The biology directorate at the agency had, beginning in 2012, limited grant applicants to making two submissions each year and required them to submit preproposals, Science notes, adding that NSF also changed from a twice-yearly submission deadline to an annual one. The impetus was to ease the burden on NSF staff while increasing funding rates and the quality of reviews.
But an analysis of the changes found that researchers were not fans of the annual deadline and thought that the four-page preproposals were too short to convey their idea, Science reports. On the other side, the analysis found a mixed effect on workload.
The changes are to take effect for 2018. "By accepting proposals at any time, investigators will have greater opportunities to prepare their proposals, build strong collaborations, and think more creatively, thereby resulting in more complex, interdisciplinary projects that have the potential to dramatically advance biological science," writes James Olds, the assistant director of the biology directorate, in a Dear Colleague letter.