Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I am writing my NSF CAREER proposal and hope to submit in this cycle. This is my first attempt at CAREER so I am new at few things.

One of the things that I have been thinking is how much budget I should request. The latest solicitation says: "Many programs and Directorates prefer to make more awards by funding CAREER proposals closer to the minimum award size"

This got me thinking if this is true in general or if this is true just for proposals that are on the edge for funding. A quick graph from the nsf webpage for the current active CAREER grants is shown below.

The first level is between 400k to 450k and so on. From what I can see it seems that some directorates do not care what you are requesting (such as IIS and ACI) and others (like CCF) really care about the amount being asked. The smaller the amount the better for these programs.

Large and smaller budgets have the following arguments for and against them.

1) If you request a larger budget and they like your proposal (but do not  have money) they will ask you to cut down your numbers and then give you the grant. This arguments clearly represents requesting larger budgets

2) If you request a budget that is close to minimum there is greater chance of getting funded that you will get into the PO graces if you are on the edge (and the PO likes your proposal). However, in this case you cannot increase the dollar amount that you can request.

I am torn between my desire to get the CAREER grant (and minimize the dollar amount) and my desire to get more monies for my lab.

Which strategy has worked for you?