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NSF Research Proposal Review Guidelines
Criterion 1: What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.)
Criterion 1: What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?
Criterion 2: What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups?
Criterion 2: What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?
Note: NSF gives careful consideration to: Integration of Research and Education Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities in NSF funding decisions.
What Makes for a Good Review? Write to both criteria – Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact – but note that they need not be weighted equally. Be as detailed as possible (within reason) and support your arguments. Give constructive feedback Make sure your written review is congruent with the summary rating you assign.
What makes for a good review? For proposals not in your exact area of expertise, not which areas that are the subject of your narrative review and summary rating. Consider the “totality” and “balance” of the criteria – for example, an important research question or problem is not sufficient if the work contains methodological and design flaws; a finely designed study is not sufficient if there will be little impact.
NSF Proposal Rating Scale Excellent: Outstanding proposal in all respects; deserves highest priority for support. Very good: High quality proposal in nearly all respects; should be supported if at all possible. Good: A quality proposal, worthy of support. Fair: Proposal lacking in one or more critical aspects; key issues need to be addressed. Poor: Proposal has serious deficiencies.
Writing a good panel summary Summarize the main points of the reviewers (not necessary to repeat individual reviews) Reflect the total discussion (especially points not covered in the written reviews) Explicitly address both review criteria Give constructive feedback and specific guidance Aim for about three to five paragraphs
Writing a good panel summary Stick to the main points, but discuss them in some detail Do not list names of panelists or other information that would reveal their identities Seek input and approval of draft summary from the other reviewers
Principles of Inquiry Pose significant questions that can be investigated Link research to relevant theory Use methods that permit study of the question Provide a coherent and explicity chain or reasoning Explain how data will be analyzed Discuss dissemination National Research Council (2001) Scientific Inquiry in Education. National Academy Press (www.nap.edu)
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