In contrast to the trend of decreasing numbers of preliminary proposals, we have seen a rapid increase in the category of Small Grant preliminary proposals (these are also included in the total counts in our previous post).
|DEB Small Grants||2012||2013||2014||2015|
We attribute this to a growing awareness of this option to submit preliminary proposals with total budgets under $150K. Small grants came about in the second year of the preliminary proposal system in response to a long-standing desire, expressed by numerous voices in our communities, for some sort of “small” category. DEB realized it was particularly appropriate in the case of the preliminary proposal system in order that reviewers be able to adjust their expectations for the scope of a project relative to the expense without requiring the extensive preparations of a full budget. We added the category to our solicitation for the 2013 preliminary proposal deadline.
We’ve had lots of positive feedback on this option, but also recognize that awareness still needs to be improved among both applicants and reviewers. This year, 8% of all preliminary proposals were identified as small grants.
Small Grants are found in all four clusters and are generally on the increase, but we also think feedback, such as this post, is necessary to successfully integrate this idea into our communities and maintain enthusiasm for this option. We would not be surprised to see these numbers grow to the point where SGs make up as large a part (or larger) of the preliminary proposal pool as Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions or Beginning Investigators.
Since 2013, we’ve funded 22 awards based on invited full small grants (9 of 18 in 2013, 12 of 24 in 2014, and 1 of 1 in 2015 thus far), for a 51% success rate at the full proposal stage. This is roughly twice the success rate of full proposals without the SG designation.
 Not everyone who received an invitation eventually submitted a full proposal (individual reasons vary). Also, we have an award already based on a 2015 preliminary proposal because instead of inviting a full proposal, DEB determined this project was appropriate for the EAGER mechanism and invited the team to submit an EAGER proposal allowing for quick turnaround of an award.