Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New(?) NSF policies

While everyone recovers from what appears to be a gripping STOC, I thought I'd flag two NSF-related items that came my way.

The first, via FSP, is on post-doc mentoring. Now I've always been told that the NSF frowns on inserting post-doc support in proposals, but apparently they don't mind it, and they have a new policy in place for proposals including postdoc support:
Starting this year, NSF proposals that request funding for postdoctoral researchers must include a statement about how the postdoc(s) will be mentored. For a brief time this mentoring statement was supposed to be part of the body of the proposal, but, perhaps in response to complaints, the postdoc mentoring text is now a supplementary document, up to a page in length. As with the required Broader Impacts component of proposals, NSF is serious about the mentoring statement: proposals that request funding for postdocs but that do not contain the mentoring supplement will not even be reviewed.

I'm curious as to what experience people have had with postdoc support in proposals, and whether this is really new, or just a restatement of things that were already tacitly known.

The second item affects us more broadly, and perniciously. A new policy guideline of May vintage appears to suggest (it's somewhat ambiguous) that equipment purchased for grants must be MUCH more closely tied to grant activities than previously expected. Specifically, it essentially rules out the purchase of machines for general PI use (like laptops etc), and raises a number of questions about how to purchase software for old machines, how to upgrade new machines etc. Again, I'm curious to know if people have already run afoul of this new rule, and what the deal is.
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