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NSF Requirements

This information is taken from the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG 23-1), which includes changes to many sections of the proposal, effective January 30, 2023. Proposal preparation instructions for Planning, RAPID, EAGER, RAISE, GOALI, Ideas Lab, FASED, conference, equipment, travel, center, research infrastructure, and fellowship proposal types might differ slightly, so please always check your funding announcement.

Formatting: Font must be 10pt or larger (for Arial, Courier New, Palatino Linotype), or 11pt for Times New Roman. Margins are 1” minimum.

If you are looking for a component that you do not see reflected here, please contact the CTSI Grants Submission Unit at gsu@mednet.ucla.edu.

Cover Sheet/Page

The grant application cover page is a form generated by the online application system that asks questions about your application and allows you to upload PDF files of single-copy documents, such as a data management plan or mentoring plan. Many boxes are pre-filled as part of the system’s login process. There are seven components of the Cover Sheet:

  1. Requested Start Date and Proposal Duration: The NSF encourages proposers to request funding for durations of three to five years when such durations are necessary for completion of the proposed work and are technically and managerially advantageous. 
  2. Related Letter of Intent (LOI): If an LOI was submitted, enter the LOI ID number that was issued upon submission.
  3. Related Preliminary Proposal: If a preliminary proposal was submitted, and the organization was either invited or encouraged/discouraged to submit a full proposal, provide the Preliminary Proposal Number.
  4. Prime Organization. 
  5. Primary Place of Performance.
  6. Other Federal Agencies: If the proposal is being submitted for consideration by another Federal agency, the abbreviated name(s) of the Federal agency(ies) must be identified in the space provided.
  7. Other Information. 

Page Limit: None. Recommended 1 page.

Last updated February 16, 2023

Project Summary

The Project Summary consists of the overview, statement of intellectual merit, and statement on broader impacts. The summary should be informative to researchers working in the same or related fields, and, where possible, understandable to a broad audience. It should not be an abstract of the proposal.

  1. Overview: The overview should contain the long-term objectives, followed by the aims and methodology that will support those objectives. This section is the introduction that will illustrate the importance of the project in terms of its effect and impact.
  2. Statement of Intellectual Merit: This section will address what is currently known and, more importantly, what is not known in the field. Applicants should show how the proposal will fill an important gap in existing knowledge. You should also address how the proposed activities will advance knowledge in your own scientific field and across other fields in creative and transformative ways. The qualifications of the Principal Investigator (PI) and the institutional resources are also key elements in this section.
  3. Statement on Broader Impacts of the Proposed Study: The Broader Impacts statement is an important part of the Summary Page and will heavily affect your chances of being funded. This section is about understanding and promoting teaching, training, research and learning, while at the same time advancing the participation of underrepresented groups. Include a description of how science and technology will be enhanced.
Page Limit: One page


Last updated February 16, 2023

Project Description

The Project Description should include sections on 1) Intellectual Merit; 2) Broader Impacts; and 3) Results from Prior NSF Support.

  1. Intellectual Merit: In this section, applicants should address what they want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. Applicants should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and include the objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance; the relationship of this work to the present state of knowledge in the field, as well as to work in progress by the PI under other support. NOTE: As of June 1, 2020, you are no longer required to label this as a separate section in the narrative, although you should still address the topic within the document.
  2. Broader Impacts: This section should include a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to the project.
  3. Results from Prior NSF Support (5-page limit within the overall 15 pages): The purpose of this section is to assist reviewers in assessing the quality of previous work conducted with prior or current NSF funding. If any PI or co-PI identified on the proposal has received prior NSF support, this section should be addressed. If no NSF support has been received, simply devote the entire 15 pages to the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts sections.

Page Limit: 15 Pages

Last updated February 16, 2023

References Cited

Reference information is required. Each reference must include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication. If readily available, a website address for the publication should be included, but this is optional.

Page Limit: None

Last updated February 16, 2023


A separate biographical sketch (biosketches) PDF file must be uploaded for each individual designated as senior personnel. The mandate to use SciENcv only for preparation of the biographical sketch will go into effect for new proposals submitted or due on or after October 23, 2023. In the interim, proposers may continue to prepare and submit this document via use of SciENcv or the NSF fillable PDF. 

  1. Identifying Information: Name of the senior person, ORCID ID, and current position title.
  2. Organization and Location: Name of the primary organization of the senior person.
  3. Professional Preparation: The senior person’s professional preparation (e.g., education and training), listed in reverse chronological order by start date. Include all postdoctoral and fellowship training, as applicable, listing each separately. Also include the baccalaureate degree or other initial professional education.
  4. Appointments and Positions: A list, in reverse chronological order by start date, of all the senior person’s academic, professional, or institutional appointments and positions, beginning with the current appointment (including the associated organization and location). 
  5. Products: A list of (i) up to five products most closely related to the proposed project; and (ii) up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project that demonstrate the senior person’s qualifications to carry out the project as proposed. Acceptable products must be citable and accessible, including but not limited to publications, conference papers, and presentations; website(s) or other Internet site(s); technologies or techniques; inventions, patent applications, and/or licenses; and other products, such as data, databases, or datasets, physical collections, audio or video products, software, models, educational aids or curricula, instruments or equipment, research material, interventions (e.g., clinical or educational), or new business creation.
  6. Synergistic Activities: A list of up to five distinct examples that demonstrates the broader impact of the individual’s professional and scholarly activities that focus on the integration and transfer of knowledge as well as its creation. Examples may include innovations in teaching and training; contributions to the science of learning; development and/or refinement of research tools; computation methodologies and algorithms for problem-solving; development of databases to support research and education; broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in STEM; participation in international research collaborations; participation in international standards development efforts; and service to the scientific and engineering community outside of the individual’s immediate organization.
  7. Certification: When the individual signs the certification on behalf of themselves, they are certifying that the information is current, accurate, and complete. This includes, but is not limited to, information related to domestic and foreign appointments and positions.

Postdoctoral associates, research assistants/students, and other professionals do not have to use SciENcv, but their biographical information must be clearly identified as “Other Personnel” and uploaded as a single PDF file in the Other Supplementary Documents section of the proposal.

For equipment proposals, the following must be provided for each auxiliary user: a short biographical sketch; and a list of up to five publications most closely related to the proposed acquisition. This information should be clearly identified as “Equipment Proposal” biographical information and uploaded as a single PDF file in the Other Supplementary Documents section of the proposal.

Page Limit: Three pages per biosketch


Last updated February 16, 2023

Budget and Budget Justification

Each proposal must contain a budget for each year of support requested. The budget justification must be no more than five pages per proposal. The amounts for each budget line item requested must be documented and justified in the budget justification. For proposals that contain a subaward(s), each subaward must include a separate budget justification of no more than five pages.

Page Limit: Five pages per budget justification (per site/subaward)


Last updated February 16, 2023

Current and Pending Support

Current and Pending (Other) Support information is used to assess the capacity of a researcher to carry out the study as proposed and helps assess any potential scientific and budgetary overlap/duplication, as well as overcommitment with the project being proposed.

The mandate to use only SciENcv for the preparation of Current and Pending (Other) Support information will go into effect for new proposals submitted or due on or after October 23, 2023. In the interim, proposers may continue to prepare and submit this document via use of SciENcv or the NSF fillable PDF. 

The formats of Current and Pending (Other) Support are as follows:

  1. Identifying Information: Name of the senior person, ORCID ID, current position title.
  2. Organization and Location
  3. Projects/Proposals: In this section, disclose and detail ALL existing projects, as well as all projects currently under consideration for funding.
  4. In-Kind Contributions: In this section, disclose ALL in-kind contributions related to current and pending support. In-kind contributions include, but are not limited to, office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, and employee or student resources.
  5. Certification: When the individual signs the certification on behalf of themselves, they are certifying that the information is current, accurate, and complete. 

Page Limit: None


Last updated February 16, 2023

Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources

The facilities section of the proposal is used to assess the adequacy of the resources available to perform the effort proposed to satisfy both the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts review criteria. Applicants should include a description of the internal and external resources (both physical and personnel) that the organization and its collaborators will provide to the project, should it be funded. Major sections commonly include:

  • Facilities: any applicable laboratory, clinical, animal, computer, and office facilities/resources.
  • Major Equipment: important equipment available for this project.
  • Other Resources: any other resources available to the project, including support services such as consultants, secretarial, machine shop, and electronics, as well as the following:
  • Unfunded Collaborators: Any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget (a letter of commitment from these collaborators also should be provided).
  • Senior Personnel: If no person months and no salary are being requested for some Senior Personnel, briefly describe these personnel.

GSU maintains a resource of boilerplate text for many campus facilities that researchers can use to compile this section.

Page Limit: None


Last updated February 16, 2023

Special Information and Supplementary Documentation

Special information and supplementary documentation submitted in the following areas is not considered part of the 15-page Project Description limitation, nor is it appropriate for the appendix. Please see your specific FOA for guidelines on which of the following supplementary documents might be required as part of your application.

A. Data Management Plan: The Data Management Plan should describe how your proposal conforms to NSF’s dissemination policy and commitment to sharing research results. It may include the types of data, samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project; the standards to be used for data and metadata format and content (where existing standards are absent or deemed inadequate, this should be documented along with any proposed solutions or remedies); policies for access and sharing including appropriate privacy protection, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements; policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.

Page Limit: Two pages


B. Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan, if applicable: Each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must upload, under “Mentoring Plan”, a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for all postdoctoral researchers supported by the project, regardless of whether they reside at the submitting organization. Examples of mentoring activities include career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices.

Page Limit: One page


C. Rationale for performance of all or part of the project off-campus or away from organizational headquarters, if applicable. Provide a brief explanation as to why the project would be conducted partially (or completely) outside the physical location of the sponsoring organization.

D. Letters of Collaboration (not Letters of Support): While letters of collaboration are permitted, unless required by a specific program solicitation, letters of support should not be submitted as they are not a standard component of an NSF proposal. Letters of collaboration should be limited to stating (1) the intent to collaborate, and (2) a commitment of resources, if applicable. It should not contain endorsements or an evaluation of the proposed project.

Page Limit: One page per letter


E. Documentation regarding research involving the use of human subjects. Projects involving research with human subjects must ensure that subjects are protected from research risks in conformance with the relevant Federal policy known as the Common Rule (Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, 45 CFR 690).

In most cases, proposals involving human subjects should discuss within the 15-page project description the proposed use of human subjects. However, please check your funding announcement or talk to your program officer for specific requirements regarding human subjects.

All projects involving human subjects must either have: (1) approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) before issuance of an NSF award; or, (2) an IRB determination that the project is exempt from review, in accordance with the applicable subsection, as established in 45 CFR § 690.104(d) of the Common Rule.

Note: The box for "Human Subjects" must be checked on the Cover Sheet if use of human subjects is envisioned. In addition, if human subject activities are exempt from IRB review, provide the exemption number(s) corresponding to one or more of the exemption categories. If the research is not designated as exempt, and has an approved, unexpired protocol at the time of submission, the IRB approval date should be identified in the space provided. (If IRB approval has not been obtained at the time of submission, the proposer should indicate "Pending" in the space provided for the approval date.) Finally, the FWA Number that the proposer has on file with OHRP should be entered, if available.


F. Documentation regarding research involving the use of vertebrate animals. Researchers are responsible for the humane care and treatment of any vertebrate animal used or intended for use in such activities as field or laboratory research, development, training, experiments, biological testing or for related purposes supported by NSF grants.

For proposals involving the use of vertebrate animals, sufficient information must be provided within the 15-page Project Description to enable reviewers to evaluate the rationale for involving animals; choice of species and number of animals to be used; description of the proposed use of the animals; exposure of animals to discomfort, pain, or injury; and description of any euthanasia methods to be used.

Note: Please check the box for "Vertebrate Animals" on the Cover Sheet for Proposal to the National Science Foundation. In addition, the date of IACUC approval of the animal-use protocol covering the proposed work, as well as the PHS-approved Animal Welfare Assurance Number, also must be identified in the space provided. If these have not been obtained prior to submission, the proposer should indicate "Pending." 

Page Limit: N/A


G. Documentation for projects that involve technology utilization/transfer activities, that require a management plan, or that involve special reports or final products, if applicable. Please note that some program solicitations provide specific guidance on preparation and inclusion of management plans in proposals submitted to NSF.

H. Environmental Impacts, if applicable. In order for NSF to comply with Federal environmental statutes (including, but not limited to, the National Environmental Policy Act (42 USC §4321, et seq.), the National Historic Preservation Act (54 USC §306108 [previously codified at 16 USC §470, et seq.], and the Endangered Species Act (16 USC §1531, et seq.), the proposer may be requested to submit supplemental post-proposal submission information to NSF in order that a reasonable and accurate assessment of environmental impacts by NSF may be made.  

I. Antarctic Proposals, if applicable. Antarctic proposals to any NSF program require "Logistical Requirements and Field Plan" supplementary documents to be submitted with the proposal.  

J. Historic Places, if applicable. Research in a location designated, or eligible to be designated, a registered historic place. Where applicable, the box for "Historic Places" must be checked on the proposal Cover Sheet. 

K.  Genetically Engineered Organisms, if applicable. Research involving field experiments with genetically engineered organisms. 

L. Special Components in New Proposals or in Requests for Supplemental Funding, if applicable. This section includes, for example, Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED), Research Opportunity Awards (ROAs), Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs), Facilitating Research at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (RUIs), Research Experiences for Veterans (REV), and Research Experiences for Teachers, and Research Experiences for Graduates. 

In addition, the supplementary documentation section should alert NSF officials to unusual circumstances that require special handling, including, for example, proprietary or other privileged information in the proposal, matters affecting individual privacy, required intergovernmental review under E.O. 12372 (Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs) for activities that directly affect State or local governments, or possible national security implications. 

Last updated February 16, 2023


All information necessary for the review of a proposal must be contained in other sections of the proposal. Appendices may not be included unless authorized by the NSF.

Single-Copy Documents

Certain categories of information that are submitted in conjunction with a proposal are for "NSF Use Only." This information is not provided to reviewers. With the exception of proposal certifications, these documents should be submitted via the online application system’s Proposal Preparation Module. There are no page limits on these documents. 

A. Authorization to Deviate from NSF Proposal Preparation Requirements: Only provide this if applicable to your funding announcement.

B. List of Suggested Reviewers or Reviewers Not to Include: Applicants may include a list of suggested reviewers (including email address and organizational affiliation) who they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal. They also may designate persons they would prefer not to review the proposal; as of June 1, 2020, researchers no longer are required to state their reasons for this request.

The decision regarding whether to use these suggestions remains with the Program Officer.

C. Proprietary or Privileged Information: Patentable ideas, trade secrets, privileged or confidential commercial or financial information should be included in proposals only when such information is necessary to convey an understanding of the proposed project. However, in order to protect privileged information, such information may be included as a separate statement and be submitted as a single-copy document in the Proposal Preparation Module.

Note: The box for "Proprietary or Privileged Information" must be checked on the Cover Sheet when the proposal contains this information.

D. Proposal Certifications: Government-wide certifications and representations are provided by the proposer on an annual basis in SAM. Note that the box for "Disclosure of Lobbying Activities" must be checked on the Cover Sheet if, pursuant to the Lobbying certification provided in SAM, submission of the SF LLL is required. 

The required NSF-specific proposal certifications are as follows:

  • Certification for Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) or Individual Proposer: The AOR is required to complete certifications regarding the accuracy and completeness of statements contained in the proposal, as well as to certify that the organization (or individual) agrees to accept the obligation to comply with grant terms and conditions.
  • Certification Regarding Conflict of Interest: The AOR is required to complete certifications stating that the organization has implemented and is enforcing a written policy on conflicts of interest (COI).
  • Certification Regarding Flood Hazard Insurance: Two sections of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 USC §4012a and §4106) bar Federal agencies from giving financial assistance for acquisition or construction purposes in any area identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as having special flood hazards.
  • Certification Regarding Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR): The AOR is required to complete a certification that the institution has a plan to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research.
  • Certification Regarding Organizational Support: The AOR is required to complete a certification that there is organizational support for the proposal as required by Section 526 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. 
  • Certification Regarding Dual Use Research of Concern: The AOR is required to complete a certification that the organization will be or is in compliance with all aspects of the United States Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern.
  • Certification Requirement Specified in the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, Section 223(a)(1) (42 USC 6605(a)(1)): The AOR is required to complete a certification that each individual employed by the organization and identified on the proposal as senior personnel has been made aware of the certification requirements identified in the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, Section 223(a)(1) (42 USC 6605(a)(1)).
  • Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research: For each proposal that proposes to conduct research off-campus or off site, the AOR must complete a certification that the organization has a plan in place for this proposal regarding safe and inclusive working environments.   

E. Collaborators & Other Affiliations Information: Information regarding collaborators and other affiliations (COA) must be separately provided for each individual identified as senior personnel on the project. Applicants should use the COA template to provide this information.

There are five tables in this template that cannot be altered except to delete the instructions at top, insert rows, and provide additional names:

  1. COA template Table 1: List the individual's last name, first name, middle initial, and organizational affiliation in the last 12 months.
  2. COA template Table 2: List names as last name, first name, middle initial, for whom a personal, family, or business relationship would otherwise preclude their service as a reviewer.
  3. COA template Table 3: List names as last name, first name, middle initial, and provide organizational affiliations, if known, for the following: The individual's Ph.D. advisors, and all of the individual's Ph.D. thesis advisees.
  4. COA template Table 4: List names as last name, first name, middle initial, and provide organizational affiliations, if known, for the following: Co-authors on any book, article, report, abstract or paper with collaboration in the last 48 months (publication date may be later); and collaborators on projects, such as funded grants, graduate research or others in the last 48 months.
  5. COA template Table 5: List editorial board, editor-in chief and co-editors with whom the individual interacts. An editor-in-chief must list the entire editorial board. For Editorial Board: List name(s) of editor-in-chief and journal in the past 24 months; and other co-editors of journal or collections with whom the individual has directly interacted in the last 24 months.

Last updated February 16, 2023