December 17, 2008

Revised NSF Agency-Specific Requirements Include Airline “Open Skies” Agreements

The National Science Foundation has posted a revision to the NSF Agency Specific Requirements to the Research Terms and Conditions on the Research Terms and Conditions web page.

The updated Requirements will go into effect on January 5, 2009, and will be applied to all new NSF grants and funding increments on existing NSF grants to organizations subject to 2 CFR Part 215. The Research Terms and Conditions will not be applied to NSF cooperative agreements and NSF fellowship awards made to individuals. NSF has posted a summary of significant changes to accompany the revised Requirements.

One significant change will provide investigators some flexibility (in certain circumstances) for use of non-US flag air carriers. NSF has updated Article 13, Travel, to incorporate revised circumstances under which use of a foreign-flag air carrier is permissible. Article 13 now addresses Airline “Open Skies” Agreements between the US and a foreign government, which the Department of Transportation has determined meets the requirements of the Fly America Act. Article 13 provides information on the Open Skies Agreement with the European Union, and includes a link to the General Services Administration web site for additional information on other Open Skies Agreements.

February 2013 Update:

December 11, 2008

NSF Postdoc Mentoring Plan Required for Proposals Received On or After January 5

The revised National Science Foundation NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 09-1) is effective for proposals received on or after January 5, 2009.

One significant change is that NSF has added a new requirement to the Proposal Preparation Instructions regarding mentoring for postdoctoral fellows. Proposals that request funding to support postdoctoral researchers that do not include a separate section on mentoring activities will be returned without review.

The revised NSF instructions state that: “Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include, as a separate section within the 15-page Project Description, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals. Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to: career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices. The proposed mentoring activities will be evaluated as part of the merit review process under the Foundation's broader impacts merit review criterion. Proposals that do not include a separate section on mentoring activities within the Project Description will be returned without review.”

The revised PAPPG includes some other notable changes; NSF included a Summary of Significant Changes with the Grant Proposal Guide.

October 2008 Research Advocate: Significant Changes in New NSF Policies and Procedures Guide

December 05, 2008

Keeping Current with NIH: December News Highlights

NIH Announces the Availability of Adobe-Based Grant Application Forms

Adobe-based application forms are now available in for most National Institutes of Health funding opportunities; others will have the new forms added by early next week (December 8-12, 2008). NIH is making the transition to Adobe-based grant application forms from PureEdge-based forms.

Applicants should return to the NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement for which they are applying and download the new forms. Applicants can confirm that they are downloading the new Adobe forms by verifying that the Competition ID on the Download Application page of the website is “ADOBE-FORMS-A.”

NIH reminds investigators that a compatible version of Adobe Reader is required to prepare and submit an Adobe-based application. currently recommends Adobe Reader versions 8.1.3 or higher; compatible versions are listed on the Download Software page. The compatible version of Adobe Reader must be installed before downloading the new application forms.

NIH provides more information on the Resources for Adobe Transition page of the Electronic Submission web site.

Enhancing Peer Review at NIH:
Updated Implementation Timeline
New Scoring Procedures for Evaluation of Research Applications Received for Potential FY2010 Funding
Enhanced Review Criteria for Evaluation of Research Applications Received for Potential FY2010 Funding

In June 2007, the NIH initiated a formal, agency-wide effort to review the NIH peer review system ( After careful deliberation and consideration of the recommendations resulting from the year-long effort, NIH is making a number of changes to the peer review system.

On December 2, 2008, NIH issued three NIH Guide notices related to enhancing peer review: an updated timeline for implementing key actions, a new scoring system for reviewers, and enhanced review criteria.

The first standing due date for fiscal year 2010 is January 25, 2009; the new scoring system and enhanced criteria will be used for applications submitted in response to NIH Parent Announcements and Program Announcements, including PARs and PASs published before or after these notices. Some RFAs and PARs for funding consideration in FY 2010 have due dates before January 25, 2009, and responses to those will be evaluated using the new scoring system and enhanced criteria. Likewise some RFAs and PARs for FY 2009 have due dates after January 25, 2009, and responses to those will be evaluated using the present scoring system and criteria.