Grants Conference Tips

This “Tip Page” contains advice to help you get the most out of the upcoming NSF Grants Conference. It also includes a list of resources including the Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), a video on the Merit Review Process, and some Mock Review Panels that you should familiarize yourself with before attending.

Who Should Attend
These events are primarily designed to provide new faculty, researchers and administrators with key insights into a wide range of current issues at NSF, including proposal preparation and merit review basics, award management topics and other important information.

Use Breaks, Lunches and the Opening Reception to Network
Take advantage of the refreshment breaks, lunches (and for early risers – breakfast!) to meet and speak with your peers and have informal discussions with NSF Staff. The opening reception on the first night is also a good opportunity to connect with and learn from your colleagues in a relaxed environment. See the agenda for more info.

Plan Your Breakout Session Attendance in Advance
Check the agenda ahead of time to plan which breakout you want to attend and when. Some only occur once, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss a “must attend” session.

A Fall 2019 NSF Grants Conference mobile app will be available on Google Play for Android, and the Apple Store for iPhone a few weeks before the conference. The app allows you to: create your own agenda; research sessions and speakers; locate breakout sessions on a map; and get push notifications to remind you of what’s next. You can also access presentations by clicking on the session name. Download it before you get to Boston!

Take Advantage of the Q&A Time
Most sessions include time for questions and answers. If you have a question, just ask. Chances are others are wondering the same thing. If time runs out before we get to you, write your question down (along with your contact information) and drop it in the Question box at the registration desk. We’ll do our best to get you a timely response.



About NSF
How much do you already know about NSF? Visit the organization’s “About NSF” webpage to fill-in any knowledge gaps on the basics.

The Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) is comprised of documents relating to the Foundation’s proposal and award process for the assistance programs of NSF. We recommend conference registrants unfamiliar with the PAPPG scan through the various chapters of the guide prior to attending the conference.


NSF’s Big Ideas

In 2016, NSF unveiled a set of “Big Ideas” — 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering. With its broad portfolio of investments, NSF is uniquely suited to advance this set of cutting-edge research agendas and processes that will require collaborations with industry, private foundations, other agencies, science academies and societies, and universities and the education sector. The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge — indeed to define that cutting edge — of global science and engineering leadership and to invest in basic research and processes that advance the United States’ prosperity, security, health and well-being.


NSF’s Merit Review Process
NSF receives about 50,000 research proposals every year. The Foundation’s mission is to promote the progress of science, but it’s able to support only a fraction of the proposed research with its limited resources. This video briefly explains how NSF determines which research has the greatest potential–which would be the most fruitful investment of taxpayer dollars and best align with the Foundation’s mission to promote the progress of science.


CAREER Award Mock Panel
What really happens in a proposal review panel? Audiences will get a good sense from this mock review session as panelists discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a CAREER Award proposal.


CBET Mock Panel for CAREER Program