviewer backgrounds, perspectives, seniority, geography, etc, if not to ensure fairness through the competition of biases? hmm?
So why would one suspect class of applicant be overtly and intentionally excluded? The NIH made a lot of noise recently about purging assistant professors off the panels. Their justification for doing so was almost entirely unstated and for damn sure free of any backing data.