Saturday, February 26, 2011

For NSF Funded Researchers

Four simple polls:

For proposals that you eventually got funded, how many times do you typically have to submit before the proposal is funded?
6 or more free polls

For proposals that never get funded, how many times do you typically submit to the NSF before giving up on the topic?
6 or more free polls

What is your NSF program area (the directorate or office you typically submit to)?
Biological sciences (BIO)
Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)
Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Engineering (ENG)
Environmental Research and Education (ERE)
Geosciences (GEO)
Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MSP)
Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE)
Cyber Infrastructure (OCI)
Polar Programs (OPP) free polls

Do you feel that rewriting a proposal to accommodate the concerns of an NSF panel actually improves your funding odds the next time around?
Never. Comments vary wildly with panel composition
On occasion
About 50-50
Nearly always free polls

I welcome comments on:
(a) how many proposals you submit per year
(b) anecdotes on the highest number of attempts you have ever heard people make, typical practices in your field, etc.
(c) how helpful your program officers are in helping you rework the proposal and eventually get funded
(d) whether you feel that the response to one panel actually improves your odds with the next one
(e) whether you include a response to panel comments when you resubmit (if so, body of proposal or supplementary docs) and whether it the norm in your directorate (anecdotally we know that in some it is, in some not)

Anything else that comes to mind regarding your NSF experiences!


inBetween said...

I have had one major NSF research grant for all the years I've been a professor (about 11 years now). This means that every 2-3 years I start applying again. I have always applied twice before getting funded (i.e., funded the second time around). I include a section that is about 1/2 - 3/4 of a page of the main proposal describing how I responded to constructive criticism.

I have also served on a panel for a few years. Our program officer was really good about asking us to honestly tell PIs if their research proposal shouldn't be revised as it'd never get funded. I think we did a good job of trying to guide people one way or the other, and how to improve their proposals. I saw quite a few proposals improve over the time I was on the panel and eventually get funded.

GMP said...

Thanks for the comment, inBetween! What's your directorate/program area?

Dr. Sneetch said...

Some years back I submitted an NSF proposal and it was rejected. A more recent one was funded on first attempt. Hard to say why. My co-pi thinks it might have been the confidence with which we wrote. That and just luck probably. About the reject two reviewers gave it the thumbs up and the third reviewer's comments were crushing. I never did resubmit.

Not What I Wanted To Be said...

We keep losing at Cranky Review Roulette. My PI's proposals get mostly 5s, maybe a 4 or two, and then some asshole sinks us with a 2 or 3 because he/she didn't actually read the damn thing or has a hard-on against just one of the several models or methods we're using. SO FRUSTRATING.

Before our next NSF submission I'm going to use my l33t cyberstalking skillz to figure out who these assholes are so we can put them on our "Reviewers Not to Include" list. Between the distinctive style in which some of their comments are phrased and their obvious pet peeves, I'm pretty sure that I can deduce their identities by combing through the literature.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know if you got enough responses to your survey to publish? We submitted for the first time and I will say even though many rave about the rigorous review process, that NSF came off as being incredibly stodgy. Our proposal was not turned down because of a poorly written proposal...the idea or broader impact was universally lauded. It pretty much came down to the fact they were unsure of us.....that's pretty biased if you ask me. They asked us to do the proposal on our own time and then apply to NSF SBIR. Say What? We won't need them. There was some pretty rigid biased thinking into how work should be done and very little opennes to innovative approaches. They even admitted to our work being beyond state of the art. Now I take that they considered that a negative as opposed to disruptive innovation? When I hear of all the talk of the NSF needing to be redone, given today's methods for arriving at discovery I think this needs to happen. Given the numbers of those who are typical (from research institutions only and known researchers or profs or even grad students) it closes down the option of a lot of work and discovery to get done. I would argue the group and their methods need revamping. Only the most stalwart of scientific endeavors will cling to this model. It's Old School, kids.