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FAQs regarding pre- and full proposals in response to "NSF Cross-Directorate Initiative: Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI), NSF 08-604

CDI FAQs for 2009 Solicitation


  1. Are preliminary proposals and full proposals reviewed by the same panelists?

No.  However, there is nothing prohibiting a reviewer from serving on both preliminary-proposal and full-proposal review panels.

  1. Do the full-proposal panels have access to the preliminary proposals, their reviews and panel summaries?

No.  Preliminary-proposal and full-proposal stages are treated as independent competitions.

  1. We are submitting a collaborative preliminary proposal.  Does each institution have to submit a preliminary proposal in FastLane?

No.  Only the lead institution submits a single preliminary proposal on behalf of the collaborative team.  The entire budget and all biographical sketches for all institutions should be specified in the single preliminary proposal.

  1. We have more than two PIs but each PI has a small contribution to the project.  Can we submit a Type I proposal with more than two PIs if the equivalent effort is two PIs?

Yes, and you should clarify this in your budget justification.

  1. Does one of the disciplines being advanced in a CDI project have to be computer science?

No.  The project should be clear about the innovation in or innovative use of computational thinking.

  1. What is computational thinking?

The solicitation describes computational thinking for the context of CDI proposals.  In your project description, you should explain how your project uses computational thinking.  You may consult the abstracts of the awards from 2008 for some examples of computational thinking.

  1. How do CDI proposals get assigned to divisions or directorates within NSF?  How do I know which NSF directorate or division will handle my proposal?

This is new for fiscal year 2009.  All CDI proposals are submitted to the Office of Integrative Activities and handled by teams of Program Directors from multiple directorates and reviewed by multidisciplinary panels with appropriate expertise for the group of proposals in the respective panels.  No proposal is handled by a particular directorate or division.

  1. How can I participate in the CDI review process?

Please register as a reviewer-volunteer at

If you are selected as a panelist, you will be notified approximately four weeks before the panels.

  1. We are invited to submit a full proposal.  Can we make changes to the scope, team composition, or budget we submitted in the preliminary proposal?

No, except with permission from NSF.  As indicated in the "Proposal Preparation Instructions" section of the CDI solicitation, under "Additional Full Proposal Preparation Instructions," no change in CDI award Type will be permitted between preliminary-proposal and full-proposal submission.  Deviations from the research team cited in the preliminary proposal, deviations from the scope of the preliminary proposal, or deviations from the preliminary proposal budget by more than 10 percent, must be approved by NSF prior to full-proposal submission.  If such a change is needed, please send your request to the CDI mailbox at  Describe what you want to change, and why.  The CDI Working Group (CDIWG) will evaluate such requests on a case-by-case basis.  Any such request has to be approved by the NSF-wide CDIWG, to assure equal treatment of all requests.  Please make these requests as early as possible.

  1. What do I have to submit in addition to the FastLane or documents? 

In addition to the FastLane documents, the PIs must send the following two documents via e-mail immediately after submission of their proposal.  After receipt of the proposal number from FastLane or, send an e-mail to  The subject heading of the e-mail should note the proposal number and the lead institution.  Attach the following documents prepared on templates that will be available at

"List of Personnel, Collaborators and Affiliates": An Excel spreadsheet containing two lists: one lists the last names, first names, and institutional affiliations of all PIs, Co-PIs, and other senior personnel; the second one lists the full names and institutional affiliations of all people having conflicts of interest with any PIs, Co-PIs, and other senior personnel.  This list will be used by NSF to check for conflicts of interest in assembling the review community; the information must be provided according to the template provided and must be saved using the CSV format.  The filename should be the proposal number followed by the three characters “coi” (for example, for a proposal number 0912345, this file name will be 0912345coi.csv where the extension csv will be automatically added by Excel when saving the file using the csv format).

“List of Themes and Keywords”: An Excel spreadsheet listing the themes and keywords relevant for the proposal.  This list identifies the primary and other relevant CDI themes and up to three keywords selected from the CDI keyword list (or of the PI’s own choosing) that best describe the major areas of the multidisciplinary research and education being proposed.  This information will be used internally to NSF to facilitate the review process and not to exclude areas not explicitly represented in the CDI keyword list.

Themes: "From Data to Knowledge,"  "Understanding Complexity," and "Virtual Organizations."

Keywords: The CDI keyword list is available on

  1. Are there special supplementary documents required in FastLane or for CDI?

Provide the following information in the "List of Personnel, Collaborators and Affiliates" in the preliminary-proposal or full-proposal PDF file:

Project Personnel.  List all PIs, Co-PIs, and other Senior Personnel in the project.  A corresponding biographical sketch should be provided in the proposal for all individuals included on this list.  For each person, provide the last name, first name, and institution/organization. 

Collaborators/Individuals with Conflicts of Interest.   Provide a list, in an alphabetized table, of the full names and institutional affiliations of all persons with potential conflicts of interest as specified in NSF’s Grant Proposal Guide.  For each PI, Co-PI, and other Senior Personnel, include all co-authors/editors and collaborators (within the past 48 months), all graduate advisors and advisees, and any other individuals or institutions with which the investigator has financial ties (please specify type).  In addition, list all subawardees who would receive funds through the CDI award.