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FastLane-Related Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) FAQs - Effective January 14, 2013

  1. In a nutshell, what changes will I see in FastLane on January 14th based on the PAPPG changes?
  2. How will the new FastLane Project Summary format work?
  3. To what types of proposals do the Project Summary requirements apply?
  4. Are there character limits for each text box in the Project Summary?
  5. Is there a character limit for the Project Summary?
  6. Instead of using the three text boxes can I upload a document?
  7. If my Project Summary contains special characters, can I upload three documents, one for each Project Summary component?
  8. If I upload a PDF will the system read the total characters contained in the document?
  9. If my Project Summary contains special characters, do I need to enter anything in the text boxes on the Project Summary page in FastLane?
  10. Can I enter text on the Project Summary page AND upload a Project Summary with Special Characters?
  11. Where will the Project Summary with Special Characters appear?
  12. I am in the process of working on a proposal whose deadline is after January 14, 2013. Will I lose any of the text that I entered on the Project Summary page?
  13. I am responding to a Program Solicitation whose deadline is January 30, 2013, but I plan to submit by mid-December, and FastLane will not allow me to enter text in three separate text boxes. What do I do?
  14. I do not have anything to enter for one of the following text boxes on the Project Summary Page: "Overview", "Statement on Intellectual Merit", and "Statement on Broader Impacts". Will FastLane let me submit?
  15. How should proposers format the Project Summary if they submit prior to January 14th, but the proposal is due January 14th or later?
  16. If I attach a Word document for the Project Summary, what will happen to it on January 14th?
  17. I am trying to submit a proposal for a Postdoctoral Fellowship. Do I need to submit a Project Summary?
  18. When will the review form change?
  19. If I am in the process of conducting a review and will not have it completed prior to January 14, 2013, what will happen to my review after January 14th?
  20. Is any action required on my part for in-progress reviews?
  21. I am in the process of working on a proposal whose deadline is after January 14, 2013. Will I lose any of the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources information that I entered on the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources page?
  22. Will there be a demonstration site on FastLane to show how the Project Summary and Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources will work prior to the January 14, 2013 effective date?
  23. Will there be an opportunity for organizations to resubmit if a part of the proposal is missing?

Summary of FastLane changes

1. In a nutshell, what changes will I see in FastLane on January 14th based on the PAPPG changes?

Changes will be reflected in multiple areas of the system based on the PAPPG changes as follows:

  • In lieu of one text box, the Project Summary will now have three text boxes to address "Overview", statement on “Intellectual Merit", and statement on "Broader Impacts".
  • The Project Summary can only be uploaded as a pdf file if it contains special characters, and the corresponding box on the Project Summary page in FastLane has been checked.
  • A limit of 1 page will be enforced for the Project Summary.
  • FastLane will not accept a proposal without a Project Summary.
  • Four additional proposal certifications have been introduced as part of the Cover Sheet.
  • The Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources form must be uploaded. A text box will no longer be available. The format of the form also has been revised.
  • Proposal and Panel Review forms will now have an additional question to address strengths and weaknesses of the proposal with respect to any additional solicitation-specific review criteria.

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Project Summary-related changes

2. How will the new FastLane Project Summary format work?

Proposals will be required to contain a Project Summary that includes an overview, a statement on Intellectual Merit, and a statement on Broader Impacts. As of January 14, 2013, the FastLane Project Summary format will include three text boxes (Overview, Intellectual Merit, & Broader Impacts) that must be completed prior to proposal submission. If use of special characters is necessary, the proposer must check a box on the Project Summary page and upload the Project Summary as a Supplementary Document. A new category of Supplementary Document has been created for this purpose: Project Summary with Special Characters.

If information is not entered into all three text boxes on the Project Summary page, or if a Project Summary with Special Characters is not uploaded, FastLane will not accept the proposal.

3. To what types of proposals do the Project Summary requirements apply?

The Project Summary requirements apply to full proposals, postdoctoral fellowships, and SBIR/STTR proposals.

4. Are there character limits for each text box in the Project Summary?

There is no character limit established for each text box, but the aggregate of the three text boxes cannot exceed 4,600 characters. The maximum number of lines that the proposer may include on a page is 51. Information must be entered in each of the three text boxes for FastLane to allow submission of the Project Summary.

In the following example, there are 333 characters (including spaces) and 8 lines (including blank lines between paragraphs):

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

5. Is there a character limit for the Project Summary?

The total character count of the "Overview", statement on “Intellectual Merit", and statement on “Broader Impacts" text boxes cannot exceed 4,600 (including spaces). The total number of lines entered for the three text boxes cannot exceed 51 (including blank lines between paragraphs). However, there is no limit on the characters that can be entered per box. The 4,600 character limit and 51 line limit for the Project Summary are to ensure that the document meets the one-page limit.

6. Instead of using the three text boxes can I upload a document?

You can upload a Project Summary only if it contains special characters. Most proposers will not need to use special characters, e.g., mathematical symbols or Greek letters, in their Project Summary.

If you upload a Project Summary containing special characters, you must select the check box on the Project Summary page stating you will do so and upload the document on the Supplementary Documents page.

7. If my Project Summary contains special characters, can I upload three documents, one for each Project Summary component?

No. Only one file, no more than one page in length, can be uploaded as the Project Summary with Special Characters. It must include an Overview and statements on Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts.

8. If I upload a PDF will the system read the total characters contained in the document?

No. FastLane will only consider whether the file exceeds the one-page limit. The system will not count the number of characters within the Project Summary with Special Characters document.

9. If my Project Summary contains special characters, do I need to enter anything in the text boxes on the Project Summary page in FastLane?

No. The system requires a Project Summary to be entered as text on the Project Summary page OR uploaded as a Project Summary with Special Characters pdf file under the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal. If you choose to upload a Project Summary with Special Characters, you must select the check box on the Project Summary page stating that you will upload the Project Summary as a Supplementary Document. If you select the checkbox and upload the document, you do not need to enter anything in the text boxes on the Project Summary page.

10. Can I enter text on the Project Summary page AND upload a Project Summary with Special Characters?

No. If a PI enters information on the Project Summary page and uploads a Project Summary with Special Characters during proposal preparation, FastLane will allow both to be saved by the PI preparing the proposal. However, an error message will appear when the PI saves the proposal. Upon submission, FastLane will not accept a proposal with textboxes completed on the Project Summary page and an uploaded Project Summary with Special Characters. The system requires one OR the other at the time of submission.

11. Where will the Project Summary with Special Characters appear?

A saved Project Summary with Special Characters will appear as a separate document under the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal. While viewing the printed version, however, it will appear in the place of the Project Summary.

12. I am in the process of working on a proposal whose deadline is after January 14, 2013. Will I lose any of the text that I entered on the Project Summary page?

No, your text will not be lost. If you enter text in the Project Summary text box prior to January 14, 2013, this text will appear in the “Overview” text box. On or after January 14, 2013, the system also will require you to enter text in the statement on "Intellectual Merit", and statement on "Broader Impacts" text boxes.

If you uploaded a Project Summary prior to January 14, 2013, but do not submit the proposal until after January 14th, the file upload will be available as a Project Summary with Special Characters. For these proposals, NSF’s Division of Information Systems will check the box for you on the Project Summary page.

13. I am responding to a Program Solicitation whose deadline is January 30, 2013, but I plan to submit by mid-December 2012, and FastLane will not allow me to enter text in three separate text boxes. What should I do?

For proposals prepared and submitted prior to January 14, 2013, but due after January 14, 2013: If you prepare and submit your proposal before January 14, 2013, and the deadline is after January 14th, you may upload a Project Summary and must ensure that the Overview, statement on Intellectual Merit and statement on Broader Impacts components are clearly addressed.

For proposals prepared before January 14, 2013, but submitted and due after January 14, 2013: If you start preparing your application prior to January 14, 2013, plan to submit after January 14, 2013, and enter text for the Project Summary, the text will be available in the "Overview" text box. After January 14, 2013, FastLane also will require you to enter text in the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact text boxes.

If you start preparing your application prior to January 14, 2013, plan to submit after January 14, 2013, and have uploaded a Project Summary, the Project Summary will automatically be moved to the Project Summary with Special Characters section on the Supplementary Documents page.

Please refer to Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II.C.2.b for Project Summary requirements for your proposal.

14. I do not have anything to enter for one of the following text boxes on the Project Summary Page: "Overview", statement on “Intellectual Merit", and statement on “Broader Impacts". Will FastLane let me submit?

No. You must enter text in all three text boxes on the Project Summary page, or FastLane will not permit submission of the proposal.

15. How should proposers format the Project Summary if they submit prior to January 14th, but the proposal is due January 14th or later?

You must adhere to the January 2013 Grant Proposal Guide requirements that specify that you must separately address the Overview, Intellectual Merit, and Broader Impacts of the proposal in the Project Summary. Please refer to Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II.C.2.b.

16. If I attach a Word document for the Project Summary, what will happen to it on January 14th?

Please refer to Question 12 above for how uploads will be handled.

17. I am trying to submit a proposal for a Postdoctoral Fellowship. Do I need to submit a Project Summary?

Refer to the applicable Postdoctoral Fellowship program solicitation, as it may contain specific requirements for the Project Summary.

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Panel/Proposal Review form changes

18. When will the review form change?

The review form will be updated on January 14th, 2013.

19. If I am in the process of conducting a review and will not have it completed prior to January 14, 2013, what will happen to my review after January 14th?

For all reviews which are in process and not submitted prior to January 14, 2013, the following changes will occur:

  • Question #1 titled "What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?" will be reworded to "In the context of the five review elements, please evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal with respect to intellectual merit."
  • Question #2 titled "What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?" will be reworded to "In the context of the five review elements, please evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal with respect to broader impacts."
  • A new question (Question #3) will be inserted titled, "Please evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal with respect to any additional solicitation-specific review criteria, if applicable."
  • The "Summary Statement" will remain the same.

20. Is any action required on my part for in-progress reviews?

Yes. Due to a technical constraint, text in the “Summary Statement” will be copied into Question #3 and not moved directly into the “Summary Statement”. Prior to submission, reviewers are requested to edit their review and move this text from Question #3 to the “Summary Statement” if applicable.

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Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources changes

21. I am in the process of working on a proposal whose deadline is after January 14, 2013. Will I lose any of the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources information that I entered on the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources page?

It depends on what method you plan to use to provide this information:

File Upload

If a file was uploaded on the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources page prior to January 14, 2013, then the uploaded file will be available after January 14, 2013.

Text Entered

If text was entered on the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources page prior to January 14, 2013, but the proposal is not submitted until on or after January 14, then the entered text WILL NO LONGER be available after January 14, 2013. You will need to upload a new Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources document.

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Other

22. Will there be a demonstration site on FastLane to show how the Project Summary and Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources will work prior to the January 14, 2013 effective date?

No. The FastLane demonstration site will be updated the week after January 14, 2013.

23. Will there be an opportunity for organizations to resubmit if a part of the proposal is missing?

Please contact a cognizant Program Officer in the Program to which you are applying with any questions.

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