Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the
July 23, 2002; July 22, 2003; July 20, 2004
|July 24, 2002; July 23, 2003; July 21,
July 25, 2002; July 24, 2003; July 22, 2004
The official guidelines for submission of CAREER proposals can be found in the publication Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Solicitation (NSF 02-111), available from the CAREER Web page (http://www.nsf.gov/career). Step-by-step submission instructions are also available at this site. The following questions and answers are intended to be helpful supplements to the program guidelines.
The following sections of this document can be directly accessed by selecting the appropriate heading:
2. PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS AND FASTLANE
3. ANNOUNCEMENT OF CAREER AWARDS AND PECASE AWARDS
4. BUDGET AND AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
5. SUPPLEMENTS TO AWARDED GRANTS
Question: My department (or organization) does not offer tenure, so I am not in a tenure-track appointment. How can I determine if my appointment would be considered a tenure-track-equivalent appointment?
· Your employing department or organization does not offer tenure;
· You are engaged in research in an area of science or engineering supported by NSF;
· Your appointment is a continuing appointment;
· Your appointment has substantial educational responsibilities; and
· Your career-development plan relates to your career goals and job responsibilities as well as the goals of your department/organization.
"Research" and "Instructor" positions are typically not considered to be CAREER-eligible tenure-track-equivalent positions and individuals in soft-money appointments and/or visiting appointments are not considered to be in continuing appointments. You will be asked to certify that your position meets these requirements at the time you prepare your cover sheet. In addition, your Department Chair will be asked to verify this information. Since you are self-certifying your eligibility, you do not need to get NSF approval of a tenure-track equivalent appointment before submitting a CAREER proposal. However, if you have any questions you can direct them to the appropriate CAREER Directorate Contact. The "CAREER Contacts List" can be found on the CAREER Web page at http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/contacts.htm.
Question: Although my organization offers tenure, the research institute that employs me does not. Am I eligible?
Answer: Yes, you can apply as long as your appointment meets the requirements for tenure-track equivalency and you meet all of the other CAREER eligibility criteria.
Question: Am I eligible to apply if I work at a non-degree-granting organization such as a museum, observatory, or research lab?
Answer: Yes, but your appointment must be a tenure-track or tenure-track equivalent appointment and you must also meet all of the other CAREER eligibility requirements.
Question: The CAREER eligibility requirements in the past have included restrictions on time elapsed since receipt of doctoral degree and as well as since start of the first tenure-track (or equivalent) appointment. Are there no longer qualifying dates for receipt of degree and first appointment?
Answer: NSF has streamlined and simplified the eligibility criteria, recognizing that early-career faculty members must develop their careers at whatever rate is appropriate for them given their personal and professional choices. Dates for first tenure-track appointment and receipt of doctoral degree are no longer eligibility criteria. No eligibility exemptions will be granted.
Question: According to the CAREER Program Solicitation I am required to hold a doctoral degree by the July proposal submission deadline. I have defended my thesis but not been awarded the diploma yet. Can I apply to the CAREER Program?
Answer: No. You are not eligible unless you receive the official, dated diploma, by your Directorate's July deadline for submission of CAREER proposals.
Question: There is a new eligibility requirement that applicants have not competed more than two times in the NSF CAREER Program. I have applied three times, but one of my proposals was withdrawn (or was returned due to non-compliance with the proposal submission requirements) before it was reviewed. I did not have the benefit of reviewers' feedback. Does that application count against me?
Answer: No. The CAREER Program Solicitation states that you could not have "competed" more than two times in the NSF CAREER Program. Therefore, as long as your withdrawn/returned proposal was not considered in the CAREER competition (you did not have the benefit of the reviewers' comments), that CAREER proposal does not count towards you and you will be eligible one more time.
Question: I have just started in a tenure-track (or equivalent) position as an assistant professor (or equivalent). Since I now have three opportunities to apply to the CAREER Program, I am unsure as to whether I should apply now or wait until next year. What should I do?
Answer: The CAREER Program has eliminated the eligibility window that included dates since first tenure-track appointment and receipt of doctoral degree. NSF has added the requirement that applicants will have three opportunities to apply to the CAREER Program. The intent of this addition is to encourage new faculty to think strategically about their readiness for the CAREER Program. Since background and experience can vary for each new faculty member (based on post-docs and/or industry or other experience), it is suggested that you consult with your Department Chair regarding your own individual career-development plans and goals in order to determine what would work best for you.
Question: I held a tenured position at my former organization, but I am not in a tenured position now. Am I eligible to apply?
Answer: Yes, you are eligible to apply as long as you are untenured as of your Directorate's July deadline for submission of CAREER proposals and you meet the other CAREER eligibility criteria.
Question: In the current CAREER Program Solicitation it states that applicants must have the title of "assistant professor" or equivalent. I am in a tenure-track appointment, but my title is "associate professor." Can I apply?
Answer: No. Since the CAREER Program is intended for faculty members who are at or near the beginning of their careers, NSF added the requirement that applicants hold the title of "assistant professor" or equivalent by the October 1st that follows their July proposal submission deadline. If your title were to change to "associate professor" after October 1st, you would still be eligible for a CAREER award.
Question: Am I eligible if I have an adjunct appointment at a university/college?
Answer: No. Adjunct appointments are not CAREER-eligible tenure-track or tenure-track equivalent appointments.
Question: Am I eligible if I work at a 2-year college or a community college?
Answer: These colleges are CAREER-eligible institutions if they award degrees in a field supported by NSF. If you meet all of the other CAREER eligibility criteria, you are eligible to apply to the CAREER Program. You are strongly encouraged to begin preparing your CAREER proposal early since you (and/or your institution) may not be registered in FastLane. You and your institution must be registered in FastLane in order to have access to the FastLane proposal-preparation modules and for your Sponsored Research Officer (SRO) to submit your proposal in FastLane.
Question: I am a new faculty member in a tenure-track appointment at a university that qualifies as an "undergraduate institution" under the provisions of the Research in Undergraduate Institutions Program Announcement (RUI), NSF 00-144. Can I submit to the CAREER Program and if so, is it possible to apply for the CAREER Program under the RUI provisions?
Answer: You can apply to the CAREER Program as long as you meet all of the CAREER eligibility requirements. However, you cannot submit your proposal to the CAREER Program and apply under the RUI Program Announcement. Therefore, you must choose to submit the proposal to RUI or to CAREER. NSF encourages CAREER proposals from new faculty members at all U.S. academic institutions that award degrees in a field supported by NSF. CAREER awardees will be selected on the basis of creative career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. Predominantly undergraduate institutions play a critically important role in U.S. science and technology through their substantial contributions to research and education. Therefore, applicants from RUI institutions are encouraged to apply to the CAREER Program.
Question: Am I eligible if I hold a shared tenure-track appointment at a university?
Answer: Yes. Applicants do not need to be in full-time tenure-track appointments. However, they must meet all the other CAREER eligibility requirements.
Question: I do not currently hold a CAREER-eligible appointment but I hope to have one by October 1st. Can I apply?
Answer: No. To apply to the July deadline for submission of CAREER proposals you must be employed in a CAREER-eligible position at a CAREER-eligible organization or have a contractual agreement with a CAREER-eligible organization for you to begin a CAREER-eligible appointment by the October 1st deadline that follows your July CAREER proposal submission deadline.
Question: I am not a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident. Can I still apply to the CAREER program?
Answer: Yes, you may apply to the CAREER program if you meet the CAREER eligibility criteria, including affiliation with a U.S. organization. However, you will not be eligible for nomination by NSF for PECASE unless you are a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident by your Directorate's July deadline for submission of proposals.
Question: If I have received funds from the Federal Government to perform research, am I still eligible?
Answer: Yes, you may submit a CAREER proposal as long as those funds were not received from NSF in the CAREER or PECASE programs and the proposed research activities of your CAREER application do not duplicate those concurrently supported through other source(s).
Proposals must be submitted via FastLane. Before preparing a CAREER proposal, refer to the CAREER Program Solicitation and the FastLane Web page at http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm for detailed instructions on proposal preparation and submission. Also refer to the FAQs on FastLane proposal preparation, which can be found at http://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a0/about/a1faq.htm.
Question: What if my proposal arrives after my Directorate's (or Office's) deadline for proposal submissions?
Answer: Only proposals submitted by your organization through FastLane before 5:00 p.m. (your local time) on or before the Directorate/Office deadline will be accepted. Since NSF receives nearly 2,000 proposals in the CAREER program each year, you are encouraged to start your FastLane proposal submission well before the CAREER deadline. Refer to the CAREER Program Solicitation and the FastLane Web page for more details. Any CAREER proposal received after the Directorate/Office deadline will not be reviewed or considered for funding. Please note that NSF program officers are not authorized to grant extensions to the deadline for the CAREER program.
Question: I know that my organization has to submit my proposal by 5 p.m. local time, but I understand that there is an Administrative Corrections capability during which authorized Sponsored Project Office personnel may make corrections to the cover sheet and budget pages after the submission. How does this impact my meeting the 5 p.m. CAREER proposal submission deadline?
Answer: NSF recognizes that minor, non-content-related errors may occur in proposal development and that these errors may not be discovered until after the proposal submission to NSF. To enable organizations to correct such errors, FastLane provides a 60-minute "grace period," that begins immediately following proposal submission. This grace period does not extend the proposal deadline. Your proposal must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. your local time, and administrative corrections are allowed until 6:00 p.m., your local time on your deadline date. During this grace period, authorized sponsored project office personnel are authorized to make administrative corrections to Cover Sheet and Budget data. Access to the Administrative Corrections utility is via the Research Administration module on the FastLane website through use of the "Submit Proposals to NSF" function.
Question: How do I decide which program to submit my CAREER proposal to?
Answer: CAREER proposals are submitted to disciplinary programs.
In addition to identifying the CAREER Program Solicitation number (NSF
02-111) on the cover sheet when you are preparing your proposal, you
must specify a disciplinary program. Some resources to help you
identify the appropriate disciplinary program are: (1) The NSF Guide to
Programs. This document provides descriptions of NSF's research-supporting
programs and is available at
http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?gp; (2) Directorate Web pages also provide program information. You can access a Directorate's Web page by selecting the Directorate's heading on the CAREER contacts list at http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/contacts.htm; and (3) Talk with the program director of the program you think is most closely related to your research or one of the CAREER Contacts. Telephone numbers and email addresses for NSF staff can be found through the NSF staff directory at http://staff.nsf.gov/. The CAREER contacts list is available at http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/contacts.htm.
Note: if you indicate the wrong program on the Cover Sheet, the proposal will be redirected to the appropriate organizational unit. NSF will make the final assignment of your proposal. You may designate more than one program if you think the proposal should be jointly reviewed. However, do not submit duplicate CAREER proposals to multiple NSF programs.
Question: I am not sure whether I should submit my proposal to the CAREER Program, to another special NSF Program, or as a regular proposal. To whom should I direct this question?
Answer: You should address your question to the program director of the program you think is most closely related to your research topic or to one of the CAREER Contacts (refer to the list on the CAREER Web page at http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/contacts.htm).
Question: I have two great projects. Can I submit two CAREER proposals?
Answer: No, only one proposal may be submitted to the CAREER program per competition year. If the research topic of the second proposal is considerably different from that described in the CAREER proposal, you may submit a regular research proposal while the CAREER proposal is under consideration. NSF will return a second proposal on a closely related research topic without review.
Question: I will have a collaborator on my proposal. Can I include the collaborator as a CO-PI or "other senior personnel" on my budget?
Answer: No. Your research project and/or educational activities can be collaborative, but a CAREER award is intended to enable an awardee to carry out his or her individual career-development plan. Therefore, no Co-Principal Investigator may be named and collaborators cannot be analogous to Co-PIs. No salary support for other senior personnel is allowed.
Question: What documentation can I submit to show the collaborative effort I am proposing?
Answer: The planned collaborative effort(s) should be described in your career-development plan. You may also submit a short letter from each collaborator to support the partnerships you have described in the proposal. Scan the signed and dated letter(s) into the Supplementary Documents section of your proposal. The letters should only describe the planned collaborative effort(s). Reference letters are not allowed. Do not submit any other documentation such as biographical sketches or other NSF forms for any collaborator.
Question: I am interested in adding an international dimension to my career-development plan. Is that allowed and, if so, how would I find out what kinds of activities are eligible for support?
Answer: Plans for international collaborations are encouraged. The opportunity to collaborate with outstanding foreign researchers and educators, or access unique equipment and facilities, may provide substantial benefits to the research and education activities proposed. For information on the types of activities that are eligible for support in various countries, contact the Division of International Programs and refer to the document "International Opportunities for Scientists and Engineers" (NSF 00-138, available at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2000/nsf00138/nsf00138.htm).
Question: How many pages should I devote to describing research and how many to education?
Answer: No number is specified. Use the 15 pages allowed for proposal Section C, Project Description, including any results from prior NSF support, to describe your career-development plan to your best advantage. A major objective of the CAREER program is to encourage the integration of research and education. You may wish to prepare a career-development plan that fully integrates these aspects of your academic career, rather than separating them.
While excellence in both education and research is expected, activity of an intensity that leads to an unreasonable workload is not. For instance, teaching additional courses or taking on additional duties is not expected. In fact, a justification for released time may be appropriate for extraordinary curriculum development or education innovation. What is expected is a well-argued and specific proposal for activities over a 5-year period that will build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education. Refer to the CAREER Program Solicitation, II.A. for representative examples of educational activities. CAREER applicants may also find the Examples of Activities Illustrating Broader Impacts useful in preparing their CAREER proposals.
Question: What should I discuss with my department head? What should be addressed in the one-page Departmental Endorsement?
Answer: You should discuss your career-development plan and how it fits with your department's and organization's plans, your responsibilities to the department, and the support that the department will give you. Your department head's statement should attest to the department's support of your plan and that your plan is integrated into the educational and research goals of your department and organization. In this statement your Department Chair will also be asked to describe the support the department/organization will provide and to verify your eligibility for the CAREER Program. The one-page statement must follow the format prescribed in the CAREER Program Solicitation. Note that the Departmental Endorsement has changed from the FY 2002 CAREER Program Solicitation.
Question: I would like to submit some additional tabular material that would exceed the 15-page limit on the length of the project description. Can I submit this as an appendix?
Answer: Prior to submission of the proposal, the appropriate NSF Assistant Director must approve in writing, inclusion of additional material that exceeds the 15-page project description limitation. Please note, however, that such approvals are rarely granted. (See GPG Section II.A for additional information.)
Question: How do I apply for the PECASE award?
Answer: Each participating Federal agency has its own nomination procedures. Each year NSF will select its PECASE nominees from among the most meritorious PECASE-eligible CAREER awardees who applied to that year's CAREER competition. To be eligible for a PECASE award through NSF, you must submit a CAREER proposal and have certified that you were PECASE eligible on the CAREER and PECASE Eligibility Certifications. In addition to meeting the CAREER eligibility requirements, PECASE nominees must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents who hold that status on or before their July deadline for submission of CAREER proposals. The most meritorious PECASE-eligible CAREER PIs who have indicated that they are "PECASE Eligible" may be asked to submit supplemental information.
Question: I am preparing a CAREER proposal for submission to the Division of Research, Evaluation and Communication (REC) in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). What are considered acceptable research activities?
Answer: Research plans submitted to REC/EHR should be oriented toward laying the conceptual foundations and expanding the knowledge base necessary to support the reform of science, mathematics, technology and engineering education. Such activities as software development, hardware development, laboratory-equipment design, instructional-materials development, teacher and informal education may be cited as part of one's education project, but these activities do not satisfy the requirement for research in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education and, therefore, cannot be the basis for the research plan. CAREER awards should deal with the same general areas of interest discussed in the Research on Learning and Education (ROLE) guidelines, NSF 02-023 at http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf02023.
Question: Do other programs in EHR accept CAREER proposals?
Answer: No, because REC is the only research division within EHR.
Question: I am preparing a CAREER proposal for submission to the Office of Polar Programs. Do I need any additional information before writing my proposal?
Answer: Before preparing your CAREER proposal, you should refer to the Antarctic Research Opportunities and Proposal Guide (NSF 01-81) or the Arctic Research Program Announcement (NSF 00-96). Both of these documents are available from the Office of Polar Programs Web page (http://www.nsf.gov/home/polar/start.htm).
Question: If I held an NSF postdoctoral fellowship, do I need to include a "Results from Prior Support" section as mentioned in the Guide Proposal Guide (GPG)?
Answer: Yes, you must include a "Results from Prior Support" section whenever you have served as a PI or co-PI on any NSF grant within the last 5 years. This includes postdoctoral fellowships, grants in equipment programs such as Major Research Instrumentation, and educational grants. If you have received more than one prior award (excluding amendments), you must report on the award that is most closely related to the CAREER proposal. (See GPG Section II.C for the required information.)
Question: Does it matter which style of referencing is used in the "References Cited - Proposal Section D"?
Answer: Reference styles should conform to standards in your particular field. Titles are required. See GPG Section II.C for the required information.
Question: When will I be notified of the final decision on my CAREER proposal?
Answer: Most applicants will be notified by the February following their July deadline. CAREER proposals are reviewed by different panels (and/or ad hoc review) held at different times across the Foundation. Thus, award and declination letters will be issued at different times. You can check the status of your CAREER proposal by accessing the FastLane website. Please note that there is an initial lag time immediately following submission of your proposal when it will not appear in the FastLane Proposal Status Inquiry module. If you have not received notification of a decision on your proposal by February and your proposal status is shown as "pending" in FastLane, you can contact the program or division to which your proposal was assigned to inquire about the status of your proposal. Your proposal's NSF program assignment appears in the FastLane Proposal Inquiry module.
Question: If I receive a CAREER award, how will I know whether I am being considered for a PECASE award? When will I hear something if I am to get a PECASE award?
Answer: All CAREER awardees who are eligible for PECASE and who have certified their eligibility by completing the CAREER and PECASE Eligibility Certifications will be considered. Each year, up to 20 of the most meritorious CAREER awardees will be recommended to the White House for consideration for PECASE awards. Recipients will be notified after the Presidential awardees have been selected and approved by the White House. It is anticipated that PECASE notification will be made approximately 15 months following each year's July CAREER proposal submission deadline. No information can be released until such time as the White House announces the awards.
Question: If I receive a PECASE award, what will happen to my CAREER award? What would the PECASE award include?
Answer: NSF PECASE awards are entirely honorary and do not provide additional funds. The PECASE award will not change the amount or duration of your CAREER award.
Question: What is an appropriate level of funding to request?
Answer: For the FY 2003 competition, the minimum CAREER award size is $400,000 for a 5-year period with the following exception. Applicants to the Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) must submit budget requests for a minimum of $500,000 (approximately $100,000 per year) for the 5-year duration. Based on the availability of funds, the minimum amounts for FY 2004 and FY 2005 may change. (Check the CAREER Web page (http://www.nsf.gov/career) three months prior to the submission deadline for updated information.) There is no maximum award size. To inquire about appropriate budget requests for your discipline and activities you can contact your disciplinary program director or the appropriate CAREER division contact (see the CAREER Contacts List on the CAREER Web page at http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/contacts.htm).
Question: In previous CAREER competitions the Directorate for Engineering had a standard award size (such as the $75,000 per year and $375,000 total for FY 2002). Has this been changed?
Answer: Yes, beginning with the FY 2003 CAREER competition the Directorate for Engineering no longer has a standard award size. Therefore, your budgets can vary but they must meet the NSF requirement for a five-year duration and a minimum of $400,000 for the total award. You should prepare your budgets according to the scope of activities being proposed and the practices within your discipline. To inquire about the appropriate budget request for your proposed CAREER activities and your discipline, you can contact your disciplinary program director or the division's CAREER contact (see the CAREER Contacts List on the CAREER Web page at http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/contacts.htm).
Question: Does the duration of CAREER awards still vary from 4 to 5 years?
Answer: No. CAREER awards will be for a uniform duration of 5 years.
Question: Are the reporting requirements for CAREER awards the same as for other NSF awards?
Answer: There are additional reporting requirements for CAREER awards. As with other NSF awards, annual and final reports are required, and CAREER reports must also provide approval and reaffirmation of the department's endorsement of the work plan and continuing partnership in the individual's career-development plan. This approval and reaffirmation of support must be signed by the PI's department head or equivalent and uploaded into the report as a PDF file. Instructions for preparing project reports and uploading departmental endorsements into CAREER project reports can be found on the CAREER Web page at http://www.nsf.gov/home/crssprgm/career/report.htm. Also refer to the GPG, Chapter VI.G.1 for information on preparation and submission of annual and final reports. Annual progress reports should summarize progress in both research and education and, where appropriate, collaborative activities. The report should also include an update of other support, if applicable.
Question: What types of supplemental funds are available for CAREER awards?
Answer: CAREER awards are eligible for supplemental funding as described in the GPG, Section V.B.4.
Question: Should I make preparations to obtain matching funds from industry now?
Answer. No. Supplements for industry matching are no longer allowed for new CAREER awards.
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PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS
The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the review process; to applicant institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies needing information as part of the review process or in order to coordinate programs; and to another Federal agency, court or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 267 (January 5, 1998), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 268 (January 5, 1998). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.
Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to: Reports Clearance Officer, Division of Administrative Services, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA 22230.