Reporting results from prior NSF support when PIs on a proposal were PIs on a recent grant

Most NSF proposals limit you to 15 pages for proposal description, and most of us mortals have a hard time fully communicating our idea within the limit.  So one would like to minimize reporting prior NSF support that is not related to the proposal or count the same prior results description toward several investigators if they have previously worked together on an NSF grant.

The clarification brought here is for reporting results from prior NSF support. Read the requirements here —

The purpose of this section is to assist reviewers in assessing the quality of prior work conducted with prior or current NSF funding. If any PI or co-PI identified on the proposal has received prior NSF support including:

    • an award with an end date in the past five years; or
  • any current funding, including any no-cost extensions,

information on the award is required for each PI and co-PI, regardless of whether the support was directly related to the proposal or not. In cases where the PI or any co-PI has received more than one award (excluding amendments to existing awards), they need only report on the one award that is most closely related to the proposal. Support means salary support, as well as any other funding awarded by NSF, including research, Graduate Research Fellowship, Major Research Instrumentation, conference, equipment, travel, and center awards, etc.

For a proposal recently submitted, I was working with four Co-PIs — let’s call them B, C, D, and E. I will call myself A.

We had worked on a directly related NSF grant in 2013–16 period for which A was the PI, and B and C were Co-PIs. On talking to a NSF official, writing prior-support results description for this grant would only count toward the reporting by one of the three investigators, A, B, or C. So let’s consider it to be counted toward Co-PI B. If PI A or Co-PI C have had other NSF grants as a PI or Co-PI which are current or have been active within the past five years, you will need to report one each for A and C (you cannot game the system if PI A or Co-PI C does not have another grant to report on, while Co-PI B does; each PI or Co-PI has to write prior support description on one grant each, unless a PI or Co-PI has none to report – for an award with an end date in the past five years or any current funding, including any no-cost extensions).

As per the NSF official, you cannot count the same prior-support description for more than one PI/Co-PI.

I got additional advice from my fellow investigator  — if you have an unrelated grant that you need to report under prior support guidelines, do so at the end of the proposal description under the heading of “Other Non-Related Prior NSF-Supported Projects”. Otherwise, it will unnecessarily distract the reviewer.

Author: Autar Kaw

Autar Kaw ( is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He has been at USF since 1987, the same year in which he received his Ph. D. in Engineering Mechanics from Clemson University. He is a recipient of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award. With major funding from NSF, he is the principal and managing contributor in developing the multiple award-winning online open courseware for an undergraduate course in Numerical Methods. The OpenCourseWare ( annually receives 1,000,000+ page views, 1,000,000+ views of the YouTube audiovisual lectures, and 150,000+ page views at the NumericalMethodsGuy blog. His current research interests include engineering education research methods, adaptive learning, open courseware, massive open online courses, flipped classrooms, and learning strategies. He has written four textbooks and 80 refereed technical papers, and his opinion editorials have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune.

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