NSF General Instructions
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” it is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. It is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology. General information on NSF programs, guidelines and policies can be found on the NSF website.
FastLane, NSF’s interactive real-time grant management system, is used to conduct NSF business over the internet. In order to submit proposals to NSF, you must be registered in the FastLane system. If you do not have a FastLane profile and wish to submit an application to NSF, please contact SPS so that a representative can provide you with access to FastLane. If you already have a username and password, click on the link below to connect to FastLane.
Instructions for Routing NSF Proposals via FastLane
Internal paperwork must be routed through SPS before the proposal is submitted electronically through NSF Fastlane.
- The routing process should be initiated 3-5 business days before the deadline date. This allows SPS time to review and approve the proposal prior to electronic submission through NSF FastLane.
- The proposal will not be submitted electronically to NSF until SPS receives, reviews, and approves the complete proposal package, including the routing form, budget, consortium documents, and access to the final application in FastLane.
The PI does not submit the proposal to NSF. Only SPS has the authority to submit the proposal through FastLane after receiving full access to the application by the PI (“Allow SRO [Sponsored Research Office] Access).
- The PI will complete the electronic proposal in Fastlane and “Allow SRO Access”. SPS will review for compliance with proposal guidelines, and request additional information and/or corrections as necessary.
- The PI will be notified when the application has been reviewed and approved.
- The PI will notify SPS when the proposal is finalized and is ready for submission.
- The final version must be reviewed by SPS prior to submission.
Understand the different levels of allowing SRO Access.
Pressing the “Allow SRO Access” button within FastLane directs the PI to a screen entitled “SRO Access Control,” where the PI should choose one of three options:
- Allow SRO to only view proposal but not submit.
- Allow SRO to view and edit but not submit proposal.
- Allow SRO to view, edit and submit proposal.
The third option can be activated by the PI at any stage of the proposal. Selecting the third option will not be interpreted by SPS as a signal to submit the proposal to NSF unless the PI previously indicated otherwise. The PI should contact SPS when the proposal has been finalized and is ready for submission.
The Principal Investigator may continue to edit a proposal after granting SRO Access. Remember: two events need to occur before SPS will submit a proposal to NSF:
- SPS must receive and approve the complete proposal package, as described above.
- From within the “SRO Access Control” interface, the PI must select the third option, “Allow SRO to view, edit and submit proposal.”
Do not wait until the last minute to deliver the proposal package or “Allow SRO Access.”
The FastLane server has been known to “bog down,” particularly on deadline dates. This may result in missing the deadline. An email message will be sent to the PI when the proposal has been submitted via FastLane.
Instructions for Submitting Subawards to NSF
All UConn Health personnel who plan to submit subaward budgets via FastLane must first be registered FastLane users. If you are not a registered user, please contact SPS. Participation as a subawardee entails two distinct administrative responsibilities.
1. FastLane Portion
- The PI from the Lead Institution assigns a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to the proposal and then shares that PIN and Proposal ID with the UConn Health subaward applicant.
- The subaward applicant then logs in with last name, NSF ID, FastLane password, and the PIN and Proposal ID#. This provides access to the Lead Institution’s proposal and enables full functionality including the uploading of budgets, letters of support, biographical sketches, etc.
2. UConn Health Portion. In addition to FastLane requirements, the UConn Health subaward applicant is required to submit to SPS for review and approval the routing form, budget and budget justification and scope of work (a narrative description of the subawardee’s role in the lead institution’s project).
NSF & Grants.gov
Unless otherwise specified in a NSF solicitation, applications to NSF may be submitted through Grants.gov in lieu of the NSF FastLane system. However, simultaneously submitted collaborative applications must be submitted via FastLane as Grant.gov does not currently support this functionality. The University of Connecticut is already registered with Grants.gov. Investigators and departmental personnel need not register. NSF provides guidance on submitting applications through Grants.gov at the following sites:
Tips for Successful Submission to NSF via Grants.gov
- Allow time for editing after submission. An NSF applicant can make changes using the NSF “Proposal File Update” module in FastLane. Changes will automatically be accepted prior to the deadline date.
- Check for duplicate persons on the SF 424 (R&R) senior/key person form. Applicants should be certain that no name in this section is entered twice.
- Review the NSF checklist form. The NSF application form includes a detailed application checklist that should be reviewed thoroughly to ensure that all required information is submitted.
- Always use the organization’s legal name. All references to the organization name should be consistent throughout the application, from the cover page to the other sections listing project/performance site locations.
- Enter the PI or Co-PI’s name consistently throughout the application. Names entered differently throughout the application cause confusion, and the system is not able to verify whether it is the same individual.
- Electronic document attachments to the application must be in PDF format using the Adobe Acrobat.
NSF Data Management Plan Requirements
Effective for all new NSF applications received by NSF on and after January 18th, 2011. All applications that lack a data management plan will be returned without review.
Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results
NSF Data Sharing Policy
Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing.
NSF Data Management Plan Requirements
Proposals submitted or due on or after January 18, 2011, must include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled “Data Management Plan”. This supplementary document should describe how the proposal will conform to NSF policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.
Requirements by Directorate, Office, Division, Program, or other NSF Unit
For the specific information related to NSF data management plans and Directorate requirements, visit: http://research.uconn.edu/library-services/data-management-plans
Data Management Plans for Collaborative Proposals
Simultaneously submitted collaborative proposals and proposals that include subawards are a single unified project and should include only one supplemental combined Data Management Plan, regardless of the number of non-lead collaborative proposals or subawards included. Fastlane will not permit submission of a proposal that is missing a Data Management Plan. Proposals for supplementary support to an existing award are not required to include a Data Management Plan.
Data Management & Sharing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (updated November 30, 2010)
Additional information regarding NSF submissions
- Guide to NSF Programs/Browse Funding Opportunities
- Program Deadlines by Date
- NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide
- News from NSF
- NSF Revised Cost Sharing Policy
- FAQs on Revised Cost Sharing Policy