The next session focused on the review process for applications and discussed the key criteria for judging the programmatic aspects of the application; intellectual merit and broader impacts. It’s really interesting, actually. The first question is really several questions (if you look at the criteria) and it’s not a whole lot different than an NIH proposal. The second question asks about the significance of the work – but it’s a bit more meaningful than the NIH question.
Program officers discussed three specific cross-disciplinary programs, EAGER, RAPID and CREATIV. EAGER grants are early concept grants that have a high potential for innovation but are not representative of any current solicitations for NSF. RAPID is a program that funds scientific ideas that need a quick turnaround time due to the nature of the idea and CREATIV is the first endeavor for NSF in translational research, to foster cross-disciplinary research in their funded program areas.
At the end of the day, however, the message was simple and clear. Follow the guidelines. To the letter. Call the program officer before you start a proposal. Call when you have any questions. The program officer should be very prepared and very familiar with the proposal that he or she will be receiving and quite welcoming of it, in order to increase its chances of success.
It’s surprising and incredibly reassuring to know that all of the time and energy we spend organizing, herding and begging our investigators to complete their grants (in time so that we can proofread them) is 150,000% on the money. The program officers talked today of taking rulers to margins, and rejecting grants due to sloppiness and spelling errors.
I may not be a rocket scientist, but I can spell!