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