FAQs: NSF

Can you provide examples of in-kind mentoring?

A:    NSF response:  Please see questions #10 and #14 in this NSF document: Frequently Asked Questions on Current and Pending Support PAPPG (NSF 20-1) These will address your questions. The text of the answers to questions 10 and 14 is included below.

Q: Mentoring of a trainee is an example of a time commitment that must be reported in current and pending support. There is a difference, however, between a time commitment and an activity that takes time. Should the latter be reported in current and pending support? 

A: NSF response: An individual need not identify any mentoring activities in their current and pending support submission that take place as part of their regular appointment at the proposing organization. If an individual, however, receives in-kind support either directly or through their organization from an external source to support mentoring of undergraduate or graduate students, that in-kind support, including the time associated with such mentoring, should be identified in the individual’s current and pending support submission

 

Q: Do individuals serving as senior personnel need to disclose all postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who are individually funded through fellowships as in-kind support? For example, if a postdoctoral researcher is personally funded by a foundation, and the fellowship does not flow through the proposing organization, does this need to be disclosed as in-kind support? 

A: NSF Response: The current and pending support information that must be provided is all planned, pending and current project and in-kind support that is either provided directly to the individual, or to the individual through their organization in support of that individual’s research endeavors. If the postdoctoral researcher is personally funded by a foundation or other organization, then the support of the postdoctoral researcher should not be submitted as part of the PI or co-PIs current and pending support submission.

Why can’t I see the attachments/formatting is strange or missing for documents I have uploaded to FastLane?

More than likely you are experiencing a browser issue. Depending on one’s browser settings, it may be trying to open a PDF with the browser’s Adobe add-on. When a live form (one with fillable fields) is clicked on, the browser’s Adobe cannot process and present the ‘sophisticated’ format.  To alleviate this, be sure to first save the attachment to your computer, and then open it with Adobe. You should then be able to view the document as it was originally uploaded to FastLane.

Who should be listed on the NSF Collaborators & Other Affiliations (COA) template?

As of April 2017, the NSF has required that investigators submit their collaborators and other affiliations in an excel template. These collaborator lists are no longer included in the NSF biographical sketch, and no longer need to be provided in alphabetical order. Additionally, investigators are no longer required to list postdocs sponsored. Please note that two categories for part B of the template sound very similar: category “G” is for the investigator’s own PhD advisors, while category “P” refers to the investigator’s non-PhD graduate advisors (e.g. Master’s advisor). The required template is available from the NSF website at https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/coa.jsp

Please also see Fastlane Advisory dated September 29, 2017:

ATTENTION: Proposers using the Collaborators and Other Affiliations template for more than 10 senior project personnel will encounter proposal print preview issues. Click here for updated guidance.

What is the difference between the “Due” and “Overdue” statuses for NSF project reports in Research.gov?

Research.gov will show two key dates for every Research Project Progress Report (RPPR), which are required annually and at the end of the project: the date the RPPR is “due” and the date it is “overdue”. These dates represent the start and end dates of the window during which a report can be submitted. Ideally, reports should be submitted to the NSF early in the reporting window, in order to allow time for revisions if the Program Officer requests any. If the Program Officer does not approve the report by the “Overdue” date, the report is considered delinquent. NSF will not make any new awards or allow any extensions to a PI or Co-PIs other awards while any report is due or under review. For more information, see the NSF Reporting page.

What are Participant Support Costs?

This cost category is primarily used by the NSF, although the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200.75) defined it for all federal sponsors. Participants Support Costs can only be used for direct costs paid to or on behalf of participants in a sponsored conference or training activity. Participant support costs are exempt from overhead, but funds awarded for this purpose cannot be rebudgeted without sponsor approval. Not all conference expenses qualify as participant support costs; room rental fees, catering, and supplies are not eligible for this category. To qualify as a “participant”, a person must be the beneficiary of the educational component of a workshop, conference, or training. Participants may not be MIT employees, and should not be speakers or organizer in the sponsored activity.

Can I use the Fund Fee (non-research indirect cost rate) on a NSF proposal or award?

No. As of 2013, the NSF has specified that only federally negotiated indirect cost rates are allowable on NSF awards. MIT does not have a federally negotiated F&A rate for non-research activities. However, federal regulations allow us to charge a de minimis F&A rate of 10% MTDC on non-research activity funded by Federal awards, provided we do so consistently. This is the rate that should be proposed and will be charged. DLCs are not required to fund underrecoveries of fund overhead associated with awards that receive the de minimis rate. 

Who must complete Responsible Conduct of Research training?

The NSF expects institutions to be able to verify that those students (undergraduates and graduates) and postdoctoral researchers who receive NSF funds (support from salary and/or stipends to conduct research on NSF grants) will obtain RCR training. However, NSF anticipates that institutions will develop their RCR training programs in a manner that helps prepare the next generation of researchers, including the consideration of risks or other factors associated with student and postdoctoral researcher participation in research. More information at Responsible Conduct of Research