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Reapplying for NSF GRFP - new project or same?


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For anyone that has reapplied for the NSF GRFP, or know of people who did, did you use the same basic project in your second application and just edit based on reviewers, or did you have a new project your second year?  Or if you plan to reapply, what do you plan to do?

I ask because I got an honorable mention last year and have now already completed the main project I talked about in my application.  I'm not sure if I should just use the same application to start with anyways and just edit what they said, or if I should be writing about a follow-up project since I've now completed the one I talked about.  The only thing reviewers comment on was expanding broader impacts, so they liked the project itself.

On the one hand, I did well enough to get HM, so I don't want to stray far, but on the other hand, I don't want them to think I've done nothing in my first year.  Of course the general topic will be the same, but the actual project I discussed in the research essay will be done by the time I reapply.

What do you all think, or what did you do?

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I changed my project substantially although i got an HM my first year.  I also reworked my BI statement to make it tighter and had different letter writers.  So, I'm not sure which change was the most impactful, or if it was just the way the chips fell, but I was glad that I sort of started from scratch with my project.  For one thing, even if I hadn't won the process of writing an application like that can be tremendously fruitful and really steer your interests.

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I changed my project substantially, for several reasons.  The major reason is that I wrote my NSF as a brand-new, first-year doctoral student before I was fully aware of realities on the ground and the kind of support I would have.  A year later, I had been more integrated into my lab and had a better idea of projects that I could successfully complete with the resources and lab work that was currently going on, so I wrote a new project that was more aligned with both of my advisors' interests.  I didn't get HM my first year, and I won the award my second year.  (My other two essays were very similar to the originals, and were mostly edited for style and structure.)

I think this really depends.  The secondary reason I changed my project is because the single best piece of advice I got on my proposals was from an informal mentor of mine, who told me that she wouldn't have funded my original project either because it wasn't really theoretically grounded.  According to her, I needed to really ground my project in past research and a theoretical framework.  By year 2 I was much more familiar with the theoretical grounding of the new projects I was working on, so I selected one of them to write about.  (I also agree with the above comment that even if I hadn't won, the process of writing that research proposal was tremendously instructive.  It helped me to focus my interests and learn a lot about the work of using theoretical questions and the scientific background literature to guide your work, not the other way around.)

If you feel like your original project is already good, theoretically grounded and pretty awesome as is...then perhaps keep it?  It's unlikely you'll get the same reviewers or that they'll remember your project the next year.

If you think you can successfully edit it to talk about a follow-up just as well as you did about the original project last year, then maybe you want to edit it.  This way, you can discuss the current project you completed as work in your previous experience statement.

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