News You Can Use keeps researchers aware of the many resources available to them. This page also includes an archive of past issues of Access Granted, the OSPR newsletter.

News You Can Use

Determining NIH AREA and NSF RUI Eligibility

The OSPR is often asked if our faculty are eligible for the respective NSF and NIH programs for facilitating research involving undergraduate students. Each agency maintains different criteria for eligibility and TU’s status can vary from year to year.

NIH Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15): Towson University remains eligible for NIH AREA grants, and this status in not expected to change soon. NIH AREA grants support small-scale research projects at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees for a significant number of the Nation’s research scientists but that have not been major recipients of NIH support. Organizational eligibility is determined by the amount of NIH funding received by all the non-health components of the institution at the time of application submission. TU remains eligible as long as that amount is less than $6 million per year (in both direct and F&A/indirect costs) in 4 of the last 7 years.

For a Principal Investigator (PI) to be eligible, they must:

  • Have a primary appointment at the R15-eligible institution.
  • Not be the PI of an active NIH research grant at the time of an R15 award, though they may be one of the Key Personnel for an active NIH grant held by another PD/PI.

NSF Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI): Towson University’s eligibility has varied, but we are not eligible in AY2021-22. The RUI program awards support research by faculty members at predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs). However, there are no specific funds allocated to the RUI program, and program officers vary in the emphasis they place upon it. PUI status is determined by the number of Ph.D./D.Sci. degrees awarded in all NSF-supported fields during the combined previous two academic years. TU is eligible in years where the number of relevant Ph.D./D.Sci. degrees awarded in the previous two academic years is less than 20. The university was last eligible in AY 2019-2020.

National Science Foundation Updates

Fall 2021 NSF Virtual Grants Conference

Save the date! Join the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Fall 2021 Virtual Grants Conference during the week of October 4-8, 2021.

Registration will be free of charge and opens on Wednesday, September 8 at 12 p.m. EST. NSF anticipates the sessions will reach capacity very quickly, so we encourage you to register as soon as possible. Please feel free to check the NSF Policy Outreach Website for the most up-to-date information and view recordings of sessions from previous conferences.


The new Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) has been issued and will be effective for proposals submitted or due on or after October 4, 2021. 

Significant changes are highlighted below. You are encouraged to review the by-chapter summary of changes provided in the Introduction section of the PAPPG.

Significant changes

  • A new section covering requests for reasonable and accessibility accommodations regarding the proposal process or requests for accessibility accommodations to access NSF’s electronic systems, websites and other digital content;
  • Increasing the page limit for the biographical sketch from two to three pages; 
  • Updates to the current and pending support section of NSF proposals to require that information on objectives and overlap with other projects is provided to help NSF and reviewers assess overlap/duplication;
  • Adding planning proposals and Career-Life Balance supplemental funding requests as new proposal types;
  • Updates to travel proposals will require that AORs certify that prior to the proposer’s participation in the meeting for which NSF travel support is being requested, the proposer will assure that the meeting organizer has a written policy or code-of-conduct addressing harassment.

Revised Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support FAQ

NSF has issued revised Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Current and Pending Support. These FAQs have been revised for consistency with the newly developed table entitled, NSF Pre-award and Post-award Disclosures Relating to the Biographical Sketch and Current and Pending Support.

The table has been developed  to identify where these disclosures must be provided in proposals as well as in project reports. Proposers and awardees may begin using this resource immediately to assist with completing the relevant proposal and project report sections.

Revised Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)

Effective October 5, 2020, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will enhance the Project Reporting System in to implement the revised Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR). The RPPR is a uniform format for reporting performance progress on federally funded research projects and research related activities. NSF awardees use the RPPR to prepare and submit annual and final project reports to NSF. Further details about the RPPR can be found on the about Project Reports website.

Spring 2021 NSF Virtual Grants Conference

All conference sessions from June 7-11, 2021 are now available on NSF's Policy Office Outreach Website and the NSF YouTube page.

NSF Broader Impacts Wizard

COSEE Networked Ocean World (COSEE NOW) created the BI Wizard to provide an interface that guides users through a series of well-defined steps necessary for the construction and implementation of a broader impact statement required in research proposals. The goal is to help researchers identify their target audience and plan appropriate BI activities, budget, objectives, and evaluation plan. This is a useful tool for PIs developing NSF proposals.

National Institutes of Health Updates

Fall 2021 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration

If you’re new to working with the NIH grants process as an investigator or administrator, then mark your calendar for Monday, November 1 – Thursday, November 4 for a unique opportunity to learn, share and meet virtually with NIH and HHS experts.

Registration is free! Visit the Save the Date page and sign-up to be notified when registration opens.

Upcoming Changes to NIH Forms and Instructions

In an effort to support strong collaboration between Federal research agencies, NIH has made every effort to align the Biographical Sketch (Biosketch), Other Support format page, and Application Form Instructions with guidance issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy Joint Committee on the Research Environment.

The updated forms and instructions will be required for use for applications and Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR) submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2021. During the transition to the new Biosketch format, NIH will not withdraw applications that include the previous Biosketch format. Beginning with applications submitted on or after January 25, 2022, failure to follow the appropriate Biosketch format may cause NIH to withdraw your application from consideration.

A summary of the changes is included below. Anyone considering an NIH submission is encouraged to read the published notice in full.

More detail

Biographical Sketch Format Page

  • Section B 'Positions and Honors' has been renamed 'Positions, Scientific Appointments, and Honors'.
  • For the non-Fellowship Biosketch, Section D has been removed.
  • For the Fellowship Biosketch, Section D has been updated to remove 'Research Support'
  • As applicable, all applicants may include details on ongoing and completed research projects from the past three years that they want to draw attention to within the personal statement, Section A.

Other Support Format Page

  • The format page has been re-organized to separate funded projects from in-kind contributions.
  • Signature block added, for Program Director/Principal Investigator for Other Senior/Key Personnel to certify the accuracy of the information submitted. Each PD/PI or senior/key personnel must electronically sign their respective Other Support form as a PDF prior to submission.

Supporting Documentation

  • Other Support submissions that include foreign activities and resources, recipients are required to submit copies of contracts, grants or any other agreement specific to senior/keypersonnel foreign appointments and/or employment with a foreign institution as supporting documentation.
  • If they are not in English, recipients must provide translated copies.
  • Must be provided as part of the Other Support PDF following the Other Support Format page.

eRA Commons Two-Factor Authentication Login

eRA Commons users will be required to use two-factor authentication (2FA) through to access eRA Commons, ASSIST, Internet Assisted Review (IAR), and Commons Mobile by September 15, 2021. This secure 2FA allows users to log in to four different grants systems (eRA,, and Payment Management System) using the same credentials. Please refer to the full article from NIH for more details.

NIH Early Researchers: Updated Eligibilty Status After Submission

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently updated eligibility criteria for Early Stage Investigators (ESI) seeking new funding opportunities within NIH.

The Next Generation Researchers Initiative addresses systemic barriers faced by researchers who seek long-term independent research careers, and extramural support, to build careers within the biomedical research workforce. According to NIH, there are cases when applicants may need to update and/or request an extension of their ESI status post application submission. To minimize the need for manual change requests after submission, the updated policy (NOT-OD-19-072) now allows NIH to automatically update the ESI status of an application within eRA Commons to reflect the following:

  1. Applications will be reviewed within the designation assigned at the time of submission when applicants update educational credentials, residency, etc. information after submission of an R01 or R01-equivalent application, or if an investigator requests and/or receives an extension of ESI status after submitting an R01 or R01-equivalent application; and
  2. If an ESI-eligible application is awarded, and has an R01 or R01-equivalent application pending review, the pending application will be reviewed as an ESI-eligible application.

Science Policy in 2021: 10 Stories to Watch

As 2021 gets underway, the pandemic recovery and the changeover in presidential administrations are promising to make for an eventful year, even apart from whatever new surprises may be in store. AIP’s new article may provide a glimpse into some of the trends in science policy and funding that may be forthcoming.

Open Grants Proposal Library

An increasing number of researchers are sharing their grant proposals openly. They do this to open up science so that all stages of the process can benefit from better interaction and communication and to provide examples for early career scientists writing grants. The Open Grants website features a list of 212 of these proposals to help you find them.

Study Abroad

Five times Ronn Pineo (History) and Colleen Ebacher (Foreign Languages), along with curriculum specialist John Shock from Baltimore City Public Schools, have designed, managed, and assessed short-term study abroad programs for K-12 teachers through the Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad program, three times in Mexico and twice in Perú. While Ebacher and Pineo note that the programs were richly rewarding, they admit that they made many mistakes along the way, always trying to learn from each. Given their experiences, they decided to offer some advice to those considering writing a grant proposal and running a study abroad program. Looking back, as Ebacher and Pineo explain, “we certainly would have liked to have received advice like this before we started out our first time.” MORE. 

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