Review Process & Criteria

Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of 10 geoscientists with a broad range of backgrounds familiar with the application of geochronologic techniques. Decision making during review will use an open and consensus-based two-stage approach. At least two members of the review committee will score each proposal with the rubric of review criteria, and the two scores (normalized to each panelist's mean review score) will be summed, yielding a ranked list of projects. This phase will be followed by group discussion, and then a second stage of more intense review and ranking of proposals in the top third. The panel will evaluate the diversity of techniques, labs, and types of science in the top suite of proposals to ensure that there is breadth in the funded proposal pool. Funding decisions will be made the goal of broadening community participation and promoting new collaborations. The review panel will then make the final list of awardees and their support levels.

Conflicts of interest will be addressed openly at the start of the review process. Proposals and reviewer comments will be inaccessible for conflicted reviewers.

Review Criteria

Intellectual Merit: Proposal Quality (70 points total)
Proposals will be evaluated based on their overall significance and intellectual merit, project design, and coordination/timeline/budget. Reviewers will use a point system that weights the relative importance of each category and allows for direct comparison of multiple proposals.  All proposals must satisfactorily address all of the following requirements and must include all of the requested application materials to be considered for funding. The panel may decide to partially fund proposals.

  1. Overall significance (35 points)

    General quality of the proposed research, including its scope, importance, and relevance to NSF-EAR science goals. Clarity of the proposal’s central question or hypothesis.

  2. Project design (25 points) 

    General likelihood that the research will be able to answer the central question or hypothesis of the proposal and produce useful results. Considerations can include the choice of technique, sampling strategy, and whether the proposed methods are well-established or experimental. AGeS is willing to fund well-designed, higher-risk projects.

  3. Coordination, timeline, and budget (10 points)

    Assessment of the proposed timeline and budget, specifically considering the time required for sample acquisition and preparation, training, analysis, and interpretation. This criterion relies partially on good coordination between the proponent and the hosting facility, evaluated based on the student proposal, the clarity of the lab plan, and the support letters. Budgetary considerations can include the availability of other sources of funding.

Broader Impacts: Expanding access and building networks (30 points total)
Proposals will additionally be assigned points based on the project’s potential to foster the acquisition of new geochronology skills by the student and the project’s potential to foster new research collaborations. These criteria are aimed at meeting the broader impact goals of AGeS2 to expand geochronology access and build research networks.

  1. Expanding Access: Potential for fostering the acquisition of new geochronology skills by the student (15 points)
    The extent to which this research provides a new and otherwise unavailable opportunity for the student to obtain experience with and training in analytical work and geochronology.
    • High (15 pts) – No previous geochronology experience of any kind, no local access, and access to geochronology facilities and expertise unlikely without an AGeS award
    • Medium (10 pts) – Some previous geochronology experience but with different technique than proposed and not already situated within environment emphasizing geochronology
    • Low (5 pts) – Previous geochronology experience including with same technique in proposal or already situated within environment emphasizing geochronology
    • No credit (0 Pts) – This aspect not clearly explained in proposal and supervisor letter
  2. Building networks: Potential for fostering new research collaborations (15 points) 
    The degree to which this research will create new partnerships and opportunities, including collaborations between different institutions and/or research groups.
    • High (15 pts): Completely new collaboration for student, advisor, and lab
    • Medium (10 pts): New topic and strengthen existing ties
    • Low (5 pts): Existing topics building on existing ties
    • No credit (0 Pts) – This aspect not clearly explained in proposal and supervisor letter
AGeS awardee Stephen Nguyen (Texas Tech) pondering his project in the field.

AGeS awardee Stephen Nguyen (Texas Tech) pondering his project.