Success Rates of Proposals Submitted to NSF's Geosciences Directorate

PDF versionPDF version

The funding rate of proposals submitted to the NSF Geosci­ences Directorate fluctuated between 25% and 37% between fiscal years 2010 and 2019. While the lowest funding rate years were driven by an increase in the number of proposals submitted, there has been an overall decline in the number of awards issued each fiscal year, with 1,976 awards issued in 2010 to 1,537 awards issued in 2019. The higher number of awards issued in 2010 was partly due to funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

With the exception of 2013-2015, the number of proposals has also been declining, with the largest decline occurring between 2017 and 2018. Between 2018 and 2019, there was an increase in the number of proposals and awards although funding rates remained steady at 37%. Whether this indicates a turn around in the overall declining trend in proposals and awards remains to be seen.

Data Brief 2019-016 chart 01: Outcomes of Proposals Submitted to the NSF Geosciences Directorate (credit: AGI; data derived from NSF BIIS)

The Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences (AGS) consistently had the highest funding rate of all NSF Geosci­ences Directorate divisions, whereas the Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) and Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) have had the lowest funding rates. By far, the EAR and OCE divi­sions received the most proposals yet only awarded between 350 to 700 awards each year. Although the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) and the AGS division received the fewest proposals, the AGS division issued more awards than the OPP division, ranging between 250 and 365 awards per year.

The average time to final decision on proposals submitted to the NSF Geosciences Directorate ranged between 6.51 to 7.88 months which is longer than the NSF policy guideline of 6 months. By division, the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) took the longest to reach the final decision for proposals, taking from 7.58 to 11.89 months. The longest decision times for OPP proposals have occurred since 2015. The OCE division had the shortest times for making the final decision on pro­posals, ranging from 5.32 to 6.74 months.

Data Brief 2019-016 chart 02: Proposal Funding Rates by NSF Geosciences Division (credit: AGI; data derived from NSF BIIS)

Data Brief 2019-016 chart 03: Average Time to Final Decision for Proposals by NSF Geosciences Division (credit: AGI; data derived from NSF BIIS)

Since 2013, the average duration of awards has decreased from approximately 3.7 years to 2.7 years. While the duration of awards has declined, the median annual award amount has increased since 2010, with the largest increases occur­ring since 2016. Between 2016 and 2019, median annual award amounts (converted to constant dollars) increased 41% for AGS awards, 48% for EAR awards, 59% for OPP awards, and 38% for OCE awards.

The decline in award duration is primarily a reflection of awards that have not yet been approved for no-cost exten­sions. With time, this trend will correct with an upward shift in average award duration and a downward shift in median annual award amounts (which are calculated from award durations). For a better estimate of the increase in median awards, we held the award duration constant at 2013 lev­els and converted the award amounts to constant dollars. This analysis indicates a much smaller increase in median annual award amounts between 2016 and 2019: 23% for AGS awards, 30% for EAR awards, 33% for OPP awards, and 7% for OCE awards.

Data Brief 2019-016 chart 04: Average Award Duration by NSF Geosciences Division (credit: AGI; data derived from NSF BIIS)

Data Brief 2019-016 chart 05: Median Annual Award Amount by NSF Geosciences Division (credit: AGI; data derived from NSF BIIS)

Date updated: 2019-11-21
Data Brief 2019-016
Written and compiled by Leila Gonzales, AGI, November 2019

Subscribe to Geoscience Currents

Interested in receiving the latest in data and information about the geosciences? Enter your email below to subscribe to the Geoscience Currents channel.