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NSF Funding and Writing Successful Proposals

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Title: NSF Funding and Writing Successful Proposals


1
NSF Funding and Writing Successful Proposals
  • Timothy M. Pinkston
  • Program Director, tpinksto_at_nsf.gov
  • Professor, USC, tpink_at_usc.edu

2
Outline
  • Overview of NSF
  • Origins, Mission, and Organizational Structure
  • CISE and ENG Directorates
  • Budgets and Funding Rates
  • Funding Opportunities
  • CISE Divisions
  • NSF Cross-Directorate Programs
  • Proposal Preparation and Review Process
  • Closing Remarks and QA

3
NSFs Origin, Mission Goal
  • NSFs origins were influenced by Vannevar Bushs
    article ScienceThe Endless Frontier, 1945 (US
    Printing Office)
  • The federal government should develop and
    promote a national policy for scientific research
    and scientific education,
  • support basic research in nonprofit
    organizations,
  • develop scientific talent in American youth by
    means of scholarships and fellowships, and
  • support long-range research on military matters.
  • Established in 1950 by the NSF Act NSF is only
    federal agency authorized to fund basic research
    across all SE disciplines
  • Mission To promote progress of science and
    advance national health, prosperity welfare by
    supporting research education in SEfund
    highly meritorious/impacting research
  • Vision To enable the nations future through
    discovery, learning, and innovation (2006
    Strategic Plan www.nsf.gov)

4
NSFs Target Audience
  • U.S. Universities and Colleges
  • U.S. Nonprofit, Nonacademic Organizations
  • U.S. For-Profit Organizations
  • State/Local Educational Organizations
  • Unaffiliated U.S. Scientists, Engineers,
    Educators, Citizens
  • NSF Rarely Supports Foreign Organizations or
    Other Federal Agencies
  • Program solicitations may establish more
    restrictive eligibility

5
NSF Sponsors Research in All Fields of Science
and Engineering
  • SCIENCES
  • Astronomy
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Biological Sciences
  • Computer Science
  • Earth Sciences
  • Materials Research
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Oceanography
  • Physical Sciences
  • Research on Learning
  • Social Sciences
  • ENGINEERING
  • Aeronautical/Mechanical
  • Chemical
  • Civil
  • Electrical
  • Etc.

6
NSFs Share of Total Federal Support for Basic
Research at Academic Institutions
87
Percent Total Funding
7
NSF Project Funding Profile
8
NFS Appropriations FY 1998 2007, Requested
FY08
7.1/yr
Flat
9.4/yr
Billions of Dollars
9
NSF Proposal Statistics(FY 2006)
  • 42,376 proposal actions
  • 254,000 reviews
  • 58,000 reviewers
  • 10,430 awards
  • 25 funding rate
  • ( 21 for research)

NSF-9
10
NSF Research Grant Profile (FY 2006)
  • Competitive research awards 6,635
  • Average annual award 134,800
  • Median annual award 106,800
  • Average duration 2.92 years

NSF-10
11
Key On-line Documents
  • FY 2008 NSF Budget Request
  • http//www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2008
  • FY 2007 NSF Budget
  • http//www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2007
  • Grant Proposal Guide (NSF 04-23)
  • http//www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_k
    eyGPG
  • Science and Engineering Indicators
  • http//www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind04/start.htm
  • General Information
  • http//www.nsf.gov/

12
National Science Foundation
National Science
Office of Inspector General
Board
Administrative Offices
Office of the Director
Directorate for Biological
Directorate for Mathematical
Sciences
Physical Sciences
Directorate for Computer
Directorate for Social, Behavioral
Information Science Engineering
Economic Sciences
Directorate for Education
Directorate for Geosciences
Human Resources
Office of Polar Programs
Directorate for Engineering
Office of International Science and Engineering
Office of Cyber Infrastructure
13
CISE Directorate
Office of the Director
Office of the Assistant Director for CISE
CCF Computing and Communications Foundations
CNS Computer and Network Systems
IIS Information and Intelligent Systems
OCI Office of Cyberinfra- structure
(formerly SCI, now an NSF-wide mission,
reporting to Director of NSF since 2006)
Clusters
Clusters
Clusters
  • NeTS
  • CSR
  • CRI
  • EMT
  • CPA
  • TF
  • HCC
  • III
  • RI

Crosscutting CISE Emphasis Areas
  • CT
  • SoD
  • BPC
  • CPATH

14
ENG Directorate
Office of the Director
Office of the Assistant Director for ENG
CMMI Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovati
on
EFRI Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation
CBET Chemical, Bioeng, Environmental,
and Transport Systems
ECCS Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems
Clusters
Clusters
Clusters
(a new division within ENG as of October 1, 2006)
  • EIS
  • ISDE
  • MTM
  • BEEH
  • CBBS
  • EES
  • TTFP
  • EPDT
  • IHCS
  • PCAN

EEC ENG Education and Centers division
  • ERC
  • EEP

15
NSF CISE ENG Budget in MFY06 to FY08
(Requested)
http//www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2008
16
CISE Budget2003 2008
7.1/yr
600
Flat
550
500
450
400
350
Dollars in Millions
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
Fiscal Year
The requested 9.0 increase includes 20M for the
Cyber-enabled Discovery Initiative (CDI) and 10M
more for GENI
17
Funding Rate for Competitive Awards in CISE
18
CCF Budget2003 2008
150
140
16/yr
130
120
110
Flat
100
90
80
70
Dollars in Millions
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
Fiscal Year
19
Funding Rate for Competitive Awards in CCF
2,000
100
1,800
90
1,600
80
P
1,400
70
N
e
1,200
u
60
r
m
1,000
50
c
b
e
800
e
40
n
r
600
30
t
400
20
200
10
0
0
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
Competitive Proposal Actions
Competitive Awards
Funding Rate
20
CCF Cluster Budgets 2004 - 2006
04 Avail
Cross
04 CGI
05 Avail
05 CGI
06 Avail
EMT
06 CGI
2006
2005
2004
CPA
TF
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
21
Foundations of Computing Processes and Artifacts
(CPA)
The CPA Cluster supports basic research and
education projects aimed at advancing formalisms
and methods pertaining to processes and artifacts
for designing and building computing and
communication systems
  • Processes and artifacts range from formalisms,
    models, algorithms, theories, design principles
    and languages to hardware/software architectures,
    technology components, and a variety of physical
    manifestations and implementations
  • The CPA cluster funds a diverse portfolio of
    high-quality, high-payoff foundational research
    to meet the needs of the scientific and
    engineering community as well as society at large

22
Current CPA focus areas and Program Directors
Foundations of Computing Processes and Artifacts
(CPA)
  • Each focus area can have topics of specific
    interest, but clustering promotes
    cross-disciplinary research that may transcend
    programmatic/area boundaries

23
CISE Solicitation Deadlines
  • CCFs Computing Processes and Artifacts (CPA)
    Cluster
  • CPA solicitation (06-585) proposal deadline
    October 12, 2006
  • CISEs Cyber Trust (CT) Program
  • CT solicitation (07-500) proposal deadline
    January 8, 2007
  • CNSs Computer Systems Research (CSR) Cluster
  • CSR solicitation (07-504) proposal deadline
    January 17, 2007
  • CNSs Networking Tech. and Systems (NeTS) Cluster
  • NeTS solicitation (07-507) proposal deadline
    January 22, 2007
  • CISE Pathways to Revitalizing Undergrad.
    Computing Education
  • CPATH solicitation (06-608) proposal deadline
    January 23, 07
  • NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program
  • MRI solicitation (07-510) proposal deadline
    January 25, 2007
  • CISEs Science of Design (SoD) Emphasis Area
    Prog.
  • SoD solicitation (07-505) proposal deadline
    February 5, 2007
  • Other NSF Cross-cutting CISE Related Programs
  • Industry University Cooperative Research (I/UCRC)
    Program
  • Broadening Participation in Computing (May 16,
    07 deadline)
  • IGERT, REU Sites, ADVANCE, GK-12, CAREER Programs

24
ENG Solicitation Deadlines
  • CBET Chemical, Bioengineering, Environ. and
    Transport Div.
  • Window of submission Feb 1 Mar 1 Aug 15 Sept
    15, 2007
  • CMMI Civil, Mechanical nd Manufacturing
    Innovation Div.
  • Window of submission Jan 15 Feb 15 Sept 1
    Oct 1, 2007
  • ECCS Electrical, Communications and Cyber
    Systems Div.
  • Window of submission Jan 7 Feb 7 Sept 7 Oct
    7, 2007
  • EEC Engineering Educations and Centers Div.
  • ERC Prelim. proposal May 3, 2007 full proposal
    Oct 30, 2007
  • EEP proposal due date Aug 15, 2007
  • EFRI Emerging Frontiers in Research and
    Innovation Div.
  • Prelim. proposal Nov 17, 2006 full proposal
    April 30, 2007

25
CISE Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC)
Program
  • The Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC)
    program aims to significantly increase the number
    of students who are U.S. citizens and permanent
    residents receiving post secondary degrees in the
    computing disciplines.
  • New Program started in FY05
  • Available Funds 14 million
  • Full proposal due date June 4, 2007
  • Check CISE web site concerning which proposals
    require a Letter of Intent and due dates

26
BPC Program
  • Initial Emphasis will be on students from
    communities with longstanding under-representation
    in computing
  • Women, persons with disabilities, and
  • Minorities African Americans, Hispanics,
    American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native
    Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
  • Develop and implement innovative methods to
    improve recruitment and retention of these
    students at the undergraduate and graduate levels
  • Develop effective strategies for identifying and
    supporting members of the targeted groups who
    want to pursue academic careers in computing

27
BPC Program Components
  • Alliances (up to 1M/year for up to 3 years)
  • Comprehensive programs that address
    under-representation in the computing disciplines
  • Join academic institutions of higher learning
    with secondary schools, government, industry,
    professional societies, and other not-for-profit
    organizations
  • Demonstration Projects (ave. 200k/yr for 2-3yrs)
  • Demonstration Projects (DPs) are smaller in scope
    and narrower in focus than Alliance projects.
  • DPs will be pilots that could be incorporated
    into the activities of an Alliance
  • Supplements

28
NSF-wide Crosscutting Programs
29
Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI)
  • the Earth and space are populated with
  • complex, heterogeneous, interconnected,
    interdependent man-made and natural systems
  • transportation, communication, distribution
    (food, supply, power) and sensor
    networks
  • the dynamics of these systems increasingly
    resemble natures own physical, chemical,
    cellular, social, atmospheric, fluid interactions
  • Insights into the artificial may lead to insights
    into the natural, and vice-versa
  • support development of computational tools to
    analyze/visualize complex structures
    interactions

30
Cyber-enabled Discovery
DNA Transcription
Manufacturing Processes
Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation
Statistical learning
Insights Domains of inquiry
Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Economics,
Geosciences, Statistics
Core Concept
Experiment
Theory
Interpretation
Data
Visualization, simulation, Computational Science
31
CDI Initiative
  • Included in the NSF FY08 Budget Request
  • NSF-wide initiative
  • Knowledge extraction
  • Complex interactions
  • Computational experimentation
  • Virtual environments
  • Educating students and researchers
  • 52M in FY08, up to 250M in FY12
  • CISE, ENG, MPS Directorates mainly
  • Under intense discussion in NSF
  • Creation of solicitations and distributing funds
  • Coordination of multi-disciplinary projects

32
Cross-NSF Programs
  • IGERT
  • REU Sites
  • ADVANCE
  • GK-12
  • CAREER

33
IGERT- Integrative Graduate Education and
Research Trainee
  • Intended to meet the challenges of educating U.S.
    Ph.D. scientists, engineers, and educators
  • Intended to catalyze a cultural change in
    graduate education for students, faculty, and
    institutions by establishing innovative new
    models for graduate education and training
  • Intended to facilitate greater diversity in
    student participation and preparation, and to
    contribute to the development of a diverse
    globally-engaged science and engineering workforce

34
REU Sites
  • Enables a cohort experience for students
  • Projects may be based in a single discipline or
    academic department, or on interdisciplinary or
    multi-departmental research opportunities with a
    coherent intellectual theme
  • REU Sites are encouraged to involve students in
    research who might not otherwise have the
    opportunity, particularly those from academic
    institutions where research programs are limited

35
GK-12
  • Provides fellowships and training in STEM
    disciplines
  • Provides institutions of higher education with an
    opportunity to make a permanent change in their
    graduate programs by including partnerships with
    K-12 schools
  • Provides educational opportunities for Graduate
    Students

36
CAREER Program
  • Foundation-wide activity that offers the National
    Science Foundations most prestigious awards for
    new faculty
  • NSF supports the early career development
    activities of those faculty members who are most
    likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st
    century
  • CAREER awards have a 5-year duration
  • In FY06, the minimum CAREER award (including
    indirect costs) is 400,000 for all NSF
    directorates

37
Observations on Proposal Preparation
38
Proposal Preparation
  • Grant Proposal Guide
  • Frequently Ask Questions
  • Regional Grants Conferences
  • Funding Opportunities Calendar at NSF
  • Guide to Programs/Browsing of Funding
    Opportunities at NSF Web site
  • Funding Search Engine
  • Keep Aware of Upcoming Due Dates

39
NSF Merit Review Process
40
NSF Review Criteria
  • Criteria include
  • What is the intellectual merit and quality of the
    proposed activity?
  • What are the broader impacts of the proposed
    activity?

41
Intellectual Merit
  • Potential Considerations
  • How important is the proposed activity to
    advancing knowledge and understanding within its
    own field or across different fields?
  • Significance of expected results incremental?
    high impact? high-risk, high-gain?
  • How well qualified is the proposer (individual or
    team) to conduct the research?
  • Not necessarily track record in the specific
    field, but quality of prior work can be a
    consideration, as can preliminary results
  • How creative, original are the concepts and
    ideas?
  • Should be ground-breaking in some aspect(s)
  • How well conceived, organized is the proposed
    activity?
  • Well-articulated problem and well-structured
    research plan
  • Is there sufficient access to resources?
  • Ownership is not necessary, only access to
    equipment, facilities, etc.

42
Intellectual Merit
  • Possible Ways of Assessing
  • High impact means more than just good papers
  • Does it change practice for the better?
  • Funding is possible for high-risk, high-reward
    projects
  • Even if some may not succeed
  • Even if the details are not all worked out in
    advance
  • Funding is unlikely for flawless projects that
    would predictably lead to only incremental
    results
  • Its expected that not all creative work is
    already done
  • Its okay if PI doesnt know what the final
    solutions will be
  • Reviewers and Program Manager look for
  • Exciting, bold vision
  • Articulation of challenging problem(s)
  • Substantiated description and plan of proposed
    approach/solution
  • Reasonable chance the PI can be successful with
    the requested funds

43
Broader Impacts
  • Potential Considerations
  • How well does the activity advance discovery and
    understanding while promoting teaching, training
    and learning?
  • How well does the activity broaden the
    participation of underrepresented groups (e.g.,
    gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)?
  • To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure
    for research and education, such as facilities,
    instrumentation, networks and partnerships?
  • Will the results be disseminated broadly to
    enhance scientific and technological
    understanding?
  • What may be the benefits of the proposed activity
    to other disciplines and society as a whole?

44
Panel and Ad Hoc Reviews
  • A minimum of 3 reviews/proposal (typically at
    least 4)
  • A score of E, V, G, F, P is given to a proposal
    by each reviewer
  • Comments on intellectual merit and broader
    impacts are given
  • Typically, a recommendation to fund (or not) is
    also given
  • Panel Review
  • Proposals are discussed and evaluated
    collectively
  • Proposal summary is writtencouple of sentences
  • Intellectual merits are described strengths and
    weaknesses
  • Broader impacts are described strengths and
    weaknesses
  • Improvements may be suggested (optional)
  • Panel recommendation Competitive or Not
    Competitive
  • Comments are intended to help unsuccessful PIs
    improve their proposals for the next competition

45
Number of FY 2003 Proposals 29,164 Declines,
10,791 Awards (37 success)
46
Seven Deadly Sins ofProposal Writing
  • Failure to focus on the problems and payoffs
  • No persuasive structure poorly organized
  • No clear differentiation competitive analysis
  • Failure to offer a compelling value proposition
    potential impact
  • Key points are buried no highlights, no impact
  • Difficult to read full of jargon, too long, too
    technical
  • Credibility killers misspellings, grammatical
    errors, wrong technical terms, inconsistent
    format, etc.

47
Ingredients for a Good Proposal
  • Educate the reviewers and Program Director
  • What problem(s) does your work address?
  • Why is this problem important?
  • What will you do to contribute to a solution?
  • What unique ideas/approaches do you have? Put in
    context.
  • Why are you the best person to do this work?
  • How will you evaluate your results?
  • How will we know if you were successful or if you
    failed?
  • How will you assure that the work has an impact?

48
Writing a Successful Proposal
  • Baseball Analogy How to make a successful
    pitch?
  • Pitcher you are the one who has goods that
    need to be pitched (conveyed or put across) home
    plate
  • Goods project (research ideas) you propose to
    get funded
  • Home Plate the collective body of reviewers and
    program manager ? decide if pitch strikes the
    target
  • Opposition the problem space in your area of
    research
  • Your task Successfully pitch your ideas and
    strike-out the opposition, as judged by the home
    plate (umpire)

49
Writing a Successful Proposal
  • Baseball Analogy How to make a successful
    pitch?
  • Three phases set-up, delivery, follow-through
  • Set-up phase set the stage for the appropriate
    pitch
  • Take into account previous events leading to
    current state
  • Convince home plate that
  • you have sufficiently assessed and can take
    down opponent
  • your pitch is worthwhile and significant to
    accomplish this
  • you have identified where your pitch is headed
    (the target)
  • If no set-up phase, who knows where your pitch is
    going or if it is the right pitch to make at this
    time for this opponent?
  • Set-up phase in proposal writing place research
    in context, giving current state-of-the-art and
    challenges
  • Clearly articulate problem, your mastery of
    understanding it, and why solving it is important
    ? importance, significance
  • Discuss how prior work fails to sufficiently
    address it
  • Clearly frame your proposed idea/approach ?
    originality

50
Writing a Successful Proposal
  • Baseball Analogy How to make a successful
    pitch?
  • Three phases set-up, delivery, follow-through
  • Delivery phase mechanics that go into executing
    the pitch
  • The pitcher is channeled, focused, directed
  • Best effort is put forth to structure the
    delivery of the pitch
  • Mechanics are followed for delivering the goods
  • precise
  • targeted
  • accurate
  • Delivery phase in proposal writing provide a
    detailed description of various components of the
    proposed research
  • Should provide substance (mass) to substantiate
    the validity/promise of the proposed idea ?
    preliminary results
  • Discuss tradeoffs and possible new problems that
    may arise
  • Stay focused dont deviate too far in morass of
    uncertainties
  • Write to the level that an expert on the topic
    would appreciate and assess that you are
    qualified to perform the research

51
Writing a Successful Proposal
  • Baseball Analogy How to make a successful
    pitch?
  • Three phases set-up, delivery, follow-through
  • Follow-through phase without follow-through, the
    pitch will never reach home plate
  • Must see the pitch all the way through from the
    fingertips to the point at which it reaches the
    target at home plate
  • Follow-through phase in proposal writing provide
    a plan for seeing the research through to
    completion
  • Devise an organized plan of attack for carrying
    out research
  • The research plan may include
  • methods/tools for analysis, simulation,
    evaluation, experiments
  • descriptions of PIs prior work, effectiveness,
    qualifications
  • required resources, personnel, collaborations,
    facilities
  • expected timelines, outcomes, results, artifacts,
    prototypes, implementations, contributions,
    disseminations, opportunities
  • broader impacts training, educational outreach,
    development

52
Closing Thoughts
  • There is no best way (or only way) to write a
    successful proposal
  • Many successful ones share similar
    characteristics
  • Funding depends on many things, some of which are
    beyond your control
  • Give your best effort and success will follow,
    likely sooner rather than later

53
Highlights (Nuggets)
  • Convince the US public that research is worth
    paying for
  • Succinct, interesting vignettes
  • Show a result, not an expense
  • Laymans language
  • Graphics if possible
  • NSF Uses the best ones
  • Budget requests
  • Performance reports
  • Public relations

54
Key On-line Documents
  • FY 2008 NSF Budget Request
  • http//www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2008
  • FY 2007 NSF Budget
  • http//www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2007
  • Grant Proposal Guide (NSF 04-23)
  • http//www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_k
    eyGPG
  • Science and Engineering Indicators
  • http//www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/seind04/start.htm
  • General Information
  • http//www.nsf.gov/

55
Contact Information
  • Timothy M. Pinkston
  • Program Director,
  • CPA Cluster in CCF Division of CISE
  • National Science Foundation
  • tpinksto_at_nsf.gov
  • (703) 292-8910
  • CISE Web Site http//www.nsf.gov/cise
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