NSF requirements

Guidelines for Special 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.

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


(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


(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.

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


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.

Page Limit: Two pages for supplementary document


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


(If applicable.) Please note that some program solicitations provide specific guidance on preparation and inclusion of management plans in proposals submitted to NSF.

(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. 

(If applicable.) Antarctic proposals to any NSF program require "Logistical Requirements and Field Plan" supplementary documents to be submitted with the proposal. 

(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.

(If applicable.) Research involving field experiments with genetically engineered organisms. 

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.