DEB & IOS Preliminary Proposal System Evaluation Update


Our independent evaluation contractor, Abt, closed the PI and Reviewer surveys in mid-November.

At present, they are working on analyzing the survey results. These results will be brought together with analyses of stakeholder interviews and programmatic (proposal, award, and review process) data that Abt has already completed to produce a full evaluation.

We are expecting the final report to be delivered to NSF by the end of February, 2017. We are looking forward to sharing the results with you as we are able.

And, to the many of you who were contacted by Abt to take part in the survey, thank you for your time and participation.

Your project titles matter, choose wisely


This post was inspired by a bit of musing as to what would happen if PIs tried to crowd-source parts of their proposals. The obvious answer, to us at least, was that we would almost certainly, and immediately, receive a proposal titled “Granty McGrantface.” We’re presuming you are familiar with the reference; but if not, see these links. While the saga of our friends at NERC turned our pretty well, it reminded us of two things: 1) asking the internet to decide for you is a risky proposition, and (the focus of this post) 2) that no matter our intentions, some of the stuff[i] we do, or that stems from the funding we provide to you, will get noticed by a wide audience. Most stuff tends to go unnoticed, but from time to time something goes viral.

Therefore: What you choose to call your project matters.

Why the project title matters to NSF

The project title is the most meaningful and unique piece of your proposal that carries over to the public award description. Everything else in your proposal is distilled and condensed down to a couple paragraphs of “public abstract” and a few dozen metadata records available via the NSF award search and research.gov[ii]. Consider, too, the project title is a part of your proposal for which NSF takes responsibility and exercises editorial power. We can, and sometimes do, change project titles (about a quarter are changed, mostly for clarity – such as writing out abbreviations.)

Why the project title matters to you

The project title and PI info are the only things most potential reviewers will ever see before deciding whether to review your proposal. The title is your first (and typically only) shot to communicate to a reviewer that your proposal is interesting and worth their time to review[iii].  And as we said above, if your proposal gets funded, the title gets posted on the NSF public awards website along with the PI name and institution.

 

You can (and should) provide effective project titles

When you receive an award, the title will be searchable by anyone and permanently associated with your name. Over the years, we’ve seen a vast array of proposal titles. We’ve also seen how they affect the audiences (reviewers, panels, and public) who read or hear them. Based on the accumulation of observations and experiences in DEB, we’ve put together these 8 tips to consider when composing your project titles.

Keep in mind: The following are not any sort of universally enforced rules or NSF policy. The proposal title is initially your responsibility, but as we said, once it comes into NSF, we can edit it as needed. Ultimately, what makes a good title is subjective and is probably not constant across disciplines or over time. These are just some broad and general tips we hope you’ll find helpful.

Tip 1: Know your broader audiences

Reviewers, including panelists, are specialists, but not necessarily from the same sub-sub-specialty as you. Public readers of award titles cover an even wider range of knowledge and expertise. These are the people who are going to read that title and make a decision whether to take action. Reviewers will, first, decide whether or not to read, and then, whether or not to support your proposal. The public will decide whether to read your award abstract, and the media will decide whether to contact you.

There are both good and bad potential outcomes of public attention. It can seem like a strong, scientifically precise, and erudite proposal title might inform and impress readers. But that misses half the point: it’s not simply about avoiding misunderstanding. Instead, a good title is a vehicle for audience engagement; it seeks to cultivate positive responses. This happens when you use straight-forward, plain language, minimizing jargon and tech-speak, with a clear message. The rest of these tips are basically more specific examples of ways to do this.

Tip 2: Write to your (proposal’s) strengths

Most of us feel some twinge of annoyance when we see a misleading headline or publication title, e.g. “Transformative Biology Research to Cure All Diseases.” This is your chance to get it right! Don’t bury the lede. Focus your title on the core idea of the proposal. In many cases, details like the organism, the location, or the specific method are secondary[iv]; if you include them, do so carefully, in supporting roles and not swamping the central conceptual component[v]. If you wrote your title before your proposal, it’s a good idea to come back around to it before hitting submit.

Tip 3: Using Buzzwords #OnFleek

It’s a bit cliché to say this, but it bears mention: don’t tell us your project is great, demonstrate it. That is what the project description is for. We like “transformative” and “interdisciplinary” projects, but placing those words in your title doesn’t imbue your project with those qualities. Similarly, loading up on topical or methodological buzzwords (“*omics”, “CRISPR”, etc.) adds little when the major consideration is the knowledge you’re seeking to uncover, not the shiny new tool you want to wield or the loose connection to a hot topic. The space you save by dropping this extra verbiage can allow you to address other important aspects of your project.

Tip 4: Acronyms

They save space in your title. And, NSF seems to have them all over the place (It’s an ARE: Acronym Rich Environment). So, why not use them, right? Well…, tread carefully.

The various title prefixes (e.g. RUI, CAREER) we ask for are used by us to 1) ensure reviewers see that special review criteria apply and 2) check that we’ve applied the right processing to your proposal. They’re often acronyms because we don’t want to waste your character count. So, we want those on your proposals[vi] but, after merit review, we may remove them before making an award. Other acronyms added by you tend to fall into two categories:

  • Compressed jargon- for example, “NGS” for Next Generation Sequencing. When you don’t have the whole proposal immediately behind it, an acronym in your title may never actually be defined in the public description and it may imply something unintended to some in the audience.
  • Project-name shorthand- There are perhaps a handful of projects that through longevity and productivity have attained a degree of visibility and distinctiveness that allows them to be known by an acronym or other shorthand within the particular research community. Even if your project has achieved this distinction, remember that your audience goes beyond your community: not everyone will know of it. Further, trying to create a catchy nickname for a project (or program) usually doesn’t add anything to your proposal and can lead to some real groan-inducing stretches of language.

Tip 5: Questions to consider

How will reviewers respond to a title phrased as a question? Is the answer already an obvious yes or no? If so, why do you need the proposal and more money? Is this question even answerable with your proposed work? Is this one of the very rare projects that can be effectively encapsulated in this way?

Tip 6: Attempted humor

This can work; it may also fall flat (see above entry on “Questions”). It can, to some audiences, make your project seem unprofessional and illegitimate. That is a sizeable risk. It used to be, and still is to some extent, a fairly common practice to have a joke or cartoon in your slide deck to “lighten the mood” and “connect with your audience”. If you’ve ever seen a poor presenter do this, you know it’s not a universally good thing. With a proposal title, it’s always there and doesn’t get buried under the rest of the material as might happen with a slide. The alternative is to skip the joke and write something that connects to your reader through personality and creativity instead. This can be hard to do, but practice helps. For example, “I Ain’t Afraid of No Host: The Saga of a Generalist Parasite” was a funny, at least to us, title we made up – but will everyone reading it think it is funny, and does it help the grant that the title is funny? It isn’t very informative – again, tread lightly.

Tip 7: Latin vs Common terms

Per tip 2, you may not always list an organism in your project title; but when you do, make it accessible. The Latin name alone places a burden of prior knowledge or extra work on readers. It is a courtesy to public readers (not to mention your own SRO who may be filling out paperwork about your proposal and also to panelists who may be far afield from your system and unfamiliar with your organism) to add a common name label too. But, be careful. Some common names are too specific, jargon-y, or even misleading for a general audience. You don’t want, for instance, someone to see “mouse-ear cress” for Arabidopsis thaliana and think you’re working on vertebrate animal auditory systems (this has happened![vii]).

Tip 8: Thoughtful Word Choice

This tip expands the idea of confusing language, which we already pointed out regarding Latin names and acronyms, to avoiding jargon in general. Some jargon is problematic just because it is dense; as with Latin names and acronyms, this sort of jargon can be addressed by addition of or replacement with common terms. Other jargon is problematic because the audience understands it, but differently than intended. Meg Duffy over at Dynamic Ecology had a post on this some time back in the context of teaching and communication. These issues arise in proposals too. There are some very core words in our fields that don’t necessarily evoke the same meaning to a general audience or even across fields. The most straightforward example we can point to is our own name: the “E” in DEB stands for “environmental.” To a general audience environmental is more evocative of “environmentalism,” “conservation,” recycling programs, and specific policy goals than it is of any form of basic research[viii]. Addressing this sort of jargon in a proposal title is a bit harder because the word already seems common, and concise alternative phrasings are hard to come by.

For jargon, it might benefit you to try bouncing your title off of a neighbor, an undergrad outside your department, or an administrator colleague. In some cases, you might find a better, clearer approach. In others, maybe there’s not a better wording, but at least you are more aware of the potential misunderstandings.

Final Thoughts

Most of the project titles that we see won’t lead to awards and will never be published; and even if an award is made, most of their titles attract little notice. A few, however, will be seen by thousands or be picked up by the media and broadcast to millions. Thus, the title seems like a small and inconsequential thing, until it’s suddenly important. Because of this, even though the project title is a small piece of your proposal, it is worthy of attention and investment. We have provided the tips above to help you craft a title that uses straight-forward, plain language, to convey a clear and engaging message to your audiences.

We can’t avoid attention. In fact, we want to draw positive attention to the awesome work you do. But audience reactions are reliably unpredictable. The best we can do is to make sure that what we’re putting out there is as clear and understandable as possible.

 


[i] Anything related to research funding from policies on our end to research papers to tweets or videos mentioning projects.

[ii] At the close of an award, you are also required to file a “Project Outcomes Report” via Research.gov. This also becomes part of the permanent project record and publicly visible when your work is complete. We don’t edit these.

[iii] For the “good titles” argument as applied to research papers, see here: https://smallpondscience.com/2016/10/19/towards-better-titles-for-academic-papers-an-evaluative-approach-from-a-blogging-perspective/

[iv] There are obvious exceptions here, like a proposal for a targeted biodiversity survey in a geographical region.

[v] For what it’s worth, this is a common “rookie mistake” even before writing a proposal. We get lots of inquiries along the lines of “do you fund studies on organism X” or “in place Y”. The short answer is yes, but it’s often irrelevant because that doesn’t differentiate DEB from MCB or IOS or BioOCE. We don’t define the Division of Environmental Biology by organisms, or places, or tools, or methods. We define it by the nature of the fundamental questions being addressed by the research.

[vi] Some prefixes are mutually exclusive of one another. For example, CAREER and RUI cannot both be applied to the same proposal (http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15057/nsf15057.jsp#a16).

[vii] Better alternatives might have been “plant”, “wild mustard”,

[viii] And yes, we do get the same sorts of calls and emails about “sick trees”, “that strange bird I saw”, “what to do about spiders,” etc. as you do.

Fall 2016 DEB Panels status: “When will I have a decision?” edition


DEB’s full proposal panels finished in early November (for those full proposals submitted back in July and August). So, when will you receive review results?

Some of you may have already heard from us. Others will be hearing “soon” (as detailed below).

Right now, all of our programs have synthesized the recommendations of their panels, considered their portfolios, and come up with their planned award and decline recommendations. These are then documented, sent through administrative review, and finally signed off, “concurred,” by the head or deputy for the Division.

DEB’s first priority is processing the decline notices. We’re trying to get your reviews back to you to provide as much time as possible to consider your options for January pre-proposal submissions.

For potential awards, it’s a bit more complicated. We expect award recommendation dates to be later this year than typical. At present, NSF is operating under a temporary budget measure, called a Continuing Resolution (or CR). The current CR runs through December 9, 2016. We won’t have significant funds available to cover new grants until a longer-term funding measure is enacted.

So, while we have a prioritized list of award recommendations, we don’t yet have the funds needed to take action on those recommendations. Moreover, we don’t know how much funding we’ll actually have available so uncertainty is part of the plan. Thus, between “definite award recommendation” and “definite decline recommendation” we have a recommendation gray zone.

How are we handling this?

If your proposal fell into the definite decline group, then you’ll be getting an official notice from DEB. Once the formal decline recommendation is approved, the system updates the proposal status in FastLane and queues up a notification email. We are planning to have all declines approved by December 20, 2016. Note: our IT system sends the notification emails in batches at the end of the day[i]. Thus, if you are frequently refreshing FastLane you will likely see the news there before you get a letter from us.

If your proposal fell into the definite award group or the gray zone, you will first be getting a call or email from your Program Officer. They will be letting you know what the plan is for your particular proposal and how you can get things ready (e.g., submitting budget revisions or abstract language) for an eventual award. Formal action, including the release of reviews, cannot happen until we have funding available. However, folks in this group should also hear from their Program Officers by December 20.

After December 20, if you have not received any communication from us, first check your spam folder and then look up your proposal number and give us a call. But please remember, the lead PI for a proposal or collaborative group is the designated point of contact; if you’re a co-PI you need to get in touch with the lead PI and have them inquire.


[i] We’re not totally sure why this is, but suspect it has to do with email traffic volume and security features: discriminating an intentional batch of emails from an account taken over by a bot.

REPOST: What We’re Thankful For: PIs


This post was originally published in November of 2013. We’re a bit late to the November holiday theme, but we’re still in the post-panel administrative processing phase, and once again will be faced with declining a lot of really interesting ideas. So, even a week late, we thought it would be good to re-visit some reflections on helpful PI habits for which we’re thankful.  We’ve updated a couple of links and references to match current NSF policy documents.


Working in DEB has its ups and downs. There is a great energy that comes from hearing about our PIs’ accomplishments or rallying support for a new funding opportunity. But, there are also the not-so-fun parts of the job and it can seem especially dreary in DEB right about this time of year (we do not particularly enjoy declining requests to fund cool science). So we wanted to take a moment to jump on the bandwagon of seasonally-themed posts and reflect on the little things that brighten our days.

Here’s a list of 10 ways PIs make us thankful. Continue reading

Program Announcement: DEB Core Programs & LTREB Solicitations Updates


Updated guidelines are now available for submissions under the two-stage DEB preliminary/full proposal system. Both DEB Core Programs and Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) have been updated.

The new DEB Core Programs publication is NSF 17-512[i].

The new LTREB publication is NSF 17-513[ii].

Please read these guidelines if you plan to submit a preliminary proposal.

In this post, we’re providing a brief summary of the notable points and key changes, but this is not sufficient information to complete a submission.

Both solicitations

  • The definition of “Eligible Institutions” has been updated with limits on the eligible institution types. Institution types that do not meet this definition remain eligible as sub-awardees, but cannot be the primary grant recipient.
  • The deadline for submitting the Personnel List Spreadsheet (from a template, submitted by email) has been reduced to 1 business day (from 3 days) after the proposal deadline for both preliminary and full proposals.
  • The purpose and procedures for requesting a full proposal deferral have been updated and clarified.
  • The requirement for full proposals to provide results of prior NSF support has been clarified and emphasized.
  • The guidelines for Letters of Collaboration (to confirm cooperation or involvement of persons or organizations not receiving funding under the proposal) have been updated to clarify the purpose of, and limits on, such letters.

DEB Core Programs

  • The Core Programs solicitation now includes instructions for submission of international collaborative proposals involving eligible collaborators in the UK (via NERC) or Israel (via BSF). These instructions continue the partnerships originally advertised as Dear Colleague Letters.
  • The budget cap for the small grants (SG) option has been increased to $200,000.

LTREB

  • The Project Description page limit for RENEWAL proposals has been increased from 8 to 10 pages.

Changes Beyond the DEB Solicitations

IOS

Many of our PIs have research interests that overlap between DEB and the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS). New submission guidelines for the preliminary proposal system in IOS have also been published as NSF 17-508. Check with IOS and the IOS Blog for additional information.

NSF-wide

Please take note that the NSF general proposal guidelines have also been revised. This information is provided in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), which previously comprised two publications known as the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) and Award & Administration Guide (AAG). The new version of the PAPPG, is a single consolidated guide:  NSF 17-1. The guidelines in PAPPG 17-1 apply for proposals submitted or due, or awards made, on or after January 30, 2017. This document contains the full set of general guidelines to PIs, including everything from proposal preparation to award reporting and close-out.

A summary explanation of the new PAPPG format and changes from the previous edition of the guide can be read here: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappg17_1/sigchanges.jsp

These revisions have minimal effect on the requirements for the upcoming DEB preliminary proposal deadline (since the PAPPG comes into force on Jan 30, 2017 – a week after the pre-proposal deadline).

The guidelines in PAPPG 17-1 will apply for invited full proposals (due next August), and other proposals you may be planning to submit to DEB or other NSF programs.

For instance, starting on Jan, 30 2017 any RAPID or EAGER proposals intended for DEB would list the NSF 17-1 PAPPG program announcement number on the proposal cover page.


[i] The old solicitation NSF 15-609 is no longer accepting new proposals.

[ii] The old solicitation NSF 16-500 is no longer accepting new proposals.

Meet DEB: Prosanta Chakrabarty, SBS Program Officer

Meet DEB: Prosanta Chakrabarty, SBS Program Officer


Basic Profile

Dr. Chakrabarty searching for cave-dwelling fishes in Honduras.

Dr. Chakrabarty searching for cave-dwelling fishes in Honduras.

Name: Prosanta Chakrabarty

Education: BSc. McGill University, 2000 (Zoology), Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2006 (Evolutionary Biology)

Home Institution (Rotators): Louisiana State University

NSF Experience/History: I’ve been a Program Director for just a few months, but I’ve been on a couple of review panels, and an external site visit team. I also have had several awards (and many misses) from NSF. Because I had a good view from the outside, I thought it would be good to see how the sausage is made inside NSF.

Research Experience/History: I’m an ichthyologist, and I’m interested in knowing how fishes are related to one another to better understand evolution and Earth history. For instance I work on blind cavefishes, and some species that are each other’s closest relatives are found far apart, even on different continents; because they likely haven’t moved out of their cave habitats, they act as little time capsules telling us how the landmasses around them were once connected. The DNA of these animals can reveal the last period that two groups of organisms last shared a common ancestor. The DNA can reveal a great deal about the biological history but also provide insights into geological history. [Here is a link to a short (<5min) talk I gave on the subject: https://www.ted.com/talks/prosanta_chakrabarty_clues_to_prehistoric_times_found_in_blind_cavefish?language=en  ]

My lab is mostly focused on freshwater and marine fishes from the Neotropics (the Caribbean, Central and South America) and the Indo-West Pacific (everything from the Persian Gulf, Japan, Australia, Madagascar, etc.). As a natural history curator (I’m curator of fishes at the LSU Museum of Natural Science), I am charged with building a collection of specimens and DNA samples to help us better understand the Tree of Life of fishes. My lab and I do at least two or three international trips a year, as well as many local ones, to build a collection that is diverse and can be used by researchers around the world to study fishes. I also teach both Evolution and Ichthyology at the undergrad level at LSU. I enjoy teaching very much as well.

Competitions I currently work on: As a Program Director in the Systematics and Biodiversity Sciences Cluster, I’m handling pre-proposals, full proposals, and DDIGs (Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants) related to phylogenetic systematics grants in the Division of Environmental Biology.

 

Q&A

Describe your current IR/D activities: I came to DEB to give back to NSF and to my community. I also came to get an overview of my field. I’ve been very focused on systematic ichthyology, and since getting tenure a few years ago I wanted to learn how broad phylogenetic systematics really is and where it is going. I’ve been giving a few talks in academic settings including at natural history museums and universities centered around the theme – “What is the Future of Systematics?” I know that is an obnoxious title (who am I to say what the future holds?) – but I’m looking to hear answers not to give them. I think from where I sit I get a good overview of where people are pushing the field forward, so I’m kind of on a listening and reading tour.

I’m also part of a project with one of my postdocs back home at LSU, Brandon Ballengée. He and I have some work through a AAAS funded project called “Crude Life: A Citizen Art and Science Investigation of Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” http://www.lsu.edu/mediacenter/news/2016/07/05mns_chakrabarty_crudelife.php

This project is an art/science/outreach convergence to gather data on endemic fishes potentially affected by the 2010 spill while raising the public awareness of local species and ecosystems that may be unfamiliar to them. We will be creating a portable art-science museum of Gulf biodiversity that will go on tour in the region. On my next IR/D trip my lab and some locals will seine the beaches in one of the areas hit hardest by the oil spill. We will bring a portable lab and have locals look at all the creatures swimming under their feet that they have been missing. We will explain how the spill can be harming these species even five years later.

One thing you wished more people understood about DEB and why: I think many people in science think that NSF is a candy store and don’t understand why everyone can’t get some candy. It’s a bit more complicated than that. In my experience, NSF is more like a bank giving out loans. You want a loan? Tell us how you will use the money, and how it will better your field and potentially influence society – when you achieve these outcomes, that’s how you pay back the loan. There is only so much money to go around. If we gave everyone a little money, it would be very little. It wouldn’t be enough to do transformative science or to hire postdocs and pay graduate students who are the next generation. Instead in DEB we are trying to target science that will really make a difference, or that has the potential to do so, and give those projects enough funding to see an impact. I’m really proud of that.

Tell your awesome fieldwork adventure story: I’ve been on nearly 30 foreign field trips now, so I’ve got some stories for sure. Most of them I can’t share here, or maybe anywhere. I’ll refer you to my fish lab blog http://lsuichthyology.blogspot.com/ for some of them.

Dr. Chakrabarty on a collecting trip on the Amazon River.

Dr. Chakrabarty on a collecting trip on the Amazon River.

I can tell you about my recent trip to Panama which we just did in May before I came over to NSF. We went to the Darién Gap – an area I’ve been trying to go for years – the logistics of getting here are very complicated politically. This region is, geologically speaking, young. It was the last section of a sea separating Central and South America to close up. And, the fauna and flora reflects that position linking the North and South American continents. My postdoc Fernando Alda made that trip come together, and we had an amazing time collecting freshwater fishes with the local Emberá Indians. Everything about hiking into one of the last undeveloped areas in the Americas in the shadow of harpy eagles and sloths, far from any city, and in search of new species was something that was very special.

On one night our local guide wanted to catch some dinner and went out with my snorkel, diving flashlight, and a spear. We watched while he shot spikey armored catfishes (Ancistrus), big tetras and cichlids. When we turned off our headlamps and watched him floating in the stream with his bright torch against the darkness it looked like he was floating in space. When he came up he mentioned seeing a striped “macana” – which is the local name for electric knifefishes (the family of fishes related to electric eels). We hadn’t seen any of these yet so I asked Fernando which one he means – “Gymnotus” he said. “We better go get it,” I replied – I didn’t know these South American species were in Panama. It turns out that Fernando was the one that discovered they were in Central America with the first record in 2012 [http://www.biotaxa.org/cl/article/view/9.3.655/0]. Fernando rushed out with a portable amplifier that we can use to translate electric fish signals into sound. We stuck the cables under root mats and listened for their calls – Fernando understood their language – and could recognize the species by listening to the pattern – by the volume he could even determine their size. I was with him when he heard what he thought was a big Gymnotus deep in the roots, we missed a couple times with the dipnet, and then on one attempt we saw the characteristic striped patterns of Gymnotus. I’ve never seen anyone so happy to get a fish. Fernando leapt and danced across the stream as if he had just won the Superbowl. I was glad to see such passion for natural history. The fish was gorgeous too, a long (nearly 2’) dark-green headed relative of the electric eel. It is a fantastic fish, only the second record of the genus in Panama…or is it something else? Something new perhaps? We are looking into that now – stay tuned.

What would someone find you doing in your down time? I love exploring this part of the country with my wife and twin daughters. Part of the reason I wanted to come to NSF was to give them a new experience. My girls, who are identical twins, have been to five countries outside of the U.S. and they are great travelers. Like their parents, the girls love seeing and learning about animals, so we’ve been hitting up all the zoos, aquariums, and museums we can find. We are planning to do some camping trips next.

Who do you admire, and why? Sylvia Earle is one of my heroes. One of the few people to have been in some of the deepest parts of the ocean, and she is such a great inspiration to so many people. I had the opportunity to meet her a couple times this year and just found her so down to Earth and approachable, as well as wise; she is also very giving of her time. She has served in government as Chief Scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and has been a curator and professor, but always an explorer first. I’d like to be thought of in the same way. She blazed her own path in the 60 and 70s when women were not well represented in the sciences – but she pushed through and made it easier for people from underrepresented groups to move up the scientific ladder: that’s also one of my goals – to broaden participation in STEM fields.

I also really admire my permanent colleagues here in DEB. They don’t get much credit, and their job is largely thankless because from the outside it is hard to know what happens inside NSF. Now that I’m on the inside I see how much the other Program Officers sacrifice and the amount of time they put in for the benefit of others. They are really fighting for science and for scientists. I’m only here as a rotator so I’m glad that they are spending the time teaching me how things are done and why things are done the way they are. My colleagues here are definitely the best part of being at NSF.

Preliminary Proposal Evaluation Survey Reminder


TL;DR

Check your inbox.

Check your spam folder.

Complete the survey!

End the reminder messages.

 

Background (if the above doesn’t make sense to you).

This is about the Preliminary Proposal system in use in both NSF BIO’s Division of Environmental Biology and Division of Integrative Organismal Systems.

We are in the midst of an external evaluation of the effects of this system on the merit review process.

We posted an initial notification letter about stakeholder surveys. And, copies of this letter were sent out to everyone in the sample ahead of the formal invitations.

The formal survey invitations with the active survey links were sent out by mid-September from the evaluator, Abt Associates.

Reminder emails are also coming out and will continue to do so at regular interviews while the survey remains open and incomplete.

If you have been receiving these messages, please complete the survey. If your colleagues have been receiving these messages and have not completed the survey, encourage them to do so.

If you received an invitation to take the survey,

  • Please take the 10 or so minutes to register your responses via the link in the email.
  • Remember that these are single-use individualized links.
  • Your response matters. This isn’t a census: your invitation is part of a stratified random sample selected for inference to the population.

Thank you for your participation!