Skip to main content
Email Print Share

Answers to Frequent Proposal Preparation Questions

If I submit a proposal what is the probability it will be funded?
Success rates (# awards / # submissions) are determined by the Program’s annual budget and the number of proposals received. Although these vary yearly, the fluctuations are usually minor and the data below provide a reasonable guide.

Fiscal year 2000:

Success Rate
Senior Research
divider line
divider line
Doctoral Dissertations
divider line
High Risk
divider line
REU Supplements

I am a "classical" or "historical" archaeologist, geochemist, paleontologist ... . What constitutes the kind of "anthropologically significant" archaeology which the Archaeology Program supports?
The Program frequently funds researchers with non-Anthropology degrees and it actively encourages such individuals to apply. The Program provides support for technique development and ancillary studies often proposed by non-archaeologists and does not limit its scope by either time period or geographical region. Successful applicants however must convincingly demonstrate that their research is significant from an anthropological perspective and that it addresses questions of interest to anthropological archaeologists.

My work is interdisciplinary. What should I do?
The NSF recognizes that innovative research often lies at or between traditional disciplinary boundaries and encourages interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. A potential applicant should contact a relevant program Director and discuss their particular project. For administrative reasons a proposal may be submitted to only one Program. However it can be jointly evaluated and funded by several. This is a common practice in archaeology and projects do not slip between the cracks. Experience indicates that review by multiple Programs may best be viewed as multiple opportunities for support and not as double jeopardy.

My project involves multiple researchers at several institutions. How should I handle this?
There are several mechanisms to provide support to researchers at multiple institutions and to accomplish this within the framework of a single project. These include subcontracts, collaborative awards and a central plan of administration by a single institution. Although one needs to consider carefully which mechanism is most appropriate in a specific case, none are cumbersome and all are regularly employed. Applicants should call the Program Director to discuss the details, advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.

Can I submit a "late" proposal?
NSF distinguishes between "deadlines" and "target dates." Deadlines are absolute and proposals received after a deadline are not accepted. Target dates allow flexibility and leeway is permissible. For those Archaeology competitions with target dates, there is no need to inform the Program Director if a proposal will be a week or two late. If the delay will be significantly more, please contact to make certain it can still be included in the pending review cycle. For some competitions, requests may be submitted at any time.

I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I still submit an application?
Rules vary by competition. In most cases, including all Archaeology Program specific competitions, the citizenship of a researcher is not relevant and the NSF requires only that the proposal be submitted through a U.S. based institution. Thus the Program often provides doctoral dissertation support to foreign nationals enrolled in U.S. Ph.D. programs. It can not, however, support U.S. citizens enrolled abroad. Some NSF competitions do have nationality requirements and potential applicants should read specific program announcements carefully.

I do not have an institutional affiliation. Can I still submit an application?
Unaffiliated researchers may submit proposals directly to NSF.

The Grant Proposal Guide limits a project description to 15 single spaced pages. How strictly is this rule enforced?
In infrequent and well justified circumstances "senior archaeology" and "archaeometry" applicants, with Program Director permission, may include several pages of figures in the "Supplementary Material" section of the proposal and reference this in the project description text. If you find this is necessary, please contact the Program Director. Project descriptions in dissertation and high risk exploratory proposals are strictly limited to 10 pages of text and 5 pages of figures. One may increase the number of figure pages at the expense of text but not the reverse.

After I submit my application how soon may I expect an answer?
Senior research and archaeometry proposals undergo both "outside" and panel review. The Archaeology Panel meets twice yearly, usually in late October or early November and again in conjunction with the Society for American Archaeology meeting in the Spring. The Archaeometry Panel meets once yearly, usually in conjunction with the SAA meeting as well. Applicants may contact the Program Director to determine the date of the relevant panel and then either email or call after the meeting for information. Although a definitive answer may not be available, by this time the likely outcome for most applications will be clear. Dissertation and high risk proposals receive outside review only and are evaluated on a case by case basis. Although official notification takes considerably longer the average time between proposal submission and Program recommendation is 12 weeks and applicants are welcome to contact the Program director at the appropriate time.

May I suggest names of potential reviewers and/or non-reviewers?
The Fastlane system permits one to suggest reviewers and non-reviewers and many applicants take advantage of this option. Please make certain not to include individuals with whom you have research, financial or institutional ties. The Program pays close attention to such requests. Only in the most exceptional circumstances - usually when the number is inordinately large - would an application be sent to individuals on the do-not-use list.