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Informational Videos Available to Assist Researchers with NSF Changes

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is making major changes to how proposals for funding are prepared and submitted and project reporting. To assist researchers in understanding the changes, a series of informational videos have been produced by the Office of Research Services.

All proposal-related change are effective Jan. 14. NSF will require all proposal summary pages to contain three separately identified sections: overview, intellectual merit and broader impacts. Until the FastLane forms are updated, PIs should upload their compliant summaries in the above format. Proposals that do not separately address the overview and both merit review criteria within the one-page summary will not be accepted or will be returned without review.

Failure to follow the new guidelines could result in a faculty member’s proposal not being accepted.

A significant change is that FastLane will reject proposal submissions if key elements of a proposal are not completed correctly. The rejection will be marked “Proposal Not Accepted.” The new NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedure Guide (PAPP) states if the proposal “does not contain the project summary, including an overview, and separate statements on intellectual merit and broader impacts it will not be accepted by FastLane.” This new non-award category will also apply to data management plans as well as postdoctoral mentoring plans.

Because of FastLane’s new ability to block submissions of noncompliant proposals, NSF strongly suggests submitting proposals several hours before the deadline to allow time to correct errors.

For the first time in 13 years, the National Science Board has made changes in the merit review criteria that will affect the way in which proposals will be reviewed and scored. There are also significant changes to many proposal elements, including biosketches and proposal summaries.

NSF has also clarified the appropriate use of indirect costs, or facilities and administrative costs, as well as cost sharing and conflict of interest polices.

Another major change occurs Feb. 1, when researchers must stop submitting project reports in FastLane. NSF is transferring its current project reporting service from FastLane to Research.gov. To assist the Texas Tech community with this transition, the overdue date will be extended for all project reports that are currently scheduled to become overdue between Jan. 31 and April 30, 2013.

Please direct questions to the Office of Research Services pre-award analyst who covers your department.