Pre-tenure applicants should use the CAREER mech for uninvited preproposals

Feb 26 2014 Published by under [Education&Careers]

One of the Stock Complaints about NSF review is how people feel as though the goal posts are always moving because the panel composition changes every round. While that's a topic for a different day, the preproposal system provides junior people with a bit of an exception here.

Preproposal results should be filtering in in late April or so. The CAREER deadline is in late July. It might not be the four months that PIs are given to turn an accepted preproposal into a full proposal, but that still leaves about three months between hearing back about your uninvited preproposal and the CAREER deadline. Why should you consider packaging your proposal for the CAREER award?

For one, the CAREER grants get mixed in with the full proposals submitted to a panel, so it is essentially a backdoor access for junior people to get their full proposal looked at. Yes, the CAREER has certain stipulations that are going to require your attention, but it's a good idea to be in the pool of proposals that are being considered for funding.

Second, and maybe more importantly, you have feedback from many of the people who will evaluate it again! IME, there is decent panel consistency (maybe ~50%) between the preproposal and full proposal round. In cases where someone can't make the second panel, they are often asked to be an ad hoc on a few proposals they saw as panelists. It is to your significant advantage to robustly demonstrate that you have dealt with the critiques of the reviewers rereading your proposal and that it is better now than ever!

Now, you're obviously going to want to be choosy here on which proposals to try this with. You only get three shots with the CAREER proposals, so you will need one that you feel confident just missed the cut and can be turned around effectively. Sometimes that can be a little hard to judge, but a careful reading of the reviews and maybe a discussion with the PO might help you make a call.

But don't ignore the opportunity.

4 responses so far

  • NatC says:

    What about pre proposals that result in an invitation for full?
    Is there an advantage in turning it into a CAREER or just submitted as regular proposal? (NSF program director has suggested that turning it into a career regardless of pre proposal outcome is a good idea…)

  • proflikesubstance says:

    One does not simply turn a proposal into a CAREER proposal.

    There is a pretty major education component in a CAREER proposal that needs to be well integrated. That's not something you just throw together. Personally, I would stick with a regular proposal if I got invited and not transition, but in the absence of an invite I would dive into the education side of the CAREER proposal.

  • […] notify people about their preproposals. If you get a denial letter, you're SOL until next January (unless you can submit a CAREER) and if you get invited to write a full proposal you best get started. Most of the notifications […]

  • […] Theoretically, what we are reviewing is the cream skimmed from the top of the preproposal pile (+ CAREER proposals). The reality, of course, is that we have the resulting proposals from those who were convincing at […]

Leave a Reply