MENTOR-CONNECT TUTORIAL

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1 MENTOR-CONNECT TUTORIAL PREPARING FORMS FOR YOUR NSF ATE PROPOSAL This tutorial will guide you through an important process - filling out the forms that are required when you submit proposals to the National Science Foundation s Advanced Technological Education Program. It is based on a Mentor- Connect webinar, conducted in March 2015 and available as a recording on the Mentor- Connect website ( Connect.org), in the Resources section. The good news is that you can begin working on these forms very early and have them ready long before the proposal is due. Doing so will not only leave you free to focus on the project description, but also give you the satisfaction of having your submission well under way. It is easy to underestimate the time it takes to fill out the forms! In addition to the project description, the summary, and the budgets, you will submit another seven or eight forms. The following pages will provide an overview of the information required in each of the forms you will submit, with the exception of the Budget and Budget Justification. They are covered in a separate webinar and tutorial, available on the Mentor- Connect website. Before you begin working on the forms: Ø Decide who will be responsible for handling all input on FastLane. Ø Identify your Sponsored Research Officer (SRO), who with the PI should crosscheck all uploaded information before the proposal is submitted. Ø Register your institution with FastLane and get a FastLane ID. Ø Be sure to have two documents on hand for ready reference: The ATE Program Solicitation and the NSF Grant Proposal Guide. (Access both at - search for ATE and GPG.)

2 Accessing the forms: Ø Follow the links to the NSF forms: NSF Homepage FastLane Proposals, Awards and Status. Ø Here you will log in with your NSF ID and a self- selected password. Then click on: Proposal Functions Proposal Preparation Prepare Proposal.. Ø If your proposal is registered in the system you will see it on the screen. Select it and click on Edit. If it is not yet registered, click on Create Blank Proposal. This will give you a proposal number, and with that it will be in the system. Both routes will take you to the page of forms, shown below. Click on some of the GO buttons to become familiar with the forms. Note that some forms will be filled out on- line by the person responsible for FastLane input, while work on other forms may be delegated since they will be uploaded as documents. Remember that you may make changes until you submit the final proposal. The date on which you save each form will appear, so you can easily keep track of your progress. The forms we will examine are listed below, in the order they were addressed in the webinar. This tutorial will follow the same order. You will not need to submit any of the other forms shown above except the Budgets. Ø Cover Sheet Ø Project Data Form (Because this form is not required by all NSF programs, it will appear on the form Preparation page only after you indicate on the cover page that you will submit an ATE proposal. ) Ø Table of Contents Ø Project Summary Ø Project Description Ø Biographic Sketches Ø Current and Pending Support Ø References Cited Ø Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources Ø Supplementary Documents: Data Management Plan; Other Supplementary Documents (List of individuals who will receive compensation) 2

3 Cover Sheet Your responses to a series of questions will generate a two- page cover sheet. Note the proposal number, at the top of the form. Proposals in the small- grants and projects categories are all DUE- ATE Projects, as shown in the second line. Title: Select a meaningful title that explains the focus of your project. Requested Amount: Ensure that your budget request does not exceed the limitation noted in the program solicitation! Duration: Request the maximum allowable time, even if you expect to finish sooner. Delays happen! Also, you need to allow time for your final evaluation once the work is completed. Start date: - Be aware that it can take nine months from the submission date before an award is granted. - Determine whether your institution requires you to operate on an academic year calendar or a fiscal year calendar. - Decide whether you will need funded preparation time before launching the work of the project. The second page of the cover sheet asks for certification that you are in compliance with several NSF requirements. The SRO or the PI will sign the form as the authorized representative. An electronic signature is registered when the proposal is submitted. Review both pages of the cover sheet after it is generated to ensure that all of the information appears in the correct places! 3

4 Project Data Form This form provides information about the discipline, the submitting institution, other participating institutions, and the populations that will be impacted. Useful tips: Item 4: Be sure to list all other institutions, industries, or agencies that are involved in the project. Reviewers view collaboration positively. Items J- N: Reviewers will compare the total cost of your project with the number of people you plan to impact. Do not underreport these numbers! If your participants are teachers, consider not only the direct impact on them, but also the impact on their students. For example, assume that a workshop for 20 high school teachers, conducted at the end of Year One, will result in each teacher using workshop materials in eight classes per year. During the remaining two years of the project, that workshop can impact about 4,000 students per year, assuming an average of 25 students per class, or a total of 8,000 students. 4

5 Table of Contents FastLane will generate this form for you no need to enter any information. Project Summary The summary page has three important components, with separate text boxes for: Ø Overview: project activities, objectives and methods of achieving those objectives, disciplinary focus, and primary audience. NSF will use this information to assign the proposal to a panel for review. Ø Intellectual merit: the project s potential to advance knowledge Ø Broader impacts: the project s potential to benefit society The combined text for all three components is limited to characters. If your Project Summary includes special characters, such as mathematical symbols or Greek letters, you will need to upload it as a Supplementary Document instead of using the three boxes. Note that your proposal will be rejected automatically if you submit it without a project summary, or if the project summary does not address BOTH intellectual merit and broader impacts. Useful tips: Ø Be sure to see the Merit Review Principles and Criteria in the ATE Program Solicitation for more specific information about addressing intellectual merit and broader impacts. Ø If you develop your text as separate documents and paste them into the boxes you will be less likely to have formatting problems than if you write directly in the boxes. Be sure, however, to proofread carefully after pasting. 5

6 Project Description Develop your Project Description as a separate document, and upload it to FastLane by clicking on the Project Description form and following the directions in the box that looks like the one below. You may upload it as a Word document, which FastLane will convert to pdf, or as an already converted pdf document. Converting before uploading reduces the risk of errors, but you will still need to check carefully for formatting changes after uploading. This is the HEART of your proposal. Explain what you want to do, why you want to do it, how you plan to do it, how you will know if you are successful, and what benefits and impacts will result from a successful project. Ø Explain the project s motivating rationale, goals, objectives, deliverables, and activities Ø Describe the roles and responsibilities of the PI, Co- PIs, and other senior personnel Ø Include a timetable, management plan, evaluation plan, dissemination plan, and plans for sustainability once NSF funding ends Ø Address the broader impact criteria in a separate section labeled BROADER IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED WORK (Examples: reaching women and underrepresented minorities in STEM; improving STEM education at a particular level; increasing partnerships with business and industry.) Ø If a PI or Co- PI has received NSF funding in the past 5 years, you must begin the project description with a section titled Results from prior NSF support. While proposals seeking New- to- ATE funding may come only from institutions that have not received NSF funds for the past ten years, PIs and Co- PIs may have worked on funded projects at other institutions. Ø Remember the formatting rules: the project description may not exceed 15 pages; margins must be one inch on all sides; and the minimum font is 10- point in specific fonts such as Arial and Courier, and 11 points in Times New Roman. Useful tips: Ø Reviewers read proposals - they appreciate readability. Use 11 or 12- point fonts, even though 10 point fonts are allowable in Arial and Courier. Avoid packing your pages too tightly with text. Use section headings, bullets, and charts. Ø Avoid using automated endnotes. Instead, number your references manually and list them in the separate References section of the proposal. These references will not count toward your 15- page limit, but automated endnotes would become part of your 15- page project description. Ø Do not include links to websites that provide information relevant to your project. Reviewers are under no obligation to view them. Also, providing such links could be seen as circumventing page limitations and the sites could be altered or gone between submission and review. Ø Avoid using appendices to convey critical information about the project. Reviewers are not obligated to read lengthy appendices, and they may chose not to read any appendices carefully. 6

7 Bio-sketches Bio- sketches are required for all senior personnel. They can be uploaded separately for each individual or as one document. Note that NSF requires a very specific bio- sketch format. (The Mentor- Connect website has examples in the Resources section.) Providing a template will ensure that everyone enters the information in the required format. All Bio- sketches must include the following components: Professional Preparation Ø Names and locations of undergraduate, graduate, and post- doctoral institutions (as applicable). For each institution, provide major, degree, and the year the degree was awarded. Appointments Ø All academic and professional appointments, beginning with current employment Products (or Publications) Ø Up to five citable products that most closely relate to the proposed project, such as publications, data sets, software, patents, etc. The list must include full citations (Do not be concerned if you lack products or publications. The bio- sketch format was created to also serve the needs of the research community, where such products are more important.) Synergistic Activities Ø Up to five activities that relate to the proposal or reflect skills and experience required by the project (Examples: sub- recipient of an ATE Center grant, partner on another ATE project, membership or participation in a professional society, serving in advisory roles.) Collaborators and Other Affiliations Ø Collaborators and Co- Editors: All persons in alphabetical order (with their current organizational affiliations) who are currently collaborating or have collaborated with you on a project, article, book or paper, etc. during the 48 months prior to submitting the proposal. List co- editors of journals or conference proceedings during the last 24 months only Ø Names and affiliations of your graduate advisors and/or thesis advisors, if applicable 7

8 Current and Pending Support This form ensures that the senior personnel will have dedicated time for the project and that they will not be committed beyond 100% of their work time. NSF expects that grant personnel will dedicate a portion of the normal workweek to the project and that this time will be paid for by grant funds. Staff may be paid with grant funds for project work when not under contract to your institution, such as during summer months. Some NSF programs limit total faculty time allocated to a project to two months - this is not true for ATE grants. All senior personnel must complete separate copies of this form for each of their current projects and each project for which funding is pending (including the proposal you are now preparing). The system will consolidate this information in one final form, like the one below. Project/Proposal Title: Title of the grant for which you are reporting information Source of Support: Funding agency or organization Project Location: Name of the grantee/potential grantee institution Total Award Amount: The total budget of the awarded or requested grant Starting Date: (MM/DD/YY) Ending Date: (MM/DD/YY) Support Type: Current or Pending Person- Months Per year: Full- time- equivalent months, rounded off to one decimal place, based on 12- month (Calendar Year), Academic Year, or Summer contracts 8

9 Be consistent Ensure that the information in the Current and Pending Support forms is consistent with the information provided elsewhere in the proposal, particularly in the budget. Avoid overload When you fill out the form for your planned ATE project, note that faculty release time must be within the normal workload, i.e. faculty may not receive overload pay for grant- supported work. (NSF can in rare cases offer very limited exceptions; discuss what you have in mind with a Program Officer at NSF in advance of proposal submission.) Include any unpaid project work All projects or activities requiring a portion of Senior Personnel time must be included, even if they provide no salary support. (Beware of having personnel donate time to a grant- funded project. Donated time may be considered voluntary cost sharing, which is prohibited by NSF. Also, reviewers may not believe that the scope of work will be completed if it relies on significant amounts of donated time.) Calculate person- months per year accurately This is the category in which most mistakes are made. The issue is not the number of months during which staff will devote some time to the project, but the full- time equivalent months (person- months) for which they will be paid. Ø Person- months are reported as calendar months or academic and/or summer months. If you have used calendar months to report time for an individual, under no circumstances should you also report academic or summer time for the same person on the same project. Calendar: for 12- month personnel who work on the project during some part of every month. Academic and Summer: for faculty on academic year and summer contracts. Academic and summer person- months may not add up to more than 12 months. Ø Determining person- months for faculty requires some calculation unless the person is being supported 100% by a grant. (See the Budget webinar or the Budget Tutorial on the Mentor- Connect website for more detailed information.) Some examples: A 12- month employee dedicates 10% of her time to grant work, or 1.2 calendar months. Enter that number in the Calendar box, and leave the other two boxes blank. An instructor on an academic contract (typically 9 months, in some cases 10- months) teaches five courses per semester. He has one- course release time to work on the grant both fall and spring semesters - 1/5 th or 20% of his work load. Calculate 20% of the months covered by the academic year contract and report that in the Academic box on the form. A 9- month contract, a full- time teaching load of 5 classes, and 1 course release time per semester will be 1.8 person- months for the academic year. If the release time is just for one semester, report half as much time, or 0.9 Academic months. The instructor who has one course release time for fall and spring semesters will also work on the grant in the summer. Determine the time he will work on the grant during the summer months and add this information in the Summer box. For example, the summer commitment could be 2 weeks (½ month), which would be reported as 0.5 Summer months. Another instructor will only work on the project in the summer. Note the person- months in the Summer box and leave the Academic box empty. 9

10 References Cited Reference citations are essential! They document the data you provide as you build the rationale for your project, and they show that you have done the research that enables you to draw on relevant work. Like most funding sources, NSF encourages the use of research- based strategies and the adaptation of work undertaken in other funded projects. Cite references to work that led you to select a particular strategy, curriculum, teaching methodology or other promising or proven approaches. Useful tips Ø As you include information from your research, manually number your references throughout the project description. Then prepare a separate document with citations that correspond to those numbers, and upload it to the Reference Cited form. If you use automated endnotes, your citations will be included in your 15- page project description. That is not where they belong! Ø Note that it is possible to enter the references directly on the form. However, it is always better to upload text than to enter it directly, since this gives you far better control of formatting. It is also better to upload pdf files than Word documents, even though FastLane will convert Word to pdf, for the same reason. 10

11 Facilities and Equipment Here you will provide a narrative, which you will develop and upload according to the instructions that appear on your screen when you click on Facilities and Equipment. Describe the resources at your institution and perhaps at other institutions - that will be used by the project, using categories similar to those below. Laboratory support is often important for the successful implementation of an ATE grant. If this is the case for your project, describe your current capability even if the proposal calls for improvements or additional equipment. Computer capability can also be essential for your grant, especially if the project focuses on Information Technology, Cyber- security and any number of other advanced technologies that are computer dependent and will make use of the computing capability and computer labs at the institution. Office support is also important. Budget guidelines specifically state that grant budgets may not include office furnishings or everyday office equipment such as computers, copiers, and other items that support normal office operations. Make it clear that these resources will be available. If your institution is providing dedicated office space, access to administrative support, or similar resources, include this support. Other is the section where you can describe resources other than facilities and equipment, such as personnel support. Examples: an internal advisory committee; a college recruiter who will support outreach activities without grant compensation; institutional research personnel who will help with internal evaluation and data collection, also without grant compensation. This is also the place to describe donated time, but do not assign monetary value to that donated time. Major Equipment can be an important category for some ATE grants. Advanced technology programs are often equipment intensive. If major equipment is involved in the success of your project, this is the place where you can describe it, whether it belongs to your college or a collaborating institution or industry. 11

12 Supplemental Documents Data Management Plan - Required The Data Management Plan is a recent requirement for ATE proposals. It is a supplementary document of no more than two pages (a third page can disqualify your proposal), which describes how the project will conform to NSF policies on the dissemination and sharing of research results. NSF expects you to share the outcomes of your work, and timely publication of results is encouraged. However, you must consider privacy, confidentiality, intellectual property and other rights. The Data Management Plan provides an opportunity for you to describe the care that will be taken in this regard. Your Data Management Plan should describe: Ø The types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project Ø The standards to be used for data and metadata format and content Ø Policies for accessing and sharing, including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements Ø Policies and provisions for re- use, re- distribution, and the production of derivatives Ø Plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preserving access to them The Data Management Plan will be reviewed as an integral part of the proposal, supporting its Intellectual Merit and/or Broader Impacts, as appropriate for the relevant scientific community. See for additional guidance on how to develop your Data Management Plan. As with other uploaded documents, it is a good idea to convert it to pdf before uploading and to check the formatting carefully after uploading. Other Supplementary Documents: Ø List of all individuals who will receive compensation from the project - Required This list provides the names, roles and affiliations of all who will receive compensation, except for participants and students. Ensure that the names are consistent with those identified in the budget and budget justification, the project description, and the current and pending support forms. Prepare the list as a document and upload it, preferably as a pdf file, to Other Supplementary Documents. 12

13 Ø Letters of commitment Encouraged but not required These letters should explain specific collaborations, partnerships or resources pledged to the project and not merely be letters of support. Do not include letters that merely endorse the project or offer non- specific support. Do not provide boilerplate language or templates for letters. Reviewers will notice if you have several similar letters and will question the level of commitment of those who wrote them. Ø Additional Other Supplementary Documents Not required These may offer examples of the kind of work you plan to accomplish. If you are proposing to revise a curriculum and have already updated one module, you might want to include it as a sample, or if you are conducting a professional development workshop you might want to include a draft agenda. Useful tips: Ø Be careful not to exceed 30 pages of combined supplementary materials. (Reviewers are not required to read more than that number.) Ø Remember the two- page limit for the data management plan. Ø All supplemental documents must adhere to the same font and page formatting requirements as the project description. Ø Supplementary documents may be uploaded as one or more files. As mentioned earlier, the system will convert Word documents to pdf, but you will have more control over formatting if you convert your file(s) to pdf before uploading. Do review the file(s) carefully after uploading. 13

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