September 27, 2007

NSF Revises Intellectual Merit Review Criterion to Include Transformative Research

The National Science Foundation has published Important Notice No. 130: Transformative Research. The Important Notice outlines the NSF implementation of the National Science Board motion to enhance support of transformative research at NSF. The document is available at

The Notice highlights the change to the NSF Intellectual Merit Review Criterion to specifically include review of the extent to which a proposal also suggests and explores potentially transformative concepts. The full text of the newly revised Criterion is:

What 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?

Effective October 1, 2007, the Grant Proposal Guide and new funding opportunities issued after this date will incorporate the change to the Intellectual Merit Criterion. Proposals received after January 5, 2008, will be subject to the revised Merit Review Criterion.

October 1, 2007 Update: NSF Revises PAPPG to Include New Criterion
NSF has published a revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 08-1. The revisions were made only to the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG); all other parts of the PAPPG remain unchanged. The significant changes made to the GPG include the revision of the intellectual merit review criterion to specifically include language on potentially transformative research, updated guidance on the designated fonts that may be used when preparing an NSF proposal, and the requirement that organizations must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration prior to submitting a proposal to NSF. NSF notes that while the changes are effective for proposals submitted on or after January 5, 2008, proposers are strongly encouraged to begin complying with the guidance as soon as possible.

July 2007 Research Advocate article: NSF Asked to Plan New Transformative Research Initiative

September 21, 2007

Finding Funding

The first step in obtaining funding to support research and other projects is often a search for programs that might support the project. The campus subscribes to two funding databases that can make identifying potential funding sources a manageable prospect, and the Sponsored Projects Office provides assistance with searches and other resources to help in the task.

Funding Databases

The Berkeley campus subscribes to the Community of Science (COS) and IRIS funding opportunities databases; each is accessible on any computer with a address. COS and IRIS can be used to search or browse program announcements in all areas from federal and regional government sponsors, foundations, and other organizations. The program listings provide full information on each funding opportunity and links to the agency program announcements.

If you are new to using IRIS or COS, the best way to start may be to use the keyword search to select one or more areas of interest, then browse the search results. If the results are too extensive, narrow the search by adding a qualifier or two. The IRIS Help File and COS Instructions are recommended reading for search tips and guidance.

IRIS also provides listings of programs with upcoming deadlines in over twenty subject areas. The lists are divided into two groups: one for all academic levels, and the other for graduate students and undergraduates.

For help using the COS and IRIS databases or for an individual funding search for Berkeley faculty, contact Shelley Sprandel at or 2-8122.

Other SPO Resources

The SPO web site has additional resources on funding program information. The funding page provides the following: