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FAQs

  1. What's new In ROSES this year? How does it differ from prior ROSES?
  2. Proposal Summary length limits,4000 characters or 300 words?
  3. I missed the dead line for the letter of intent, may I still propose?
  4. Letters of support from facilities that aren't under your control.
  5. Recommendations about making your PDF readable by reviewers: Embedded fonts and .PNG images.
  6. Why is my program officer bugging me about 'costing' funds by the end of the fiscal year, why doesn't he just send me my money now?
  7. I heard that it was OK to user a smaller font in the figure captions and tables, is that true?
  8. Redaction: are you still hiding the budgets?
  9. Are we allowed to submit proposals in two-column format or not?
  10. How do I get a No-Cost Extension (NCE) on my grant?
  11. When is my annual progress report due, and what should it look like?
  12. What about the final report for my grant? What does that look like and to whom should I send it?
  13. How do you find reviewers for proposals? May I be a reviewer? Does NASA pay people to do this?
  14. I have a foreign Co-investigator, can this person be supported via a NASA grant?
  15. I am switching to a new university in the fall but I have grants that I hold here that are already in progress, what should I do?
  16. Can a company make a profit from a grant?
  17. Questions about grant.gov
  18. Recommendations about making your PDF readable by reviewers: Embedded fonts and .PNG images.
  19. May I include in my ROSES proposal a link to my web page for more information for the benefit of the reviewers? What about reprints or preprints, may I include those as an appendix to my proposal?
  20. The NSSC keeps asking me for more budget detail. How much budget detail to I have to provide?
  21. When should I designate a team member as a collaborator vs. a Co-Investigator?

 

  1. What's new In ROSES this year? How does it differ from prior ROSES?

    The 2014 edition of our annual omnibus solicitation Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES-2014) is out and overall it is quite similar to last year (ROSES-2013). However, there are some important changes. Below is a list of things that have changed in ROSES, and other items of note.

    In addition to those listed below, other changes to ROSES over the course of the year will be listed on the ROSES-14 clarifications, corrections and amendmentspage where you can subscribe to an RSS feed.

    Changes of note for proposers to ROSES-2014:

    1. PSD restructured:The Planetary Science Division research program has been restructured, as can be seen in the Table of Contents for Appendix C. The outline of this reorganization was presented at the virtual roll out on December 3, 2013 (see http://www.lpi.usra.edu/PSD-RandA/), and the specifics are presented in Appendix C.1 and in the text of the new calls in Appendix C. All programs in Appendix C (except C.16 The Early Career Fellowship Program) will now use a two Step submission process that requires submission of Step-1 mandatory proposal by the institution. See Section IV(b)vii of the Summary of Solicitation, Section 2 of Appendix C.1 and the individual calls for details.
       
    2. Origins -> Exoplanets:The Cross Division Program supported by the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Divisions, formerly known as "Origins of Solar Systems," has been changed to the Exoplanet Research Program. See Appendix E.3 for details.
       
    3. Other Documents not out yet:As always, ROSES is being released in mid February. Below is a list of documents that usually appear before ROSES is released, but this year will probably not be out until later.

      The 2014 version of the NASA Guidebook for proposers will not be out until after the release of ROSES-2014, but we expect it to be out before any proposals are due. When the 2014 version is released it will appear at the same location where the older versions now reside: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/nraguidebook/. If the 2014 version of the Guidebook is now out when you start preparing your proposals don't worry, just use the 2013 version. We don't anticipate any changes that would affect how PIs write proposals. 

      The 2014 version of the Science Plan for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will not be out until after the release of ROSES-2014, but we have incorporated the latest draft version into ROSES-2014 as Table 1, "NASA Science Objectives, Questions, and Goals". If the final version of the Science Plan differs from what appears in ROSES-2014 Table 1, we will correct ROSES-2014. This should not have any effect on the content of proposals, since relevance is to the individual call, not the Science Plan.

      Finally, the president’s budget for FY 2015 will not be released until early March, 2014. Since (almost all) awards resulting from proposals submitted to ROSES-2014 will be funded withy FY 2015 dollars, it is possible that changes will be made to ROSES-2014 after the president’s budget is released.
    4. Heliophysics Changes:The Heliophysics Research Program was restructured in 2013 and the ROSES-2013 structure has been maintained into ROSES-2014, as can be seen in Table of Contents for Appendix B. However, H-GI, and now also H-SR, will require submission of Step-1 proposals that are up to three pages in length and will be reviewed. While most due dates will be approximately the same as they were for ROSES-2013, the Step-2 due dates for H-GI and H-SR, are later to accommodate the Step-1 review process. See Appendix B.1 for more information and also guidelines and restrictions regarding duplicate proposals, how many proposals a PI can submit per program element or subelement and areas of emphasis. Also, Heliophysics invites their proposers to suggest reviewers by filling out the survey at http://science.nasa.gov/researchers/suggested-reviewers/


      Continuing features of note for proposers to ROSES:
       
    5. Proposals must not include bilateral participation, collaboration, or coordination with China or any Chinese-owned company or entity, whether funded or performed under a no-exchange-of-funds arrangement. For more on this see Public Law 113-76, Section 532and our new FAQ on this subject, http://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/faqs/prc-faq-roses/
       
    6. The Physics Divisions are not accepting any proposals for workshops, conferences etc. Earth and Planetary Science Divisions are accepting proposals via Appendix E.2 TWSC. NO unsolicited proposals will be accepted for such events.
       
    7. NASA civil servants are still not being permitted to include their salary and overhead $ in ROSES proposals. NASA civil servants should include their time commitments and the costs of their procurements, just like everyone else, but not their salary and overhead $ in either the cover pages or the body of ROSES proposals. Their labor budgets must be uploaded separately following the instructions provided to them and on the SARA website. This does not apply to JPL employees who are not civil servants, and it does not apply to civil servants from other Agencies. For more information on this subject see this pageon the SARA website.
       
    8. Proposals submitted in response to ROSES are permitted 15 characters per inch, typical of font Times New Roman 12, and consistent with our Announcements of Opportunity and the guidebook for proposers. This requirement applies to body text and figure captions, but it does not apply to text within figures and tables, which may be smaller, but must still be judged by the reviewers to be readable.
       
    9. Commitment letters from team members need not be included in proposals, but all team members (including collaborators) identified on the NSPIRES proposal cover page must acknowledge participation and institutional affiliation via the NSPIRES web page. Yes, even collaborators must acknowledge their participation online. If you don't do this by the due date the PI must remove you from the team so that they can submit. Team members that have more than one institutional affiliation must choose which one they want to use for this proposal (e.g., where they want the funds to go). Two (slightly out of date) guides with screen captures appear below as PDF files. 
    10. Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to ROSES can be submitted through either NSPIRES or Grants.gov. However, certain caveats apply, see Section IV(b)(v) of the summary of Solicitation or FAQ 17 for details.
       
    11. No Co-PI: Unless specifically allowed by an individual program element, multiple PIs (as described in Section 1.4.2 of the NASA Guidebook for Proposers) are not permitted. The use of other categories of participation described in Section 1.4.2 of the NASA Guidebook for Proposers, including Science PI, Institutional PI, and Co-PI (from a non-U.S. organization under specific circumstances), are permitted. 
       
    12. Relevance: you will only have to argue relevance to that particular program, and need not include generic statements of relevance to NASA’s broader goals. We wouldn’t solicit proposals in a certain area if it were inconsistent with our strategic plan, so you don’t have to waste a paragraph telling us that it is. 
       
    13. Ban on general purpose equipment only for > $ 5000. The guidebook for proposers ban on "General-purpose equipment (i.e., personal computers and/or commercial software)" does not apply to equipment that costs less than $ 5000. As long as it’s < 5 K you can request it via ROSES even if it’s general purpose equipment.
       
  2. The Guidebook for Proposers says that the length limit for the Proposal Summary is 4,000 characters, but I am getting a warning even though I am well below that limit. Also this is not the same as the 300 word limit given by NSPIRES on the View Proposal - Proposal Summary page, so what is the real limit? What happens if I go over the limit, will you reject my proposal?


    Yes, apologies. The real limit is imposed by NSPIRES and it is 4000 characters (including spaces), but if you paste from a word processor that also includes some hidden characters that you cannot see so it may be fewer than 4000 as counted by, for example, Microsoft word. If you exceed the limit nothing terrible will happen, you will simply get an error message (see image) asking you to shorten your summary.

    Guidebook for Proposers Proposal Summary validation error imageIf you are using Grants.gov, which will let you put in a longer abstract, it will get cut off when its ingested into NSPIRES and the 4000 character limit is imposed, so make sure you are well under the 4000 character limit.

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  3. I missed the dead line for the letter of intent, may I still propose?


    A Notice of Intent (NOI) is not required, merely desirable. Appendix A, Earth Science,and Appendix D, Astrophysics, use NOIs, although some programs in those Appendices don't ask for NOIs. A NOI may be submitted by an individual, it doesn't require that the organization approve or submit in NSPIRES. See for comparison FAQ #5 on the two-step proposal submission process in which the NOI is replaced by a required "Step-1" proposal that must be submitted by the institution.

  4. Section 2.3.9 of the guidebook on statements of commitment says letters of support are required from the owner of "any facility or resources that is not under the PI's direct control." Does this apply to telescopes/observing time at facilities around the country in order to complete research?


    We were thinking primarily of a situation where a proposer wants to use a resource that is not a standard facility, e.g., an expensive microscope in someone else's lab where there is no reason to expect that the PI would necessarily be given free access, because the person who runs that instrument is not a named co-investigator or collaborator.

    In the case of a large shared telescope facility with a standard procedure for acquiring time it is probably adequate to simply write, for example, "I have been awarded four consecutive nights in late June on the IRTF", but if it were me I would include the email from the telescope if I had one. Often, at the time of proposal submission, the proposer has no guarantee of access to the telescope, in which case they should simply reassure the reviewers that they are likely to get the time and/or that the success of the proposal does not hinge on that time being awarded. In the end I'm confident that such a proposal would still deemed "compliant" despite the fact that such a letter is absent; it simply makes it less likely that it would be given a high rating by peer review, and thus be funded. But this has always been true.

  5. The Two-Step proposal submission process


    For some ROSES calls the NOI is replaced by a Step-1 proposal. A Step-1 proposal is a prerequisite to submit a full (Step-2) proposal, i.e., you must have submitted a Step-1 proposal or you cannot submit a full proposal later. Whereas a NOI may be submitted by a proposer alone, a Step-1 proposal must be submitted by an institution i.e., by the "AOR" for NSPIRES. Proposals to the Heliophysics and Planetary Science Divisions (Appendix A and C) use the 2-Step submission process. In some cases the Step-1 proposal will be just a few lines, but in other cases it must be a few pages long and will be evaluated. For more information about the 2-Step process see Section IV.(vii) on page 17 of the ROSES-2014 Summary of Solicitation."

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  6. Why is my program officer bugging me about 'costing' funds by the end of the fiscal year, why doesn't he just send me my money now?


    If you have a grant you are used to the idea that your $ are good until the end date, and it doesn't matter when they arrive or how long they sit as long as they are spent by the end date. However, it looks bad to the congress if NASA has funds that are not spent by the end of the year. For more details see the letter from SARA on this subject. Here are the implications:

    1. You will get your money, we promise.
    2. When your progress report arrives that normally triggers the deliver of your next year of funds. Your program officer may check to see how much of last year's funds you have spent. If you have spent little or no funds from last year then your program officer may send you an email suggesting that the delivery of the next year of funds be put off until the year when you will actually spend them. In extreme cases, where nothing was spent in year 1, this may mean that the second year funds will skip a year; this year's funds are delayed until next year and so on. The result is that the last year's funds will arrive a year later than originally planned: your original grant that was 100K, 100K, and 100K has become 100K, 0 K, 100K, and 100K. Even in less extreme cases, it may be that part of the year 2 funds may be pushed off into year 4 e.g., 100K, 50 K, 100K, and 50K.
    3. If you feel that this is a mistake or are confident that you will really spend all of last year's funds and all of this year's funds by the end of the calendar year then reply to your program officer and let them know.
    4. What do you need to do?  If some or all of your funds are being pushed out till the end of the award then make sure that you write an email to nssc-contactcenter with your grant number in the subject line and ask for a no-cost extension.

     

  7. I heard that it was OK to user a smaller font in the figure captions and tables, is that true?


    The body text should be times 12 (or the equivalent) but it merely requires that figures and self-contained labels be of "an easily viewed size”. So it’s ambiguous about figure captions and tables. The intention has always been to permit proposers to simply paste in figures or tables from papers, rather than have to recreate them, so starting in ROSES 2010 we have clarified the rules regarding captions and tables to be consistent with that approach. Text within figures and tables is required merely to be of "an easily viewed size" whereas captions would be held to the higher standard applied to body text. However, your reviewers will always be happy if you use font 12. Proposals with main body text in a font smaller than times 12 may be rejected without review. Don’t take that chance.

  8. We had heard that this year the reviewers were going to be able to see the budget that is being submitted - is that correct? If that is the case, can a person have that budget summary submitted within their proposal or does it have to be uploaded as a separate document?


    The result of the agreement between NASA at the highest level and the head of the NASA Civil Servant union is that the reviewers will NOT be able to see the NASA Civil Servant salaries, but they will be able to see everything else. NASA Civil Servant salary data will not be in the NSPIRES web interface cover page budget but uploaded separately as described at http://science.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/how-to-guide/nspires-CSlabor/.

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  9. Are we allowed to submit proposals in two-column format or not? On page 2-3 (page 22 of the PDF file) of the 2007 Guidebook for Proposers "Responding to a NASA Research Announcement" the first bullet in section 2.2 states that proposals should be "...one or two columns..." yet the next bulleted point on this page reads, "For electronically submitted proposals, text must be in a single column format. Multiple-column text is difficult to review electronically." It seems ambiguous.


    No. Apologies for the confusion. The guidebook says that the two column format is permitted only for hard copy proposals, and almost everything we do is electronic submission, so assume one column for SMD, certainly for all of ROSES. Still, the guidebook applies to other directorates and to CANs and AOs as well and some of those may permit hard copy proposals, so there are times where two columns might still be allowed, but this would only be for hard copy submissions. Never for ROSES though.

  10. How do I get a No-Cost Extension (NCE) on my grant?


    Put in a request at https://www.nssc.nasa.gov/nocostextension. If its your first No-Cost Extension (NCE) then that’s it. If its not your first then you will need concurrence from your technical officer (whom you can find here ). If you are at a NASA center then you just write to your technical officer. If you are at a non-NASA US government lab with an interagency award from NASA then write to your technical officer but also cc lavern.m.harris@nasa.gov.

  11. When is my annual progress report due, and what should it look like?


    If you have a grant (i.e., if you are at a university or a non-profit) you will get an email from the NSSC approximately two weeks before your annual progress report is due, asking you to send your progress report to NSSC-grant-report at mail.nasa.gov and to your program officer.  If you are at a NASA center your progress report should be sent to your program officer at the end of the fiscal year.  A progress report should include the following, preferably as a pdf::

    1. A statement that this is an annual progress report.
    2. Title of the grant.
    3. Name of the principal investigator.
    4. Period covered by the report.
    5. Name and address of the recipient's institution.
    6. Grant number.
    7. A few page summary of the accomplishments and a list of publications that have appeared over the past year as a result of the award. Of course all publications should acknowledge NASA support, including the name of the program, and the grant number(s).

     

  12. What about the final report for my grant? What does that look like and to whom should I send it?


    Send your final report to your program office and to nssc-closeout@mail.nasa.gov. The final report is high level summary of research or summary of work performed under the grant. There is no minimum or maximum length restrictions. The final report can follow the same format as the progress reports, it just needs to cover the entire period of performance of the award. On closeout of an award Technology reports should go to dale.l.clarke@nasa.gov.

  13. How do you find reviewers for proposals? May I be a reviewer? Does NASA pay people to do this


    NASA often recruits those who have been funded in the past as reviewers for proposals. We beg, beseech, implore, and entreat you all to review proposals each year. The health of the system rests on the quality of peer review, so we need YOU to review proposals. If you have not been asked to serve on a review panel recently and would like to volunteer to be considered, visit our volunteer reviewer page every couple/few months to see what kind of reviewers we are seeking."

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  14. Can foreign team members be supported via a NASA grant?


    Short plain English answer: The rules are that NASA funds research conducted by researchers at US institutions, and foreign agencies pay for the research conducted by researchers at foreign institutions. Thus the rules focus on the institution, not the individual. If your institution hires this foreign investigator, then you can pay him/her while they are in your employ. If the foreign investigator does not have a position at a US institution, then NASA funds cannot be used to support them, not even for travel.

    The longer answer more precise answer is found in the Guidebook for Proposers, Section 1.6 "Other Guidelines" which reads "Except as set forth in E.1.6 regarding China, NASA welcomes proposals from non-US organizations and proposals that include the participation of non-US organizations. Foreign entities are generally not eligible for funding from NASA and should propose to participate on a no-exchange-of-funds basis.  This policy also applies to research performed by non-U.S. organizations as part of a proposal submitted by a U.S. organization. This policy pertains to the nature of the proposing organization, and the nationality or citizenship of the individuals … is not relevant. See also 2.3.10(c) Other Budget Guidelines subsection (vii) Prohibition of the Use of NASA Funds for Non-U.S. Research.
     
  15. I am switching to a new university in the fall but I have grants that I hold here that are already in progress, what should I do?


    If you have a grant that is already in progress which needs to be transferred to the new institution then please contact your program officer as soon as possible. If you have a grant pending then let your program officer know even if you are not certain when you are moving to the new institution (we will keep your secret). Bottom line: it is really hard to get money back once it has been sent to the first institution.

    Technically, grants belong to institutions not PIs. Since the grant belongs to the old institution, we have to get the old institution to agree in writing to give up the grant. Then, the new institution has to submit a proposal with a budget because they are getting a new grant, and this grant requires a proposal. The new proposal should be identical to the old proposal but with a budget and signature from the new institution for the work remaining. Finally the program officer must justify the acceptance of what is in effect an 'unsolicited' proposal from the new institution. Any grants you submit before you move should be submitted from the new institution if at all possible. If that cannot be done, the PI and the new institution should both send letters to the program officer stating that the research will be done at the new institution.

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  16. Can a company make a profit from a grant?


    Anybody can propose to NASA's R&A program, including a for-profit company. In order to receive a grant, the company must give up fee and profit. However, from certain kinds of announcements of opportunity a business can receive a contract and that can include a line for profit. See the Guidebook for Proposers, Section D.1.2.

  17. Questions about grants.gov


    You are very welcome to submit your proposal via Grants.gov. We post all of the solicitations that we possibly can on Grants.gov so those who prefer that interface can use it. Don’t worry if you have heard about “transcription”; no change is made to your proposal only to the blah blah header information. However, please take note of the following issues/differences between grants,gov and our proposal submitting web interface, NSPIRES

    In order to check for conflicts of interest and to speed the disbursement of funds we need all proposers (and co-investigators) to be registered in a database and grants.gov does not provide this for us. Thus, you must register with NSPIRES, no matter what. You can submit by grants.gov but you still have to be registered in NSPIRES anyway.

    If you are on a proposal submitted via NSPIRES you will confirm your participation on each proposal electronically, and if you have more than one institutional affiliation you choose which institution you want to receive the funds via this proposal, so we can do automatic conflict of interest checking. If you are using grants.gov there is no way for us to do this, so you will have to include letters of commitment and we will have to check for conflict of interest by hand.

    Grants.gov does not notify proposers when the system is down, they merely post an alert on the home page. When preparing a Grants.gov application package, you are working offline. So, if the system is down on a due date then when you click the ‘submit’ button the application package will hang. Check for alerts regarding downtimes. Grants.gov does not track who downloads the application packages. Unlike NSPIRES, with Grants.gov we will have no idea that you were working on a proposal that was not submitted.

    NSPIRES enforces our 4000 character limit on the abstract. Grants.gov, which will let you put in a longer abstract, but it will get cut off when its ingested into NSPIRES, so make sure you are well under the 4000 character limit.

  18. Is NASA recommending/forcing/not worrying about whether people have embedded fonts in their PDFs? How does that come into play with the requirement that only Type 1 or TrueType fonts be utilized when proposing? Is there a list of specific fonts being recommended? Also, if we insert a copy of our internal budget as a .PNG as part of our budget justification, does that also need to be fully searchable and editable, as is required of the rest of the proposal?

    On occasion we have difficulty with certain reviewers being able to read certain proposals that were generated on unusual systems, but thus far we have deemed it wiser to deal with those rare inconveniences when they arise rather than forcing all proposers to do something. So I guess the more correct answer is not "not worrying' but rather that I worry but you should not have to. That said, I personally only use standard fonts and would only use an image like a .PNG if I absolutely had to: text is better because someone with poor sight can increase the fonts sizes easily, it always prints well etc. Thus, I am not going to tell you what to do but the guiding principle can be summarized as "Don't annoy the reviewer."
     
  19. May I include in my ROSES proposal a link to my web page for more information for the benefit of the reviewers? What about reprints or preprints, may I include those as an appendix to my proposal?

    Reprints and/or preprints are not permitted to be appended to a proposal unless they are accommodated within the proposal page limit. Proposals shall not rely upon material posted on a website. All information and material necessary for an informed peer review of the proposal must be included within the proposal in a manner that is compliant with the proposal page limit and permitted appendices. References to unpublished manuscripts should be avoided. Any information required to evaluate the proposal must be included within the proposal. If a proposal requires referenced material (not included within the proposal page limit) in order to be evaluated, this information will not be examined and the proposal may be judged noncompliant.

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  20. The NSSC keeps asking me for more budget detail. How much budget detail to I have to provide?


    The bad news is that sometimes the folks at the NSSC are going to ask you for more budget detail, (please be patient with them, its their job as procurement officers).  The good news is that we have come to agreement with them on a reasonable level of budget detail, and examples are provided below for the things that most commonly trigger a request for more info.    

    A) Publication costs: $ 2250 (assuming a 15 page paper) see http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/-page=extra.2/APJ

    B) Travel costs: 1 domestic conference = $1555. Airfare ~ $500; hotel ~$750 for 5 days; M&IE ~ $305 @ $61/day see http://www.gsa.gov/perdiem

    Obviously, its best if you know where you are going and use the actual cost, but we recognize that you may not know where you are going years in advance. You will note that they don’t require a quote, but they want to know what you used to get your numbers (i.e.., the “basis of estimate”).  Thus, you can tell them from whom you got the quote and when, or give the web site, or you can assume the costs are the same last year (with inflation).  If you do something unusual, like go to Antarctica, or spend many times more than they have come to expect, then they will question you.  But if the amount you have budgeted passes the common sense test, then they should not bug you anymore.

  21. I’d like to add a team member who will be doing significant work on the project, but who doesn't need any funding. Would she be a Co-I, or a Collaborator?


    Funding is a factor, since collaborators are unfunded, but that's not the entirety of what determines if a team member is a Collaborator or a Co-I. The guidebook defines a Co-I in part as "…a critical “partner” for the conduct of the investigation through the contribution of unique expertise and/or capabilities…and may or may not receive funding through the award" vs. a collaborator who provides a "focused but unfunded contribution for a specific task". I have seen proposals viewed critically because someone is signed up to perform an essential role, but the person is merely a collaborator not a Co-I so the panelists questioned how committed that person really was to the effort. I am not sure what was meant by "significant" but the key question is: focused contribution for a specific task, or critical partner? Sounds like an unfunded Co-I to me.

--- Link to FAQ from the guidebook for proposers ---

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