Email Print Share


NSF Guide to Proposal Writing

Principal Investigators (PIs) should make contact with Program Directors if they are uncertain about the fit of their project to a given program. PIs should ensure that the primary program appears first in the section: for consideration by NSF ORGANIZATION UNIT(s) on the Cover Page.

All inquiries about proposals for dedicated education and diversity activities should be directed to Dr. Lynnette D. Madsen, DMR. PIs should contact their Program Director for supplement requests for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and education efforts.

The submission window applies to unsolicited proposals submitted to DMR programs, except for the following which may be submitted at any time during the year: Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID), EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), proposals for workshops or conferences, proposals to the DMR National Facilities Program, and supplements to existing grants. For proposals submitted in response to special announcements or solicitations, the deadline dates specified in the announcement or solicitation apply.

Disciplinary Program Proposals for DMR Submission Window

DMR Window: The window for submitting unsolicited proposals to DMR begins on September 1 and ends on October 31, annually. If the closing date for the submission window falls on a weekend, the closing date moves to the following Monday. The last date of the submission window is an absolute deadline date and proposals must be received by NSF by 5:00 p.m. submitter's local time on that date. 

Limit: DMR discourages the submission across DMR's programs of more than one proposal from the same PI during the DMR annual proposal-submission window each fall.

Early Submission: We strongly advise Principal Investigators and Sponsored Research Offices to submit early and avoid a last-minute rush, which can cause problems in timely and correct transmission to NSF. Proposals that have formatting problems or are otherwise non-compliant with the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) can usually be corrected and resubmitted within the same window if received early; there may be no time to do that for proposals submitted close to the deadline date.

Equipment, Instrumentation and Facilities: Small amounts of support for equipment or instrumentation necessary and well-justified for the project may be included as part of the budget request. Equipment and facilities beyond the scope of a typical NSF individual investigator award may be available through one of the following resources:
National Facilities 
NSF-NIST Interaction
Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) Facilities Network (MRFN)

Collaborations:* Collaborative efforts necessitated by a project – whether submitted as one proposal or as collaborative proposals – will be considered. In such cases collaborating individuals or groups should have complementary experience and expertise, as needed, to ensure efficacy. These projects should have a synergistic approach and a clear description of the role of each PI/co-PI, as well as added value of the group research, in the Project Description section. It is important that potential PIs/co-PIs contact the cognizant Program Director before September 1, if they are considering a project with a budget significantly greater than that for a single-PI proposal. Some group efforts have also been supported under various initiatives including Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF), Scalable Nanomanufacturing (SNM), and through centers (e.g., MRSEC). Information about preparing collaborative proposals from two or more organizations is located in the GPG (Chapter II, Section D.4).
*Prior to 2013, some of these projects were known as focused research groups (FRGs)