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National Science Foundation
International Polar Year
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NSF IPY program information
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Dear Colleague Letter for the International Polar Year (NSF 07-008)
International Polar Year solicitation, 2007 (NSF 07-536)
Frequently Asked Questions — Submitting proposals to International Polar Year (IPY), 2007 solicitation (NSF 07-536)
NSF IPY Program Contacts
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NSF-wide Investment: IPY 2007 budget request
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U.S. Launches International Polar Year on 26 February (webcast)
NSF IPY awards press release
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U.S. Committee to the International Polar Year, 2007-2008
International Scientific Council (ICSU) International Polar Year Planning Committee
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NSF 07-27, 15 March 2007
Frequently Asked Questions —

Submitting proposals to International Polar Year (IPY), 2007 solicitation (NSF 07-536)

Pertinent information from the International Polar Year solicitation for 2007 (NSF 07-536) and other NSF documents is included after the answer


  • Are researchers applying to the "Humans in the Polar Regions" subtopic restricted to applying only at the September 14, 2007, deadline.

  • No, researchers submitting under this subtopic are welcome to apply by either or both (March 16 and September 14, 2007) deadlines.


  • I'm trying to complete my cover page. Why do I get an error message when I try to select either EHR or OPP as a Directorate?


  • This is due to a software glitch that generates the message. Our FastLane programmers are working to correct it, but in the meantime, for all IPY proposals, disregard the message, move to the next step, and choose the appropriate subtopic that describes your research area. You may also work on other sections of the proposal, and then come back to the cover page just before submitting.


  • What is the maximum award amount and what is the award period?


  • Award size and duration are not pre-defined but are expected to be for 3 years on average. The third year may be ramped down in scope and budget and is frequently considered as a year for data synthesis and refinement. Awards will range up to $1 million, but larger awards may be considered for those projects that have been identified as exceptionally worthy of larger investment. The majority of NSF IPY awards made under this solicitation will end by 2010.


  • Is there a target date or a "hard and fast" deadline?


  • There is a deadline for this solicitation, which is March 16, 2007. In the unique case of the subtopic "Humans in the Polar Regions," there are two deadlines, one on March 16, 2007 and one on September 14, 2007. All other proposals must be received by 5 p.m. submitter's local time, on the March 16 deadline.


  • I have four foreign collaborators. Does this mean I get to have 3 extra pages for my Project Description?


  • No, your international collaborators shouldn't be included as "collaborative institutions" in the sense of the NSF budget and proposal preparation because they are not U.S. institutions. The extra pages are allowed to provide room for descriptions of prior work (a single award that is most relevant for each PI). Results of prior work are a part of the proposal text and you can use as many pages, within the allotted 15 (plus 1 page for each collaborating U.S. institute over 2), to do this.

Collaborative proposals:

"Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. Chapter II, Section D.3 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals."

Page limit:

"The normal 15-page limit for the Project Description specified in the GPG and the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide will be strictly enforced. However, collaborative proposals with three or more organizations may add one page to the Project Description for each organization beyond the first two in order to accommodate a description of prior work supported by NSF. Please note that the GPG limits reporting on prior support to a single award most closely related to the proposal. See page 22 of the Grant Proposals Guide (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/nsf04_23/nsf04_23.pdf) for more information.”


  • What does an international collaboration entail?


  • Successful international projects include those with substantive intellectual contributions from foreign collaborators who bring unique capabilities to the IPY activity.

"Proposals that include strong international collaborations will be given a higher priority for funding...  (Note: this is different from a "collaborative proposal"). Active participation of U.S. researchers and educators in IPY projects is highly encouraged, as is the involvement of U.S. researchers and educators in IPY-related research/education in international settings…Awards made through this program will support the U.S.-based participants. Collaborators in institutions outside the U.S. must seek funding from their respective funding organizations. Proposals must explicitly address how the proposed activity will have greater impact because of its international connections.

International activities will be evaluated on the value that they add to the domestic research proposed and to the overall goals of IPY. Researchers and educators who develop international collaborations should describe the relative roles and contributions of U.S. and foreign participants in their project descriptions. Budgets should include all relevant costs associated with the U.S. part of the collaboration, including travel costs associated with work at the foreign collaborator’s institution, and costs for students and/or teachers to travel overseas for short or extended visits in foreign laboratories or schools.

Proposals that involve international collaborations must also include the following documentation in the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal:

  1. letters from the international collaborators documenting their agreement to collaborate on the proposed projects and their roles in the proposed work;
  2. foreign collaborators’ biographical sketches (CVs); and
  3. contact information for the governmental organizations from which corresponding support is anticipated."


  • How do I make sure reviewers understand my connection to IPY? Do I need to be part of the international list at www.ipy.org (i.e., the IPY “honeycomb”)


  • You must explicitly describe the project’s relevance to IPY in your project summary and in the project description. No, you do not need to be included in the International IPY Programme Office (IPY-IPO) list of projects to be considered for NSF IPY funding. However, communication with the IPY-IPO about your project is encouraged and may help in building some international connections.

"Relevance to IPY:

All proposals must explicitly address the project’s relevance to the IPY. This relevance must be included as a separate statement in the Project Summary and developed as an integral part of the Project Description. Proposals that fail to address IPY relevance in both sections of the proposal will be returned without review. Proposers should consult the Additional Review Criteria in Section VI.A: “Proposal Review Information” for guidance regarding IPY relevance for research proposals. That section also describes the additional review criteria for education proposals, which should be addressed in the Project Description of proposals for education projects."


  • How limited are the topical areas for proposals? Does my proposal have to address one of the given set of topics?


  • The emphasis area of "Understanding Change..." was intended to address the specific research goals of the topics listed under that subsection, but the topics are worded to allow multi- and/or interdisciplinary approaches to each. Research proposals that don't fit these topics can be submitted to the ongoing, cooperative programs described at the end of the solicitation under Section IX. "Other Information: Related Programs".

The emphasis area of "Human and Biotic Systems" is broader in scope. However, the studies of biotic systems should employ genomic tools, and proposals regarding human or biotic systems that are aimed at understanding the effects of environmental change should be directed to the "Understanding Change..." emphasis area.

The emphasis area for “Education and Outreach” is specific in its wording of the topics that will be supported under this IPY solicitation.


  • What if I want to propose work that isn’t covered by any of the three emphasis areas in the IPY solicitation?


  • These proposals can be submitted to ongoing NSF programs listed at http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/ipy/ipyinfo.jsp. It’s also a good idea to contact the appropriate program officer before submitting an IPY proposal to their program.

"Research that doesn’t fall under IPY solicitation emphasis areas:
Proposals for research activities that are not included under the three Emphasis Areas for this IPY Solicitation should be directed to the Cooperating NSF Programs that will accept IPY proposals for their regular program deadlines. Cooperating NSF programs presently include: BIO, GEO, OISE, OPP, and SBE. Note that EHR will not be accepting any unsolicited IPY proposals. Proposals submitted to a cooperating NSF program must meet the goals and review criteria of that program."


  • Are there any special logistical considerations for work in the Antarctic?


  • Yes, there are special considerations for work in the Antarctic. The IPY solicitation has several relevant links and information. Please note that you will have to submit an Operations Requirements Worksheet (ORW) if you want to conduct fieldwork in Antarctica or in the Southern Ocean. Do not include the costs of materials, supplies, and operational support that you list on the ORW in your proposal budget.

"All proposals involving fieldwork in Antarctica or the Southern Ocean must be accompanied by an Operational Requirements Worksheet, which can be created at the Polar Ice (http://polarice.usap.gov/index.htm ) web site as described in Section V.A. of the Antarctic Research Solicitation (NSF 07-549) under the heading "Antarctic or Southern Ocean Proposals Involving Fieldwork."

Investigators use their proposals and Operational Requirements Worksheets to specify services and items of equipment that are required for their research. To plan and budget for acquisition of these things, NSF must know well in advance what they are and approximately how much they cost.

However, you must describe and budget in your proposal as necessary for these items:

  • equipment and supplies that are required at home organizations or are unique to the field project, such as radioisotopes, genetically-modified organisms, fish traps, remote camera systems, and computer equipment and media;
  • non-recoverable and potentially non-recoverable equipment, such as moorings, drifters, XCTDs, and satellite tracking tags;
  • equipment that is not considered standard lab equipment, such as protein analyzers, specialized sensors, flow cytometers, and beta counters;
  • equipment that will be dedicated to your project for multiple seasons, if you are submitting a proposal with several field seasons;
  • physical and dental examinations for all persons going to Antarctica (including those who have been before);
  • field equipment that is unique to a field project, such as climbing boots and eye protection (the Foundation issues polar clothing including insulated underwear, mukluks, thermal boots, parka, insulated overalls, gloves, and other extreme-cold-weather gear);
  • shipment of your gear between home organization and port of embarkation (usually a West Coast port; see worksheets);
  • cost of shipping equipment and samples back home (the antarctic program provides northbound sea shipment to a U.S. port without cost to the grantee, but onward transport to the home organization is paid for using your grant funds);
  • living expenses (per diem) during travel to and from Antarctica  (Note: budget this expense under foreign travel);
  • mountaineering guide, if warranted, for field work; and
  • specialized packaging or preparation of equipment needed for transport of special equipment to and/or from Antarctica. (For examples of specialized equipment, please consult with your program manager or the Polar Research Support staff during proposal preparation.)

Commercial air travel: Do not budget in your proposal for commercial air travel between your home organization and the departure point for Antarctica (normally Christchurch, New Zealand, or Punta Arenas, Chile). The Foundation's antarctic support contractor will issue tickets at no cost to your grant. Accompanied excess baggage authorized by NSF in advance also will be covered by the contractor. Do budget in the proposal for per diem during this travel [see above] and for any travel not involving deployment to Antarctica."


  • Are there any other special considerations for work in the Arctic or the Antarctic?


  • Yes, there are other special considerations for work in Arctic and the Antarctic. The IPY solicitation has several relevant links and information.

Because the Arctic is the homeland of numerous Native peoples, special attention must be given to all aspects of research and education that may potentially impact their lives. An interagency statement of Principles for the Conduct of Research in the Arctic (http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/conduct.jsp) was developed by the Social Science Task Force of the U.S. Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and approved by IARPC in 1990. All arctic research grantees are expected to abide by these principles. Researchers may also find helpful information in the Guidelines for Improved Cooperation between Arctic Researchers and Northern Communities (http://www.arcus.org/guidelines).

Proposals with Fieldwork in Antarctica or the Southern Ocean:
All proposers planning fieldwork in Antarctica or the Southern Ocean must comply with Sections II and V of the Antarctic Research Solicitation, NSF 06-549 (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5519&org=OPP), which contains detailed information on the facilities and policies of the U.S. Antarctic Program that are not included in this solicitation. Special attention must be paid to the sections on the Antarctic Conservation Act, Environmental Protection and Waste Management, Specimens for Research, and any permits required to comply with these policies. Additional information on the Antarctic Conservation Act (ACA) is available on the NSF web site at http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/antarct/aca/aca.jsp . This page also contains links to the ACA permit form (http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/antarct/aca/nsf01151/aca4_permit.pdf ) and a list of protected antarctic sites (http://www.cep.aq/apa/index.html ) maintained by the Committee on Environmental Protection, Antarctic Treaty.


  • What about special permits?


  • For any work with vertebrates, you will need to have an animal care permit (IACUC) in hand. Proposers should be aware of any special permits that may be required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Antarctic Conservation Act. Information on the Antarctic Conservation Act is available at http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/antarct/aca/aca.jsp. Also, the Committee for Environmental Protection for Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty maintains up-to-date information on antarctic protected areas at http://cep.ats.aq/cep/apa/index.html.

Iceberg in the Ross Sea

Icebergs in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. NSF/USAP photo by Patrick Rowe.


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