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NSF GRFP- Any successful appeal stories?


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Hi all. I received an honorable mention in the NSF GRFP competition this year, and my reviews have only left my baffled...

I got glowing reviews, except that two reviewers said that I didn't connect my project to existing literature.

This is baffling because.... I did. The entire second paragraph in my proposal does just that. It's like they somehow just completely missed that part of the proposal. It just doesn't make any sense, and I don't even know what to think.

I would really like to somehow bring this to the attention of the program officers in hopes that they could perhaps give my application another look?

Normally I wouldn't be one to appeal a decision like this, but since the only criticism I got is an objective matter that I can refute/correct by simply pointing them to the correct portion of my proposal, I feel like it is worth a shot.

Does anyone know of any successful appeal stories? Or should I just accept this as one of those times when life doles out a crappy hand?

Any advice/insight would be much appreciated!

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Reviewers read hundreds of these applications. Your take away from this is for next time, make the connection that much more obvious. It needs to stick out. Another thing that may have happened is that one of your reviewers is in the field you are proposing and you did not include his/her work. There is also probably a section in the reviewer's comments that are only to NSF (e.g. not available to the applicant) that may have other comments. They recevie thousands of apps and many of them are good. The job of the applicant is to make your proposal stand out and make each section and its connections obvious and clear.

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I would also suggest looking at the NSF thread about z scores and averaging out the reviewers- Sometimes people get great reviews and just don't get selected because of the fact that those reviewers give great reviews to a lot of people. It's a tough call but if you are eligible again- definitely reapply!

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