What does it mean for those seeking research grants?
As you have no doubt heard, parts of the federal government currently lack appropriations and are shut down. Thankfully for many psychological scientists, this does not include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as most of the Department of Health and Human Services was funded and given its FY2019 budget in September 2018. So despite what you may have heard or read on social media, NIH is open and operational, accepting proposals and awarding grants.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF is shut down, its building closed, and its federal staff furloughed. However, the proposal and review online platform, Fastlane, is still operational and due dates for proposal submissions are still in effect.
NSF programs such as Social Psychology, Developmental Sciences, and Linguistics all have mid-January target dates, so proposals to those programs are coming in with no one to receive them. Depending on how long the partial shutdown goes on, the review process for these proposals might be significantly truncated. Dates for panel reviews have already been set, and NSF program directors can be expected to aim to keep those dates, giving them less time to secure expert external reviews and giving panelists less time to do their work. No matter when NSF receives its FY2019 funding, it only has until September 31 to spend it, so program directors will make sure that they review proposals and process awards as best and as quickly as they can.
If you are asked by an NSF program director to review a proposal this spring, consider saying yes even if the timeline is tight. Your contribution can help NSF to maintain its high standards of peer review under less-than-ideal circumstances.
If you submitted a proposal to NSF in the last round and are still waiting to hear what happened to your proposal, be prepared to wait some more. Until program directors have a budget to spend, no funding decisions can be made. Or maybe you have been told that your proposal will be funded. As there is no one there to do the administrative and financial review, the award process has ground to a halt.
For those who submitted to the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) back in October, be prepared for a delay in the review process. The GRFP review system does not use Fastlane and is shutdown. So no reviews of GRFP proposals can occur at this time.
Other federal agencies that fund psychological science are also shut down, including the National Institute of Justice and Department of Homeland Security. (Meanwhile, the Institute of Education Sciences, Defense Department and other agencies are open.) Make sure you visit agency websites, including NSF’s, for the latest information on the partial shutdown and its impacts on research funding agencies.