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    Proposal Preparation Requirements Federal Government - NSF (effective 01/24/2015)

    The information on this page was taken from the NSF website.

    Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide
    Accessing Proposal Components

    Proposal Functions

    • Letters of Intent
    • Proposal Preparation
    • Proposal Status
    • Display Reference Status
    • Revise Submitted Proposal Budget
    • Proposal File Update

    Prior to electronic submission, it is strongly recommended that proposers conduct an administrative review to ensure that proposals comply with the proposal preparation guidelines established in the GPG or the NSF Application Guide. GPG Exhibit II-1 and NSF Application Guide Chapter VII, contain a proposal preparation checklist that may be used to assist in this review. The checklist is not intended to be an all-inclusive repetition of the required proposal contents and associated proposal preparation guidelines. It is, however, meant to highlight certain critical items so they will not be overlooked when the proposal is prepared.
    Upon entering the proposal preparation module in FastLane, the PI will be prompted to select:
    1. Whether the proposal is:
    • A collaborative proposal from one organization (see GPG Chapter II.D.5.a);
    • A collaborative proposal from multiple organizations (see GPG Chapter II.D.5.b); or
    • Not a collaborative proposal.

    2. The type of proposal being developed:
    • RAPID (see GPG Chapter II.D.1);
    • EAGER (see GPG Chapter II.D.2);
    • Research - other than RAPID or EAGER (see GPG Chapter II);
    • Ideas Lab (see GPG Chapter II.D.3);
    • Equipment (see GPG Chapter II.D.6);
    • Conference (see GPG Chapter II.D.9);
    • International Travel (see GPG Chapter II.D.10);
    • Fellowship (see relevant funding opportunity); or
    • Facility/Center (see relevant funding opportunity).

    The information noted above will be used by FastLane to determine the applicable proposal preparation business rules that must be followed. Effective with this implementation of the PAPPG, FastLane will begin using these rules to check for compliance prior to submission to NSF. Proposers are strongly advised to review the applicable sections of the GPG pertinent to the type of proposal being developed PRIOR to submission. FastLane will no longer support documents uploaded in TeX /LaTex file formats

    1. Proposal Pagination Instructions
      Each section of the proposal that is uploaded as a file must be individually paginated prior to upload to the electronic system.

    2. Proposal Margin and Spacing Requirements

      1. Use one of the following typefaces:

        • Arial10, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger
        • Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger
        • Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger

        A font size of less than 10 points may be used for mathematical formulas or equations, figure, table, or diagram captions and when using a Symbol font to insert Greek letters or special characters. PIs are cautioned, however, that the text must still be readable;

      2. No more than 6 lines of text within a vertical space of 1 inch; and

      3. Margins, in all directions, must be at least an inch.
        These requirements apply to all uploaded sections of a proposal, including supplementary documentation.

    3. Page Formatting
      Proposers are strongly encouraged to use only a standard, single-column format for the text. Avoid using a two-column format since it can cause difficulties when reviewing the document electronically.

      While line spacing (single-spaced, double-spaced, etc.) is at the discretion of the proposer, established page limits must be followed. (Individual program solicitations, however, may eliminate this proposer option by requiring other type size, margin, or line spacing requirements.)

    Cover Sheet

    There are four major components of the Cover Sheet. A number of the boxes contained on the Cover Sheet are electronically pre-filled as part of the FastLane login process. The information requested on the Cover Sheet is as follows:

    1. Awardee & Project/Performance Site Primary Location
      The information on the Awardee Organization is pre-filled on the Cover Sheet based on the login information entered.

    2. Program Announcement/Solicitation/Description Number
      Proposers are required to select the applicable program announcement, program solicitation, or program description. If the proposal is not submitted in response to a specific program announcement, program solicitation, or program description, proposers should select "Grant Proposal Guide."
      Proposals submitted with "Grant Proposal Guide" selected that are directed to Division/Program combinations with active program descriptions will default to the nearest target date for that program. Proposers are advised to select "No Closing Date" when the proposal is not submitted in response to any relevant NSF funding opportunity (which includes program announcements, program solicitations or program descriptions).

    3. NSF Unit of Consideration
      Proposers must follow instructions for selection of an applicable NSF Division/Office and Program(s) to which the proposal should be directed.

    4. Remainder of the Cover Sheet

      1. Title of Proposed Project
        The title of the project must be brief, scientifically or technically valid, intelligible to a scientifically or technically literate reader, and suitable for use in the public press. NSF may edit the title of a project prior to making an award.

      2. Budget and Duration Information
        The proposed duration for which support is requested must be consistent with the nature and complexity of the proposed activity. Grants are normally awarded for up to three years but may be awarded for periods of up to five years. The Foundation encourages PIs to request awards for durations of three to five years when such durations are necessary for completion of the proposed work and are technically and managerially advantageous. Specification of a desired start date for the project is important and helpful to NSF staff; however, requests for specific start dates may not be met. Except in special situations, requested start dates must allow at least six months for NSF review, processing and decision. Should unusual situations (e.g., a long lead time for procurement) create problems regarding the proposed start date, the PI should consult his/her organization’s Sponsored Projects Office.

      3. PI Information and co-PI Information
        Information (including address information) regarding the PI is derived from login information and is not entered when preparing the Cover Sheet. The proposal also may identify up to four additional co-Principal Investigators. Each individual's name and either NSF ID or primary registered e-mail address, must be entered in the boxes provided.

      4. Previous NSF Award
        If the proposal is a renewal proposal, or an accomplishment-based renewal proposal, the applicable box must be checked. If yes, the proposer will be requested to select the applicable previous award number.

        Some NSF program solicitations require submission of both a preliminary and full proposal as part of the proposal process. In such cases, the following instructions apply:
        (i) During the preliminary proposal stage, the proposing organization should identify the submission as a preliminary proposal by checking the block entitled, “Preliminary Proposal” on the Cover Sheet;
        (ii) During the full proposal submission stage, the proposing organization should identify in the block entitled, “Show Related Preliminary Proposal Number”, the related preliminary proposal number assigned by NSF.

      5. Other Federal Agencies
        If the proposal is being submitted for consideration by another Federal agency, the abbreviated names of the Federal agencies must be identified in the spaces provided.

      6. Awardee Organization Information
        The awardee organization name, address, DUNS number and Employer Identification Number/Taxpayer Identification Number are derived from the login information and are not entered when preparing the Cover Sheet via FastLane.

        Profit-making organizations must identify their status by checking the appropriate boxes on the Cover Sheet, using the following guidelines:
        • A small business must be organized for profit, independently owned and operated (not a subsidiary of or controlled by another firm), have no more than 500 employees, and not be dominant in its field.
        • A minority business must be: (i) at least 51 percent owned by one or more minority or disadvantaged individuals or, in the case of a publicly owned business, have at least 51 percent of the voting stock owned by one or more minority or disadvantaged individuals; and (ii) one whose management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more such individuals.
        • A woman-owned business must be at least 51 percent owned by a woman or women, who also control and operate it. "Control" in this context means exercising the power to make policy decisions. "Operate" in this context means being actively involved in the day-to-day management.

      7. Project/Performance Site Primary Location
        If the project will be performed at the awardee organization, check the designated box. If the project, however, will be performed at a location other than the awardee, provide the following information (where applicable):

        • Organization Name (identify the organization name of the primary site where the work will be performed, if different than the awardee);
        • Street;
        • City;
        • State;
        • Country; and
        • 9-digit Zip Code.

          For projects that support research infrastructure and tools, such as vessels, facilities, and telescopes, the project/performance site should correspond to the physical location of the research asset. For research assets or projects that are geographically distributed, the proposer should report information for the primary site, as defined by the proposer. For example, proposals for the operations and maintenance of research vessels may list the project/performance site as the vessel’s home port.

      8. Other Information
        Should any of the following items on the Cover Sheet apply to a proposal, the applicable box(es) must be checked:

        • Beginning Investigator (See GPG I.G.2)
        • Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (See GPG II.C.1e)
        • Proprietary or Privileged Information (See GPG I.D.3 & II.C.1d)
        • Historic Places (See GPG II.C.2j)
        • Vertebrate Animals19 (See GPG II.D.6)
        • Human Subjects20 (See GPG II.D.7)
        • International Cooperative Activities Country Name(s) (See GPG II.C.2j)
    Table of Contents

    Table of Contents is automatically generated for the proposal by the FastLane system. The proposer cannot edit this form.

    References Cited

    Reference information is required. Each reference must include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication. If the document is available electronically, the website address also should be identified. Proposers must be especially careful to follow accepted scholarly practices in providing citations for source materials relied upon when preparing any section of the proposal. While there is no established page limitation for the references, this section must include bibliographic citations only and must not be used to provide parenthetical information outside of the 15-page Project Description.


    Budget has been updated to describe a new functionality in FastLane regarding senior personnel and the budget. If no person months and no salary are being requested for senior personnel, they should be removed from Section A of the budget. This change was made for consistency with NSF’s cost sharing policy.


    This section of the proposal is used to assess the adequacy of the resources available to perform the effort proposed to satisfy both the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts review criteria. Proposers should describe only those resources that are directly applicable. Proposers should include an aggregated description of the internal and external resources (both physical and personnel) that the organization and its collaborators will provide to the project, should it be funded. Such information must be provided in this section, in lieu of other parts of the proposal (e.g., budget justification, project description). The description should be narrative in nature and must not include any quantifiable financial information. Reviewers will evaluate the information during the merit review process and the cognizant NSF Program Officer will review it for programmatic and technical sufficiency.

    Although these resources are not considered cost sharing as defined in 2 CFR § 200.306, the Foundation does expect that the resources identified in the Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources section will be provided, or made available, should the proposal be funded. AAG Chapter II.B.1 specifies procedures for use by the awardee when there are postaward changes to objective, scope or methodology.

    Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan
    Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include, as a supplementary document, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. If a Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan is required, FastLane will not permit submission of a proposal if the Plan is missing. In no more than one page, the mentoring plan must describe the mentoring that will be provided to all postdoctoral researchers supported by the project, irrespective of whether they reside at the submitting organization, any subrecipient organization, or at any organization participating in a simultaneously submitted collaborative project. Proposers are advised that the mentoring plan must not be used to circumvent the 15-page Project Description limitation. See GPG Chapter II.D.5 for additional information on collaborative proposals. Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the project will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts review criterion.

    Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices.
    Project Summary

    Project Summary Revision
    Each proposal must contain a summary of the proposed project not more than one page in length. The Project Summary consists of an overview, a statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and a statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity.

    The overview includes a description of the activity that would result if the proposal were funded and a statement of objectives and methods to be employed. The statement on intellectual merit should describe the potential of the proposed activity to advance knowledge. The statement on broader impacts should describe the potential of the proposed activity to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

    The Project Summary should be written in the third person, informative to other persons working in the same or related fields, and, insofar as possible, understandable to a scientifically or technically literate lay reader. It should not be an abstract of the proposal.

    If the Project Summary contains special characters it may be uploaded as a Supplementary Document. Project Summaries submitted as a PDF must be formatted with separate headings for the overview, statement on the intellectual merit of the proposed activity, and statement on the broader impacts of the proposed activity. Failure to include these headings may result in the proposal being returned without review.

    Additional instructions for preparation of the Project Summary are available in FastLane.

    Project Description (Including Results From Prior NSF Support)

    Project Description Revision

      1. Content

      The Project Description should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and must include: objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance; relation to longer-term goals of the PI's project; and relation to the present state of knowledge in the field, to work in progress by the PI under other support and to work in progress elsewhere.

      The Project Description should outline the general plan of work, including the broad design of activities to be undertaken, and, where appropriate, provide a clear description of experimental methods and procedures. Proposers should address what they want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified. These issues apply to both the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions.

      The Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to the achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

      Plans for data management and sharing of the products of research, including preservation, documentation, and sharing of data, samples, physical collections, curriculum materials, and other related research and education products should be described in the Special Information and Supplementary Documentation section of the proposal (see GPG Chapter II.C.2.j. for additional instructions for preparation of this section).

    1. Page Limitations and Inclusion of Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) within the Project Description
      Brevity will assist reviewers and Foundation staff in dealing effectively with proposals. Therefore, the Project Description (including Results from Prior NSF Support, which is limited to five pages) may not exceed 15 pages. Visual materials, including charts, graphs, maps, photographs and other pictorial presentations are included in the 15-page limitation. PIs are cautioned that the Project Description must be self-contained and that URLs that provide information related to the proposal should not be used because:

      1. the information could circumvent page limitations,
      2. the reviewers are under no obligation to view the sites, and
      3. the sites could be altered or abolished between the time of submission and the time of review.

      Conformance to the 15-page limitation will be strictly enforced and may not be exceeded unless a deviation has been specifically authorized. (GPG Chapter II.A contains information on deviations.)

    2. Results from Prior NSF Support
      If any PI or co-PI identified on the project has received NSF funding (including any current funding) in the past five years, information on the award(s) is required, irrespective of whether the support was directly related to the proposal or not. Funding includes not just salary support, but any funding awarded by NSF. Each PI and co-PI who has received more than one award (excluding amendments) must report on the award most closely related to the proposal. The following information must be provided:

      1. the NSF award number, amount and period of support;
      2. the title of the project;
      3. a summary of the results of the completed work, including accomplishments, described in two separate sections, related to the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact activities supported by the award;
      4. publications resulting from the NSF award;
      5. evidence of research products and their availability, including, but not limited to: data, publications, samples, physical collections, software, and models, as described in any Data Management Plan; and
      6. if the proposal is for renewed support, a description of the relation of the completed work to the proposed work.
    3. Unfunded Collaborations
      Any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget should be described in the Facilities,Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal (see GPG Chapter II.C.2.i) and documented in a letter of collaboration from each collaborator. Such letters should be provided in the supplementary documentation section of the FastLane Proposal Preparation Module. Collaborative activities that are identified in the budget should follow the instructions in GPG Chapter II.D.

    4. Group Proposals
      NSF encourages submission of proposals by groups of investigators; often these are submitted to carry out interdisciplinary projects. Unless stipulated in a specific program solicitation, however, such proposals will be subject to the 15-page Project Description limitation established in Section (ii) above. PIs who wish to exceed the established page limitations for the Project Description must request and receive a deviation in advance of proposal submission. (GPG Chapter II.A contains information on deviations.)

    5. Proposals for Renewed Support
      See GPG Chapter V for guidance on preparation of renewal proposals.

    Biographical Sketch

    Sample biographical sketch.

    1. Senior Personnel
      A biographical sketch (limited to two pages) is required for each individual identified as senior project personnel. (See GPG Exhibit II-7 for the definitions of Senior Personnel.) The following information must be provided in the order and format specified below. Inclusion of additional information beyond that specified below may result in the proposal being returned without review.

      Do not submit personal information such as home address; home telephone, fax, or cell phone numbers; home e-mail address; date of birth; citizenship; drivers’ license numbers; marital status; personal hobbies; and the like. Such personal information is irrelevant to the merits of the proposal. If such information is included, NSF will make every effort to prevent unauthorized access to such material, but the Foundation is not responsible or in any way liable for the release of such material. (See also GPG Chapter III.G).

      1. Professional Preparation
        A list of the individual’s undergraduate and graduate education and postdoctoral training as indicated below: Undergraduate Institution(s) Major Degree & Year Graduate Institution(s) Major Degree & Year Postdoctoral Institution(s) Area Inclusive Dates (years)

      2. Appointments
        A list, in reverse chronological order, of all the individual’s academic/professional appointments beginning with the current appointment.

      3. Products
        A list of: (i) up to five products most closely related to the proposed project; and (ii) up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project. Acceptable products must be citable and accessible including but not limited to publications, data sets, software, patents, and copyrights. Unacceptable products are unpublished documents not yet submitted for publication, invited lectures, and additional lists of products. Only the list of 10 will be used in the review of the proposal.

        Each product must include full citation information including (where applicable and practicable) names of all authors, date of publication or release, title, title of enclosing work such as journal or book, volume, issue, pages, website and Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or other Persistent Identifier.

      4. Synergistic Activities
        A list of up to five examples that demonstrate the broader impact of the individual’s professional and scholarly activities that focuses on the integration and transfer of knowledge as well as its creation. Examples could include, among others: innovations in teaching and training (e.g., development of curricular materials and pedagogical methods); contributions to the science of learning; development and/or refinement of research tools; computation methodologies, and algorithms for problem-solving; development of databases to support research and education; broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in science, mathematics, engineering and technology; and service to the scientific and engineering community outside of the individual’s immediate organization.

      5. Collaborators & Other Affiliations
        • Collaborators and Co-Editors. A list of all persons in alphabetical order (including their current organizational affiliations) who are currently, or who have been collaborators or co-authors with the individual on a project, book, article, report, abstract or paper during the 48 months preceding the submission of the proposal. Also include those individuals who are currently or have been co-editors of a journal, compendium, or conference proceedings during the 24 months preceding the submission of the proposal. If there are no collaborators or co-editors to report, this should be so indicated.
        • Graduate Advisors and Postdoctoral Sponsors. A list of the names of the individual’s own graduate advisor(s) and principal postdoctoral sponsor(s), and their current organizational affiliations.
        • Thesis Advisor and Postgraduate-Scholar Sponsor. A list of all persons (including their organizational affiliations), with whom the individual has had an association as thesis advisor, or with whom the individual has had an association within the last five years as a postgraduate-scholar sponsor.
          The total number of graduate students advised and postdoctoral scholars sponsored also must be identified. The information in section (e) above of the biographical sketch is used to help identify potential conflicts or bias in the selection of reviewers. See GPG Exhibit II-2 for additional information on potential reviewer conflicts.
    2. Other Personnel
      For the personnel categories listed below, the proposal also may include information on exceptional qualifications that merit consideration in the evaluation of the proposal.

      1. Postdoctoral associates
      2. Other professionals
      3. Students (research assistants
    3. Equipment Proposals
      For equipment proposals, the following must be provided for each auxiliary user:

      1. Short biographical sketch; and
      2. List of up to five publications most closely related to the proposed acquisition.
    Current and Pending

    This section of the proposal calls for required information on all current and pending support for ongoing projects and proposals, including subsequent funding in the case of continuing grants. All current project support from whatever source (e.g., Federal, State, local or foreign government agencies, public or private foundations, industrial or other commercial organizations) must be listed. The proposed project and all other projects or activities requiring a portion of time of the PI and other senior personnel must be included, even if they receive no salary support from the project(s). The total award amount for the entire award period covered (including indirect costs) must be shown as well as the number of person-months per year to be devoted to the project, regardless of source of support. Similar information must be provided for all proposals already submitted or submitted concurrently to other possible sponsors, including NSF. Concurrent submission of a proposal to other organizations will not prejudice its review by NSF. Note the Biological Sciences Directorate exception to this policy, however, delineated in NSF GPG Chapter I.G.2.

    If the project now being submitted has been funded previously by a source other than NSF, the information requested in the paragraph above must be furnished for the last period of funding.

    In FastLane, if Current and Pending Support information for all senior personnel is uploaded in a single PDF file associated with the PI, insert text or upload a document that states, “Not Applicable” for any co-PI or Senior Person.
    Data Management Plan
    Other Special Information and Supplementary Documentation
    • Post Doc Mentoring Plan

    • Data Management Plan

    • Rationale for performance of all or part of the project off-campus or away from organizational headquarters. (See AAG Chapter V.D.1)

    • Documentation of collaborative arrangements of significance to the proposal through letters of commitment. (See GPG Chapter II.C.2.d.(iv))

    • The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 USC §4332). NEPA requires that Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of major Federal actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. If a proposed project might have an environmental impact, the proposal should furnish sufficient information to assist Foundation officials in assessing the environmental consequences of supporting the project. NSF will determine:

      1. the adequacy of the information submitted;
      2. whether or not additional information is needed; and
      3. whether or not an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement will be necessary.
    • Work in foreign countries. Some governments require nonresidents to obtain official approval to carry out investigations within their borders and coastal waters under their jurisdiction. PIs are responsible for obtaining the required authorizations and for advising NSF that they have been obtained or requested. Advance coordination should minimize disruption of the research. (See AAG Chapter VI.B.4 and VI.G.3) and the Research Terms and Conditions, NSF Agency Specific Requirements Article 29, and NSF Grant General Conditions Article 42.)

    • Research in Greenland. (See AAG Chapter VI.G.3)

    • Antarctic proposals to any NSF program require operational worksheets by the first Wednesday of June in the year before any proposed fieldwork. See “proposals with fieldwork” in Chapter V.A of the Antarctic Research solicitation. Special budget considerations also apply. See also Chapter V.B Antarctic Research solicitation.

    • Research in a location designated, or eligible to be designated, a registered historic place. (See AAG Chapter VI.K). Where applicable, the box for “Historic Places” must be checked on the Cover Sheet.

    • Research involving field experiments with genetically engineered organisms. (See AAG Chapter VI.B.2)

    • Documentation regarding research involving the use of human subjects, hazardous materials, vertebrate animals, or endangered species. (See AAG Chapter VI.B  and GPG Chapter II.D.5 and II.D.6).

    • Projects that involve technology utilization/transfer activities, that require a management plan, or that involve special reports or final products. Please note that some program solicitations provide specific guidance on preparation and inclusion of management plans in proposals submitted to NSF.

    • Special components in new proposals or in requests for supplements, such as Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED), Research Opportunity Awards (ROAs) or Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs). (See GPG Chapter II.D.3 for information on FASED, and for the other programs identified, consult the relevant program solicitation.)

    • Research in Undergraduate Institutions. (See RUI program solicitation for information.)

    • Research Experiences for Undergraduates. (See the REU program solicitation for information.)

    Grant Proposal Guide II-21 NSF 11-1
    In addition, the supplementary documentation section should alert NSF officials to unusual circumstances that require special handling, including, for example, proprietary or other privileged information in the proposal,matters affecting individual privacy, required intergovernmental review under E.O. 12372 (Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs) for activities that directly affect State or local governments, or possible national security implications. Proposers are reminded that, unless required by a specific program solicitation, letters of support should not be submitted as they are not a standard component of an NSF proposal, and, if included, a reviewer is under no obligation to review these materials. Letters of support submitted in response to a program solicitation requirement must be unique to the specific proposal submitted and cannot be altered without the author’s explicit prior approval. NSF may return without review proposals that are not consistent with these instructions.

    Letters of Support vs. Letters of Commitment

    Letters of Support
    Proposers are reminded that, unless required by a specific program solicitation, letters of support should not be submitted as they are not a standard component of an NSF proposal, and, if included, a reviewer is under no obligation to review these materials. Letters of support submitted in response to a program solicitation requirement must be unique to the specific proposal submitted and cannot be altered without the author’s explicit prior approval. NSF may return without review proposals that are not consistent with these instructions.

    Letters of Commitment - Sample
    Unfunded Collaborations - Any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget should be described and documented with a letter from each collaborator, which should be provided in the supplementary documentation section of the FastLane Proposal Preparation Module. Collaborative activities that are identified in the budget should follow the instructions in GPG Chapter II.D.4.


    With all subawards where IIT is the lead institution, the subrecipient must provide a consortium letter (signed by the non-lead institution’s Authorized Institutional Official), statement of work, budget and budget justification, biographical sketch and current and pending support to the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs at least 5 business days prior to the proposal submission.

    Note: Foreign subawardees are not eligible for indirect cost recovery unless the subawardee has a previously negotiated rate agreement with a US Federal agency that has a practice of negotiating rates with foreign entities.

    Sample Consortium Letter

    Collaborative Proposals

    A collaborative proposal is one in which investigators from two or more organizations wish to collaborate on a unified research project. Collaborative proposals may be submitted to NSF in one of two methods: as a single proposal, in which a single award is being requested (with subawards administered by the lead organization); or by simultaneous submission of proposals from different organizations, with each organization requesting a separate award. In either case, the lead organization’s proposal must contain all of the requisite sections as a single package to be provided to reviewers (that will happen automatically when procedures below are followed).

    All collaborative proposals must clearly describe the roles to be played by the other organizations, specify the managerial arrangements, and explain the advantages of the multi-organizational effort within the Project Description. PIs are strongly encouraged to contact the cognizant NSF Program Officer prior to submission of a collaborative proposal.

    Foreign subawardees are not eligible for indirect cost recovery unless the subawardee has a previously negotiated rate agreement with a U.S. Federal agency that has a practice of negotiating rates with foreign entities.

    1. Submission of a collaborative proposal from one organization
      The single proposal method allows investigators from two or more organizations who have developed an integrated research project to submit a single, focused proposal. A single investigator bears primary responsibility for the administration of the grant and discussions with NSF, and, at the discretion of the organizations involved, investigators from any of the participating organizations may be designated as co-PIs. Please note, however, that if awarded, a single award would be made to the submitting organization, with any collaborators listed as subawards.

      If a proposed subaward includes funding to support postdoctoral researchers, the mentoring activities to be provided for such individuals must be incorporated in the supplemental mentoring plan.

      By submission of the proposal, the organization has determined that the proposed activity is administratively manageable. NSF may request a revised proposal, however, if it considers that the project is so complex that it will be too difficult to review or administer as presented.

    2. Submission of a collaborative proposal from multiple organizations
      In many instances, simultaneous submission of proposals that contain the same Project Description from each organization might be appropriate. For these proposals, the project title must begin with the words “Collaborative Research”. The lead organization's submission will include a Cover Sheet, Project Summary, Project Description, References Cited, Biographical Sketches, Budgets and Budget Justification, Current and Pending support, and Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources for their organization. If applicable, the lead organization’s submission also must include a supplemental mentoring plan that must not exceed one page, and that addresses the mentoring activities to be provided for all postdoctoral researchers supported under the entire collaborative project.

      Non-lead organization submissions will include all of the above for their organization except the project summary, project description, and references cited which are the same for all collaborating organizations. FastLane will combine the proposal submission for printing or electronic viewing.

      To submit the collaborative proposal, the following process must be completed:

      1. Each non-lead organization must assign their proposal a proposal PIN. This proposal PIN and the temporary proposal ID generated by FastLane when the non-lead proposal is created must be provided to the lead organization before the lead organization submits its proposal to NSF.

      2. The lead organization must then enter each non-lead organization(s) proposal PIN and temporary proposal ID into the FastLane lead proposal by using the "Link Collaborative Proposals" option found on the FastLane "Form Preparation" screen. Given that such separately submitted proposals constitute a “single” proposal submission to NSF, it is imperative that the proposals be submitted within a reasonable timeframe to one another.

      3. All components of the collaborative proposal must meet any established deadline, and, failure to do so may result in the entire collaborative proposal being returned without review.

        Final submission of the IIT proposal must be submitted through the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs


    Any paid or unpaid consultant must provide a letter addressed to the IIT Office of Sponsored Research and Programs including the individual’s expertise, compensation rate by month, day or hour, and the expected duration and involvement within the project at least 5 business days prior to the proposal submission.

    Sample Consultant Letter

    Consultants are members of a particular profession or possess a special skill and who are not officers or employees of the performing organization. Costs of professional and consultant services are allowable when reasonable in relation to the services rendered. Payment for consultant services should be comparable to the normal or customary fees charged and received by the consultant for comparable services, especially on nongovernment contracts and grants.

    Anticipated services must be justified and information furnished on each individual’s expertise, primary organizational affiliation, normal daily compensation rate, and number of days of expected service. Consultants’ travel costs, including subsistence, may be included. If requested, the proposer must be able to justify that the proposed rate of pay is reasonable.


    Last modified: 09/09/2015 15:09:39

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