What to include in your proposal - NERC

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Common causes of proposal rejection

Applicants should ensure that their proposal follows all the presentation and Joint Electronic Submissions system (Je-S) submission requirements detailed in the NERC research grant and fellowships handbook.

Any proposal which does not follow these rules will be rejected. NERC will not return any proposals for amendment.

Formatting requirements

The requirement for grant proposals to be completed in font size 11 is designed to ensure that all documents are accessible and easy to read.

We enforce this policy to ensure all applicants have the same amount of space in which to make their case.

If applicants cannot use Arial font and are unsure whether the font type they plan to use will meet NERC guidelines then they should contact the NERC grants team at researchgrants@nerc.ukri.org before submitting their proposal.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that font size and margins remain the same when documents are converted to a PDF.

Reasons for rejection

CVs

Font size below the minimum permitted; all text including references should be in Arial 11 or other sans serif typeface of equivalent size. Please note that Arial narrow and Calibri are not allowable font types as they are smaller and any proposal which has used either of these font types within their submission will be rejected.

Document length exceeds the two pages permitted.

Only CVs for the PI, any Co-Is and named researchers will be sent out for peer review. Other submitted CVs for example from project partners should not be attached and will not be made available to reviewers or panel members.

Case for Support

Document length exceeds the number of pages permitted ( example two pages for track record and eight pages for description of proposed research for standard grants).

Font size below the minimum permitted; all text including references and footnotes should be in Arial 11 or other sans serif typeface of equivalent size. Please note that Arial narrow and Calibri are not allowable font types and any proposal which has used either of these font types within their submission will be rejected. Text in embedded diagrams or pictures or numerical formulae can be smaller, as long as it is legible. Text in tables and figure labels not within embedded diagrams or pictures should be at least 11 point.

Other attachments

Page limits and font size for all other attachments with specified page limits should be adhered to (for example Outline data Management plan – one side, Justification of Resources) or the proposal will be rejected.

With the exception of letters of support and services/facilities/equipment quotes all attachments should be in Arial 11 or other sans serif typeface of equivalent size.

Please note that Arial narrow and Calibri are not allowable font types and any proposal which has used either of these font types within their submission will be rejected.

For CVs, Case for Support and other attachments please be aware that changing documents to PDF for Je-S can result in format changes. Please convert to PDF before attaching to the Je-S form and check the format remains within guidelines before submitting. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that font size and margins remain the same when documents are converted to a pdf.

Investigators and Staff

A PI or Co-I named on more than the maximum permitted number of proposals. The decision on which proposal(s) to reject will be made by NERC.
Note: Involvement of a UK investigator in a proposal submission to NSF under the NERC/NSF Lead Agency Agreement, counts as a submission as co-I to the next NERC standard grant round.

A PI or Co-I who is ineligible or who is based at an ineligible organisation.

Researcher(s) (including Researcher Co-Is) not employed at the same organisation as a PI or Co-I.

New investigator

We will reject proposals where the lead PI for the New Investigator call is ineligible as a new investigator, for example because they are too experienced. We will not transfer the proposal to the Standard Grant call.

Finance

Proposal exceeds the maximum for the round when all components are added together (£800,000 at 100% FEC for Standard grant rounds, except where permission to exceed the maximum has been received from NERC).

The maximum for the round is not validated by Je-S so applicants should check costings across all components before submission.

International

Applying as part of a proposal with international partners recognised by NERC (for example FAPESP (Brazil) or NSF (USA)) without either submitting the required additional documents, or without contacting the lead agency in advance, where required.

Call

Submitting to the wrong call (for example lead proposals submitting to the New Investigator Call, but components submitting to the Standard Call).

Submitting to the wrong call is not validated by Je-S so applicants should check that all submitted components have selected the correct call in Je-S.

Facilities

Requesting facility use where permission to use the facility has expired (not applicable to all facilities and permission length varies between facilities).

Demand Management

An organisation submitting more proposals than permitted under Demand Management guidelines. Proposals submitted over and above the permitted number will be rejected based on a last submitted, first rejected approach.

Remit

Proposal falls out of NERC’s remit.

Resubmission

The proposal is a resubmission of a similar proposal less than nine months from the original submission date.

Last updated: 17 August 2021

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