Additional FAQs for the January 26, 2006 deadline: Major Research
Instrumentation (MRI) Program Solicitation NSF
Asked Questions (FAQs)
Additional Faqs for the January 26, 2006 Deadline:
FAQs posted for the January 27, 2005 deadline:
ADDITIONAL FAQS FOR THE JANUARY 26, 2006 DEADLINE:
understand that the MRI program was reviewed by a Committee of Visitors
this fall. How will the committee’s
report affect FY 2006 competition?
Answer: The Committee of Visitors has made a number of recommendations
to the MRI program. NSF staff is carefully reviewing these recommendations
and some of them will be incorporated in future solicitations.
Some internal program management recommendations may be implemented
Question: I am considering submitting an RUI proposal to the MRI
program. Is that appropriate?
Answer: No, you should submit a regular MRI proposal,
following guidelines in Solicitation NSF
05-515 and include a statement
(in Supplementary Documents, per Section V.A.3) classifying your
organization as a non-Ph.D. granting organization.
it necessary to address the Broader Impacts Criterion in our Major
Research Instrumentation proposal?
Answer: Yes. With any NSF proposal you must address the broader
impacts criterion. Each Major Research Instrumentation proposal
is reviewed based on the following criteria: Intellectual merit,
broader impact(s) and management plan. The review
asks the reviewers to delineate the strengths and weaknesses for
each of these criteria.
Question: What is the recommended way to address the broader impacts
criterion in a MRI proposal?
Answer: As with any other NSF proposal, you should address the
broader impacts criterion in a way that works best for your research
and education activities and the mission of your organization.
You can review several examples of broader impacts at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/broaderimpacts.pdf .
is the “optimal” dollar amount that
I should request from the MRI program to increase my chances of
Answer: There is no optimal request. The proposals that do the
best are the ones that request an instrument that meets the current
and future needs of a research group. The MRI program receives
a range of requests, and the awards span this
Question: I have heard
that MRI proposals that are around $800,000 or higher undergo
a multiple-level review process. Is this true?
Answer: MRI proposals are reviewed in directorates and divisions
using review procedures that are appropriate for the particular
research communities. Typically, both the reviewers and the NSF
program directors pay more attention to larger requests to ensure
that such awards are meritorious. Each directorate/office may select
its two best large proposals (the definition of large may vary
from year to year but is typically close to or greater than $1M)
to compete for funds that the MRI Program sets aside for large
requests. These proposals are then discussed by representatives
of all directorates to ensure the best investment for these set-aside
funds. Most of the directorates/offices also fund a number of large
requests directly from their own portion of MRI funds.
Question: What is necessary
to address in our management plan?
Answer: Management plans required for acquisition and development
For instrument acquisition the plan should detail maintenance
and operation projections. Specify how and by whom the requested
instrumentation will be operated over the period of three years.
Also, describe the technical expertise needed to maintain and operate
the instrument with anticipated costs. Describe the facility in
which the instrument will be housed. Describe procedures for allocating
the new instrument time, if appropriate, and describe plans for
attracting new users. Specify the organizational commitments regarding
housing and costs associated with instrument maintenance and operations.
For instrument development the management plan should detail the
design and construction phases of the project. Also, include plans
for making instrument design readily available to other researchers,
e.g., for transferring the technology to other U.S. academic, industrial
or government laboratories or for commercializing the instrument.
Describe the schedule of the project activities, broken into tasks,
and estimate cost of each activity. Describe the technical expertise
needed to execute each activity. Include the description of parts
and materials needed for the construction phase and the associated
costs. Specify timelines and deliverables for each activity. List
risks associated with each activity and methods for reanalyzing
and modifying the project plan if necessary. Describe the organization
of the project staff and methods of assessing performance. For
each member of the team include a description of the responsibilities
and explain why a given position is necessary for the completion
of the design and construction of the new instrument.
FAQS POSTED FOR THE JANUARY 27, 2005 DEADLINE:
The Major Research Instrumentation Program solicitation NSF
05-515 limits the number of proposals from any single organization to
three, stating that “an organization may submit or be included
as a partner or subawardee in no more than three proposals.” Several
questions have been raised about certain entities (multi-campuses,
and research foundations) and whether or to what extent they may
qualify as a separate and distinct organization in calculating
the number of proposals from any single organization that NSF will
accept under this solicitation. The following questions and answers
are provided to assist you in that determination.
Question: My university established a Research Foundation specifically
to promote, encourage and provide assistance to the research activities
of the university, and the Foundation is a separate not-for-profit
organization incorporated under State laws and regulations. The
Research Foundation also acts as the fiduciary entity for private
contracts and grants, and is lead by a separate governing board
and committees. Would a proposal submitted by the Research Foundation
count toward our institutional proposal limit or would they be
considered a separate entity entitled to submit up to three proposals?
Answer: Although the Research Foundation is a separate entity,
it supports the activities of the university and cannot separately
be considered an organization with interests distinct from the
university. It has no students or faculty of its own separate from
the university. Accordingly, research proposals submitted by the
Research Foundation will count toward your institutional proposal
Question: We are a separate campus within a multi-campus state
university, and have always submitted proposals without having
submissions from other separate and distinct campuses count toward
an institutional proposal limit. Does the solicitation allow for
up to three proposals from each campus?
Answer: Large, multi-campus institutions usually
have distinct campuses with their own chancellors, student admissions,
and separate research activities. Such a campus which exists as
a separate and comprehensive college or university, with both graduate
and undergraduate programs, qualifies as a separate entity for
purposes of submitting up to three proposals per campus.