DEB Numbers: FY2015 Wrap-Up

Fiscal year 2015 has come to a close. With the dust settled, we can crunch the numbers on the DEB Core Program merit review and funding outcomes.

This post follows the format we’ve used in previous years. For a refresher, and lengthier discussions of the hows and whys of the metrics, you can visit the 2014 and 2013 numbers.

Read on to see how 2015 compares.

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Panel Summaries: Panelist Guidance and PI Expectations

We’ve previously posted about what we are looking for in strong individual reviews of proposals. After receiving individual reviews, most proposals handled by DEB are brought to a panel meeting. After discussing a proposal, the panel prepares a document called the Panel Summary. In this post, we describe Panel Summaries, our goals in what we want them to communicate, and the steps DEB has recently taken to improve them.

What are Panel Summaries? (short version)

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The Who’s Who of Grants: Addressing myths about cover pages, status, and credit

A lot of ink has been spilled (bits transferred? attention drained? bandwidth clogged? liquids imbibed? anachronistic metaphors tortured?) with various arguments about the hierarchical nature of science and the race to better position oneself versus one’s colleagues. Whether it’s questions of appropriate authorship, proper acknowledgement, or implicit vs explicit signals for the valuation of individual contributions, it seems like there’s a new discussion every week. Many of these arguments seem to break down around the point where it’s realized that field A, sub-field 1 and field B, sub-field 6 have strikingly different cultures surrounding these issues and the present lessons/problems/solutions from A1 may run counter to the lessons/problems/solutions in B6 even though both use the same short-hand: postdoc problems, authorship problems, tenure credit.

These ongoing cultural dialogues spill over and often get mixed into the proposal and merit review process leading to a proliferation of different beliefs, local customs, and inherited “understandings” of how the system ought to work in your favor if only you had the “right sort” of partner, reviewer, history, etc. In DEB, this is manifest in questions about professional titles, proposal cover pages, biographical sketches and project responsibility.

In this post, we address some of the most frequently encountered myths in this area, with explanations of DEB processes and the supporting NSF policies. Continue reading

Draft of revisions to NSF-wide grant and proposal policies up for public comment

Each year or so, NSF releases an updated version of its agency-wide guidance for proposals and grants, called the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). This big document consists of two parts: instructions for proposers and instructions for awardees. Continue reading

Are small grants doing well in review?

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). Continue reading

DEB Numbers: Per-Person Success Rate in DEB

Our friends at Dynamic Ecology posted a little while back about the NSF-wide trends in per-person success rate based on this 2014 report to the National Science Board that provided merit review process statistics across the whole agency[i]. There were several questions in the comments to that post regarding the context for the numbers and how they would look for DEB or IOS, especially since preliminary proposals were explicitly excluded from the calculations in the report to the NSB[ii].

So, we’ve put something together with DEB data to follow-up on that discussion. Our analysis sticks to the general approach of the NSF-wide report with modifications to allow inclusion of preliminary proposal data. Continue reading

DEB Numbers: FY2014 Wrap-Up

At the end of 2013, we presented DEB submission and award portfolio data examining the initial results of the preliminary proposal process, leading to DEB’s FY2013 awards. In this post, we provide a follow-up for the second round of awards funded under the preliminary proposal system in FY2014. Continue reading