Applications for awards from the NRC Research Associateship Programs are reviewed by panels of experts in 6 broad discipline areas: Chemistry; Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Engineering, Applied Sciences and Mathematics; Life Sciences; Physics; and Space Sciences. Each application is read by a minimum of 3 panelists. Panelists assess the quality of an application, the likelihood for success and the contribution of the research to the mission of the sponsoring federal laboratory. Postdoctoral applicants are evaluated on the basis of demonstrated ability as a student and on their potential for making contributions as an independent scientist. Senior applicants, including applicants to Summer Faculty programs, are evaluated on the basis of proven ability and demonstrated research accomplishments. Evaluations are made without regard to age, sex, marital status, national origin, creed, racial group, or ethnic group.
Each application is assigned a numerical score and the applicant’s final score is an average of all reviews. Scoring is on a 10-point scale and only applicants scoring 7.5 or above are considered for awards. Sponsoring laboratories offer awards to the highest scoring applicants first and continue to make awards until available slots are filled. In the review process each applicant is evaluated on four major elements with the approximate weighting as indicated:
Scientific merit of the proposed research (40%)
The research proposal is the most important element of the application and as such is weighted most heavily in the review. The proposal is evaluated for: importance of the proposed research area, clearly stated objectives, technical soundness of the work plan, innovative aspects of the proposal, feasibility of success, timeliness (can the proposal be completed in the allotted time), likelihood that the research will result in publication, and contribution of the research to the mission of the sponsoring laboratory.
Reference reports or letters of recommendation (20%)
Reference Reports or letters of reference contain opinions of persons who should have had a close professional relationship with an applicant; references provide reviewers with important information regarding the applicant’s scholarly abilities. Reference reports are given greater weight for Postdoctoral applicants, where a publication record may not be as extensive as that of a Senior applicant.
Academic and research record (20%)
Panelists review the appropriateness of the applicant’s training for the proposed research, previous research experience and record of publication. For Postdoctoral applicants only, a transcript of the academic record is required.
Laboratory technical evaluation (20%)
The Laboratory/Center Review form includes comments of the prospective Advisor and the disposition of the Laboratory/Center’s program committee or representative concerning the suitability of the applicant’s proposed research. This information aids reviewers in determining the value of the proposed research to the sponsoring agency.