DEB Spring 2014 Preliminary Proposal Results

Some of you have already heard about your DEB preliminary proposal(s). Invitations for full proposals have been going out first, one cluster at a time, followed by declines, again by cluster. DEB does this to maximize preparation time for the invited PIs and to make sure individuals in the same cluster and outcome grouping receive notice at roughly the same time. These decisions are being announced in line with or ahead of the review calendar discussed here and here.

Each PI will receive a context statement describing the review process and results in the reviewing cluster. Here we provide a compilation of the same context information for all four clusters in DEB.


Preliminary Proposals submitted to the Division of Environmental Biology were evaluated by panel-only review using the two NSF review criteria of intellectual merit and broader impacts as described in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (NSF 13-1). Additional criteria were applied to preliminary proposals submitted in response to targeted solicitations (e.g., LTREB), as specified in the program announcements for those solicitations.

DEB brought 1587 preliminary proposals to panel review in March and April of 2014. After discussion the panels assigned each of the preliminary proposals to a recommendation category.

Reviews and panel evaluations are advisory. Decisions to Invite or Not Invite are made by NSF. In the difficult decision-making process, Program Directors consider the relative promise of each preliminary proposal as well as other factors, such as balance among sub-disciplines, types and geographic distribution of submitting institutions, and the potential contribution of each project to broadening the participation of individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in science. After considering these factors, recommendations are made by the program. The Invitation Count represents the number of full proposals that are actually being invited by the program.


DEB Cluster

Submission Count

Merit Review Panel Recommendation

Invitation Count

(Invitation Rate)

High Priority Invite

Low Priority Invite

Do Not Invite

Ecosystem Science





70 (24%)

Evolutionary Processes



(Not Used)


98 (19%)

Population and Community Ecology





112 (24%)

Systematics and Biodiversity Science





84 (25%)






364 (23%)

4 thoughts on “DEB Spring 2014 Preliminary Proposal Results

  1. Is it true that DEB invites for a particular panel are not all sent on the same day (spread out over a few days)? If so, why not adopt a system like IOS where the invites are all sent on one day and not invites all on the same day a week or so later?

    Just curious as to why the two groups seem to do things differently.

  2. Pingback: Friday links: your sample size is too small, tips for the academic nomad, and more | Dynamic Ecology

  3. We made a decision some time ago to have all invites out by May 15th so as to give PIs plenty of time to construct their full proposals. Some clusters had earlier panels than others or were quicker in making their decisions. We decided to go ahead and release invites by cluster before May 15th, as they were ready. The division directors need to review all program officer recommendations and that takes a bit of time, so even within a cluster, there could be a day or two variation in release date. Declines are being handled in the same way. Note that IOS has many smaller programs, whereas DEB has fewer, larger programs; it is easier to synchronize the release of a small number of pre-proposals than the hundreds within each of the DEB clusters.

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