FIGURE 4-2 Top: Percent of proposals funded. Bottom: Number of proposals1996 received.

Most grants are unsolicited; scientists with an idea for a research project send in a proposal which is then judged on the basis of scientific excellence and potential broader impacts, such as educational and other societal benefits. A small number of grants of limited scale and duration are awarded as part of the Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program, which is intended to promote investigation of more radical ideas. NSF and ATM also solicit proposals that address priority research areas or other specific objectives (e.g., Box 4-1). Often, these directed research programs respond to needs identified by the community, thereby alleviating the

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