NSF Collaborations

NSF defines collaborative proposals as “one in which investigators from two or more organizations wish to collaborate on a unified research project.”  These proposals may be prepared in two ways:

Option 1: For processing a collaborative proposal from one organization

Tthe first step is determining who will be the Lead Organization. The PI from the Lead will bear primary responsibility for award responsibilities and discussions with NSF, and the Lead Organization prepares the Lead Organization’s single proposal in Fastlane (eventually replaced by Research.gov). The single proposal will contain the Lead’s budget pages with Subaward line item(s). The Subaward detailed budget must also be entered in the Multi-Organization single proposal. For internal review and approval of the proposal, RAS will need to see the Subaward documentation (including signed letter from their Sponsored Program Office, Subaward SOW and Subaward detailed budget) uploaded in KC as an internal attachment. If awarded, NSF will issue an award to the Lead Institution, and the Lead Institution will prepare Subaward Agreements for the collaborating organizations.

  • In KC, when MIT is the Lead and has a Subaward on their proposal:
    • Sponsor Code field should note “NSF”
    • Prime Sponsor code is left blank.
    • The Subaward checkbox in the “Sponsor & Program Information” section should be selected
    • The Subaward should be entered under “Other Organizations” tab in the “Organization and Location” section
  • In KC, when MIT is a Subaward to another Organization who will submit the proposal to  NSF:
    • Sponsor Code field should note the Organization MIT is sending the proposal to
    • Prime Sponsor code should be NSF 

Option 2: For processing a collaborative proposal from multiple organizations

The first step is determining who will serve as the Lead Organization. Each Non Lead Organization assigns their proposal in Fastlane a proposal pin. This proposal pin, along with the temporary proposal number assigned by Fastlane must be given to the Lead Organization. The Lead Organization must enter the proposal pin(s) and temporary proposal number(s) in their Fastlane proposal using the “Link Collaborative Proposal” option found on the “Form Preparation” screen.

  • In KC, regardless of whether MIT is the Lead or Non Lead in the collaboration
    • Sponsor Code field should note “NSF”
    • Prime Sponsor code should be blank

All proposals from multiple organizations must contain the same proposal title, which must begin with “Collaborative Proposal: <Title>”, and if funded, each organization receives their own separate award from NSF.  In addition, the following sections are required by these organizations for the proposal:

Lead Organization

Non-Lead Organization

Cover Sheet

Cover Sheet

Project Summary

Table of Contents (automatically generated)

Table of Contents (automatically generated)

Biographical Sketch(es)

Project Description

Budget and Budget Justification

References Cited

Current and Pending Support

Biographical Sketch(es)

Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources

Budget and Budget Justification

Collaborators & Other Affiliations Information

Current and Pending Support

Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources

Data Management Plan

Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan (if applicable)

Collaborators & Other Affiliations Information