Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Information Technology Research (ITR) (NSF 04-012)


One FAQ was added under Proposal Preparation (February 06, 2004).

Frequently Asked Questions – Proposal Preparation

Question: How many Letters of Intent should be submitted for each project and how do I submit one?

Answer: One Letter of Intent (LOI) is required from each project team this year. All senior personnel (above the level of post-doc) should be listed in this form regardless of whether they will be on the lead proposal, a collaborative proposal or any subaward submitted as part of a proposal.

Please submit your LOI using our web-based form located at by January 14, 2004. On the first page of the form, you must indicate the divisions in NSF where you would like to submit your proposal (up to three divisions), the names and contact information for PIs and co-PIs, the National Priority Area(s) your research will focus on, the Technical Focus Areas, a proposed title and a short project description. Click on “Continue” to continue to the second page, which allows for more senior personnel to be added. Include consultants on this second page. After each name and contact information has been entered, you must click on the “Submit Each Senior Personnel” button. Another screen will pop up and allow you to add yet another name and contact information. You must continue adding names in this fashion until the names of all personnel have been entered. Do not submit anyone’s name more than once on this form. When you are finished entering all information, click on “Submit Letter of Intent.” You will receive an automatic acknowledgement from NSF of your LOI submission almost immediately. If you do not receive an automatic acknowledgement, please resubmit your LOI. If problems persist, let us know at We will respond as soon as possible.

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Question: What is meant by the phrase, “Vibrant Civil Society,” that is used in the solicitation as one of the National Priority Areas?

Answer: Civil society is comprised of those social organizations and groups, which are distinct from government and the marketplace, and which provide a forum where people can freely associate. Dense and dynamic social networks of professional and work associations, hobby groups, churches, or community associations, for example, provide for a strong or “vibrant” civil society. The question for ITR is how IT can be deployed so that civil society is strengthened.

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Question: What needs to be included in the Project Summary?

Answer: The latest Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (available at specifies that proposers must clearly address, in separate statements within the one-page limit, both the broader impacts and the intellectual merit in the Project Summary. Proposals that do not address both merit review criteria in separate statements in the project summary will be returned without review. The GPG also states that the broader impacts must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative.

ITR has additional guidelines for the Project Summary. The National Priority Area(s) and Technical Focus Area(s), which are the focus of the proposal, must be identified in the intellectual merit statement. A summary or justification of how the project will impact the identified National Priority Area(s) must be included in the broader impacts statement. (See page 12 of the solicitation, “Full Proposal Instructions, 2. Project Summary.) The intellectual merit and broader impacts related to the National Priority Area(s) and Technical Focus Area(s) must be addressed in the Project Description narrative, also.

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Question: Will you enforce the page limits on proposals?

Answer: Yes. See the ITR solicitation (NSF 04-012) section V.A “Full Proposal Instructions.”

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Question: Do citations and references count against the15-page project description limit?

Answer: No. They should be included in the References Cited section of the proposal.

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Question: May I submit the same proposal to ITR and to another NSF program?

Answer: No. A unique proposal can be submitted only once to NSF, even if the proposer envisions review by multiple programs. If the proposal is a duplicate of or substantially similar to a proposal already under consideration by NSF, it will be returned without review.

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Question: Can I request an extension of time to submit a proposal?

Answer: No.

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Question: What if my university computer is unavailable on a submission deadline?

Answer: Please avoid this problem by submitting early. If you choose not to submit until the last minute, it is at your own risk.

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Question: What if there is an earthquake, fire or other disaster?

Answer: Please contact us at immediately. We will make determinations on a case-by-case basis.

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Question: Should proposals from non-profit research organizations address the broader impacts criterion and the integration of research and education along with the intellectual merit?

Answer: Yes. Every proposal regardless of where it was submitted will be evaluated on both NSF merit review criteria – the intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. Integrating research and education should be addressed as well. Non-profit research organizations should take special care to explain how their proposal will provide these benefits.

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Question: What if listing my five most recent relevant papers would take more than two pages because these papers have several hundred authors each?

Answer: The two-page limit dominates over the ability to include the entire list of authors for five papers. If your discipline has hundreds of authors per paper and you choose to list them all, you will only be able to list one or two papers. You may, instead, want to list the first few authors and add, “and xx number of other authors”.

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Question: How do we submit supplementary documents, such as letters of support?

Answer: Please scan them into the Special Information and Supplementary Documentation section of the FastLane proposal.

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Question: Can I be a reviewer for ITR this year?

Answer: If you are on an ITR proposal submitted this year then you cannot be a reviewer. If you did not submit an ITR proposal this year in response to NSF 04-012, then, yes, you can volunteer to be a reviewer. In that case, contact the Cognizant Program Officer in the solicitation that is closest to your field of research. Include a URL and a brief description of your research expertise in your email. The program officer will contact you if your area of expertise is relevant and we need reviewers in that area.

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Question: Why does the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) have only one division for ITR that I can select – Emerging Frontiers – while other directorates have more choices?

Answer: The BIO Directorate manages proposals submitted to all NSF Priority Areas, including ITR, in its Emerging Frontiers Division. Program Officers from all Biology Divisions will participate in the management of ITR proposals that fall into their areas of expertise. This allows flexibility in assignment of proposals to specific panels. Other Directorates prefer that you choose the Division (or Program) that you deem closest to the areas of science and/or engineering in your proposal.

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Question: My question is not in this list and is not answered in the solicitation. What should I do?

Answer: Send an email to

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Question: Why does NSF only allow 4 co-PIs to be listed on the cover sheet of the Full Proposal and on the LOI? I would like for our project to have five (or more) co-PIs. (added 2/6/04)

Answer: NSF decided to limit the number of co-PIs that can be listed on the cover sheet of any Full Proposal to four. Thus, the LOI had the same limitation. However, one should remember that when the Full Proposals are submitted, a collaborative proposal from multiple organizations may be done through simultaneous submission of proposals from the different organizations. In this way, four co-PIs could be listed on the cover sheet of each proposal. Alternatively, one could request a change in senior personnel through FastLane after an award is made if effective management of a project required such a change.

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