National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program GETTING STARTED $ Image by Andrew Magill
TODAY’S GOALS- Become familiar with NSF GRFP-specific review criteria- Become familiar with basics of grant writing- Start thinking about what makes a great NSF GRFP proposal
WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE SO FAR…1. Figured out the field your project fits into. Ask your advisor/mentor if you’re not sure!2. Figured out your application due date.3. Asked THREE people for letters of recommendation. You should probably go ahead and, on FastLane, put them down as letter writers so that they get an email reminding them that they have to write for you!4. Signed up for– and started filling out– your FastLane account. Remember, your entire application is completed on FastLane!5. Started collecting information for and drafting your proposal documents.
KEEP IN MIND:THE APPLICATION COMPONENTS COMPLETED NSF GRFP FASTLANE APPLICATION TRANSCRIPTS (OFFICIAL OR UNOFFICIAL) THREE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION PERSONAL STATEMENT PREVIOUS RESEARCH EXPERIENCE PROPOSED PLAN OF RESEARCH
NSF WEBSITE: “TOP TIPS FROM AWAREDEES”- Start early, taking significant time to compose essays, and rewrite.- Demonstrate your personal motivation and excitement for research.- Spend time to thoroughly research your topic.- Integrate essays to create singular theme, link the content together.- Keep essays clear and simple to read.- Give essays to many people for review.- Get input from professors or university administration.- Get input from previous applicants or winners.- Thoroughly address both Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts.- Be sure to include all volunteer, leadership, and extracurricular activities.- Highlight the significance of your research and how it will impact society.- Pay close attention to language in the Program Solicitation.- Focus on getting strong recommendation letters.- Mention what sets you apart from a typical applicant—highlight what makes you unique!
NSF WEBSITE: “TOP TIPS FROM REVIEWERS”- Gain research experience, especially at the undergrad level. (GET INVOLVED WITH STUFFNOW– IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!)- Become involved in leadership roles and community service.- Write clear and scientifically-sound essays.- Strive for scientific publications and presentations.- Have a strong academic record.- Be sure to demonstrate the Broader Impacts criteria well.- Select strong recommenders.- Link your teaching/service and research experiences.- Ensure you display a history of accomplishments.- Thoroughly address both Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts.- Highlight any international or national experience you may have.- Display your passion and motivation in the essays.- Be knowledgeable of your research topic.- Demonstrate the significance of your proposed work.- Make sure the proposed research is realistic.
APPLICATION REVIEW PROCESS- Each application will be reviewed independently in accordance with the NSF Merit Review Criteria using all available information in the completed application.- In considering applications, reviewers are instructed to address the two Merit Review Criteria as approved by the National Science Board - Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. Therefore, applicants must address explicitly each criterion in their written statements in order to provide reviewers with the information necessary to evaluate the application with respect to both Criteria as detailed below.
WHO’S GOING TO LOOK @ THIS?NSF Application Review Process - Applications will be reviewed by panels of disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientists and engineers and other professional graduate education experts. - Applications will be assigned to panels based on the applicants chosen field(s) of study and the discipline(s) represented. Thus, applicants are advised to select the field of study in the FastLane GRFP Application module that is most closely aligned with the proposed graduate program of study and research plan.
HOW WILL I BE JUDGED?Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact Criteria - For each criterion, panelists evaluate and comment on the applicant’s strengths and areas for improvement on the rating sheet, assign an "excellent,“ "very good,” "good,” "fair," or "poor.“ Then, they will determine an overall point value. - Examples of evaluations from reviewers are available on the NSF GRFP iLearn site– check them out!Intellectual Merit -Panelists will consider factors including: the strength of the academic record, the proposed plan of research and whether it is potentially transformative, the description of previous research experience, references, and the appropriateness of the choice of institution relative to the proposed plan for graduate education and research.Broader Impacts - The broader impacts criterion includes contributions that infuse learning with the excitement of discovery, and assure that the findings and methods of research are communicated in a broad context and to a large audience. - A strong application will encourage diversity, broaden opportunities, and enable the participation of all citizens-women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities-in science and research. - In addition to reaching a broad audience, a strong application must demonstrate how it will enhance scientific and technical understanding, while benefiting society. - Applicants may provide characteristics of their background, including personal, professional, and educational experiences, to indicate their potential to fulfill the broader impacts criterion.
APPLICATION REVIEW PROCESS: CRITERIA #1What is the INTELLECTUAL MERIT of the proposed activity? - How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources? If international activities are proposed, are the proposed activities relevant and do they benefit the applicant? - For example, panelists may consider the following with respect to the Intellectual Merit Criterion: the strength of the academic record, the proposed plan of research, the description of previous research experience or publication/presentations, references, and the appropriateness of the choice of institution relative to the proposed plan for graduate education and research.
APPLICATION REVIEW PROCESS: CRITERIA #2What are the BROADER IMPACTS of the proposed activity? - How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed 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 society? - For example, panelists may consider the following with respect to the Broader Impacts Criterion: the personal, professional, and educational experiences, the future plans and prior accomplishments in the integration of research and education, and the potential to reach diverse audiences and benefit society.
INTELLECTUAL MERITIntellectual Merit… Just to Reiterate - Panelists will consider these factors: (1) The strength of the academic record (2) The proposed plan of research and whether it is potentially transformative (3) The description of previous research experience, references, and the appropriateness of the choice of institution relative to the proposed plan for graduate education and research
INTELLECTUAL MERITQuestions to Address in Your Documents - How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? - How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? - To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? - How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? - Is there sufficient access to resources?
INTELLECTUAL MERIT: “TRANSFORMATIVE RESEACH”- The term "transformative research" is being used todescribe a range of endeavors which promiseextraordinary outcomes, such as: (1) Revolutionizing entire disciplines (2) Creating entirely new fields (3) Or, disrupting accepted theories and perspectives — in other words, those endeavors which have the potential to change the way we address challenges in science, engineering, and innovation
BROADER IMPACTSWhat are “broader impacts”? - The broader impacts criterion includes contributions that infuse learning with the excitement of discovery, and assure that the findings and methods of research are communicated in a broad context and to a large audience. - A strong application will encourage diversity, broaden opportunities, and enable the participation of all citizens-women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities-in science and research. - In addition to reaching a broad audience, a strong application must demonstrate how it will enhance scientific and technical understanding, while benefiting society. - Applicants may provide characteristics of their background, including personal, professional, and educational experiences, to indicate their potential to fulfill the broader impacts criterion.
BROADER IMPACTSQuestions to Address in Your Documents - How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training and learning? - How well does the proposed 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 society?
BROADER IMPACTS: ADVANCE DISCOVERY/UNDERSTANDING WHILE PROMOTING TEACHING, TRAINING, & LEARNINGBackground - Integration of research and education is one of "three core strategies that guide [NSF] in establishing priorities, identifying opportunities, and designing new programs and activities.... Effective integration of research and education at all levels infuses learning with the excitement of discovery and assures that the findings and methods of research are quickly and effectively communicated in a broader context and to a larger audience.”Examples of Activities - Integrate research activities into the teaching of science, math and engineering at all educational levels (e.g., K- 12, undergraduate science majors, non-science majors, and graduate students). - Include students (e.g., K-12, undergraduate science majors, non-science majors, and /or graduate students) as participants in the proposed activities as appropriate. - Participate in the recruitment, training, and/or professional development of K-12 science and math teachers. - Develop research-based educational materials or contribute to databases useful in teaching (e.g., K-16 digital library). - Partner with researchers and educators to develop effective means of incorporating research into learning and education. - Encourage student participation at meetings and activities of professional societies. - Establish special mentoring programs for high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, and technicians conducting research. - Involve graduate and post-doctoral researchers in undergraduate teaching activities. - Develop, adopt, adapt or disseminate effective models and pedagogic approaches to science, mathematics and engineering teaching.
BROADER IMPACTS: BROADEN PARTICIPATION OF UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPSBackground - One of NSF’s five-year strategies is to "broaden participation and enhance diversity in NSF programs. At present, several groups, including underrepresented minorities, women, certain types of academic institutions, and some geographic areas are less than full participants in the science and engineering enterprise. NSF is committed to leading the way to an enterprise that fully captures the strength of America’s diversity.“Examples of Activities - Establish research and education collaborations with students and/or faculty who are members of underrepresented groups. - Include students from underrepresented groups as participants in the proposed research and education activities. - Establish research and education collaborations with students and faculty from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions and those serving underrepresented groups. - Make campus visits and presentations at institutions that serve underrepresented groups. - Establish research and education collaborations with faculty and students at community colleges, colleges for women, undergraduate institutions, and “Experimental Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research” (EPSCOR) institutions. - Mentor early-career scientists and engineers from underrepresented groups who are submitting NSF proposals. - Participate in developing new approaches (e.g., use of information technology and connectivity) to engage underserved individuals, groups, and communities in science and engineering. - Participate in conferences, workshops and field activities where diversity is a priority.
BROADER IMPACTS: ENHANCE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR RESEARCH EDUCATIONBackground - The NSF Act of 1950 authorizes and directs the Foundation "to foster and support the development and use of computer and other scientific and engineering methods and technologies, primarily for research and education in the sciences and engineering. NSF investments provide state-of-the-art tools for research and education, such as instrumentation and equipment, multi-user facilities, ... telescopes, research vessels and aircraft, ... Internet-based and distributed user facilities, ... research networks, digital libraries and large databases.”Examples of Activities - Identify and establish collaborations between disciplines and institutions, among the U.S. academic institutions, industry and government and with international partners. - Stimulate and support the development and dissemination of next-generation instrumentation, multi-user facilities, and other shared research and education platforms. - Maintain, operate and modernize shared research and education infrastructure, including facilities and science and technology centers and engineering research centers. - Upgrade the computation and computing infrastructure, including advanced computing resources and new types of information tools (e.g., large databases, networks and associated systems, and digital libraries). - Develop activities that ensure that multi-user facilities are sites of research and mentoring for large numbers of science and engineering students.
BROADER IMPACTS: BROAD DISSEMINATION TO ENHANCE SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDINGBackground - "NSF advocates and encourages open scientific communication. NSF expects significant findings from supported research and educational activities to be promptly submitted for publication.... It expects PIs to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of the work. It also encourages grantees to share software and inventions . . . and otherwise to make the innovations ... widely useful and usable." (Examples of Activities - Partner with museums, nature centers, science centers, and similar institutions to develop exhibits in science, math, and engineering. - Involve the public or industry, where possible, in research and education activities. - Give science and engineering presentations to the broader community (e.g., at museums and libraries, on radio shows, and in other such venues). - Make data available in a timely manner by means of databases, digital libraries, or other venues such as CD- ROMs. - Publish in diverse media (e.g., non-technical literature, and websites, CD-ROMs, press kits) to reach broad audiences. - Present research and education results in formats useful to policy-makers, members of Congress, industry, and broad audiences. - Participate in multi- and interdisciplinary conferences, workshops, and research activities. - Integrate research with education activities in order to communicate in a broader context.
BROADER IMPACTS: BENEFITS TO SOCIETYBackground - NSF is committed to fostering connections between discoveries and their use in service to society. The knowledge provided by NSF-funded projects offers a rich foundation for its broad and useful application. For example, projects may contribute to understanding the environment, commercial technology, public policy, health or safety and other aspects of the public welfare.”Examples of Activities - Demonstrate the linkage between discovery and societal benefit by providing specific examples and explanations regarding the potential application of research and education results. - Partner with academic scientists, staff at federal agencies and with the private sector on both technological and scientific projects to integrate research into broader programs and activities of national interest. - Analyze, interpret, and synthesize research and education results in formats understandable and useful for non-scientists. - Provide information for policy formulation by Federal, State or local agencies.
PERSONAL STATEMENTIMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS IN THIS ESSAY: - Why are you fascinated by your research area? - What examples of leadership skills and unique characteristics do you bring to your chosen field? - What personal and individual strengths do you have that make you a qualified applicant? - How will receiving the fellowship contribute to your career goals? - How does the information in your Personal Statement address the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts criteria?WHAT THIS ESSAY SHOULD DO: - Introduce you as a person (remember: put a face to a name, but don’t air all your dirty sheets). The more you can relate your personal experience (esp. in terms of addressing diversity/adversity) to your research project, the better. - Work as your professional bio. - Speak to your qualifications (awards, experiences, etc.) - Work as a crystal ball (What are your future goals? How will this money help you?) - Introduce why your work MATTERS and its BROADER IMPACT
PERSONAL STATEMENTUCR Tips for Personal Statement - Discuss your previous academic record. - Discuss why you chose to pursue your graduate studies at UCR. - To help panelists evaluate the broader impacts criterion, describe your background, including personal, professional, and educational experiences, to indicate your potential to fulfill the broader impacts criterion. (1) Are you the first in your family to go to college? To go to graduate school? (2) Are you from an ethnic group that is traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering fields? (In engineering, women are also considered an underrepresented.) (3) Have you had to overcome any disadvantages (e.g., economic, medical, family) to get to where you are today?
PREVIOUS RESEARCHIMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS IN THIS ESSAY: - What are all of your applicable experiences? - For each experience, what were the key questions, methodology, findings, and conclusions? - Did you work in a team and/or independently? - How did you assist in the analysis of results? - How did your activities address the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts criteria?WHAT THIS ESSAY SHOULD DO: - Describe your scientific research activities and research experiences (undergrad, graduate, work- related). Be sure to distinguish between your undergrad and graduate experiences. - Explain the purpose of the research and your specific role in the research, including the extent to which you worked independently and/or as part of a team, and what you learned from your research experience. - List any publications and/or presentations made at national and/or regional professional meetings. - Foreground how your previous research has led up to your current work. How does your previous research experience inform your proposed project/current work that’s related to your project? - Foreground how your previous research experience ties into Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts criteria.
PREVIOUS RESEARCHUCR Tips for Personal Statement - It would be a good idea to discuss training in ethics, such as Responsible Conduct of Research. This is mandatory as of January 2010 for all trainees supported by NSF grants anyway, so you can show NSF that you understand this and are prepared for it. BCOE and CNAS are working on programs that satisfy the new ethics requirements. For information, please see UCR’s Responsible Conduct of Research site, http://or.ucr.edu/RI/ResponsibleConduct.aspx. If your research involves human or animal subjects, you should also become familiar with those aspects of research ethics (see http://or.ucr.edu/RI/index.aspx) . - UCR doctoral students participate in the Teaching Assistant Development Program (TADP, see http://www.tadp.ucr.edu/). This is relevant to your NSF proposal because it makes you a better communicator and mentor. After you have your Ph.D., you will be better-prepared to contribute to your organization as an educator and mentor (for academic career paths) or as a team leader (in industry), and your communication skills will help you communicate the importance of science and engineering to the public. (If you really have space to kill, read and cite the book Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future by Chris Mooney, about the nation’s overall lack of scientific literacy.)
PROPOSED PLAN OF RESEARCHIMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS IN THIS ESSAY: - What issues in the scientific community are you most passionate about? - Do you possess the technical knowledge and skills necessary for conducting this work, or will you have sufficient mentoring and training to complete the study? - Is this plan feasible for the allotted time and institutional resources? - How will your research contribute to the "big picture" outside the academic context? - How can you draft a plan using the guidelines presented in the essay instructions? - How does your proposed research address the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts criteria?WHAT THIS ESSAY SHOULD DO: - Present a complete plan for your research project. Remember, though, you only have TWO pages in which to accomplish discussing your plan. So, choose aspects of your plan that make your project clear, seem feasible, and that lead to a discussion of your project’s Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts! - Address how you became interested in your topic– in the context of your research plan, of course! - Demonstrate your understanding of research design and methodology. Check with your advisor/mentor to make sure you demonstrate these things fully and clearly! - Draw connections to your previous research, if possible. - Foreground both your research’s and plan for your project’s Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. - Keep in Mind: Plan should be informative to other persons working in the same or related fields and, insofar as possible, understandable to a scientifically or technically literate lay reader.
PROPOSED PLAN OF RESEARCH: KEEP IN MIND!According to NSF, full proposal plan should present… (1) Objectives and scientific, engineering, or educational significance of the proposed work (2) Suitability of the methods to be employed (3) Qualifications of the investigator and the grantee organization (4) Effect of the activity on the infrastructure of science, engineering and education (5) Should present the merits of the proposed project clearly and should be prepared with the care and thoroughness of a paper submitted for publication
PROPOSED PLAN OF RESEARCH: WORTH REPEATING!SPECIAL NOTES FOR RESEARCH PROPOSAL - IN PROPOSAL: Include the title, key words, hypothesis, research plan (strategy, methodology, and controls), anticipated results or findings, and literature citations. If you have not formulated a research plan, your statement should include a description of a topic that interests you and how you propose to conduct research on that topic. - ON FASTLANE SITE: In addition to submitting your proposal document, on the FastLane site, you also have to type out in a field key words to describe the proposed research. These key words must be 50 CHARACTERS OR LESS!
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICS: GETTING ORGANIZED TO WRITEOutline / Listing Create a detailed outline of the essays or a list of “selling points” you need to cover in each of the documents, including space allocations. Map the sections of the proposal to the scoring criteria.Storyboard A mock-up of the proposal showing the points each section will make, the space allocated to each section’s text and graphics, etc. You could use a poster board or large piece of construction paper to create a storyboard. You could also use a chalk- or white-board.“Check-Off” List Create a “check-off” list of different selling points you need to cover in each of the essays. Lists like this can be particularly useful for your first draft.Note Cards / Sticky Notes Use note cards or sticky notes to write down different components of each essay and ideas for addressing these components. You can then play around with the arrangement of the notes.
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICS- Understand your audience- Understand your constraints- Formulate your message—and stick to it!- Use words and graphics effectively to sell bothyourself and your project- Be consistent and professional
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICSThe Audience - What does the sponsor/customer want? What is important to the people making the funding decision? Why? - What you want to sell is not necessarily what the customer wants to buy. Therefore, be sure you are selling what the buyer is buying and “in the market for.” Write about what interests the sponsor/customer, which may or may not be what interests you. Compromise– it will pay off! - What will your competitors propose? How do you show that your approach is better (without insulting the competition or the peer reviewer)? - Reviewers have 1,000,001 reasons to reject your proposal– how can you change their minds? - You’re speaking to folks in your field—or, related field– but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use your proposal as an opportunity to TEACH them about your project and why it’s special. And, definitely no reason to use extremely, extremely specialized language and terms! - Don’t insult the reviewers! Keep in mind, you don’t want to make it sound like everyone’s work will be obsolete or that it’s irrelevant– or, even worse, “dumb” or ill-conceived!
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICSAudience: What Makes You Special? - Make a list of the things that are special about your idea, approach, and general project. These are things important to the person making the funding decision – not necessarily the things important to you. Keep in mind that you are selling your project and that NSF folks are looking to see if your work fits into the Broader Impact and Intellectual Merit criteria. - Proposals must highlight what makes us special. Answer the following in your proposal: (1) Why should the sponsor do what I propose? (2) Why do it now? (3) Why am I the best choice to do it?
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICSDr. Tom Sant’s NOSE Paradigm Need: Do you understand what the customer/sponsor really wants? This may or may not be in the solicitation. Outcomes: Can you convince the reviewers that you can deliver desired outcomes? Solution: Can you define an approach that will give the customer confidence in selecting you? Evidence: Can you substantiate the things you say? How will you back up your hypothesis? Your approach?
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICS: BE CONFIDENT… EVEN IF YOU AREN’T“Project” VS. “Proposal” - Remember, your proposal is doing the work of communicating why you’re a great applicant… your project is what’s being sold! Don’t treat your proposal like an article. Avoid saying things like this: “In the proposal, I will argue…” or “…I will show…” - Treat your proposal as a “commercial” for your project and you as a researcher.Confidence - Don’t downplay your project– this only plants the seeds for rejection! Example: “This project, if funded, would demonstrate cold fusion for the first time” VS. “This project will demonstrate cold fusion for the first time by pursuing a newly developed approach…”
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICS: SENTENCE LEVEL- Be upfront: The most important sentence is the first sentence. Don’t waste itwith a statement of fact or background information. A better approach: Start withwhy you or your work are special, unique, different.- More about being upfront: The first paragraph of your research proposal essayshould say what you propose to do, why it’s exactly what the sponsor is lookingfor, and why your idea is going to work. If that’s buried at the bottom of page2, after a lengthy introduction, your chances are slim. Be straightforward!- Short words in short sentences. Use mostly words of three syllables or less.Remember: NSF folks have to read quickly, so you need to get your point acrossquickly and easily.- Aim for TWENTY words per sentence. Try not to go over THIRTY words at thevery, VERY max. Short and to-the-point wins attention spans and $$$.- Write in the active voice. (“It will be demonstrated that…” VS. “This projectdemonstrates…”)
GRANT WRITING: THE BASICS: SENTENCE LEVEL- Be consistent. Consistency makes your project coherent and easy toread!- As you draft your essays, you may find it helpful to create your own“stylebook,” a list of how you’re going to cite, write out names andnumbers, or the kinds of abbreviations, etc. that you will use. Or, perhapsstick with a stylebook that’s already out there (Chicago, for example).- Consistency example: All of these terms mean the same thing. All ofthem are, technically, correct. Choose one style, though, then stick with itthroughout your application. 15 degrees C 15 deg. C 15C 15 °C 15° C 15°C
RECOMMENDED READING- Tom Sant’s The Language of Success- Stylebook that is relevant to your field.Remember, consistency is key.- Sample NSF GRFP essays online. We’ll go over afew next time. However, the more you read, themore you’ll be familiar with what a successfulproposal actually looks like!
Q&A- What kinds of questions do you have?- What kinds of concerns do you have?- What would you like to know more about?- What would you find helpful?
NEXT WORKSHOP…NEXT WORKSHOP DATE & TIME Thursday, 13 October, 11-1pmPLACE Right here!THEME & TOPICS Theme: Writing Workshop Important: Bring in drafts of your documents! They can be really, rough and that’s okay. Even bring in outlines! Remember, the more eyeballs that look at your proposal at different stages of the drafting and writing process, the better. Sample Topics and Activities: Share mini-drafts of essay documents, NSF GRFP formatting review, NSF Grant Proposal Guide “Special Guidelines,” Look Through ESSAY EXAMPLES Together