Preparing a Full Proposal: Proposal Classification Form

This is one in a series of blog entries with tips for preparing a full proposal for the upcoming August 5, 2016 deadline for the IOS core programs track. It is not intended to be a complete set of instructions, rather to provide some tips about common issues and useful additional information. Please consult the current Grant Proposal Guide and the current IOS Core Programs solicitation (NSF 16-505) for complete instructions. As always, if you have questions contact your friendly program director!

All Principal Investigators submitting a proposal to BIO are required to submit a Proposal Classification Form, also called the BIO Classification Form. The form contains a list of categories and sub-categories that programs use to track information about the proposed projects. Each BIO division (IOS, DEB, MCB, DBI) has its own set of categories for its programs. Fastlane provides the correct form for a PI’s proposal based on which solicitation/division is chosen on the cover sheet.

Each Proposal Classification Form has multiple sections: investigator status, other fields of science involved, substantive area, infrastructure, habitat, geographic area of the research, classification of organisms and model organisms. Program Directors in IOS make the most use of the substantive area section and the classification of organisms section. Programs track the coverage of these descriptors to get an idea of what kinds of expertise will be needed for a review panel.

A screen shot of part of a proposal classification form. The form has three columns of text and the heading Category III: Substantive Area.

Part of a Proposal Classification Form

In each section of the form, the words in all capital letters are main categories that include sub-categories as specific descriptors. In the example shown here, this applicant has selected the category “BEHAVIORAL STUDIES” and the sub-category “spatial behavior and foraging.” In IOS, the “BEHAVIORAL STUDIES” category is primarily related to topics considered in the Behavioral Systems Cluster; “DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY” covers topics primarily considered in the Developmental Systems Cluster; “PHYSIOLOGICAL AND STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS” (PSS) is mainly related to topics considered in the PSS cluster; and “NEUROSCIENCE” is primarily related to topics considered in the Neural Systems Cluster. Other categories are shared across clusters.

For each section of the form there is a limit to the number of selections that can be made. For the substantive area section the maximum is four. In many cases, the category may be left unselected when one or more sub-categories are selected. Just choosing a larger category and nothing else, such as “NEUROSCIENCE,” is not very descriptive, so the key is to describe the research with up to four categories/sub-categories if possible. This will help the Program assign your proposal to panels and reviewers. If you have questions about any of the categories, please contact your Program Director.

Read the next post in this series…

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