I changed from bottom right to the center after seeing the results of your poll. Hope reviewers will be happy and fund my application 🙂
I am surprised that the top right corner is not having a stronger showing. To me it’s between top right and bottom center, I just threw the bottom right in there for completeness, didn’t expect to see so many people prefer that option!
I agree with your surprise. The top right corner seems like the best place to me. And bottom center would be my second option.
EarthSciProf: Yes! One explanation is that all top-right-corner-loving folks haven’t voted because they aren’t reading blogs these days, on account of working non-stop to get their fall NSF proposals in.
Your explanation seems like the only plausible one for the low number of votes for top right ;).
Do you put any sort of text along with the number in top right? Sometimes I put PI name and short title. Good idea or bad?
I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. I personally seem to be a little conservative in terms of layout, but I can tell you that my recent NSF funded with a collaborator (who’s very intense and very successful) had a full three-part header: I think top left were our last names, top center said NSF/division acronym, top right was the page number. There was something in the footer too, I don’t remember what. The font for footer and header was a small and inoffensive sans serif font. I think you can do well with an abbreviated title top left, PI name top center (or vice versa), then page number; or PI name top left, abbrev title top right (in a small inoffensive font), page number bottom center…
But one thing — don’t assume people read the project summary, especially since NSF moved from allowing people to upload a nicely formatted summary page to now requiring that everyone use their fill-out form (they only allow file upload now if your project summary absolutely must have special symbols). Anyway, since that change I find that the project summaries are much less captivating to me, so I tend to go straight to the proposal when I review. (I will read the summary later, but by then my opinion has already been cemented.) So make sure you start the proposal narrative with a punch, i.e. with what some would call the executive summary — 1 page of brief and very focused motivation, followed by what exactly you will do and what you will get.
Thanks for the helpful advice on layout/formatting and even more so on the project summary. Any idea why NSF made the change? The new input method for the project summary doesn’t seem necessary and it’s definitely harder to make readable.
Any idea why NSF made the change?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. The new project summary is up to 4600 characters, which is a little over a page (like 1.2 pages) when you typeset with a reasonably sized font and spacing; it does end up fitting on one page once you paste into their boxes.
NSF used to require intellectual merit and broader impacts addressed explicitly, now they require a third part, called the overview. It’s more comprehensive than most people used to write, they want you to give a tiny intro but then actually overview what you will exactly do and why. I think the new project summary (with required overview, intellectual merit, broader impacts) is in fact a better summary, even if it does look kinda plain.
But I don’t actually know why they changed it.
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