We're now about 14 months since both DEB and IOS went to the new preproposal system. We're at the cusp of hearing about who got funded from the full proposal round so we will have a complete cycle to stand back and look at as a whole. Much has been made about the process, but so far we don't have any data to judge the entirety of the new landscape.
It's clear at this point that both IOS and DEB are sticking to their guns on the preproposal, whereas MCB is switching to a annual full proposal. The announcement from IOS is below, and a similar one can be found on the DEB page.
The National Science Foundation’s Division of Integrative Organismal Systems has issued an updated solicitation for the core programs (NSF 13-506) along with a revised set of IOS Frequently Asked Questions (NSF 13-09) which are now available on the IOS home page at: http://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?div=IOS
The core programs covered under this solicitation in the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) support research aimed at understanding why organisms are structured the way they are and function as they do. Areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to, developmental biology and the evolution of developmental processes, nervous system development, structure, and function, physiological processes, functional morphology, symbioses, interactions of organisms with biotic and abiotic environments, and animal behavior.
The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) will also host a Webinar to discuss the outcomes of the new preliminary proposal system thus far and answer questions about the updated solicitation on Monday, December 10th. Information about how to sign up for the webinar will follow shortly and be posted to the IOS home page.
What interests me is that final paragraph. I'm not much for webinars, but I am interested in data. I'll be curious what NSF learned and whether we're looking at sticking with the same system for a certain number of years or what. We shall see. It may not even be discussed.
So, readers, how are YOU feeling about the preproposals? Better than you did in January? Worse? What are the things that you have thought up as a better alternative?
I would actually be in favor of shortening the full proposal length (maybe 8-10ish pages) and going without the preproposal. I would even go so far as to ditch the ad hocs and go with four panel reads. I think it's all about compromise and fixing the issues that have plagued the system. If that could get us back to two cycles, I think the community would whole-heartedly embrace it. Even if we can't, it's an improvement.
I think the major issue is just how uncomfortable everyone is with a single full proposal submission deadline, paired with a completely different 4 page document as the gatekeeper. Whereas I hear all the pros to the preproposal from the NSF perspective, I still really dislike the idea of writing two very different documents for two different sets of reviewers. Is it just me?