NSF preproposal update

For those of you NSFers out there, I thought I would give you an update on what I know so far about the preproposal process:

- A while back I mentioned that I expected roughly 3X the normal load of proposals, based on the number of names on the Conflict of Interest document. Surprisingly, I'm seeing MORE co-PI proposals than before, suggesting that the limit of two proposals for every PI/co-PI is not much of a factor. More people seem to be spreading their effort around, resulting in several proposals in my batch with >4 co-PIs.

- As for straight numbers, I am reviewing a little less than 2X the number of preproposals than regular proposals I received last time. Given that they are significantly shorter I am spending less time reading but we still have to write a review for each one.

- The review at this stage is similar, but we are being asked to triage 80% of the preproposals. POs want 15% in the "high priority invite" category and 5% in the "low priority invite" category when all is said and done. Therefore, we are being instructed to be more aggressive in our reviews, to whittle down the numbers that will eventually be discussed. In the past, every proposal has at least been discussed at panel. Those days appear to be over and triaged proposals will not be getting detailed panel summaries back.

- In practical terms, preproposals getting ratings of Good, Very Good and Excellent have a shot at being discussed. Anything that gets a Fair or Poor hits the round file.

That's what I know so far, more to come.

7 responses so far

  • Anon NSF reviewer says:

    Interesting: there's clearly a LOT of variance between panels, then. Ours definitely discussed every proposal (~90) in at least some detail, every one gets a panel summary; moreover there were very few co-PI proposals. We ended up with about 15% in the top ('High Quality') bin, so that exact rankings in Medium Quality really matter for invitations. That was more than the NSF staff folks wanted to see in HQ; we ended up with a pretty normal distribution across the 4 bins of ~15-30-40-15. I was surprised how sloppy several were, and that was death in review.

    Granted, the ones that came in with 3 Ps didn't get a *long* discussion - but there was at least time to overview and allow any comment.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    My panel has more than double that number of preproposals to work through, which is likely the reason for the triaging.

  • Anon NSF reviewer says:

    Wow. Yeah, we had enough-but-not-more time to go over the 90 in 2.5 days. In the ballpark of 200? Insanity.

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