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Merit Review and Proposal Preparation Mark Courtney Division of Environmental Biology email@example.com
The NSF Merit Review Process
Research & Education Communities Proposal Preparation Time Org. submits via FastLane N S F Program. Office NSF Program. Office Program Office Analysis & Recomm. Program Office Analysis & Recomm. DD Concur DD Concur Via DGA Via DGA Organization Min. 3 Revs. Req. DGA Review & Processing of Award Proposal Receipt to Division Director Concurrence of Program Officer Recommendation GPG Announcement Solicitation GPG Announcement Solicitation NSF Announces Opportunity Returned Without Review/Withdrawn Mail Panel Both Award NSF Proposal & Award Process & Timeline Decline 90 Days6 Months 30 Days Proposal Receipt at NSF DD Concur Award
NSF Merit Review Criteria NSB Approved Criteria include: Intellectual Merit Broader Impacts of the Proposed Effort
Proposal Review Criterion: Intellectual Merit Potential to advance knowledge and understanding within and across fields Qualifications of investigators Creativity and originality Conceptualization and organization Access to resources
Proposal Review Criterion: Broader Impact Advances discovery while promoting teaching, training and learning Broadens the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.) Enhances the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks and partnerships Results disseminated broadly Potential benefits to society
NSF Merit Review Criteria Any proposal that does NOT address both merit criteria in the Project Summary will be RETURNED WITHOUT REVIEW.
Return Without Review Does not meet NSF proposal preparation requirements, such as page limitations, formatting, etc. Is inappropriate for funding by the NSF Is not responsive to the GPG or program announcement or solicitation Does not meet an announced proposal deadline date Is submitted with insufficient lead-time to a target date Is a duplicate of, or substantially similar to, a proposal already under consideration Was previously reviewed and declined and has not been substantially revised.
NSF Sources of Reviewers Program Officer’s knowledge of what is being done and who’s doing what in the research area References listed in proposal Recent technical programs from professional societies Recent authors in Scientific and Engineering journals Reviewer recommendations Investigator’s suggestions Volunteers to Program Officer
Reasons For Funding A Competitive Proposal Likely high impact PI Career Point (tenured/“established”/ “beginning”) Place in Program Portfolio Other Support for PI Impact on Institution/State Special Programmatic Considerations (CAREER/RUI/EPSCoR) Diversity Educational Impact “Launching” versus “Maintaining”
Funded! Conceptualize Declined Try again What next? Write The Proposal Cycle & Revise
Summary A good proposal is a good idea, well expressed, with a clear indication of methods for pursuing the idea, evaluating the findings, making them known to all who need to know, and indicating the broader impacts of the activity.
Call Your Program Director!
Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) Provides guidance for preparation of proposals Describes process -- and criteria --by which proposals will be reviewed Describes process for withdrawals, returns and declinations Describes the award process and procedures for requesting continued support Identifies significant grant administrative highlights
What to Look for in a Program Announcement goal of program eligibility special requirements
Types of Proposal Submission No deadlines Deadlines Target dates Submission Windows Preliminary proposals
A Good Proposal A good proposal is a good idea, well expressed, with a clear indication of methods for pursuing the idea, evaluating the findings, and making them known to all who need to know. A Competitive Proposal is… All of the above Appropriate for the Program Responsive to the Program Announcement
What Makes a Proposal Competitive? Likely high impact New and original ideas Succinct, focused project plan Knowledge of subject area or published, relevant work Experience in essential methodology Clarity concerning future direction Sound scientific rationale Realistic amount of work Sufficient detail Critical approach
Budgetary Guidelines Amounts Reasonable for work - Realistic Well justified - Needs established In-line with program guidelines Eligible costs Personnel Equipment Travel Participant Support Other Direct Costs (including subawards, consultant services, computer services, publication costs)
Talk to your Program Director! Simple tips for a better proposal Follow formatting requirements carefully (Use eligible fonts as in GPG) Compliance check before submitting (FastLane won’t do it for you!) Be available by email to fix compliance problems (proposals may be returned if NSF can’t contact you) Suggest reviewers Include all conflicts of interest in your CV Respond explicitly to previous reviews (Panels are asked to comment on this) Emphasize readability; avoid verbiage
Advice Learn to love rejection Contact the program officer with specific questions Revise and resubmit Collaboration is good, if appropriate Discover alternative funding sources
Myths about NSF Only funds researchers from elite institutions Once declined…always declined Only funds “normal” science Advisory committees make funding decisions
Do’s and Don’ts Talk to your Program Officer Less verbiage, more readability Anticipate objections or criticisms Justify your budget Don’t be greedy Follow the rules Give yourself plenty of time Study reviews carefully
Ask Us Early, Ask Us Often!! The Prime Directive
Merit Review and Proposal Preparation QUESTIONS? Mark Courtney Division of Environmental Biology firstname.lastname@example.org
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