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Funding Opportunities and Proposal-Writing Strategies for Social and Behavioral Science Research at the National Science

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  1. Funding Opportunities and Proposal-Writing Strategies for Social and Behavioral Science Research at the National Science Foundation Thomas J. Baerwald Senior Science AdvisorDivision of Behavioral and Cognitive SciencesFebruary 8, 2013

  2. NSF Is an Independent Agency of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government Cabinet Departments Independent Agencies

  3. The NSF Mission • To promote the progress of science • To advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare • To secure the national defense NSF envisions a nation that capitalizes on new concepts in science and engineering and provides global leadership in advancing research and education. The NSF Vision

  4. Strategic and Performance Goals - 1 • Transform the Frontiers emphasizes the seamless integration of research and education as well as the close coupling of research infrastructure and discovery. • Make investments that lead to emerging new fields of science and engineering and shifts in existing fields. • Prepare and engage a diverse STEM workforce motivated to participate at the frontiers. • Keep the United States globally competitive at the frontiers of knowledge by increasing international partnerships and collaborations. • Enhance research infrastructure and promote data access to support researchers' and educators' capabilities and enable transformation at the frontiers.

  5. Strategic and Performance Goals - 2 • Innovate for Society points to the tight linkage between NSF programs and societal needs, and it highlights the role that new knowledge and creativity play in economic prosperity and society's general welfare. • Make investments that lead to results and resources that are useful to society. • Build the capacity of the nation's citizenry for addressing societal challenges through science and engineering. • Support the development of innovative learning systems.

  6. Strategic and Performance Goals - 3 • Perform as a Model Organization emphasizes the importance to NSF of attaining excellence and inclusion in all operational aspects. • Achieve management excellence through leadership, accountability, and personal responsibility. • Infuse learning as an essential element of the NSF culture with emphasis on professional development and personal growth. • Encourage and sustain a culture of creativity and innovation across the agency to ensure continuous improvement and achieve high levels of customer service.

  7. NSF Is a Science Management Agency } Scientists and institutions responding to broad civilian scientific needs of the nation 50,000 Annual Competitive Proposals 1,200 full-time employees 7,000 people inadvisory groups 250,000 reviews (50,000 reviewers) About 12,000 new competitive awards plus another roughly 10,000 continuing award actions that obligate about $7.0 billion annually for academic, industrial, non-profit, governmental recipients.

  8. NSF Is Divided into Directorates National Science Board Director Deputy Director Staff Offices Computer and Education Biological Information Engineering Geosciences and Human Sciences Science and Resources Engineering Mathematical and Social, Behavioral, Budget, Finance, Information Physical Sciences and Economic and Award and Resource Sciences Management Management

  9. Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences National Centerfor Science andEngineering Statistics Social and Economic Sciences Directorates Are Divided into Divisions,and Divisions Are Divided into Programs SBE Multidisciplinary Activities Geography and Spatial Sciences Anthropology programs Psychology and linguistics programs Economics Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics Sociology Political Science Law and Social Science Science, Technology, and Society

  10. Much of NSF’s Funding Goes to Support Basic Research What is basic research? “It’s like true love!” You can’t really define it,but you know it when it’s there.

  11. Let’s Try to DescribeBasic Research Anyway... • Basic scientific research is grounded in a broader theoretical framework. • It focuses on one or a few questions grounded in that broader framework. • It uses scientifically sound approaches to assess the viability of answers to those questions. • Its focused results also contribute to enhancement of broader theoretical knowledge.

  12. As a result... • Basic scientific research contributes to general understanding. • It’s research that’s well grounded in a general theoretical framework or that generates development of new frameworks. • It’s research that’s valuable even if we don’t care about its specific findings or applications. • It’s research that often increases our knowledge of how we expand our knowledge

  13. Basic "vs." Applied Research • It's not "either/or." • Basic research results often have great direct and indirect utility and applicability. • But at its core, basic research is first and foremost about broader theoretical development, not the focused application of specific research results. • Analysis and synthesis are favored over prescription.

  14. What NSF Supports NSF does NOT support applied research, such as: • Clinical research • Counseling • Business • Management • Social work • Planning • Legal training • Practice-oriented professional degree programs NSF supports basic research across all fields of science, including: • Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences • Social and Economic Sciences • Geographic and Anthropological Sciences • Chemical sciences • Computer and information science • Engineering • Geosciences • Biological sciences • Mathematical sciences • Physics and astronomy

  15. How Do You Gain Accessto Some of NSF’s Funds? • Submit a proposal to compete in one of the standing program competitions for “unsolicited proposals.” • Submit a proposal for a special competition.

  16. Social, Behavioral, and Economic Science Programs Interdisciplinary programs: • Cognitive Neuroscience • Developmental and Learning Sciences • Perception, Action, and Cognition • Geography and Spatial Sciences • Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences • Science of Science and Innovation Policy • Science of Organizations • Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics • Science, Technology, and Society • Law and Social Sciences Disciplinary programs: • Cultural Anthropology • Biological Anthropology • Archaeology • Linguistics • Documenting Endangered Languages • Social Psychology • Economics • Sociology • Political Science

  17. Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences • Archaeology • Biological Anthropology • Cultural Anthropology • Geography and Spatial Sciences • Linguistics • Social Psychology • Perception, Action, and Cognition • Developmental and Learning Sciences • Cognitive Neuroscience

  18. Division of Social andEconomic Sciences • Economics • Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences • Science of Organizations • Sociology • Political Science • Law and Social Science • Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics • Science, Technology, and Society • Science of Science and Innovation Policy*

  19. SBE Research in the Federal Context A report from the National Science and Technology Council Signed in January 2009 Distributed in April 2009 http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/prospectus_v10_3_17_09.pdf

  20. SBE 2020 Is Providing Guidance • Community-driven visioning exercise found interest in SBE sciences to be high • Argued that future SBE research will be: • Interdisciplinary • Data-intensive • Collaborative http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2011/nsf11086/nsf11086.pdf

  21. Other SBE 2020 Recommendations • Four major topic areas were identified as having special potential from among those discussed: • Population change • Sources of disparities • Communication, language, and linguistics • Technology, new media, and social networks

  22. SBE Developmental Activities • NSF/SBE will continue to explore new ideas in the future, concentrating over the next five years on more focused planning activities to: • Strengthen the ability of the NSF/SBE to support interdisciplinary research, develop human capacities, and build out the data and organizational infrastructure • Consider approaches required to shift resources to relevant priorities

  23. In Addition to Its Standing Programs, NSF Has ManySpecial Funding Opportunities Check the NSF Web site for more information or contact relevant program officers SEES WSC ADVANCE EGB IGERT RCN Minority RPGs/CAAs CAREER RAPID EAGER PECASE SciSIP ITR EaSM CI-TEAM SBIR EPSCoR RUI/ROA SRN REU GOALI CNH GK-12 NANO TUES CDI

  24. Some Special Competitions in Which SBE Actively Participates Within SBE • Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Sciences (IBSS) • Building Community and Capacity for Data-Intensive Research in the SBE Sciences and in Education and Human Resources (BCC-SBE/EHR) • SBE Postdoctoral Research Fellowships • SBE Research Experiences for Undergraduates Sites (SBE REU Sites)

  25. Some Special Competitions in Which SBE Actively Participates Within SBE - Dear Colleague Letters • Stimulating Research Related to the Science of Broadening Participation • Interdisciplinary Research Across the SBE Sciences • Workshop for Engaging SBE Scientists Through Social and Policy Entrepreneurship

  26. Some Special Competitions in Which SBE Actively Participates - Beyond SBE - 1 • Environmentally oriented competitions • Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) • Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) • Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability competitions • Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) • Research Coordination Networks (SEES-RCN) • Coastal SEES • Hazard SEES • Arctic SEES • SEES Fellows

  27. Some Special Competitions in Which SBE Actively Participates - Beyond SBE - 2 • Cyberinfrastructure-oriented competitions • Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering (BIGDATA) • Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) • Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) • Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) • Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships (IGERT)

  28. Funding Mechanisms That May Be Used by SBE Programs • Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) awards • Faculty Early-Career Development (CAREER) awards • Research Coordination Networks (RCNs) • Rapid-Response Research (RAPID) awards • Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) • Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE) awards

  29. Learn About Program(s)and/or Competitions(s) • Look at the program/competition website (accessible via www.nsf.gov). • Read the program description, announcement, or solicitation. • Follow links or use the "Search Awards" function to view past awards. • Prepare a ~1-page prospectus to share with program officers months before due dates.

  30. Identifying the Best Program(s) or Competitions(s) for Your Research • Focus on theory • In which communities is your theoretical framework drawn? • To which communities will it contribute? • Consider where you will publish results • Which journals will disseminate your findings? • Who are the researchers who read those journals? • "Map" communities and readers onto NSF programs/competitions to identify the best fit. • Many NSF programs co-review proposals.

  31. Advance Warning of Special Opportunities Often Comes in Budget Requests

  32. FY13 Request Major Emphases - 1 • Fostering the development of a clean energy economy. • Supporting future job creation through advanced manufacturing and emerging technologies. • Protecting critical infrastructure. • Promoting multidisciplinary research in new materials, wireless communications, cyberinfrastructure, and robotics.

  33. FY13 Request Major Emphases - 2 • Developing the next generation of scientific leaders through support for graduate fellowships and early-career faculty. • Advancing evidence-based reforms in science and mathematics education.

  34. Strategies for Preparing Proposals for NSF • Remember that NSF focuses on support for basic scientific research. • Funding occurs through competitions with proposals subject to merit evaluation based on peer review. • Allow plenty of time to learn about competitions, draft and revised proposals, and submit proposals before deadlines.

  35. What Is the Crucial Ratiofor a Program Officer? $ “Bang for the Buck!”

  36. What Kind of “Bang” Is an NSF Program Officer Looking For? • Significant contributions to general scientific understandings. • Enhancements of theoretical understandings in addition to any expansion of specific knowledge, especially potentially transformative advances. • Broader impacts, such as enhanced education, greater diversity, improved infrastructure or methods, and beneficial applications. • Dissemination of results, especially in refereed, widely disseminated publications.

  37. So What Is the Crucial Ratiofor a Program Officer? $ “Potential Bang for the Buck!” LikelihoodofSignificantContributions to GeneralScientific Understanding andPositive BroaderImpacts

  38. Decisions Will Be Based onNSF Merit Review Criteria NSF asks reviewers to comment on two major criteria: • Intellectual merit • Broader impacts Be aware that NSF merit review criteria recently have been redefined. http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf13001/gpg_3.jsp#IIIA

  39. New Merit Review Principles • NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge. • NSF projects… should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF-funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics. The principles should be considered when preparing and reviewing proposals.

  40. Merit Review Criteria • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge. • Broader Impacts. The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

  41. Examples of Broader Impacts • Full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) • Development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce • Improved STEM education and educator development at any level • Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology • Improved well-being of individuals in society • Increased partnerships among academia, industry, and others • Improved national security • Increased economic competitiveness of the United States • Enhanced infrastructure for research and education

  42. Caveats re: Broader Impacts • Investigators should focus on identifying broader impacts that relate to their research and that can be completed and evaluated successfully. • NSF expects impacts in proportion to the size of the project.

  43. Elements for Consideration for Both IM and BI Criteria - 1 Criteria related to capabilitiesto conducta project successfully: • How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities? • Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

  44. Elements for Consideration for Both IM and BI Criteria - 2 Criterion related to how a project will be conducted: • Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?

  45. Elements for Consideration for Both IM and BI Criteria - 3 Criteria related to the potential benefits of a project: • What is the potential for the proposed activity to: • Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (IM)? • Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (BI)? • To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?

  46. Potentially Transformative Research “Transformative research is defined as research driven by ideas that have the potential to radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering concept or leading to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science or engineering. Such research also is characterized by its challenge to current understanding or its pathway to new frontiers.” (National Science Board)

  47. Another Perspective onPotentially Transformative Research The Isserman Curve CumulativeKnowledge E D C B A Projects/Time

  48. Program-Specific Review Criteria • What is the expected larger-scale, longer-term significance of the project (as described in the proposal) if the project is conducted successfully? • What is the likelihood that the project (as described in the proposal) will be conducted successfully?

  49. NSF Merit Review Criteria Summary • Overarching principles • Highest quality; Contribute to society; Meaningful assessment and evaluation • Merit review criteria: • Intellectual merit; Broader impacts • Elements considered for both criteria: • Capabilities; Conduct;Potential benefits • Address program-/competition-specific criteria (if applicable)

  50. What’s Included in a Competitive NSF Research Proposal? • An explanation of the theoretical framework within which the research question is set. • Specification of the methods to be used to answer the question. • Elaboration of how expected results will enhance the broader theoretical framework and have positive broader impacts. • Biographical information about investigators. • A data-management plan and other required materials. • A budget with justification of expenses.