Section I. Introduction to Preparation of Proposals


B. Who May Submit

Scientists, engineers, and science educators usually initiate research proposals which are submitted by their employing organizations. Before formal submission, the proposal may be discussed with NSF staff. Graduate students are not encouraged to submit research proposals, but should arrange to serve as research assistants to faculty members. However, some NSF divisions accept proposals for Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Research Grants, when submitted by a faculty member on behalf of the graduate student. The Foundation also provides support specifically for women and minority scientists and engineers, scientists and engineers with disabilities, and faculty at primarily undergraduate academic institutions. (See Section V for information about Special Programs.)

Categories of Proposers

(1) Universities and colleges: U.S. universities, and two- and four-year colleges (including community- colleges) acting on behalf of their faculty members.

(2) Nonprofit, non-academic institutions: Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies, and similar organizations in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities.

(3) For-profit organizations: Commercial firms, especially small businesses with strong capabilities in scientific or engineering research or education. (See Section V. J. for specific information on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.) An unsolicited proposal from a commercial firm may be funded when the project is of special concern from a national point of view; special resources are available for the work; or the proposed project is especially meritorious. NSF is interested in supporting projects that couple industrial research resources and perspectives with those of universities. Therefore, it especially welcomes proposals for cooperative projects involving both universities and the private sector.

(4) State and Local Governments: State educational offices or organizations and local school districts may submit proposals intended to broaden the impact, accelerate the pace and increase the effectiveness of improvements in science, mathematics and engineering education in both K-12 and post- secondary levels.

(5) Unaffiliated persons: Scientists, engineers, or science educators in the United States who have no affiliations with organizations that could act as grantee organizations may receive support for meritorious research if they have the capability and use of facilities needed to perform the work, agree to fiscal arrangements satisfactory to the NSF Grants Officer, and otherwise meet the conditions described in this brochure. Unaffiliated proposers should contact the appropriate program before preparing a proposal for submission.

(6) Foreign institutions: NSF rarely provides support to foreign institutions. NSF will consider proposals for cooperative projects involving U.S. and foreign institutions, provided support is requested only for the U.S. portion of the collaborative effort. (For further information, contact the Division of International Programs. See Appendix A for telephone numbers.)

(7) Other Federal agencies: NSF does not normally support research or education activities by scientists, engineers and science educators employed by other Federal agencies or Federally Funded Research and Development Centers. Preliminary inquiry should be made to the appropriate program before preparing a proposal for submission.