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Merit Review Process

Law and Science Dissertation Grant


Each proposal will receive at least three ad hoc (i.e, external) reviews by content area experts. Proposers will have the opportunity to recommend reviewers as part of the application process. Following ad hoc review, the LSDG Advisory Council, comprised of interdisciplinary scholars who represent the breadth of the Law and Science research community, will then meet to make funding recommendations. Any individuals who have a conflict of interest (COI) with an applicant, the applicant’s faculty mentor, or the applicant’s institution will not participate in the review process for that proposal. This COI policy applies to the LSDG Principal Investigators, Advisory Council members, and external reviewers.

Following the Advisory Council meeting, the Advisory Council will place each proposal in one of the following recommendation categories: Competitive/High Priority, Competitive/Low Priority, Revise-and-Resubmit (R&R), or Decline. Proposals judged Competitive are most likely to receive funding. However, a Competitive rating, especially within the Low Priority category, does not guarantee funding; ultimate funding decisions depend as well on factors like the total number of proposals submitted, the number of proposals in each rating category, the amount of funds requested and available, etc.

As part of the feedback process, proposers will receive copies of the reviews, a summary statement by the Advisory Council, and their categorical rating. All nonfunded proposals will be eligible for resubmission; declined proposals that are resubmitted will be treated as new proposals and accepted only on the scheduled submission cycle, whereas R&R proposals may be submitted “off cycle.” The R&R category will be used sparingly.

Review Criteria

The core merit review criteria are the same as those used by the National Science Foundation: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. Portions of the application will require applicants to address these criteria explicitly, but applicants should keep the criteria in mind throughout the proposal preparation process.

The Intellectual Merit (IM) criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge;

The Broader Impacts (BI) criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements will be considered for both criteria:

1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to:

a. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (IM); and

b. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (BI)?

2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?

3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?

4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?

5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

In appealing to these criteria, applications will necessarily draw primarily on the applicant’s own scientific research discipline. That is to be expected and is perfectly appropriate. Yet given the multidisciplinary nature of Law and Science research, applicants are encouraged to consider whether additional scientific disciplines might also provide relevant theories and/or methods that could be integrated into their proposal.