Section II. C. Sections of the Proposal


12. Special Guidelines

a. Small Grants for Exploratory Research
b. Group Proposals
c. Equipment Proposals
d. Proposals to the Directorate for Engineering
e. Proposals Involving Vertebrate Animals

a. Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER)

Proposals (one copy only) for small-scale, exploratory, high-risk research in the fields of science, engineering and education normally supported by NSF may be submitted to individual programs. Such research is characterized as: The project description should be brief (2-to-5 pages) and include clear statements as to why the proposed research should be considered particularly exploratory and high risk, the nature and significance of its potential impact on the field and why an SGER grant would be a suitable means of supporting the work.

Brief biographical information is required for the Principal and Co- Principal Investigators only, and should list no more than five significant publications or other research projects.

This type of proposal will not be subject to external merit-review and the award amount will be substantially less than a given program's average amount. In any event, the amount will not exceed $50,000. The project's duration will normally be one year, but may be up to two years. Renewed funding may be requested only through submission of a non-SGER proposal, which will be subject to full merit-review. Processing of SGER proposals will be assisted by checking the box for "Small Grant for Exploratory Research" on the Cover Sheet for Proposal to the National Science Foundation, NSF Form 1207.

Investigators are strongly encouraged to contact the NSF program(s) most germane to the proposal topic before submitting an SGER proposal to determine whether the proposed work meets the guidelines described above and SGER funding is likely to be available, or whether the idea should be considered for initial submission as a fully-reviewed proposal. (See Appendix A for programs.)

b. Group Proposals

A group proposal is a proposal that is submitted by 3 or more investigators and combines into one administrative mechanism several projects that ordinarily would be funded separately. A single individual bears primary responsibility for the administration of the grant and discussions with the Foundation, although several investigators may be designated as Co-Principal Investigators. These grants support groups of scientists or engineers who themselves judge that the effectiveness of their work would be enhanced by group funding.

In submission of a group proposal, the institution has determined that the proposed activity is administratively manageable. However, NSF may request a revised proposal if it considers that the project is so complex that it will be too difficult to review or administer. Processing will be assisted by checking the box for "Group Proposal" on the Cover Sheet for Proposal to the National Science Foundation, NSF Form 1207. In addition, group proposals should be indicated as such in a cover letter accompanying the proposal and in the project description.

Where multiple organizations are involved, the proposal can be submitted by only one of them. It should describe clearly the role to be played by the other organizations and specify the managerial arrangements contemplated. In some instances, simultaneous submission of related proposals from each organization might be appropriate, in which case parallel awards would be made.

Investigators wishing to submit group proposals that might exceed the 15- page limit on the project description because of the number of investigators should discuss that possibility with the appropriate Program Officer prior to submission. In general, group proposals that contain up to ten pages of overall project description (including overall progress under the appropriate prior award) plus up to five pages per person of individual project description (including description of progress under prior awards) will be acceptable.

c. Equipment Proposals

Proposals for specialized equipment may be submitted by an organization for: (1) individual investigators; (2) groups of investigators within the same department; (3) several combined departments; (4) an institution; (5) any components of an institution; or (6) a region. One individual should be designated as Principal Investigator. Investigators may be working in related areas or their research may be multidisciplinary.

Note: Many organizations within NSF have formal instrumentation programs with customized guidelines. It is important to use the applicable guidelines in these competitions. Consult with the appropriate program.

Instrumentation and equipment proposals should follow the format of research proposals. Each potential major user should describe the project(s) for which the equipment will be used. These descriptions should be succinct, not necessarily as detailed as in a regular grant proposal, and should emphasize the intrinsic research or educational merit of the activity and the importance of the equipment to it. A brief summary will suffice for auxiliary users.

Equipment to be purchased, modified or constructed should be described in sufficient detail to allow comparison of its capabilities with the needs of the proposed activities. Equipment proposals should also describe comparable equipment already at the proposing organization and explain why it cannot be used. This includes comparable government-owned equipment that is on-site.

Equipment proposals should discuss arrangements for maintenance and operation, including:

The terms of a grant require that special-purpose equipment having a unit acquisition cost of more than $10,000 and purchased or leased with grant funds be subject to reasonable inventory controls, maintenance procedures and organizational policies that enhance its multiple or shared use on other projects, if such use does not interfere with the work for which the equipment was acquired. If the government retains title, those items must be included in the annual inventory submitted to the NSF Property Administrator.

Equipment proposals should include the information described above within the 15-page project description.

These normally compete with proposals for research or education projects. Some instrumentation programs have special guidelines for support of equipment that may include special cost-sharing or other requirements. See individual program solicitations or announcements for specific requirements.

d. Proposals to the Directorate for Engineering

Proposals for consideration by the Directorate for Engineering should, within the 15-page project description, include a separate section that describes the impact of the proposed research. This section should discuss potential new discoveries or advances that are expected as a result of the research and the specific contributions the proposed work will make toward expanding or developing the knowledge and technology base. Reviewers will be asked to provide specific comments on this aspect of the research. The likelihood that the proposed research will lead to new discoveries or fundamental advances in the knowledge or technology base will be an important criterion on which Engineering program staff will base the decision on whether or not to support a particular proposal.

e. Proposals Involving Vertebrate Animals

For proposals involving the use of vertebrate animals, sufficient information should be provided within the 15-page project description to allow for evaluation of the choice of species, number of animals to be used and any necessary exposure of animals to discomfort, pain, or injury. Processing will be assisted by checking the box for "Vertebrate Animals" on the Cover Sheet for Proposal to the National Science Foundation, NSF Form 1207. All proposals involving vertebrate animals must have approval from the organization's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) before funding. NSF recommends inclusion of this approval form with the submission of the proposal.