NSF Submissions

Please look to this space for upcoming deadline information. As a reminder, deadline dates vary according to each directorate, and internal deadlines are set at 5 business days before the final submission (or 10 days for dissertation proposals) to ensure that your hard work receives deserved attention and allow for safe, timely submission of your proposal. Contact iserp-funding@columbia.edu with any questions.


You will need to develop the following materials to prepare your proposal. All documents must have numbered pages. Please note that these are general NSF guidelines; RFPs may alter their specifications to meet their needs.

  1. fifteen page proposal document, in PDF or MS Word, inclusive of all tables or figures, with minimum 1-inch margins and minimum 11 point font. This must include a statement called "results from prior NSF support." See section below for details. The proposal document must also include a section titled Broader Impacts as well as a section called Intellectual Merit. There can be NO URLS or hyperlinks anywhere in this attachment. Note that many Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants have different requirements, so if you are applying for a DDIG/DDRIG/DDRI, pay close attention to the maximum page count listed in the guidelines. 
  2. one-page project summary, in MS Word, with minimum 1-inch margins and minimum 11 point font. This must not exceed one page total and must include the following sections: "Overview," "Intellectual Merit," and "Broader Impacts."
  3. A separate references cited file, in PDF or MS Word, with minimum 1-inch margins and minimum 11 point font.
  4. A two-page NSF biosketch, in MS Word, set up according to this template, based on NSF guidelines.
  5. list of collaborators and other affiliates according to NSF's Excel template. ISERP can provide you with this document, or you can download a copy in the Collaborators & Affiliations section in Fastlane. This is a list of your collaborators on all projects, not just on the NSF project. NSF uses this attachment as a guide to avoid conflicts of interest when seeking reviewers.
  6. list of current and pending grant awards, with dollar amounts, both at Columbia and elsewhere, in MS Word. The list must contain project title, award dates, total amount awarded/requested and effort dedicated (calculated in person-months) to the project.
  7. A two-page data management plan in MS Word. See below for details regarding the data management plan.
  8. Budget and budget justification, to be developed in conjunction with ISERP.
  9. PI must reply to SPA's email F&A Rate Verification Request with primary place of performance.




Most projects are based here on the Columbia campus, but some may involve co-PIs at other institutions.  The preferable and most advantageous arrangement for making your proposals when co-PIs are involved is to submit a “Collaborative Research” proposal, which consists of two separate project budgets – one for you at Columbia and one for your co-PI off-campus. An administrative contact at the collaborator’s institution should be provided at the earliest possible opportunity.


In other instances, you may simply need another institution to provide you with a “cleaned” dataset or will need to pay someone at another institution to complete a small piece of work.  This will involve extra coordination and the subcontract institution contact should be provided as soon as possible.

Research Assistance 

Please note:  Identifying in advance the people who will work with you on the project, including graduate students or others, will make budgetary planning simpler.



The NSF now requires that PIs make reasonable accommodations regarding the sharing of data with other researchers.  This section of the grant proposal outlines how you will comply with this requirement.

Details about Data Management, from NSF (4 pages)

FAQ about Data Management, from NSF

Data Management Plan Checklist and Template

Datasets may be hosted in Columbia University Libraries’ Academic Commons, the University’s institutional repository, a service of the Libraries’ Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS). For further information on data deposits, please see the Academic Commons Data FAQ or contact CDRS atinfo@cdrs.columbia.edu.



The fifteen page proposal (described above) must contain a section indicating whether the PI (and any Co-PIs) has received prior support from the NSF.  If the PI has not received prior support, you may simply state that.  If the PI has received NSF funding in the last five years , information of the award is required to be included in the proposal. This includes current funding and grants with an end date in the past five years. If the PI has received more than one award (excluding amendments), only the award most closely related to the current project must be included.  Include all of the following:

  1. The NSF award number, amount, and period of support.
  2. The project title. 
  3. A summary of the completed work, including accomplishments supported by the award.  Divide the results into two headings: “Intellectual Merit” and “Broader Impacts”.  Review details here.
  4. Any publications resulting from the NSF award, including citation information. 
  5. Evidence of research products and their availability, including, but not limited to: data, publications, samples, physical collections, software, and models, as described in the Data Management Plan (see section above). 
  6. If the proposal is for renewed support, a description of the relation of the completed work to the proposed work.

“Results from Prior NSF Support” should not exceed five pages and can be shorter.  “Results from Prior NSF Support” is included in, not in addition to, the fifteen page proposal requirement. Note that all Co-PIs must also be accounted for in this section. Much of this information, including grant numbers, amounts, and project dates, is available in NSF's database.



Columbia requires a conflict of interest disclosure to be updated annually.  Please sign into RASCAL using your UNI and password to ensure that this is up to date prior to the initial consultation.  



Many providers of data are now requiring data agreements to be signed or requiring IRB review of your data requests.  If you are using data that will require either an agreement to be signed or IRB review, it will likely need to go through the IRB review process at Columbia.  Even if your data does not have identifying information, you may need to have it reviewed as “Exempt” by the IRB; please have a good description of your data ready to discuss at the initial consultation.

If you are conducting experimental work or games that require the use of human subjects, you will need to initiate the IRB protocol procedures early to ensure that you are covered and ready to go should you be notified of funding. If you wait until you receive notice that your project is recommended for funding to seek IRB approval, your project could be delayed.



FastLane is the NSF electronic system for routing proposals, although NSF is in the process of moving both pre- and post-award functions to research.gov (this site is already active and is familiar to those PIs who have submitted NSF reports previously). Investigators only need one account to access both. You are no longer required to contact Sponsored Projects to create this account, but they will approve it. Prior to meeting with ISERP, register your NSF account here



After the internal deadline, Sponsored Projects Administration will review the submission in FastLane and check for errors.  These extra days prior to the NSF’s deadline will ensure that your proposal receives the attention that it deserves and is safely submitted well before the deadline rush.

A list of some NSF opportunities within the Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences directorate is below. You are encouraged to review the “What Has Been Funded” links to get a sense of the kind of research that each program has selected recently. For a complete list of all NSF opportunities, see nsf.gov or reach out to iserp-funding@columbia.edu to discuss your options.

ARCHAEOLOGY dissertation funding



CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY dissertation funding

DECISION, RISK, AND MANAGEMENT SCIENCES (includes dissertation funding opportunity)

ECONOMICS (includes dissertation funding opportunity)


LAW & SOCIAL SCIENCES (includes dissertation funding)

METHODOLOGY, MEASUREMENT, AND STATISTICS (includes dissertation funding)


POLITICAL SCIENCE dissertation funding




SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY (includes dissertation funding)


SOCIOLOGY dissertation funding


NSF Grant Proposal Guidelines


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