Upcoming Biology Integration Institutes Webinar


Please join us for the upcoming webinar about the Biology Integration Institutes (BII) on November 18th, 2019 at 2pm EST!

During this webinar, program directors from the BIO BII Team will address questions about the recently released solicitation (NSF 20-508).

Use the registration link below to register for our November 18th webinar.

Click here to register

The BII is a new funding opportunity to strengthen the connections between biological subdisciplines and encourage a reintegration of biology. This funding opportunity is a part of BIO’s larger efforts to stimulate integrative thinking in the biological research community.

To learn more about the Biology Integration Institutes, visit the solicitation and program website.

Letters of Intent for Implementation Proposals are due December 20, 2019. The deadline for full proposals, in both the Design and Implementation tracks, is February 6, 2020.

Who’s Afraid of Co-reviews?


Co-review is a common practice in DEB (and across NSF), but questions from the community suggest that having a proposal co-reviewed makes some of you apprehensive. In fact, you may ask yourself whether co-review will decrease the likelihood of getting funded. Not to worry – here are the basics:

Which proposals are co-reviewed? Projects that stand to advance the science funded by multiple programs are most commonly co-reviewed. Almost always, these are integrative or interdisciplinary studies.

How does co-review work? Typically, the program to which the proposal was submitted (i.e., the primary program) determines that there is significant overlap with other program(s) and invites the relevant program(s) to participate in the review process. This participation may range from simply suggesting ad hoc reviewers to taking the proposal to their own panel.

Can I decide where my proposal gets co-reviewed? At submission, you are welcome (but not required) to suggest other programs you believe to be relevant for co-review; you do so in the Cover Sheet portion of the proposal. We encourage you to discuss your research idea prior to submission with a Program Officer from each program that you regard as relevant for a potential co-review. Often, they can provide explicit guidance as to whether co-review is warranted, and with which programs. After submission, the (primary) program then decides whether to request a co-review from the programs that you’ve suggested.

The only exception to this process is the Rules of Life track, which requires that you specify a co-reviewing program in a BIO Division other than DEB and that you explain how your proposed work bridges the two programs.

What happens after co-review? If the proposal is favorably reviewed by one or both programs, either or both programs may choose to fund the project. Thus, one of the advantages of co-review is that multiple programs might be willing to help fund the proposal. Funding contributions can vary, but co-funding often allows DEB to support more principal investigators and more individual projects.

But, isn’t it risky to expose my proposal to scrutiny by so many reviewers? As we all know, an important aspect of promoting the progress of science is getting fair, constructive feedback. For a subset of the proposals we receive this can really only be achieved by expert input and discussion reflecting the breadth of topics covered in the proposal (hence the co-review).

But, what about the funding rates of co-reviewed proposals? As part of our award recommendation process, we regularly monitor funding rates of co-reviews, and we have no indication that co-reviewed proposals fare less well than non-co-reviewed proposals.

If the science truly does straddle multiple programs, projects may be more likely to be completely and fairly evaluated if experts from multiple disciplines can offer feedback. Even if the proposal is not funded, the advice from a diverse array of reviewers should help you strengthen any resubmissions.

More questions about co-review? Contact a Program Officer! We’re happy to talk about your proposal.

 

Next Steps for NEON


Check out the latest NEON news from the Office of the Assistant Director’s blog here or below.

“One of BIO’s highlights from this current fiscal year is the movement of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) from construction into full operations. 179 data products are now freely available to the scientific community and the public on the NEON Data Portal, and we are pleased to note that downloads of the data are rapidly increasing as is use of NEON data in publications. NEON data is also transforming ecological education at a diverse range of institutions.

NSF recently announced (NSF 19-080) its intent to launch an open competition for the management of NEON’s future operations and maintenance. NSF’s major facilities routinely undergo such a merit-based, peer-reviewed process, thus the announcement signals that NEON has matured into a fully-functioning Observatory.  The review process will take roughly two years, with the new award expected to commence in late 2021.  As always, NSF will be relying on community expertise in the merit review process, which will ensure that NEON is an effective resource for ecology for years to come.

We recognize that members of the scientific community may have questions and input for NSF as we embark on this process. We welcome community input, and to that end, we will host a NEON Information Session and Question and Answer Period on Monday, August 12, at the Ecological Society of America’s Annual meeting in Louisville, KY. For those who won’t be at ESA, questions and input can be directed to the cognizant program officer, Dr. Roland Roberts (neon-bot@nsf.gov).

We hope to see many of you at ESA.”

New Functions in Research.gov


New Features

  • You can now submit full, research collaborative proposals with subawards in Research.gov
  • Sponsored Project Office (SPO)/Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) can now receive email notifications when PIs enable proposal access to SPOs/AORs

While proposers can still prepare and submit collaborative proposals with subawards as well as full, research non-collaborative proposals in FastLane, NSF encourages the research community to use the new Research.gov proposal system because as NSF continues to enhance the new system incrementally, your vital feedback is being incorporated during the development process.

For example, Research.gov has real-time compliance checks and feedback for each section, specific checks on the budget screens and for Collaborators and Other Affiliations (COA) uploads, and embedded relevant sections of the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and video job aids, so you don’t have to go to multiple sites to look up guidance.

Initiating a Proposal in Research.gov

If you have not done so already, we invite you to initiate a proposal in Research.gov by following the steps outlined below:

  • Open Research.gov and click “Sign In” located at the top right of the screen;
  • Enter your NSF ID and password and click “Sign In;”
  • From the Research.gov “My Desktop” page, click “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types)” in the “Prepare & Submit Proposals tile” or go to this option from the top navigation bar by selecting the “Prepare & Submit Proposals” tab and clicking on “New! Prepare Proposals (Limited proposal types);”
  • Select the “Prepare Proposal” option in the “Prepare New Proposal” tile on the left side of the Proposal Preparation page; and
  • Follow the five-step proposal wizard to set up the proposal.  

Submitting Feedback

NSF wants to hear from you! To submit feedback about the new Research.gov Proposal Preparation and Submission Site:

  • Go to the Research.gov Feedback page;
  • Choose “Other” under the Site Area dropdown menu;
  • Include your feedback in the Comments or Suggestions field; and
  • Click Submit when you are ready to send your feedback to NSF.

Training Resources and Additional Information

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. If you have IT system-related questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or rgov@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

 

 

Panel Service: What to Expect


Are you curious about serving on a panel, but something has stopped you? Maybe you’re waiting for a Program Officer to track you down or are secretly relieved when prior commitments always seem to fall on panel dates. Or (worst of all!) you’ve allowed that dreaded imposter syndrome to outpace your enthusiasm.

Have no fear! Let’s take a moment to go over who (and how) we typically recruit panelists, what you can expect leading up to the panel, what happens on the actual meeting days, and why panel service could be beneficial to you.

Who serves on panels?

Panelists range in experience from post-doctoral scholars through the ranks to tenured faculty. They also include museum curators and researchers, and research-focused federal employees outside of NSF. This means you need a PhD and must be active in your field.

Recruitment

Program Officers review the content of each proposal and recruit panelists who are qualified to review the slate of proposals in a given panel. This can explain why you may be recruited for some panels and not others. We try our best to build diverse panels, with broad representation of men and women, career stages, types of institution (Research-1, colleges, and minority-serving), states (especially EPSCoR eligible), and membership in underrepresented groups. (With respect to the latter, we rely on you to self-identify when you register with Fastlane or Grants.gov.)

To gear up for panel recruitment/service, it is good to serve initially as an ad hoc reviewer and to have submitted a proposal (not matter its outcome) as PI or Co-PI so that you are familiar with the process.

We take recommendations from other panelists and have sign-up sheets at Evolution and ESA meetings. You can also relay your interest in serving by visiting our website and signing up using our Reviewer Survey.

Before Panel Service

So, you’ve agreed to serve on a panel*. That’s great! You’ll receive an email (a “Charge Letter”), directing you how to register for the panel, make travel and lodging arrangements, and plan for any technological or special accommodations.

After lots of communication from the managing Program Officer, and each panelist identifying their conflicts of interests, you’ll be given your review assignments – usually 4-6 weeks prior to the panel dates.

Next, you’ll write your individual reviews for 10-14 proposals evaluating the intellectual merit and broader impacts. These individual reviews are completed before the panel starts. We recommend that reviews be submitted 3 to 5 days ahead of the panel so that everyone — Program Officers and other panelists — has the chance to ponder the complete set of opinions on each proposal. (Note that you won’t be able to see other reviews on a given proposal until you’ve submitted your own review.)

*Please note that if you have a proposal currently under review in DEB, you cannot serve as a panelist during this funding cycle. This also means that if you agree to serve on a panel, please don’t then submit a proposal to DEB.

Day of Service

The panel is a multi-day discussion of each proposal’s intellectual merits and broader impacts. A panel meets at or near NSF, although virtual panels are also used. For each proposal in a DEB panel, at least two other panelists will provide reviews. You and your fellow panelists will discuss each proposal, come to a consensus, and then make a recommendation about its overall quality to NSF. It’s important to understand that the panel’s recommendations are just that — recommendations. NSF Program Officers always take them to heart but their ultimate decisions on which proposals to fund involve additional considerations, most notably what we call “portfolio balance”.

DEB tends to organize larger panels than elsewhere in NSF to tackle the broad and shifting suite of specialties and diversity of projects in our programmatic area. It’s not unusual for a DEB panel to be made up of 20 panelists (with 4-6 Program Officers and associated staff) to tackle more than 100 proposals over 3 days.

How does serving on a panel serve you?

  1. Each panel hosts a Q&A session with DEB senior leadership and representatives from the BIO Directorate Office of the Assistant Director. This is your chance to ask about upcoming funding opportunities and recent (or future) programmatic changes. We also value your suggestions for how to improve the review processes to better serve our community of investigators.
  2. You gain insight into new and emergent science in your field.
  3. You learn about grantsmanship.
  4. You learn about the merit review process.
  5. You build networks of scientists working on similar projects with similar goals.
  6. It’s intellectually stimulating. We guarantee you’ll be pushed in new directions.

 

Still Required: Personnel List Spreadsheet


When submitting to the DEB Core Programs solicitation (NSF 18-587), remember that we still require a Personnel List Spreadsheet to be emailed to debtemplate@nsf.gov within one business day of your proposal submission.

From NSF 18-587:

“Personnel List Spreadsheet. The spreadsheet template can be found at https://www.nsf.gov/bio/deb/debpersonnellist.xlsx. Please read the instructions carefully. Using the template, compile an Excel file that provides information for all persons identified in the proposal as: “PI or co-PI” (i.e., those listed on the cover page); “Other Senior Personnel/Subawardee”; or “Other Personnel” who have a biosketch included in the proposal. Only one spreadsheet should be submitted per project. All participants in a multi-institutional collaborative proposal should be included on the lead proposal’s Personnel List Spreadsheet. The file must include the FastLane proposal ID assigned after submission of your proposal (i.e., not the Temporary ID # or Grants.gov ID #). Once completed, the file should be submitted by email to debtemplate@nsf.gov within one business day of proposal submission.”

There is only one Personnel List Spreadsheet per project that lists all the PIs, co-PIs, subawadees, and other senior personnel who are involved in the entire project. If there are lead and non-lead proposals, the lead institution submits the spreadsheet and includes all the personnel for the entire collaborative project.

This is not to be confused with the Collaborators & Other Affiliations (COA) form.

There should be as many COA forms as there are biosketches. Each person who has a biosketch in the proposal must also have a COA form. Unlike the personnel list spreadsheet (which must be emailed to DEB after the proposal is submitted), the COA form is submitted in FastLane, at the time of proposal submission. This COA form lists an individual’s potential conflicts of interest.

If you have any questions about these forms or other requirements, please email us at debquestions@nsf.gov.

FAQs for BIO Directorate Core Programs Solicitations- (Archived)


This post is no longer accurate as of November 15, 2018. Please visit this post for current information.

Are you still searching for answers to questions about our new Core Programs Solicitation? Check out the new FAQ and remember to review our blog’s own solicitation explainer and submission caps explainer. And if you still have questions, please feel free to email your Program Officer or debquestions@nsf.gov.