May 14, 2012
for Integration and Deployment Projects (INDPs) only
May 14, 2013
for Integration and Deployment Projects (INDPs) only
Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):
December 15, 2011
Exploration Projects (EXPs)
January 18, 2012
Design and Implementation Projects (DIPs)
February 15, 2012
Cyberlearning Resource Center (CRC)
July 16, 2012
Integration and Deployment Projects (INDPs)
December 17, 2012
Exploration Projects (EXPs)
January 16, 2013
Design and Implementation Projects (DIPs)
July 15, 2013
Integration and Deployment Projects (INDPs)
Full Proposal Target Date(s):
March 16, 2012
Capacity-Building Projects (CAPs)
October 15, 2012
Capacity-Building Projects (CAPs)
March 15, 2013
Capacity-Building Projects (CAPs)
IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND REVISION NOTES
A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 13-1, was issued on October 4, 2012 and is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 14, 2013. Please be advised that the guidelines contained in NSF 13-1 apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity. Proposers who opt to submit prior to January 14, 2013, must also follow the guidelines contained in NSF 13-1.
Please be aware that significant changes have been made to the PAPPG to implement revised merit review criteria based on the National Science Board (NSB) report, National Science Foundation's Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions. While the two merit review criteria remain unchanged (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts), guidance has been provided to clarify and improve the function of the criteria. Changes will affect the project summary and project description sections of proposals. Annual and final reports also will be affected.
Please note that this program solicitation may contain supplemental proposal preparation guidance and/or guidance that deviates from the guidelines established in the Grant Proposal Guide.
This solicitation replaces NSF 10-620. The solicitation has been revised in the following ways. Additional details about each can be found in the body of the solicitation.
Types of Awards: Two new types of awards are solicited: Capacity-Building Projects (CAPs) and a Cyberlearning Resource Center (CRC). See the sub-section entitled "PROJECT CATEGORIES" in Section II. Program Description for descriptions of all types of awards.
Change of Full-Proposal Deadline: Exploration Projects (EXPs) are now due in mid-December.
Clarifications: The following clarifications have been made in the solicitation document.
Screen shots: Up to five diagrams or screen shots are allowed in the supplementary materials to give readers a chance to understand how learners will experience the proposed technology. See the subsection "Supplementary Documents" in Section V., Sub-section A. Proposal Preparation Instructions.
Collaboration and Management Plan: A Collaboration and Management Plan is required in all proposals. It should detail how the collaborative team will interact to ensure that issues of learning, technology, and context are considered from the beginning. For details, see Section V., Sub-section A. Proposal Preparation Instructions.
Additional References: Additional references related to the solicitation are cited. See the sub-section "REFERENCES" in Section II. Project Description.
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program:
Cognizant Program Officer(s):
Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.
Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):
Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant or Continuing Grant or Cooperative Agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: 28 to 49 awards will be made, contingent on the availability of funds.
Anticipated Funding Amount: $36,000,000 Contingent upon availability of funds, up to $36 million will be available in FYs 2012 and 2013 combined to fund proposals submitted in response to this solicitation. The intention is to fund 12 to 18 EXPs, 6 to 12 DIPs, 2 to 4 INDPs, 7 to 14 CAPs, and 1 CRC over that 2-year period.
The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter I, Section E.
Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 3
Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
A. Proposal Preparation Instructions
B. Budgetary Information
C. Due Dates
Proposal Review Information Criteria
Merit Review Criteria: National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.
Award Administration Information
Award Conditions: Standard NSF award conditions apply.
Reporting Requirements: Standard NSF reporting requirements apply.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Among society's central challenges are amplifying, expanding, and transforming opportunities people have for learning and more effectively drawing in, motivating, and engaging young learners. Engaging actively as a citizen and productively in the workforce requires understanding a broad variety of concepts and possessing the ability to collaborate, learn, solve problems, and make decisions. Whether learning is facilitated in school or out of school, and whether learners are youngsters or adults, to develop such knowledge and capabilities, learners must be motivated to learn, actively engage over the long term in learning activities, and put forth sustained cognitive and social effort.
Research supported by the Cyberlearning program will therefore explore the opportunities for promoting and assessing learning made possible by new technologies, ways to help learners capitalize on those opportunities, new practices that are made possible by learning technologies, and ways of using technology to promote deep and lasting learning of content, practices, skills, attitudes, and/or dispositions needed for engaged and productive citizenship. Cyberlearning research will marry what is known about the processes by which people learn with advances in information and communications technologies to advance understanding of how to cultivate a citizenry that engages productively in learning both in and out of school and throughout a lifetime; and that possesses the knowledge and capabilities to make informed decisions and judgments about problems ranging from their immediate lives to ethics, privacy, and security concerns to global issues such as war and peace, economics, health and well being, and the environment.
II. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
The goals of the Cyberlearning program are:
The program will fund projects that explore opportunities for promoting and assessing learning made possible by new technologies, ways to help learners capitalize on those opportunities, new practices that are made possible by learning technologies, and ways of using technology to promote deep and lasting learning of content, practices, skills, attitudes, and/or dispositions needed for engaged and productive citizenship. Every project should therefore seek to advance understanding of how to better promote learning, how to promote better learning, or how learning happens in technology-rich environments (including relationships between people and technology that result in productive learning, access provided via technology to learning resources, such as data and scientific information, and opportunities for promoting learning through better linking of assessment to learning). Each project should also focus, concurrently, on furthering some technological innovation. The technological innovation may be targeted at advancing some innovative technology design or exploring new ways of using technologies for learning or assessment, coherently integrating such technologies with each other, and/or integrating such technologies into targeted learning environments. Especially sought are projects in which technology allows the tailoring of learning experiences to special needs and interests of groups or individuals or allows expanding formal education beyond classroom settings. Targeted learning environments may be formal or informal, traditional or non-traditional, collaborative or individual, or may seek to combine or bridge several different types of learning venues. Proposed research and innovations must be grounded in theories of and literatures on learning and learning with technology.
Cyberlearning innovations will not effect transformations unless they are substantively integrated into authentic learning environments, taking into account the affordances (opportunities offered) and constraints of the environment, including the capabilities, needs, and goals of agents in the environment, the resources that are available, and the physical space. At the same time, integration of technologies into learning environments may change those environments, prompting a need to understand, predict, and design for those changes. Indeed, it is expected that some technology designs and some ways of integrating technology into learning environments may challenge conventional educational practices.
Cyberlearning projects must therefore include both research and development components. A significant amount of effort in all projects should go into iterative refinement of the design, implementation, or use of a technological innovation based on systematic analysis of formative data. Except in the case of some exploratory projects, formative analysis of the technological innovation should be carried out in one or more of the real-world contexts for which the technology is targeted. The research component of each project should be carried out in the context of using the technology and should advance understanding of learning with technology or learning in technology-rich environments. Projects should take into account both theoretical and practical issues, focusing on new directions while, at the same time, taking into account a future in which research outcomes inform implementations on broader and larger scales.
It is important for all projects to be grounded in the latest research on how people learn and to aim to maximize the affordances of chosen technologies. Therefore, every project team, even those for exploratory projects, should include people with expertise in how people learn, the targeted technology, the targeted learners, practices of educating in the targeted learning environment, the targeted content and/or practices, and learning of the targeted content and/or practices.
Cyberlearning awards will be made in three research categories, each focusing on a different stage of research and development: Exploratory (EXP), Design and Implementation (DIP), and Integration and Deployment (INDP). The Cyberlearning program will also support Capacity-Building Projects (CAP) and a Cyberlearning Resource Center (CRC).
All EXP, DIP, and INDP proposals should include the following components. Additional details about what is expected for each of the types of proposals are described below in the next subsection.
As stated above, Cyberlearning awards will be made in three research categories, each focusing on a different stage of research and development: Exploration (EXP), Design and Implementation (DIP), and Integration and Deployment (INDP). The Cyberlearning program will also support Capacity-Building Projects (CAP) and a Cyberlearning Resource Center (CRC). The table below summarizes the purposes and prerequisites of each project category.
The paragraphs that follow include additional detail about requirements for projects in each category.
Exploration Projects (EXP projects) explore the proof-of-concept or feasibility of a novel or innovative technology or use of such technology for assessment or to promote learning. EXP projects are for the purpose of trying out new ideas. EXP projects might explore how existing technologies can be used for assessment or to promote learning or explore the opportunities for assessment, promotion of learning, or engaging in learning of a new or existing technology).
Design and Implementation Projects (DIP projects) are for ascertaining the potential of ideas, developing guidelines for use of technology to support assessment, learning, and/or engagement, and answering research questions about learning with technology. These projects might advance understanding about how to more broadly or productively use technology that holds promise or how to coherently integrate several technological innovations that hold promise. DIP research and development should be carried out in the everyday environments in which people spend their lives, e.g., schools, homes, museums, parks, and the workplace.
Integration and Deployment Projects (INDP Projects) projects should build on one or more technologically-sophisticated efforts that have already demonstrated measures of success beyond proof of concept. Research and development should be carried out in the everyday environments in which people spend their lives, and like other types of projects, they will answer questions about learning and about design or use of technology for learning. These projects will build on research that has already shown the promise of some technology or set of technologies for promoting learning or advancing our understanding of learning. These projects might advance understanding of how to more broadly or productively use technology that holds promise or how to coherently integrate several technological innovations that hold promise.
Capacity-Building Projects (CAPs) may be submitted as proposals or as supplements to funded projects. These projects are for the purpose of partnership building, expanding the Cyberlearning community and strengthening the capabilities of those new members, strengthening the ties between the several different Cyberlearning communities, moving new ideas to the fore, and enhancing capabilities and/or vision of the Cyberlearning community. CAP proposals will be considered twice during the year - in October and March. Proposers should contact a program officer before submitting CAP proposals. CAPs may take any of several forms, including the following. Other forms may be proposed.
Cyberlearning Resource Center (CRC): One Cyberlearning Resource Center will be funded as a cooperative agreement to support Cyberlearning projects and programmatic efforts. The Cyberlearning Resource Center (CRC) will have responsibility for promoting collaboration among grantees; national dissemination of program findings, technologies, models, materials, and best practices; providing collaborative assessment, evaluation, and technical assistance to Cyberlearning projects; helping to bridge the gap between research and practice; creating a national presence for Cyberlearning; helping the disparate Cyberlearning research and development communities coordinate their efforts in a way that builds capacity; and providing infrastructure (technological and social) for supporting these efforts. The Resource Center will also conduct comprehensive evaluation of program effectiveness. Because projects in the Cyberlearning portfolio cover a broad range of technologies and learner populations, and because Cyberlearning projects have been awarded across NSF programs, the Center should have capacity to support diverse needs of both grantees and the program.
IMPORTANT PROJECT CHARACTERISTICS
The Cyberlearning program will fund a portfolio of projects representing exciting, potentially transformative research with potential for high impact and significant advancement of the state of the art. Proposals should demonstrate that their innovation will offer rich learning experiences for a diverse population of learners. It will be appropriate for many proposals to include the development of innovative curricula or educational materials in addition to proposing technological innovations. Interdisciplinary (including collaborators from the arts and humanities), international, and/or academic-industry collaborations that promise to result in major science or engineering advances are welcome. The program seeks proposals from investigators at a broad range of learning institutions, including faculty at minority-serving and predominantly undergraduate institutions.
A successful research project should be potentially transformative; grounded in existing learning and education research; seek to answer questions about learning with technology; measure learning gains, taking into account appropriate elements of the learning ecology in designing its innovation, evaluating its innovation, and answering research questions; include team members with all necessary expertise, including expertise for outreach and dissemination; take into account potential scalability and sustainability issues; and use appropriate methodologies to evaluate innovations and measure learning gains. Our expectation is that many grants made by this program will seed long-term research enterprises. The transformative potential of proposed projects may be many years out, so proposers should make clear what that potential is and the predicted time horizon.
COOPERATION WITH THE CYBERLEARNING RESOURCE CENTER
A Cyberlearning Resource Center (CRC) will provide assessment, technology transfer, dissemination, and evaluation aid to PIs. This CRC will help Cyberlearning PIs collaborate to synthesize findings across the Cyberlearning portfolio, will provide technical assistance to Cyberlearning projects, will promote national awareness of research contributions from the Cyberlearning portfolio, and will build the Cyberlearning community through PI and special interest meetings. All Cyberlearning projects will be required to share their proposals and findings with the resource network and other Cyberlearning PIs, to participate in annual PI meetings and synthesis, and to be responsive to requests for information from other Cyberlearning PIs and from the CRC.
Bell, Phillip, Bruce Lewenstein, Andrew W. Shouse, and Michael A. Feder (Eds.) (2009). Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. National Academies Press: Washington.
Bransford, John D., Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington: National Academies Press.
Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141-178.
Dede, Chris, Honan, James P. & Peters, Laurence, C. (Eds.) (2005). Scaling Up Success: Lessons Learned from Technology-Based Educational Improvement. Jossey-Bass: New York.
Donovan, Suzanne and John D. Bransford (2005). How Students Learn: History, Science, and Mathematics in the Classroom. Washington: National Academies Press, Washington.
Duschl, Richard A., Schweingruber, Heidi A. & Shouse, Andrew W. (Eds.) (2007). Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. The National Academies Press.
Educational Researcher (2004). Special issue on Design-Based Research 39(4).
Greeno, J. G., Collins, A. M, and Resnick, L. (1996). Cognition and Learning. In D. Berliner and R. Calfee (Eds.). Handbook of Educational Psychology (pp. 15-46). New York: MacMillan.
Honey, Margaret A. & Hilton, Margaret (Eds.) (2011). Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations. The National Academies Press.
Journal of the Learning Sciences (2004). Special issue on Design-Based Research. 13(1).
NSF Taskforce on Cyberlearning (2008). Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge. National Science Foundation. https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf08204.
Sawyer, Keith (Ed.) (2006). Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
III. AWARD INFORMATION
Contingent upon availability of funds, up to $36 million will be available in FYs 2012 and 2013 combined to fund proposals submitted in response to this solicitation. The intention is to fund 12 to 18 EXPs, 6 to 12 DIPs, 2 to 4 INDPs, 7 to 14 CAPs, and 1 CRC over that 2-year period.
IV. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
The categories of proposers eligible to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation are identified in the Grant Proposal Guide, Chapter I, Section E.
Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 3
V. PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS
A. Proposal Preparation Instructions
Letters of Intent(required): A Letter of Intent (LOI) is required for Integration and Deployment Project (INDP) proposals. LOIs are due on or before May 14 of the year the proposal will be submitted. The LOI must contain (1) a proposed title; (2) the names of Principal Investigators and Co-Principal Investigators, including organizational affiliations and departments; (3) a list of the partnering institutions; (4) a brief synopsis (limited to 250 words) describing the proposed project in sufficient detail to permit selection of reviewers. LOIs will not be used to encourage or discourage the submission of full proposals. They will be used only to help NSF plan for the merit review process, and they are nonbinding. Thus, changes may be made between the submission of the LOI and submission of the full proposal.
Letter of Intent Preparation Instructions:
When submitting a Letter of Intent for INDP through FastLane in response to this Program Solicitation please note the conditions outlined below:
Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via Grants.gov or via the NSF FastLane system.
In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:
Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system. Chapter II, Section D.4 of the Grant Proposal Guide provides additional information on collaborative proposals.
Important Proposal Preparation Information: FastLane will check for required sections of the proposal, in accordance with Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) instructions described in Chapter II.C.2. The GPG requires submission of: Project Summary; Project Description; References Cited; Biographical Sketch(es); Budget; Budget Justification; Current and Pending Support; Facilities, Equipment & Other Resources; Data Management Plan; and Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan, if applicable. If a required section is missing, FastLane will not accept the proposal.
Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the GPG instructions. If the solicitation instructions do not require a GPG-required section to be included in the proposal, insert text or upload a document in that section of the proposal that states, "Not Applicable for this Program Solicitation." Doing so will enable FastLane to accept your proposal.
The following information SUPPLEMENTS (not replaces) the guidelines provided in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) and the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide.
Proposal Titles: Proposal titles must begin with an acronym that indicates the categories in which proposals are being submitted, as follows:
The acronym should be followed with a colon then the title of the proposed project. If you submit a proposal as one in a set of collaborative proposals, the title of your proposal should begin with the acronym that indicates the project category, followed by a colon, then "Collaborative Research" followed by a colon, and then the project title. For example, if you are submitting an Exploration Project, the title of each collaborative proposal would be EXP: Collaborative Research: Project Title.
Project Summary: The Project Summary consists of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity. Proposals that do not contain the Project Summary, including an overview and separate statements on intellectual merit and broader impacts will not be accepted by FastLane or will be returned without review.
Project Description: Project Descriptions should include the following sections:
With appropriate references to the literature, support the significance of and need for answering the research questions that have been proposed, and provide a comprehensive research plan to answer them. Distinguish between what is already known and what you will add to the literature. Describe the data to be gathered and analytic approaches to be taken to analyze the data.
Describe how the proposed innovations and ways of integrating them into the learning environment take into account the environmental and human factors important to learner success (e.g., the cognitive, developmental, affective, and social needs of learners, the cultural milieu in which the learning technologies will be used, and the capabilities and expectations of human agents in the environment). Make clear the learning domain to be explored (e.g., content, subject matter, topics, skills, practices), and make a research-based case for the promise of the particular technological innovation for promoting targeted learning. All claims about the appropriateness of the proposed innovation should be supported with evidence from the literature.
In describing the technological innovation, make clear your vision of the experiences of learners and others interacting with the proposed technology. Include up to five diagrams and/or screen shots in the supplementary materials to help readers have a feel for those experiences.
It is anticipated that technological innovations will be iteratively refined over the course of the project based on analysis of formative data. Describe the plan for iterative refinement, including the data that will be collected and analyzed in support of formative evaluation, including means of assessing learning and engagement. Describe the project outcomes you expect to generate, including products. Discuss how you will collect and analyze data to supply evidence of learning outcomes.
DIP and INDP projects should include efficacy studies. Describe your vision of the products that will emerge from iterative refinements. Discuss how you will judge the efficacy of the innovation, the data you will collect, and analysis plans.
Only prior support directly related to the proposed activities should be included.
Please note that per guidance in the GPG, the Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. You can decide where to include this section within the Project Description.
A Collaboration and Management Plan is required for all Cyberlearning proposals. The length of and degree of detail provided in the Collaboration and Management Plan should be commensurate with the complexity of the proposed project. Collaboration and Management Plans should be included at the end of the Project Description in a section entitled "Collaboration and Management Plan". Up to 3 additional pages are allowed for these plans. The Collaboration and Management Plan should describe:
Supplementary Documents: The following supplementary documents are required and should be uploaded into the Supplementary Documents Section. No other supplementary materials are allowed.
1. List of Project Personnel and Partner Institutions (Note - In collaborative proposals, only the lead institution should provide this information): Provide current, accurate information for all personnel and institutions involved in the project. NSF staff will use this information in the merit review process to manage conflicts of interest. The list should include all PIs, Co-PIs, Senior Personnel, paid/unpaid Consultants or Collaborators, Sub awardees, Postdocs, and project-level advisory committee members. This list should be numbered, in alphabetical order by last name, and include for each entry (in this order) Full name, Organization(s), and Role in the project, with each item separated by a semi-colon. Each person listed should start a new numbered line. For example:
2. Letters of commitment from participating personnel and institution (no other letters are allowed)
3. Diagrams and/or screen shots (for EXP, DIP, and INDP proposals): Up to five (5) diagrams or screen shots that will help readers grasp the envisioned experiences of learners interacting with the proposed technological innovation. Short captions that name the diagram or screen shot and point to its essential elements are allowed; additional textual material is not allowed with the diagrams.
4. Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan: Proposals that include funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include a Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan as a supplementary document. The plan should describe a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. Please be advised that a proposal that requires a Postdoctoral Research Mentoring Plan but does not include one cannot be funded. See Chapter II.C.2.j of the GPG for further information about the implementation of this requirement.
5. Data Management Plan: All proposals must include a data-management plan or assert the absence of the need for such a plan. A data-management plan specifies the procedures you will use for keeping, storing, and sharing your data. It should include the method for making the data anonymous. FastLane will not permit submission of a proposal that is missing a Data Management Plan. The Data Management Plan will be reviewed as part of the intellectual merit or broader impacts of the proposal, or both, as appropriate. See Chapter II.C.2.j of the GPG for further information about the implementation of this requirement.
B. Budgetary Information
Cost Sharing: Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited
Budget Preparation Instructions:
The budget must include funds to support travel to annual PI meetings.
C. Due Dates
D. FastLane/Grants.gov Requirements
VI. NSF PROPOSAL PROCESSING AND REVIEW PROCEDURES
Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in the GPG as Exhibit III-1.
A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/meritreview/.
Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Empowering the Nation Through Discovery and Innovation: NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2011-2016. These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.
One of the core strategies in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students, and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the variety of learning perspectives.
Another core strategy in support of NSF's mission is broadening opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.
A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria
The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.
1. Merit Review Principles
These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:
With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.
These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.
2. Merit Review Criteria
All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.
The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i. contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal.) Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.i., prior to the review of a proposal.
When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:
The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:
Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.
Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management Plan and the Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.
Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria
All EXP, DIP, INDP, and CAP projects will be judged according to the following additional criteria:
For Design and Implementation Projects (DIP) and Integration and Deployment Projects (INDP), reviewers will be asked to comment on the extent to which the project scope justifies the level of investment requested.
CRCs will be judged according to the criteria laid out in describing the requirements.
B. Review and Selection Process
Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.
Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.
After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.
A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.
In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.
VII. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Notification of the Award
Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)
B. Award Conditions
An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1); * or Research Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.
*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at https://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF. Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from email@example.com.
More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.
C. Reporting Requirements
For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). Within 90 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.
Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.
PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.
More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=aag.
VIII. AGENCY CONTACTS
Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.
General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:
For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:
For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:
IX. OTHER INFORMATION
The NSF Website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this Website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, National Science Foundation Update is a free e-mail subscription service designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Regional Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail when new publications are issued that match their identified interests. Users can subscribe to this service by clicking the "Get NSF Updates by Email" link on the NSF web site.
Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this new mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at http://www.grants.gov.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."
NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.
NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.
Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.
The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.
The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.
PRIVACY ACT AND PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENTS
The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.
An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:
Suzanne H. Plimpton
The National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA