Review Process and Conflict of Interest

NCEAS evaluates proposals based on scientific merit and relevance to NCEAS’ mission and goals. Our goals are to promote:

1) significant advances in ecology and allied fields through the use of existing data

2) training and professional networking in ecology and informatics

3) diversity of participants (e.g., gender, ethnicity, career stage, discipline, and geographic region)

For Distributed Graduate Seminars special consideration is given to a project’s potential to provide ecological education, informatics training, research experience, and student networking among diverse participants. Ultimately, we also consider representation of disciplinary breadth in the portfolio of projects supported.

The Center’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) reviews proposals and makes recommendations to the Director (who makes the final decisions on which proposals to support after consultation with the Deputy Director). The Board nominates and chooses new Board members (who must be approved by the cognizant Program Officer at the National Science Foundation). The Board should refrain from recommending more than one Board member from the same institution.

Board Members are given a list of proposals under consideration and return a list of those they prefer to review. Review assignments are made considering these preferences. On the rare occasion when proposals are reviewed between the semi-annual SAB meetings, the Board will be polled to determine who is willing to review the proposal. A context statement and reviews written by Board members (but not the actual scores given by reviewers) will be returned to the PI(s) without revealing the names of the reviewers.

Conflict of Interest

Members of the SAB should recuse themselves from proposal review or discussions of a proposal by the Board if they are participants in the proposed research activity, have a substantial personal or professional relationship with the PI(s), or under any other circumstances that would prevent them from providing a fair and objective review. Specifically, Board members should not be involved in the review of a proposal authored by a current or former student or mentor, a colleague from the same department, or a postdoctoral associate or collaborator within the past 4 years.

An SAB member who is the PI on a proposal being considered during a review period during his/her tenure on the SAB will not be assigned proposals to review in that same category during that review period (e.g., if the SAB member’s proposal is for a working group, then (s)he will not be assigned working group proposals during that review period).

The Director and Deputy Director will recuse themselves under all similar circumstances. If both the Director and Deputy Director are in conflict with a proposal (as would be the case for proposals authored by NCEAS scientists), they will refrain from any discussion of the proposal and defer the final decision regarding whether to support a proposal to the Chair of the Board. If only one of the two is in conflict, the other will make the final decision.