Saturday, January 14, 2012

Submissions to NSF

David Inouye posted this to Ecolog. I'm not sure where he got it, but it looks pretty real.

The key here is that the number of proposals to DEB has been going up while award numbers have been flat, leading to a decline in success rate.

NSF knows there is pain out there and has worked to respond to the pain on reviewers.

More proposals means more reviews.

NSF has the power to reduce the burden on reviewers, so they instituted a pre-proposal stage with 4-page pre-proposals and a limit on the number of proposals a person can submit as a pi or co-pi. Some have argued that this reduces this stage of evaluation to a raffle that can harm early-career and soft-money scientists. 

The key here seems to be what the funding rate should be. Or even better, what the total level of funding should be. Congress determines this. 

My guess is that the policies of NSF now are less of a burden to good science than funding levels, but NSF is more proximal. It will be interesting to see if more effective arguments can be made to raise the level of funding.

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