The following set of questions and answers refer to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the CRII Program Solicitation (NSF 14-562; http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14562/nsf14562.htm). They are not intended to be a modification of the Program Solicitation.
Before preparing CRII proposals, please read the CRII solicitation and refer to the general information about NSF proposal submission including the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) submission guidelines available at http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=gpg.
Whom should I contact to discuss my ideas for a CRII proposal to be sure CISE supports the topic area?
Your primary contact is a Program Officer in the division or program that is closest to your area of research. The CISE website and the CRII solicitation provide information about the various programs. The NSF staff directory (http://www.nsf.gov/staff/) provides contact information for Program Officers, by name and by organization.
I hold the title of Associate Professor. Am I eligible?
You may be. One of the CRII eligibility criteria is that you must be in the first two years of a tenure-track or research science or education position (or equivalent). Thus, the program is intended for faculty members who are at or near the beginning of their careers. While it is rare that such an individual will hold the position of Associate Professor, that in itself is not an issue.
I hold a tenured position. Am I eligible to apply?
You may be. One of the CRII eligibility criteria is that you must be in the first two years of a tenure-track or research science or education position (or equivalent). Thus, the program is intended for faculty members who are at or near the beginning of their careers. While it is rare that such an individual will be tenured, that in itself is not an issue.
Are the eligibility criteria for CRII and CAREER the same? If I am eligible to apply to one of these programs, does that mean I am also eligible to apply to the other?
No, the eligibility criteria are different. You may be eligible to apply to one program but not the other. Please carefully read the requirements for each program and see if you meet them in order to determine your eligibility for that program.
The CRII program solicitation states that, to be eligible, I must be in the first two years of a tenure-track or research science or education position (or equivalent). I was appointed Assistant Professor in August of 2012. May I apply to the CRII program this year, if I submit by the end of July?
Yes. To be eligible, you must submit your proposal by the second anniversary of your appointment. If that anniversary is earlier than the solicitation deadline, that date becomes your deadline, and the support letter from your department head should identify the exact date of your appointment.
While finishing up my PhD, I started work as an Acting Assistant Professor on August 15, 2012 (pending conferral of my degree). On December 16, 2012, after my degree was conferred, I no longer was Acting. Am I eligible?
I received my Doctorate six years ago. Am I eligible to apply?
After receiving my PhD, I worked as a research associate for five years, and just began my academic position last year. Am I eligible?
After receiving my PhD, I was a postdoctoral fellow for two years, and just began my academic position last year. Am I eligible?
Yes, provided you meet all of the CRII eligibility requirements. CRII eligibility is not limited by time from degree. Working as a research associate or other non-academic positions is not disqualifying. Time spent as a postdoctoral fellow does not count toward the two-year eligibility requirement.
Am I eligible if I hold a dual appointment at a university?
Yes. Generally, only one department will grant tenure. In that case, the chair of that department should write the letter of support that is required as part of Supplementary Documents. If applicable, the letter may be co-signed by the other department chair as well.
I am in a shared appointment with my spouse. Both of us are in tenure-track lines, and I have the title Assistant Professor. Am I eligible?
Yes, provided you meet the other eligibility requirements.
I do not currently have a CRII-eligible appointment, nor do I have a signed contract for an appointment. I have applied for a position and may have a contract in place by October 1. May I apply?
No. To be eligible, you must hold a CRII-eligible appointment at a CRII-eligible organization by the submission deadline specified in the solicitation.
What is the definition of a "US National"?
Is an H-1B visa holder a US National?
I am not a US Citizen, US Permanent Resident or US National. Can I apply to the CRII program?
I have applied for my "green card" and been informed that it's been granted, but may not physically have the card in my possession by the solicitation deadline. Am I eligible?
The CRII solicitation has been revised to remove the requirement that applicants be US Citizens, US Permanent Residents, or US Nationals. Therefore, all those with CRII-eligible appointments at CRII-eligible institutions may apply.
My department (or organization) does not offer tenure, so I am not in a tenure-track appointment. Can I apply to the CRII program?
Yes, provided you meet the other eligibility requirements. Your department chair must verify that your position is CRII-eligible in the letter to be included as a Supplementary Document. Note that this is another example of a difference in eligibility requirements between the CRII program and the CAREER program.
Am I eligible to apply if I work at a non-degree-granting organization such as a museum, observatory, or research lab?
No. To be eligible to apply to the CRII program, you must be employed at an academic institution as defined in the solicitation.
I previously received a small EAGER award from NSF. Am I eligible? OR
I previously received an award from NSF as the PI on a non-lead proposal in a collaborative project. Am I eligible?
No, to be eligible, you must not have received any other grants in the PI role from any agency, with certain exceptions as specified in the solicitation. On a collaborative proposal to NSF, the lead person from each institution is a PI, even if not from the lead institution.
To be eligible, you must not have received any other grants (including research contracts) in the PI role from any agency, with certain exceptions as specified in the solicitation.
Do startup funds from my university or a subcontract from an award to another university disqualify me from the CRII program?
No, the intention is that you have not received an award as the PI from an agency.
Do small awards (e.g., $1,000) disqualify?
The amount of the award is not relevant, so a $1,000 award would disqualify.
Am I eligible if I work at a two-year college or a community college?
I am an assistant professor at an undergraduate institution that does not give graduate degrees. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes, as long as you meet the other CRII eligibility requirements. NSF encourages submissions from two-year and community colleges that award degrees in fields supported by NSF, and from primarily undergraduate institutions.
I am a new faculty member at an institution that qualifies as an undergraduate institution under the provisions of the Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program solicitation. Is it possible to apply for the CRII program under the RUI provisions?
Yes. You may include the additional Certificate of RUI Eligibility or the RUI Impact Statement as part of a CRII proposal.
Can I submit to the CAREER program and to the CRII program in the same year?
Yes, you may (provided the two proposals are substantially different). However, the CRII program is intended to provide faculty with resources to enable them to begin their research and achieve preliminary results that will, in turn, allow them when ready to write proposals that are more likely to succeed in very competitive programs such as CAREER.
I have a doctorate in Computer Science Education. Am I eligible to apply?
Yes. CISE supports educational activities, and associated research, that focus on computer and information science and engineering (and closely related fields).
I am an Assistant Professor in a Mechanical Engineering department. Am I eligible?
You could be. CISE funds research primarily on the basis of its relevance to our mission, not on the basis of the name of the department in which a given faculty member works. You should contact a Program Officer in a division or program that is closest to your area of research to determine if CISE supports the topic area, and in particular if it is sufficiently related to computer and information science and engineering.
B.1. PROPOSAL PREPARATION
What is the best place to start when preparing a CRII Proposal?
Read the solicitation thoroughly before starting, and refer to it as you write your proposal. Discuss your plan with your department chair, personal and academic mentors, and individuals who have been successful in obtaining awards from NSF. We also encourage you to contact a Program Officer, or the appropriate division contact for CRII listed at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14562/nsf14562.htm.
How are proposals reviewed for compliance?
CRII proposals will be checked for compliance with formatting instructions in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG; http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf14001/gpg_index.jsp) and the specific requirements of the CRII solicitation. Program Officers will not approve or accept proposal file updates after the deadline, unless there is a technical or print problem with the proposal.
What are some reasons why proposals might be determined to be non-compliant with the CRII Solicitation?
Some reasons include the following:
- A co-principal investigator is listed on the cover page or other senior personnel are listed in the budget.
- The Project Description is more than 10 pages.
- The PI is not in the first two years of a tenure-track or research science or education position (or equivalent) at a university or college in the US (please see the solicitation for additional limits).
- The PI has received other grants in a PI role from NSF or another institution or agency (please see the solicitation and questions #13-15 in these FAQs for exceptions and clarifications).
- The primary division is not a CISE division.
- A letter of support from the department chair is missing in the Supplementary Documents.
- The CRII proposal does not follow one or more guidelines specified in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide.
The solicitation says that the PI must not have received a prior award as a PI. What happens if after I submit the CRII proposal, another proposal is selected for award (e.g., a CAREER proposal)?
At the time of the CRII award, you must not have received another award (including CAREER) from any agency as a PI. If your CAREER proposal is awarded before a CRII decision is made, then you become ineligible for the CRII. Because of proposal processing timelines, NSF cannot predict whether CAREER or CRII awards will be made first.
I understand that if one receives a CAREER award he/she cannot simultaneously or subsequently receive a CRII award, but is the opposite true?
Receiving a CRII award does not preclude an individual from receiving a subsequent CAREER award. Indeed, as noted in the solicitation and question #18 in these FAQs, the CRII program is intended to provide faculty with resources to enable them to begin their research and achieve preliminary results that will, in turn, allow them when ready to write proposals that are more likely to succeed in very competitive programs such as CAREER.
Are there abstracts from previous years that can be examined to get ideas for typical CRII proposals?
CRII is new in 2014, so there are no previous abstracts. You may find it useful to look at CISE award abstracts to get ideas of the types of grants in each program; visit www.nsf.gov/awardsearch, then select “Advanced Search” and select the program name.
The solicitation talks about mentoring graduate students. For faculty at two-year and community colleges as well as at undergraduate-only institutions, can funding be allocated to supporting undergraduates?
Yes. The proposal should explain how the PI will provide the undergraduate researchers the necessary mentoring, as well as strategies for integrating them into a research group given their heavy course load.
I have two possible projects. May I submit two CRII proposals?
No. You may submit only one CRII proposal per annual competition.
Could I put two different projects into one proposal?
Successful proposals tend to focus on a particular theme, especially given the short duration of a CRII award (up to 2 years) and limited funding (up to $175,000). The general advice is to stay as tightly focused as you can, keeping your combined research and education plan doable in the context of a two-year award. If you have two separate projects in mind, consider discussing both with your mentors and/or an NSF Program Officer.
May I submit a CRII proposal and a regular research proposal on a similar topic to NSF at the same time?
No, submission of duplicate or substantially similar proposals concurrently for review by more than one program without prior NSF approval will result in the return without review of the redundant proposal. In addition, you may not submit a proposal for research that is substantially the same as that already supported by any Federal agency.
May I submit a CRII proposal and another proposal on a different topic to NSF in the same year?
Yes, but only if the research is substantially different. NSF will return without review a second proposal on a closely related research topic.
What documentation should I submit to show any collaborative efforts?
Describe the collaborative efforts within the Project Description. In addition, submit brief letters (limited to one page or less) describing the nature of the collaboration. Letters of collaboration are vital when partnering with existing programs or when collaborating with others. The letters should briefly describe how the collaborator would contribute to the project. The specific details of the proposed collaborations should be described in the proposal's Project Description. The collaborative letters cannot be used to circumvent the 10-page limit for the Project Description. Letters of support or recommendation for the PI are not permitted, and PIs will be asked to remove any letters that NSF determines are not appropriate prior to review. It is up to the PI to explain what is requested and approach the collaborator in a timely fashion to get these letters before the deadline for submission. Scan the signed and dated letter(s) into the Supplementary Documents section, and place them after the departmental support letter. Do not submit any other documentation for the collaborators such as biographical sketches, appendices, or other NSF forms. You will not be allowed to submit these letters after the submission deadline, so please plan in advance.
I am interested in adding an international dimension to my proposal. How would I find out what kinds of activities are eligible for support?
Plans for international cooperative research and education activities are encouraged. The opportunity to collaborate with outstanding foreign researchers and educators, and to gain access to unique sites, equipment or facilities, may provide substantial benefits to the research and education activities proposed. For information on the types of activities that are eligible for support, contact your disciplinary Program Officer and the appropriate country Program Officer in the International Science and Engineering (ISE) Section within the NSF Office of International and Integrative Activities (http://www.nsf.gov/od/iia/ise/). The ISE Section webpage also lists guidelines (four bullet points) for proposals to be considered for ISE co-funding. ISE will consider co-funding the international components of successful CRII proposals submitted to NSF disciplinary programs that adhere to these guidelines.
I have additional information posted on my website I would like the reviewers to see. May I refer readers to my web site within the Project Description?
PIs are advised that the Project Description must be self-contained and are cautioned that a website that provides information related to the proposal should not be used because: 1) the information could circumvent page limitations; 2) the reviewers are under no obligation to view such a site; and 3) the site could be altered or abolished between the time of submission and the time of review.
I have a postdoctoral researcher budgeted on my proposal and I am required to submit a Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan. Where in the proposal is the mentoring plan submitted and what must be included in the plan?
Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include, as a Supplementary Document, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. In no more than one page, the mentoring plan must describe the mentoring that will be provided to all postdoctoral researchers supported by the project, irrespective of whether they reside at the submitting organization or at a subawardee organization. Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices. The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation's broader impacts merit review criterion. Proposers are advised that the mentoring plan may not be used to circumvent the 10-page Project Description limitation.
What should be included in the Data Management Plan and where should I place this section?
Information about the contents and submission of data management plans can be found in Chapter II.C.2.j of the NSF Grant Proposal Guide. Additional Data Management Guidance for CISE Proposals and Awards can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/cise/cise_dmp.jsp. All proposals submitted to NSF must describe plans for data management and sharing of the products of research, or assert the absence of the need for such plans. FastLane will not permit submission of a proposal that is missing a Data Management Plan. Proposals must include the plan as a Supplementary Document of no more than two pages.
If I held an NSF postdoctoral fellowship, do I need to include a "Results from Prior Support" section?
Yes, you must include a "Results from Prior Support" section if you have served as a PI on any NSF postdoctoral fellowship grant in the last 5 years.
In addition, you must include a “Results from Prior Support” section if you have served as co-PI on any other NSF grants, including infrastructure/equipment 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 CRII proposal. (See the GPG for the required information.)
I would like to submit some additional tabular material that would exceed the 10-page limit on the length of the Project Description. Can I submit this information as an appendix?
No. The Project Description cannot exceed 10 pages (including Results from Prior NSF Support, which is limited to five pages). All visual materials, including charts, graphs, maps, photographs and other pictorial presentations are included in the 10-page limitation. Appendices are not permitted for CRII proposals.
What should be in the department chair letter?
The proposal must include a letter of support from the PI's department chair/head certifying that the PI meets the eligibility criteria (as specified in the solicitation and elaborated in these FAQs). Specifically, it should affirm that the PI is in the first two years of a tenure-track or research science or education position (or equivalent). Only official leaves of absence (for illness, family, etc.) may be subtracted from the total time in the position, as certified by the PI's department chair/head in this required letter of support. Postdoctoral appointments do not count toward the two-year limit. In addition, if your two-year appointment date falls before September 24 2014, the department chair letter should give the exact date of your first appointment, and the name of the institution at which that appointment occurred (if not your current institution).
B.2. BUDGET PREPARATION
What is an appropriate level of funding to request?
The CRII proposal budget request should be consistent with the proposed activities not to exceed $175,000 for up to 24 months.
May I request academic year salary on a CRII proposal?
No summer salary, course buyouts, or academic year salary costs are allowed.
Most of the funds should go toward student(s).
How many students may be supported on a CRII grant? Is there a limit on dollars per student?
There are no limits specified for either the number of students or dollars per student. However, supporting more than two or three students at one time is probably unwise when beginning an academic career.
I will have a collaborator on my proposal. May I include the collaborator as a Co-PI or other senior personnel on my budget?
No. You may provide funds for others to work on your research activities, but they may not be listed as Co-PI or in the senior personnel section of the proposal - either in the primary budget or within a subaward to a collaborating institution. However, you may pay someone as a consultant in your project, or you may pay for his or her travel and expenses, materials, and supplies.
B.3. PROPOSAL SUBMISSION
Do I submit a proposal to just CRII or to a particular program at NSF, and how do I decide to which program I should submit my CRII proposal?
CRII proposals must be submitted to at least one primary program or unit through FastLane or Grants.gov, as specified in Section V.A of the solicitation. The title of the proposal should begin with the string “CRII”, followed by the acronyms for one or more from the following list of allowable programs:
- Cyberinfrastructure (CI)
- Algorithmic Foundations (AF)
- Communications and Information Foundations (CIF)
- Software and Hardware Foundations (SHF)
- Computer Systems Research (CSR)
- Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS)
- Information Integration and Informatics (III)
- Cyber-Human Systems (CHS)
- Robust Intelligence (RI)
- Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21)
- Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies (Cyberlearning)
- Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS)
- Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC)
- Smart and Connected Health (SCH)
First, you should determine if the proposed research project falls within the realm of research that NSF’s CISE Directorate normally supports. Then you will need to identify one or more of the above disciplinary programs related to your research goals. One way to get a good overview of CISE is to look at the titles of the divisions and programs. The NSF Guide to Programs (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_list.jsp?org=CISE) and CISE Directorate website (http://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=CISE) provide descriptions of the topic areas supported by CISE disciplinary programs.
If NSF determines that your proposal is more appropriate for a different program than the primary one you selected, the proposal will be reassigned to the appropriate organizational unit. NSF will make the final determination of where your proposal will be assigned and considered. You can track your proposal's assignment and progress through FastLane.
My proposal seems to fit in two different programs. What should I do to indicate which program(s) I want to consider my proposal?
You may designate more than one disciplinary program in the cover sheet if you think two or more programs should jointly review your proposal, by including more than one program acronym in your proposal title (as described in the solicitation). It is very important that you select the most relevant program as the primary organization since that is the organization that is most likely to have primary responsibility for reviewing your proposal. Do not submit duplicate CRII proposals to multiple disciplinary programs. You are strongly encouraged to contact the Program Officer most closely related to the subject matter when preparing a cross-disciplinary proposal.
What if my proposal is submitted after the submission deadline?
The proposal will be returned without review. A CRII proposal must be submitted in FastLane or Grants.gov by your organization before 5:00 p.m. your local time on the deadline.
I am having problems submitting my proposal and the CRII deadline is almost here. Who should I contact?
Issues and questions related to the NSF FastLane system should be directed to the FastLane User Support desk at (800) 673-6188. You can also send an e-mail message to email@example.com. For information on the availability of the NSF FastLane system, phone (800) 437-7408 for a recorded message. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center by phone at (800) 518-4726 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If FastLane or Grants.gov is unable to resolve the submission problem and you cannot submit your proposal by the deadline, please make sure to get documentation that you tried to contact these support centers before your deadline. For NSF to consider a deadline extension you must provide NSF with supporting documentation from FastLane or Grants.gov that there was a problem at the time of submission that could not be resolved in time. A possible slowdown of these systems due to volume is not a valid reason for an extension. PIs are strongly encouraged to submit their CRII proposals well in advance of the deadline to allow time to correct any problems that may occur in the submission process.
I just noticed a major problem with my CRII proposal. The CRII deadline has not passed so can I fix the problem?
Yes, if you see a problem before the deadline, you may use the FastLane Proposal File Update Module to replace files or revise other Proposal Attributes of a submitted proposal. An automatic request for a proposal file update will be accepted only if submitted prior to the CRII deadline. On rare occasions, a proposal has technical problems due to PDF Conversion or printing problems. If the deadline has passed and you discover this problem, contact your disciplinary Program Officer to discuss whether NSF will approve a proposal file update. You should thoroughly review your proposal before it is submitted, including identifying any PDF conversion or printing problems. You are encouraged to download the final submitted version of your proposal from the FastLane site to ascertain that that version contains all the proposal parts and that it is compliant.
B.4. PROPOSAL REVIEW
My work is multidisciplinary and I want to request that two different programs review my CRII proposal. To which program should I submit my proposal and how will my proposal be reviewed?
NSF encourages multidisciplinary proposals and every attempt is made to ensure the best fit for these proposals. Proposals with a multidisciplinary focus are commonly reviewed by different programs, or by special multidisciplinary panels and/or ad-hoc reviewers. However, only one program can serve as the managing or primary program.
Please do not submit duplicate proposals. The primary organization you select on the cover page in FastLane or Grants.gov should be the program that supports the main thrust of your proposed research. NSF may choose to have your proposal reviewed by two panels. Alternatively, the managing Program Officer might ask for names of suggested reviewers from the second program.
In addition to the two NSF merit review criteria (intellectual merit and broader impacts), what other factors will be considered in the review process?
As described in the solicitation, reviewers are asked to address the two NSF merit review criteria, but they are also asked to note any solicitation-specific review criteria. In the case of CRII, reviewers are specifically asked to evaluate:
- the appropriateness of the research objectives for the relatively short duration of this award;
- the potential of the research initiation activities to produce sufficient preliminary results to serve as the basis for future competitive research proposals; and
- whether the activities are seen to be the necessary and critical steps for the PI to achieve research independence.
Reviewers will also be asked to evaluate the information provided in the required Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal, which is used to assess the adequacy of the organizational resources available to perform the effort proposed. In addition, the cognizant NSF Program Officer will review this information for programmatic and technical sufficiency.
Reviewers will read the Letter of Support from the Department Chair/Head certifying that the PI meets the eligibility criteria, including that he or she is in the first two years of a tenure-track or research science or education position (or equivalent).
The proposed mentoring activities, e.g., as described in the Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan submitted in the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal (if applicable), will also be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation's broader impacts merit review criterion.
The Data Management Plan will be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal, coming under intellectual merit, broader impacts, or both, as appropriate for the scientific community of relevance.
C. ANNOUNCEMENT OF CRII AWARDS
When will I be notified of the final decision on my CRII proposal?
Most proposers will be notified within six months of submission. You can check the status of your CRII proposal by accessing the FastLane website. 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.
D. POST-AWARD ADMINISTRATION
Are the reporting requirements for CRII awards the same as for other NSF awards?
Yes, all of the requirements for annual and final reports that apply to other NSF awards also apply to CRII awards.
What types of supplemental funds are available for CRII awards? OR
Can CRII awards receive Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) supplements?
CRII awards are eligible for supplemental funding as described in the NSF Awards and Administration Guide (http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=papp). Contact your disciplinary Program Officer to ask about possible supplemental funding opportunities for CRII awards. CRII awards can receive REU supplements.
What happens to my CRII award if I leave my academic appointment?
CRII awards must be relinquished if the PI transfers any time prior to or during the period of the award to a position that is not tenured, not tenure-track, nor tenure-track equivalent and/or to an institution that is not CRII-eligible. This includes transfer to a university or college outside the US or to a non-academic, non-CRII-eligible institution.
In some cases, if you leave an eligible position while the CRII award is active, funding may be expended to allow the student(s) to continue to be supported on the award for the remaining funded year. The award would then terminate at the end of that funded year. Contact the disciplinary Program Officer as soon you know you will be leaving to inquire about this possibility. If approved, a substitute PI will be placed on the award for the remaining year of support. The substitute PI will not receive any salary support on the CRII award.