Writing Research Proposals for NASA by gtu20753


									         Writing Research Proposals for NASA
         Paul Hertz, Curt Niebur, Mary Mellott, and Jim Green
         Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters

         Writing proposals is a craft, but writing proposals for NASA might be considered a technological accomplishment. This poster will
         include some general principles for proposal writing, but will concentrate on specific guidelines that are necessary for writing and
         submitting successful proposals to NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. ROSES will be featured.

 Who am I proposing to?                                                             Research Opportunities in Space                                              Types of R&A Programs                                                       ROSES–2009
 NASA is the premier funding agency for Earth and space                             and Earth Science                                                            Fundamental Research
 science research                                                                                                                                                • Basic research that extends our knowledge of fundamental                  Summary of Solicitation (31 pages)
                                                                                    All NASA R&A funding is offered through the Research Opportunities             processes and benefits current and future missions                         Funding Opportunity Description
 • ~$600M annual Research and Analysis (R&A) budget with                            in Space and Earth Science (ROSES) NASA Research Announcement                Instrument and Technology                                                    Proposal and Submission Information
   >50 R&A programs                                                                 (NRA)                                                                        • Intended to provide advanced lab equipment, develop instruments            NASA Strategic Objectives
 • Each program has anywhere from $1M-$10M available each year                                                                                                     and technologies for future missions                                       Lists of Solicited Programs
 • Research also funded through operating missions                                  ROSES is released annually and describes all SMD R&A opportunities           • Competition is more intense and budgets are larger
                                                                                    NASA SMD R&A opportunities are organized into programs                       Data Analysis and Guest Investigator                                          A. Earth Science Research Programs (40)
 NASA’s science research programs are managed by the Science                                                                                                     • Research focused on using new or archived mission data
                                                                                    described in ROSES                                                                                                                                         B. Heliophysics Research Programs (9)
 Mission Directorate (SMD), which has 4 divisions:                                                                                                               • Often attached to a single mission, sometimes short lived
                                                                                    • Each program is run by a scientist at HQ                                                                                                                 C. Planetary Science Research Programs (24)
                                                                                    • Overlap among programs is common, but each program has                     Participating Scientist                                                       D. Astrophysics Research Programs (12)
 • Earth Science                                                                      its own quirks                                                             • Intended to broaden participation in mission science teams                  E. Cross-Division Research Programs (6)
 • Heliophysics                                                                                                                                                  • Unique opportunities that typically occur once per mission                  e.g. Applied Information Systems, E/PO
 • Astrophysics                                                                     R&A programs come in different types and disciplines                                                                                                     (Total: 524 pages)
 • Planetary Science                                                                                                                                             Others
                                                                                                                                                                 • Theory , mission concept studies, fellowships, education and
                                                                                                                                                                   public outreach, history, policy, odd and unexpected stuff…

 ROSES-09—Astrophysics Programs                                                     ROSES – Program Element Content                                              What NASA wants…                                                           What you should expect…
 D.1 Astrophysics Overview                                                          1. Program Scope                                                                                                                                        What will NOT happen:                       What WILL not happen:
 D.2 Astrophysics Data Analysis                                                                                                                                  NASA is looking for two things from proposals:
 D.3 Astronomy and Physics Research and Analysis                                    2. Programmatic Information                                                  To fund research of high scientific quality                                - You will not definitively answer          - You will answer a focused, well-posed
 D.4 Astrophysics Theory                                                            • Including evaluation criteria in addition to standard:                     • Relies on Peer Review                                                      the grand question plaguing the             question of limited scope
 D.5 GALEX Guest Investigator – Cycle 6                                                 - Intrinsic scientific and technical merit                                                                                                            community
 D.6 Swift Guest Investigator – Cycle 6                                             • Relevance to NASA objectives                                                                                                                                                                      - You will write a focused, no frills
                                                                                                                                                                 To ensure the research will further NASA’s objectives and verify the       - You will not write a great piece            document
 D.7 Suzaku Guest Observer – Cycle 5                                                • Cost realism and reasonableness                                            funds will be used properly
 D.8 Fermi Guest Investigator – Cycle 3                                                                                                                                                                                                       of literature                             - Your audience will quickly review your
                                                                                                                                                                 • Relies on Program Officer
 D.9 Kepler Guest Observer – Cycle 2                                                3. Summary of Key Information                                                                                                                           - Your audience will not review your pro-     proposal amid the chaos of their
 D.10 MOST U.S. Guest Observer – Cycle 2                                            • Expected budget for new awards and average award size                                                                                                   posal in a quiet, uninterrupted setting     own life
 D.11 Technology Development for Exoplanet Missions
                                                                                    • Maximum duration of awards                                                 So there are two audiences reading your proposal                           - Your audience will not be world experts   - You will answer a focused, well-posed
 D.12 SPICA Science Investigation Concept Studies
                                                                                    • Due dates                                                                  Your job is to make it as easy as possible for these two audiences           on your topic                               question of limited scope
 E.1   Cross Division Overview                                                      • Page length for the Science-Technical-Management section                   to select your proposal!
                                                                                    • Web site for submission of proposal via NSPIRES                                                                                                       - Your audience will not accept your        - Your audience will be col-leagues
 E.2   Applied Information Systems Research                                                                                                                                                                                                   approach without question                   from similar fields
 E.3   Origins of Solar Systems                                                     • NASA point of contact
 E.4   Opportunities in Education and Public Outreach for Earth and Space Science                                                                                                                                                                                                       - Your audience will be skeptical
 E.5   Supplemental Outreach Awards for ROSES Investigators                                                                                                                                                                                                                               and critical
 E.6   Supplemental Education Awards for ROSES Investigators

 What the Review Panel wants…                                                       What the Program Officer wants…                                              Where you should start…                                                    Where you should start…
 The Review Panel is primarily interested in the scientific merit                   The Program Officer is primarily interested in the programmatic              Guidebook for Proposers                                                    NASA standard requirements for all R&A proposals are given in the Guidebook
 of the proposal                                                                    merit of the proposal                                                                                                                                   for Proposers responding to NASA Research Announcements (“the Guidebook”)
 Why should the Review Panel care?                                                  Is this proposal appropriate for the program?                                • Available at NSPIRES website (http://nspires.nasaprs.com)                http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/nraguidebook/
 • Pick a compelling & appropriate topic of proper scope                            • Read the NRA and respond to it                                             • Tells you what information the proposal needs to be selected             1. Overview of NASA Research Announcement (NRA)
 What’s the point?                                                                  Does the proposal contain high quality science?                              • Tells you how to present that information to make the job of the         2. Proposal Preparation and Organization
 • Describe the objectives and end result of the work                               • Peer Review rating must be Good or higher                                    Review Panel and Program Officer easier                                  3. Proposal Submission Procedures
 What are you doing?                                                                Can the program afford it?
 • Describe your methodology and identify your assumptions                          • Do not “supersize” the proposal                                                                                                                       Appendices
 • Provide a detailed workplan describing who does what and when                    • Organize proposal into discrete tasks                                      Never guess! Call the Program Officer for clarifications                   A. Guide to Key documents on the World Wide Web
                                                                                                                                                                 and questions                                                              B. Instructions for Responding to NASA Research Announcements
 What are the weaknesses? Strengths?                                                Does this proposal further NASA’s objectives?
                                                                                    • Link proposal objectives to NASA objectives                                                                                                              (NASA Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement )
 • Scientific merit, relevance, cost
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            C. Proposal Processing, Review, and Selection
 • Anticipate questions and answer them                                             How will the money be spent?                                                                                                                            D. Proposal Awards and Continued Support (Award Mechanics)
 How does it all fit together?                                                      • Provide a detailed budget with proper justifications                                                                                                  E. Certifications, Sample Agreements, and Forms
 • Logically link the objectives, methodology, and anticipated                      Does the proposal contain all required information?                                                                                                     F. Frequently Asked Questions
   results to one another and to NASA’s objectives                                  • Follow the Guidebook for Proposers!                                                                                                                   G. Security Requirements
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            H. Process for Appeals

 The Guidebook - Section 2                                                          The Guidebook – Section 1.7                                                  Suggestions:                                                               Suggestions when you are writing
 2.1 Overview
                                                                                    • Follow the instructions in the specific NRA element of interest
                                                                                                                                                                 Before you start writing…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Write clearly and simply—avoid hyperbole
 2.2 Standard Proposal Style Formats                                                                                                                             • Sit down, think through, and plan the research before
                                                                                    • Clearly state the objectives and implementation plan                         writing the proposal                                                     • Organize the proposal well and follow the Guidebook for Proposers
 2.3 Proposal Contents
   NSPIRES/Grants.gov Cover Page                                                    • Provide appropriate recognition of preceding accomplishments,              • Demonstrate the feasibility of the approach, especially if looking for   • Provide the reader with clear signposts throughout the proposal
   Table of Contents                                                                  show how the proposed activity will extend and build on what has             something new or in a new way
   Curriculum Vitae for PI and each CoI                                               already been accomplished                                                                                                                             • Thoroughly review and cite the relevant literature
   Current and Pending Support                                                                                                                                   • Stay focused—avoid “supersizing” the proposal
   Co-I and/or Collaborator Commitments                                             • Proof read carefully and ask a colleague to critically review it                                                                                      • Use graphics and tables effectively for impact
   Budget Justification                                                                                                                                          • Ignoring weaknesses will not make them go away; burying them
   Facilities and Equipment                                                         • Use legible fonts and illustrations and a clear, simple organization         with irrelevant details will not hide them                               • If you are proposing multiple tasks, explain the interrelationship
   Summary of Personnel and Work Efforts                                                                                                                                                                                                      among them
   Scientific/Technical/Management Section                                          • Strive for realism as well as adequacy of the budget and provide           • Even though you give good DPS talks, you can’t expect the review
   References and Citations                                                           the details necessary to justify the proposed costs                          panel to remember those talks or give you credit for them. Review        • State if you are proposing the same research to two or
   Special Notification and/or Certifications                                                                                                                      panel reviews the proposal, period                                         more programs
   Reprints/Preprints not allowed

Typical Table of Contents                                                           Well Structured and Articulate                                               Well Structured and Articulate (2)                                         And don’t forget to include
                                                                                                                                                                 Relevance to NASA
                                                                                    Summary                                                                      • What and how is it relevant to the solicitation your responding too      • Provide detailed budgets for all Co-Is, subcontractors, etc.
                                                                                    • Clear, concise, and complete overview (shorter the better)                 Management Approach                                                          with a narrative summary and justification
       Specific to                                                                  • A summary graphic/figure/image can be useful
       my proposal                                                                                                                                               • Leave no question that you can do what is proposed within the
                                                                                    • Everybody’s first impression                                                 time and budget                                                          • Transparency: don’t try to sneak things in the budget
                                                                                    • Some people’s only impression
                                                                                    • Value and context                                                          References                                                                 • Justify travel—why are those 4 conferences/year needed?
                                                                                                                                                                 • Be fair and complete (those authors may be on the review panel)            Who is going?
                                                                                    Scientific and Technical Approach                                            Budget Justification
       Specific to                                                                  • Clear, focused, and targeted at achieving objectives                       • A high level overview narrative of what your budget contains             • If the proposed research is related to research funded by or
       my proposal                                                                  • Bullet points are valuable                                                 • Begins with a table of FTE/year per person                                 proposed to another program or agency, be exquisitely clear on
                                                                                                                                                                   - How the funds are to be distributed, travel to meetings,                 which part of the research will be funded by each fund source
                                                                                    Present State of Knowledge & Impact of Proposal                                  publication costs, etc.
                                                                                    • Summary of what the program/community will have at the end of              PI and CoI Biographical Sketches
                                                                                      the project                                                                • MUST highlight what is relevant to the work proposed
                                                                                    • Bullet points are valuable
                                                                                                                                                                 Current & Pending Support
                                                                                                                                                                 • Provide the required information

At the end of the day you need to                                                   That’s Where the Money is—How                                                Suggestions when you are selected
convince the panel that:                                                            Do You Get It?                                                               • Serve on a review panel

• The research is very important                                                                                                                    Pick         • Stay in touch with the Program Officer regarding funding receipt
                                                                                        Define your                                               program
                                                                                                                  Read ROSES
                                                                                      research topic
• It is directly relevant to NASA’s mission                                                                                                                      • Submit your Progress Report on time

• It is directly relevant to the solicitation                                                                                                                    • Plan far ahead if you have a critical deadline for receipt of funds
                                                                                      Write, Critique,            Think through                  Refine your
• Your proposed methodology is both feasible and appropriate                               Write                  your proposal                reasearch topic
• You will deliver valuable results

• It is well worth the investment                                                         Submit                 Peer review of                 Selection of
                                                                                         Proposal                  Proposals                     Proposals

To top