Newsletter: Communicating Results from Prior NSF Support

Posted on January 1, 2016 by  in Newsletter - () ()

Director of Research, The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University

ATE proposal season is many months away in early October, but if you are submitting for new funding this year, now is the time to reflect on your project’s achievements and make sure you will be able to write a compelling account of your current or past project’s results as they relate to the NSF review criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. A section titled Results from Prior NSF Support is required whenever a proposal PI or co-PI has received previous grants from NSF in the past five years. A proposal may be returned without review if it does not use the specific headings of “Intellectual Merit” and “Broader Impacts” when presenting results from prior support.

Given that these specific headings are required, you should have something to say about your project’s achievements in these distinct areas. It is OK for some projects to emphasize one area over another (Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts), but grantees should be able to demonstrate value in both areas. Descriptions of achievements should be supported with evidence. Bold statements about a proposed project’s potential broader impacts, for example, will be more convincing to reviewers if the proposer can describe tangible benefits of previously funded work.

To help with this aspect of proposal development, EvaluATE has created a Results from Prior NSF Support Checklist (see http://bit.ly/prior-check). This one-page checklist lists the NSF requirements for this section of a proposal, as well as our additional suggestions for what to include and how.

Two EvaluATE blogs include additional guidance in this area: Amy Germuth (http://bit.ly/ag-reapply) offers specific guidance regarding wording and structure, and Lori Wingate (http://bit.ly/nsf-merit) shares tips for assessing the quality and quantity of evidence of a project’s Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts, with links to helpful resources.

The task of identifying and collecting evidence of results from prior support should not wait until proposal writing time. It should be embedded in a project’s ongoing evaluation.