guttata

NSF GRFP 2013-14

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Well, the new application is officially open. Good luck to everyone this year.

 

http://www.nsfgrfp.org/

https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do

 

 

Edit: This is news to me, but perhaps it was mentioned in the new announcement and I glossed over it. There are no longer 3 essays. While the previous essays were 2 pages each for the Personal Statement, Previous Research, and Research Proposal, the new application calls for one 2-page Research proposal and one 3-page combined Personal Statement, Relevant Background, and Future Goals essay.

Edited by guttata

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I have a question about one section of the criteria:

 

"In considering applications, reviewers are instructed to address the two Merit Review Criteria as approved by the National Science Board - Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts (NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide). Therefore, applicants must include separate statements on Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts in their written statements in order to provide reviewers with the information necessary to evaluate the application with respect to both Criteria as detailed below."

 

Does the text in bold mean that we have to explicitly label a section in both our SoP and Proposal as IM and BI? Or only that we need to address both criteria in each of our essays?

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Does the text in bold mean that we have to explicitly label a section in both our SoP and Proposal as IM and BI? Or only that we need to address both criteria in each of our essays?

 

No, you do not have to have a section labeled IM and BI, they must only be addressed and evidenced in your essays. People often do label these sections as such, or bold relevant passages, or use other such tricks. The thing to remember is to make these things visible - the reviewers often have just a few minutes to evaluate your whole application, so the easier it is to pick out the important stuff, the better for you.

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I have a question about one section of the criteria:

 

"In considering applications, reviewers are instructed to address the two Merit Review Criteria as approved by the National Science Board - Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts (NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide). Therefore, applicants must include separate statements on Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts in their written statements in order to provide reviewers with the information necessary to evaluate the application with respect to both Criteria as detailed below."

 

Does the text in bold mean that we have to explicitly label a section in both our SoP and Proposal as IM and BI? Or only that we need to address both criteria in each of our essays?

 

You need to address both of those criteria in your essays. Generally, applicants will label a section "Broader Impacts", but the intellectual merit should be evident through your previous research and explanations of the resources available to you.

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I'd suggest clearly labeling both the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts paragraphs. Reviews from NSF panels always have a rubric for describing how the application meets these two criteria and you want to make it as easy as possible for the reviewers to find. It may be evident from the overall application, but it will still make the reviewers' lives easier if they can simply copy or paraphrase directly from your paragraph on each of these questions. Good luck to everyone who's applying! 

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This question may have been addressed in a previous year but I was not able to find an answer in my initial search.

 

I am entering my third semester in a Master's program (nearing the end of my eligibility) and plan to apply for the 2014 GRFP. I attended the same institution for my undergrad and MS degrees, so I plan to apply to different schools for my PhD in Fall 2014. I can either frame my NSF application as if I plan to stay in my current lab/program (I don't), or state that I will be applying elsewhere. As I see it, the benefit of the former would be a greater sense of "feasibility" since I am already in the program and have generated data related to my proposed project, while the latter is more truthful/realistic. I assume that the proposed institution is not considered too heavily when reviewing applications but I am a bit unsure as to which approach I should take. Which course of action would be more advantageous in creating the strongest possible application?

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..I can either frame my NSF application as if I plan to stay in my current lab/program (I don't), or state that I will be applying elsewhere. As I see it, the benefit of the former would be a greater sense of "feasibility" since I am already in the program and have generated data related to my proposed project, while the latter is more truthful/realistic. I assume that the proposed institution is not considered too heavily when reviewing applications but I am a bit unsure as to which approach I should take. Which course of action would be more advantageous in creating the strongest possible application?

 

You should mention the school that you are planning to attend. There's no reason to suppress that. Don't worry about feasibility-- it's just as feasible that you can do a great job at the new institution, just as much as at the present one. And the school you are attending is not a significant factor in evaluation.

Edited by spivak_khayesh

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..There are no longer 3 essays. While the previous essays were 2 pages each for the Personal Statement, Previous Research, and Research Proposal, the new application calls for one 2-page Research proposal and one 3-page combined Personal Statement, Relevant Background, and Future Goals essay.

 

So that is 3 pages (PS+RB+FG) instead of 4 pages (PS+PR), and then RP stays the same. That is a shame because it's always harder to write well in fewer pages, you don't have space to flesh out your argument. I suspect this is the result of reviewers complaining about having to read 6 pages, and/or increased review load combined with the governmental budget crisis (which impacts NSF's ability to pay reviewers). Of such banal considerations are momentous changes made.

Edited by spivak_khayesh

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I'm actually glad to see that the two have been merged. My program is asking (read: requiring) incoming PhD students to prepare for the GRFP and we have been working on them this summer. I had written the two based on last years instructions but being able to combine them cut a lot of overlap and made the overall ideas more cohesive.

 

Question for you all who are applying: are you including a title on your proposal? I know the title gets entered separately but some of the samples I've seen include them. It, along with citations, is eating up valuable space!

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I'm actually glad to see that the two have been merged. My program is asking (read: requiring) incoming PhD students to prepare for the GRFP and we have been working on them this summer. I had written the two based on last years instructions but being able to combine them cut a lot of overlap and made the overall ideas more cohesive.

 

Question for you all who are applying: are you including a title on your proposal? I know the title gets entered separately but some of the samples I've seen include them. It, along with citations, is eating up valuable space!

 

I am including a title, as well as citations.

 

A title shows that you have formed a simple blurb that can explain what your research is all about. The title also helps the committee recognize immediately what you are trying to accomplish, and helps them remember your proposal.

 

Citations show that you have looked into what previous research is in your field, as well as how you can build off of it. That is a large part of science, and will show that you understand more what you're getting into. You can use a smaller font for citations, so that they use less space.

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I obviously write a title, because it is a required blank on the form. However, I do NOT include it in the PDF of the proposal itself because, as you note, it eats up space. The reviewers see a printout of all the information you put in to that section, so adding it to your proposal document itself becomes redundant.

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Citations are a no-brainer. I would never reference someone else's work without citing it. My references take about just a bit under 1/3 of the page, which I've been told is normal.

 

The title I'm debating still. I get what you are saying, Monochrome Spring, but my proposal is complicated as I'm using a mixed-methods approach that needs some justification (it is interdisciplinary research being done in an interdisciplinary program.)

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Citations are a no-brainer. I would never reference someone else's work without citing it. My references take about just a bit under 1/3 of the page, which I've been told is normal.

 

The title I'm debating still. I get what you are saying, Monochrome Spring, but my proposal is complicated as I'm using a mixed-methods approach that needs some justification (it is interdisciplinary research being done in an interdisciplinary program.)

 

Sorry I misread your first question. I wouldn't put a title in the actual proposal (just the section of the application).

 

For the citations, try 2 columns with a small space between the two. That often helps me fit more in a small page limit.

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I agree that citations in the proposed research are a no brainer. You need to justify where your proposed research fits into the literature and why it is relevant. You may lose valuable space, but there's not really an alternative.

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It looks like NSF is answering questions via Twitter this year: https://twitter.com/NSFGRFP and https://twitter.com/MullerParker

 

For example, this conversation clarifies that the three statements have been collapsed into two because reviewers felt there was redundancy, but their content is not strictly the same as what was asked for before:

“The two statements are different from the three essays used in previous years (not “folded in”). personal, educational &/or professional experiences that motivate your decision to pursue advanced study” is new. ....and focuses applicants on career goals & how past experiences (undergrad research, other activities) influence goals & grad school prep.

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This question may have been addressed in a previous year but I was not able to find an answer in my initial search.

 

I am entering my third semester in a Master's program (nearing the end of my eligibility) and plan to apply for the 2014 GRFP. I attended the same institution for my undergrad and MS degrees, so I plan to apply to different schools for my PhD in Fall 2014. I can either frame my NSF application as if I plan to stay in my current lab/program (I don't), or state that I will be applying elsewhere. As I see it, the benefit of the former would be a greater sense of "feasibility" since I am already in the program and have generated data related to my proposed project, while the latter is more truthful/realistic. I assume that the proposed institution is not considered too heavily when reviewing applications but I am a bit unsure as to which approach I should take. Which course of action would be more advantageous in creating the strongest possible application?

 

Late to this, but the advice I have heard is if you're applying, to use the proposed lab for which your proposal is strongest. You are not tied to the project, the lab or institution once you are funded. You do, however, need to have accepted at a specific institution by the time you accept. 

 

The idea is that you are being funded based on your ability to come up with a novel and well thought out research proposal- they are not funding that project, specifically. 

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Proposed institution is actually considered - because the reviewers want to see whether you're going to be able to do what you want to do at your new institution.

I actually think it's not harder to write well in fewer pages - it depends on the assignment, and honestly, I think 3 pages is pretty adequate for the personal statement and previous research.  I have reviewed my 2 essays and there's a bit of padding, and a lot of overlap.  This way the reviewers can clearly see connections between past experience, personal interests and future goals.

2700 awards!  That's 700 more happy PhD students, whoo!

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Who has had a POI help with the NSF proposal in the past? (Or is planning on this?) What was the interaction like: how often did you talk, how much say did he/she have on the project, how helpful was it, etc? And what are the benefits of having a POI help you with the research proposal?

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I agree with Eigen, but would also say that running it by a POI is extremely helpful. I'm doing that this time around (almost done writing it) and I plan to run it by my POI twice. I've done it once when I had the proposal fully developed, but not written and plan to do it once more when I have a final written draft. Ultimately, the advice I got was primarily on how to emphasize my ideas so that a reviewer skimming my proposal will pick up on everything and nothing will fall through the cracks.

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The other thing I would suggest is to run it by other trusted reviewers. 

 

I applied as a second year grad student, but I had kept up with several undergraduate professors who I got to review my proposal, as well as a collaborator at another school. 

 

They were all in different sub-fields, none of them in the sub-field I was writing a proposal for, and their feedback helped a lot- mostly in how to make the proposal straightforward for people who might be reviewing the proposal that were not that familiar with my sub-field. 

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