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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation
Within a field (as defined by NSF division) or interdisciplinary area: scientific and technical criteria, such as scientific breakthrough potential and technological readiness.
Across a set of related fields: agency strategic criteria, such as balance across fields and opportunities to serve researchers in several disciplines.
Across all fields: national criteria that assess relative need—such as which projects maintain US leadership in key scientific and engineering fields or enable the greatest numbers of researchers, educators, and students.
See box below for a more in-depth discussion of the proposed criteria.
Criteria for Developing Large Facilities Roadmaps and Budgets
Overlapping categories of criteria should guide the preparation of the large facilities roadmap and NSF’s annual budget submissions. As shown in Figure 1, scientific and technical quality must be at the core of these criteria. Because these are large facility projects, they must have the potential to have a major impact on the science involved; otherwise, they should not reach the next step.
The rankings show what we would expect to happen first within a field, then within a directorate of NSF, and then across NSF. The criteria from earlier stages must continue to be used as the ranking proceeds from one stage to the next.
First Ranking: Scientific and Technical Criteria Assessed by Researchers in a Field or Interdisciplinary Area
Which projects have the most scientific merit, potential, and opportunities within a field or interdisciplinary area?
Which projects are the most technologically ready?
Are the scientific credentials of the proposers of the highest rank?
Are the project-management capabilities of the proposal team of the highest quality?
Second Ranking: Agency Strategic Criteria Assessed Across Related Fields by Using the Advice of Directorate Advisory Committees
Which projects will have the greatest impact on scientific advances in this set of related fields taking into account the importance of balance among fields for NSF’s portfolio management in the nation’s interest?
Which projects include opportunities to serve the needs of researchers from multiple disciplines or the ability to facilitate interdisciplinary research?
Which projects have major commitments from other agencies or countries that should be considered?
Which projects have the greatest potential for education and workforce development?
Which projects have the most readiness for further development and construction?