The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Gulf Research Program
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Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

Project directors are advised to review proposal preparation and submission instructions carefully and submit any questions to well in advance of the submission deadline. Although the Gulf Research Program strives to respond to applicants’ questions within 2 business days, the response time depends on the volume of questions received and the complexity of the question asked. The Gulf Research Program does not guarantee that applicants’ questions will be answered before submission deadlines. Applicants are advised to submit LOIs and full proposals well in advance of the submission deadlines as a precaution against unanticipated delays. Please plan ahead.

Please be advised that the Gulf Research Program expects applicants to have reviewed the Grant Agreement prior to submitting an application to ensure that the applicant is aware of the applicable terms under which the grant is offered. It is the policy of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to entertain potential modifications to the Grant Agreement only under the most exceptional circumstances. Rather, successful applicants are strongly encouraged to sign the Grant Agreement as presented.

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Letter of Intent

A letter of intent (LOI) is required for this funding opportunity and must be submitted via the online application system. LOIs submitted by other means (including mail, fax, or e-mail) will not be considered. The LOI is not binding and is used by program staff to gauge the size and range of the competition so that staff can better manage the selection of reviewers. In addition, the information contained in a LOI is used to help avoid potential conflicts of interest in the review process.

The LOI must include the following elements:

Required Contact Information Form that includes:
  • Required Information on the
    • Applicant
    • Project Director
    • Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR)
    • Grant/Contract Administrator (if different from AOR)
  • Optional Information. Responses in this section will not be shared with reviewers and will not affect the proposal evaluation.
    • Suggestions for Reviewers. The suggestions may be considered for the peer review of full proposals, but the selection of reviewers is the responsibility of the Gulf Research Program.
    • How did you hear about this funding opportunity
    • Demographic Information
CLICK HERE to see sample form.

Required Letter of Intent Form that includes:
  • Proposed Title of Project
  • Key Personnel
  • Key Personnel’s involvement in other Letters of Intent
  • Objectives and Relevance (up to 150 words)
  • Overview of Proposed Project (up to 500 words)
  • Outputs, Actionable Information and Stakeholder Involvement (up to 250 words)
  • Research Involving Human Subjects, if applicable
CLICK HERE to see sample form.

No later than 3 weeks after the LOI submission deadline, the project director will be notified of the Gulf Research Program’s decision to either encourage or discourage submission of a full proposal. The Gulf Research Program's decision is advisory only, which means that submitters of both favorably and unfavorably reviewed LOIs are eligible to submit full proposals. The intent of encourage/discourage decisions is to improve the overall quality of the full proposal and encourage re-thinking, particularly if a LOI is not specifically responsive to the RFA topic.

Full Proposal

Full proposals must be submitted via the online application system, and they cannot be submitted if the applicant did not submit an LOI. Proposals submitted by other means (including mail, fax, or e-mail) will not be considered. The online form for submission of a full proposal will be available on February 2, 2017 to applicants who have submitted a LOI. It is important that all proposals conform to the instructions provided. Conformance is required and will be strictly enforced. The Gulf Research Program may reject, without review, proposals that are not consistent with the instructions.

The full proposal must include the following elements:

Required Full Proposal Form that includes:
  • Project Title
  • Total Budget Requested
  • Subaward to FFRDC(s) or UARC(s), if applicable
  • Key Personnel
  • Key Personnel’s Involvement in Other Full Proposals
  • Research Involving Human Subjects, if applicable
  • Project Summary (up to 500 words)
  • Project Description (up to 5,000 words)
  • References Cited
  • Data Management Plan (up to 1,500 words). Please see the Gulf Research Program’s Data Management Policy.
  • Budget Justification (up to 1,000 words). CLICK HERE to see a sample budget justification.
  • Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources (up to 500 words)
  • Attachments
    • Optional Attachment to Support Project Description
      • Equations, Figures and Tables. The textbox for Project Description does not support equations. Applicants may upload a PDF document with a list of equations to support the project description. In addition to the list of equations, applicants may include up to 5 illustrations (for example, figures and tables) in the PDF to support the project description. If the total number of optional illustrations in the PDF exceeds 5, only the first 5 that appear in the document will be considered in peer review
      • Letters of Support. Applicants may upload a PDF document with letters of support from collaborators or from applicable offshore oil and gas stakeholders. Please combine all letters of support into a single PDF document before uploading it as an attachment.
  • Required Attachments to Complete Application
    • Budget Form. CLICK HERE to download a budget template.
    • A résumé (limited to two pages for each person) is required for each individual identified as project director and key personnel. CLICK HERE to see the résumé specification.
    • Current and Pending Support Form. CLICK HERE to download form and complete it to provide information on the current and pending support of the project director, and other key personnel if applicable, and upload it to the online application system. The form calls for required information on current and pending support for ongoing projects and proposals. All current project support from whatever source (e.g., federal, state, local or foreign government agencies, public or private foundations, industrial or other commercial organizations) must be listed. The proposed project and all other projects or activities requiring a portion of time of the project personnel and other senior personnel must be included, even if they receive no salary support from the project(s). The total award amount for the entire award period covered (including indirect costs) must be shown as well as the number of person-months per year to be devoted to the project, regardless of source of support.
CLICK HERE to see sample full proposal form.

Research Involving Human Subjects

If the proposed project involves research on human subjects, the applicant shall comply with the Department of Health and Human Services Regulations (Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations Part 46) regarding the protection of human research subjects, unless that research is exempt as specified in the regulation.

All projects involving human subjects must have approval from an institutional review board (IRB), unless they qualify for an exemption from IRB review, before an award can be made. Where IRB approval is required, proposers should file their proposal with their local IRB at the same time the proposal is submitted to the Gulf Research Program, so that the approval procedure will not delay the award process. A proposal may be submitted to the Gulf Research Program without IRB approval; but if the proposal is selected for funding, award will be made conditional upon IRB approval within 60 days of the notice of conditional award.

If a proposed project involving human subjects is exempt from human subjects regulations [see 45 CFR 46.101(b)], the applicant must provide documentation that an IRB (or some authority other than the project director or key personnel) has declared the project exempt from the human subjects regulations. Documentation should include the specific category justifying the exemption.

Peer Review Process

All complete proposals will be sent to external reviewers for panel review. The external review panel will evaluate the proposals on the basis of the Merit Review Criteria, discuss the merit and all received comments of each proposal, and rank the proposals. The Gulf Research Program will make reasonable efforts to develop a review panel in which external reviewers will not be affiliated with any institution that submitted proposals. In any event, external reviewers with conflicts of interest are recused from reviewing or participating in any discussion of proposals. (CLICK HERE to see the Gulf Research Program’s conflict of interest, and confidentiality policies.) Program staff will examine the full proposals and prepare a grant-funding plan taking into consideration the review panel’s ranking of the proposals, summaries from the panel discussion, and the program’s funding availability, current portfolio, objectives, and goals. The grant-funding plan will be subject to oversight by a subset of the Gulf Research Program’s Advisory Board members. The Gulf Research Program strives to have Advisory Board members not affiliated with institutions that submitted projects oversee the grant-funding plan and recommend a list of projects for funding. Individual proposals and their reviews will not be reviewed by Advisory Board members affiliated with the institution that submitted the proposals. Advisory Board members are recused from individual proposals involving conflict of interest. The final decision for funding will be made by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Merit Review Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of three broad review criteria. The bullets under each criterion are meant to guide peer reviewers on what to consider in a proposal and are not intended to be all encompassing or comprehensive. Some bullets under each review criterion may not apply to all aspects of proposals. Reviewers may raise additional concerns that are not covered by the bullets under each criterion.
  • Relevance and Impact (40%)
    • Is the proposed project relevant to
      • understanding of systemic risk in the offshore oil and gas environment?
      • systemic risks leading to uncontrolled hydrocarbon release?
    • With respect to understanding systemic risks leading to uncontrolled hydrocarbon release, what gap in fundamental science or technology is the proposed project aiming to fill? Please explain the potential contribution to the current body of knowledge regarding systemic risk in the oil and gas environment, specifically:
      • What is the scientific understanding that the proposed project seeks to advance?
      • How will the project outputs or actionable information apply to the prevention of uncontrolled hydrocarbon release?
    • How will the proposed project plan ensure that outputs are applicable to offshore oil and gas stakeholders? Is there an effective plan for including stakeholder involvement and for communicating and disseminating project results to relevant stakeholders to increase the impact of the proposed project?
  • Technical or Scientific Merit (45%)
    • Does the proposal clearly articulate the project aims and research hypothesis, theoretical framework, conceptual model or rationale that guides the design of the project?
    • Is there evidence that the project team will have access to needed data, settings, and industry/regulator involvement?
    • Is there evidence that the project team understands the current state of knowledge of the issue to be addressed and the relationship of the issue to the offshore drilling, production, or decommissioning activity?
    • Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses scientifically valid and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?
    • Does the proposal outline an implementation strategy that demonstrates the feasibility of the project?
    • Does the proposal include a data management plan that is appropriate for the scope of work?
    • Is the budget commensurate with the proposed work?
  • Project Personnel and Institutional Support (15%)
    • Relative to the stage of career, how well qualified is the project director, and other project personnel, if applicable, to conduct the proposed activities?
    • Are the disciplines and perspectives represented by the personnel and institutions appropriate for the scope of the project?
    • Does the proposal demonstrate that the project personnel would have adequate resources (for example, institutional support, equipment and/or other physical resources) to conduct the proposed project?

Data Management Policy

The Gulf Research Program funds research and other activities that generate and disseminate knowledge. Most funded activities produce information products. Information products include databases and data sets; documents (scholarly publications, reports, workshop summaries, etc.); images (maps, data visualizations, photographs, etc.); digital models, simulations, and/or software code; multi-media curricula for education and training (video and/or online tutorials, manuals and handbooks, etc.); and other media and communication platforms. Data are one of the most common information products.

Guided by its mission and three goals, the Gulf Research Program (GRP) promotes the responsible management of scientific information that maximizes the value of data. The program requires management practices that curate information products for future use and that make information widely available for public discovery and access. For example, the program encourages practices that enhance information discovery and accessibility (e.g., sharing). Sharing research data enables data verification and reproduction of results, as well as the re-use of those data and results. Moreover, sharing allows scientists, engineers, and health professionals to expedite the translation of research results into new knowledge, products, and processes that can benefit society.

In developing its own Data Management Policy, the Gulf Research Program looks to the White House’s Open Data Policy and the data management policies of other major funding agencies and institutions. Grantees are expected to make information products generated by program-funded projects, initiatives, and activities publicly discoverable and widely accessible in a timely manner, subject to any Institutional Review Board (IRB) or legal restrictions. The program requires that program-funded projects, initiatives, and activities create detailed, machine-readable metadata for information products and deposit metadata in a digital repository or data center to enable discovery and sharing. In addition, program-funded projects, initiatives, and activities must deposit information products, where appropriate, in a digital repository, data center, and/or other suitable curation facility that facilitates access to these products and ensures long-term curation. The Data Management Policy will be updated as the program grows and evolves.

Data: Definition and Rights

The Gulf Research Program follows the federal government’s definition of data in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 2 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Section 200.315: “…the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings.” This definition includes both original data (observations, measurements etc.) and metadata (title, date(s), collection methods, experimental protocols, statistical methods, etc.), as well as software or computer code that is required for replication, etc.

Although the grantee shall retain all rights in research data, the grantee shall provide timely and unrestricted access to the data to the Gulf Research Program and the U.S. Government. Without limitation, the U.S. Government and the Gulf Research Program shall have the right to (1) obtain, reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the research data first produced under this Grant, and (2) authorize others to receive, reproduce, publish, or otherwise use such data for the grantor’s or U.S. Government purposes. Unless agreed upon between the Gulf Research Program and grantee, the Program expects the timely release and sharing of data to be no later than the acceptance for publication of the main findings from the final dataset or 1 year after the project end date, whichever comes first.


All full proposals submitted to the Gulf Research Program must include a data management plan that does not exceed 1,500 words. In the unlikely case in which a proposed project anticipates no collection, production, or generation of information products (i.e., no data, data sets, or other information products), the full proposal must contain a management plan that states, “This project will not result in the production of data or other information products.” with a short description as to why no data will be created.

In collaborative proposals or proposals involving sub-awards, the lead applicant is responsible for the information or data management plan for the entire project (i.e., The plan must cover all data types that collaborators plan to collect and all other information products generated over the course of the project.).The lead applicant is also responsible for reporting on the management of all project information products and the accessibility of these products in the Annual and Final Grant Reports.

The data management plan should describe how the applicant will manage and disseminate program-funded information products (data and other products) in sufficient detail to enable evaluation of the plan during the merit review process. The Gulf Research Program staff will monitor adherence to the proposed data management plan.

Data Management Plans

The Data Management Policy strongly encourages applicants and their project personnel to practice information and data management as a vital part of the entire research project process, from project design to completion and dissemination. The policy directs applicants and project personnel to manage project information and data through all data life-cycle stages: planning, collecting and assuring (quality and security), describing (i.e., creating metadata and documentation throughout all life-cycle stages), processing and analyzing, preserving, and publishing, curating, and sharing data.

The Gulf Research Program recognizes that different disciplines may have their own best practices and standards for management of information products, particularly data. Moreover, the program understands that accepted norms will likely change as collaborations among disciplines increase. Therefore, each data management plan should be appropriate for the information products that a project expects to generate. The management plan should adhere to 1) data management best practices that are widely adopted across many disciplines, or 2) those data management standards and best practices that are specific to the area(s) of research or activities proposed.

The program is committed to the timely and rapid distribution of information products. Applicants must describe how they will address timely access to project data and other information products in their management plans. In addition, the program is committed to the short-term management and long-term curation of information products. Applicants should include the costs of managing and curating data and other information products in their budgets. To assist reviewers in the merit review process, please organize the data management plan as follows. Please address all six sections and relevant subsections:
  • Data and Other Information Products: Planning
    • Describe the kinds of data that the proposed project will create or capture (e.g., environmental or ecological data, oceanographic data, climatic data, health or social well-being data, oil and gas safety management, risk assessment data, quantitative modeling data).
    • Identify the different formats for data capture and storage (e.g., tabular data sets, relational databases, geospatial or visual media [i.e., maps], simulations and related data, software code).
    • If the proposed project involves the use of existing data, please identify the original source of the data. Describe when and how the existing data were collected. Describe any relevant sharing arrangements.
    • If the proposed project involves the use of proprietary data, please describe the data and the permissions obtained to use these data.
    • If the proposed project involves the creation or use of confidential or other sensitive information, please describe the data and reasons for protection. When working with sensitive information, the applicant must adhere to IRB policies, institutional guidelines, and other professional policies and best practices as applicable. For projects involving human subjects, the applicant is responsible for providing evidence of IRB approval or justification for exemption from human subjects regulation [see 45 CFR 46.101(b)].
    • Describe the project’s quality control and data validation procedures.
    • Identify other information products that the proposed project will create (e.g., documents, images, software and software code).
  • Short-term Management: Collection and Processing
    • Identify the hardware, physical facilities, and cyberinfrastructure that project personnel will use to capture and store data and other information products (e.g., images, audio and video recordings) during data collection and processing.
    • Identify software that project personnel will use to capture, store, and process data and other information products.
    • Describe procedures and protocols for managing and storing data and other information products during the project (e.g., organizing and aggregating data, adding newly collected data, altering and correcting data, version control, daily back-ups on and off site).
    • If the proposed project involves confidential or other sensitive information, describe security procedures and protocols. Describe provisions for protection of privacy, intellectual property rights, other rights, and other security issues as appropriate.
    • Identify the persons responsible for maintaining and managing data and other information products during collection and processing. If the proposed project involves confidential or other sensitive information, identify persons who will have access to these data and persons responsible for maintaining security.
  • Metadata: Describe the Data, Data Collection, and Data Processing
    • Identify the metadata that project personnel will create to document the project, the project’s data and other information products.
    • Identify the metadata and any other documentation (e.g., guides and manuals) that project personnel will create to describe data collection methods and data processing/analysis.
    • Wherever possible, ensure that metadata are created and stored in machine-readable formats (e.g., XML and JSON).
    • Describe the management and storage of metadata.
  • Data Sharing
    • Identify policies and procedures that will govern the timely release of and access to project data, other information products, and related metadata.
    • Describe plans for making project data, other information products, and associated metadata discoverable and available to others (e.g., other researchers, decision makers, and the interested public).
    • Describe the format for citing data products in publications (e.g. [data originator last name], [data originator first name], [data co-originators]. [title of the dataset] [year dataset registered/published]. Distributed by: [Data repository name]. doi #) so they can be more easily discovered by others.
    • If the project involves confidential or other sensitive information, refer to IRB and/or other professional policies and guidance as applicable. Describe the short-term and long-term management of restricted access to sensitive data and other information products.
  • Long-term Management: Curation and Accessibility
    • Identify a curation facility or facilities (e.g., digital repository and/or data center) in which project data, other information products and metadata will be deposited. The facility or facilities should ensure the long-term curation and wide accessibility of project data, other appropriate information products, and associated metadata.
    • Describe the timeline and process for transitioning from short-term management to long-term management of data and other information products.
    • Describe procedures that will govern the continued, long-term management of data, other information products, and metadata.
    • Describe policies and procedures that will govern access to project data and other appropriate information products.
  • Data Management Budget

The Gulf Research Program advises that project personnel contact information professionals at their institution or another institution or organization for assistance in preparing a data management plan and identifying appropriate repositories for project data and other information products. To learn more about data management best practices and view tutorials, please visit the following websites:
Early selection of a widely recognized and trusted digital repository can help create, capture and host detailed metadata and curate project data. For lists of digital repositories, please visit the following websites:
The Gulf Research Program encourages the use of disciplinary metadata standards and discipline specific controlled vocabularies to ensure comparability with other research in the area(s) of study. Suggested metadata standards are:
See for additional examples of disciplinary metadata specifications.