Information for DEB PIs when preparing Proposals for Conferences, Symposia and Workshops (Meetings)

DEB Guidelines

Proposals for Supporting Conferences and Workshops

The following information is intended to provide guidance for applying for conference and workshop funding in addition to the instructions in the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG). For more information, please contact a cognizant Program Officer

Appropriateness of the conference or workshop topics
Please contact a Program Officer in the relevant cluster (Ecosystem Science, Evolutionary Processes, Population and Community Ecology, or Systematics of Biodiversity Science) to discuss your conference or workshop topic.

Prospective PIs are strongly encouraged to email a prospectus to the relevant Program Officer describing the project and justification in terms of the review criteria below (max. 3 pages). A rough budget with justification should be included on a separate page.

Conference prospectuses and proposals are reviewed for their intellectual merits and broader impacts, along with their compliance with the guidelines above. The full proposal should also provide: 1) a preliminary list of potential participants; 2) anticipated methods for recruiting and encouraging the participation of early-career investigators, students and members of underrepresented groups; 3) a draft agenda for the meeting(s); and 4) strategies for broadly disseminating the outcomes of the workshop or conference.

Support levels, eligible costs, and budget guidelines

Before submitting a proposal, you are strongly encouraged to contact a Program Officer to discuss the scope and budget of the activity.

  • Most conferences and workshops are supported for only one year at a time, although support for multiyear conferences or workshops may be considered in rare instances and must be well justified.

  • DEB provides support aimed at broadening participation of researchers who are early-career, or members of groups underrepresented in the sciences. With only rare exceptions, all requested funds should be used for participant support, and should, therefore, appear on the budget in "Participant Support Costs". Such support can be used to defray costs for registration, room and board or travel. The nature of the support should be clearly articulated in the budget justification.

  • Supported participants should generally be members of the U.S. scientific community (e.g., individuals working in U.S. institutions). If funds are to be used to support scientists from foreign institutions, the request should be discussed beforehand with a Program Officer

  • Federal funds must not be used to pay for alcoholic beverages or for entertainment.

  • Budget justification should include information on the total conference or workshop budget (e.g., expected expenses, divided into a few general categories, and expected funding, with sources and requested amounts).

Review of conference and workshop proposals
In most cases, conference and workshop proposals are reviewed internally, using the NSF merit review criteria as follows:

What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
Highest priority proposals will meet one or more of the following criteria, which should be addressed in the text.

  • The meeting emphasizes novelty and growth of the field.

  • The meeting will result in products (papers, books, teaching materials) that will be made easily available to the scienctific community.

  • The agenda for the conference or workshop demonstrates careful planning and includes activities to accomplish the targeted goals.

  • The meeting is interdisciplinary, bringing together scientists from different disciplines, or facilitating the development of multidisciplinary projects and collaborations.

What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
Highest priority proposals will meet one or more of the following criteria, which should be addressed in the text.

  • The proposal describes effective methods for encouraging participation of early-career investigators and members of underrepresented groups. Such methods may include announcements and advertising.

  • Methods for selecting participants are transparent, well-described and appropriate.

  • Proposals integrate research and education or provide unique educational opportunities.

  • The meeting organizers and speakers are diverse in terms of stage of career, gender, type of institution and geographical region.

  • The Data Management Plan conforms to NSF's policy on dissemination and sharing of research results (

Acknowledging and reporting conference and workshop support

  • NSF support should be acknowledged on the conference web site, in the conference or workshop program, and in individual travel awards. The grant number (DEB-XXXXXX) must be included in such citations.

  • PIs must submit a final report within 90 days of expiration of the award. NSF sets the duration of all conference and workshop awards at 12 months. No-cost extensions are allowed but uncommon.

  • In addition to the information requested on the FastLane template for the final progress report, DEB also requires that the report include the following information for each recipient of NSF funding:
    1. Name
    2. Position (graduate student, postdoctoral fellow, etc.)
    3. Institution

Proposal submission

  • Instructions for preparing proposals for supporting conferences and workshops, as found in Chapter II.E.7 of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures guide, are described below (also available on the NSF website, and must be followed.

  • Proposals for conferences, symposia, and workshops should be submitted 6-12 months in advance of the scheduled date. The Division will rarely consider a conference and workshop proposal that is submitted less than 6 months from the date of the proposed event.

  • Proposals must adhere to NSF policy (see Chapter XI.A.1.g) to foster harassment-free environments wherever science is conducted, including at NSF-sponsored conferences. Proposers are required to have a policy or code-of-conduct that addresses sexual harassment, other forms of harassment, and sexual assault, and that includes clear and accessible means of reporting violations of the policy or code-of-conduct. This policy or code-of-conduct must be disseminated to conference participants prior to attendance at the conference as well as made available at the conference itself.