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The Review Process

The Review Process. What happens to your proposal Two Review Criteria. Returned Without Review/Withdrawn. NSF Proposal & Award Process & Timeline. NSF Announces Opportunity. Award. Via DGA. N S F. MERIT REVIEW. Institution submits via FastLane or Grants.gov. Prog. Off. Anal.

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The Review Process

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  1. The Review Process • What happens to your proposal • Two Review Criteria

  2. Returned Without Review/Withdrawn NSF Proposal & Award Process & Timeline NSF Announces Opportunity Award Via DGA N S F MERIT REVIEW Institution submits via FastLane or Grants.gov Prog. Off. Anal. & Recom. Mail Div PO Staff DD Concur Panel Both Organization Research & Education Communities Decline Proposal Receipt at NSF DD Concur Award 90 Days 6 Months 30 Days Proposal Receipt to Division Director Concurrence of Program Officer Recommendation Proposal Preparation Time DGA Review & Processing of Award

  3. Merit Review Criteria • Criterion 1:What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? • Creativity and originality of ideas • Qualifications of investigators • Access to resources • Established expertise or expert collaborations • Criterion 2: What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? • Potential to advance field (transformative) • Participation of underrepresented groups • Benefits to society

  4. NSF Panel Review(most research divisions) • Advisory panel ~ 6-20 people • Proposals receive at least 3 reviews • Each reviewer describes his/her views of the proposal to the rest of the panel • The panel as a whole then discusses proposal • The proposal is placed in funding recommendation category (e.g. Fund, Fund if Possible, Do not fund)

  5. Preparing Competitive Proposal • Helpful tips • What to do if declined • How funding decisions are made

  6. Tip #1. Do your homework • Read the Program announcement/solicitation • Understand goals, eligibility, requirements • Research or teaching? • Become familiar with program • Serve as a reviewer (ad hoc or on a panel) • Examine prior NSF awards in similar areas • Read successful proposals • Talk with people: • Program Officers • Current or former “rotators”

  7. Tip #2. Write well • Start early (write and rewrite) • Get critiques from: • Mentors/colleagues • Previous members of review panels • Be aware of the scope: • “Too ambitious” vs. “Too narrow” • Be honest and up-front: • Address issues instead of trying to hide them • Acknowledge possible experimental problems and have alternatives

  8. Tip #2. Write well . . . • Convince reviewers that your proposal is THE one to support. • Comments you want to hear…. • “I wish I could be as productive and as creative as this PI” • “If you can fund only one proposal in this area, this is it!” • “Wow!”

  9. Tip #2. Write well . . .Comments you do not want to see…. • “Reading this proposal was a sheer torture.” • “This one puts me to sleep every night!” • “My freshman students know better.” • “This PI wants to mow an old lawn, without a problem, originality, or track record of winning races.” • ”No way!”

  10. Tip #3. Anticipate reviewer comments • Do not assume reviewer knows what you are thinking • Simplify and streamline • Make sure you get your overall idea across! • Pay attention to details: • Run “spell check” and proof-read • Prepare clear photos, graphs, etc. • Use allowed font size • Be aware of reviewer fatigue

  11. If you have to resubmit. . . • Stay calm! • Take ten… breaths, hours, days • Examine the criticisms carefully • Contact your program director • Email, call, or visit • Find out how to improve proposal • Include a ‘Response to Reviewer Comments’ section in the resubmission

  12. How Funding Decisions are Made Program Director makes recommendations to the Division Director based on: • Advice of the panel • Budgetary constraints • Other programmatic considerations – • geographic distribution • type of institution • PI demographics • potential high payoff

  13. Some insights • What determines funding chances? • Reviews • Panel discussion • NSF and Program Priorities • Contact your program director • Cultures, practices, and funding priorities vary across NSF • e-mail, call, or visit • Volunteer to review proposals

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