I didn't get the NSF GRFP, y'all. Reviewers comments, quick facts, etc.

Please, tell us how you really feel, Reviewer 3.

Please, tell us how you really feel, Reviewer 3.

Sorry, Twitter. So many of you helped me out editing this draft!

You can read the full review here. For people who can't, the text reviews are listed below all of my ranting and reacting.

I don't think I want to post my draft up yet because I'm planning on resubmitting a revised proposal in the Fall -- to address some of these short comings and try to get some of these "good" and "fair" ratings up to "very good" and "excellent" -- so this chapter ends but another one begins in a few months from now.

Some quick facts about this year's GRFP

36 people were awarded in my field -- cognitive neuroscience -- from mainly big-name neuroscience schools. Assuming these were the 15% of the field who were funded, that means there were ~240 applicants in my field.

Exactly 2000 people were awarded this year. That is 64 less awards than last year. In 2012, 2067 awards were given. Between 2008 - 2012, the amount of awards always increased, with only a reduction of 3 awards between 2012 - 2013.

I would assume the rejection rate for this GRFP will be one of the highest in recent years. There is no indication that the amount of applications to the GRFP shrunk by 450 applications (since there is a 1/7 chance of the award and there are 64 less awards, meaning ~450 applications would have to apply for there to be 64 awards given out). If anything, this year had more applicants than any other year.

Furthermore, there are 1992 honorable mentions -- which is 247 more "2nd place" people than last year. 20 of those are cognitive neuroscience applicants. If 3% of these honorable mentions could have made up the "missing" 64 awards that were given last year, that would mean 1 person out of these 20 in my field missed out. That potential applicant may have got back a review with all "Excellent" remarks... heartbreaking.

Per norm, my institution, Utah State University, did have three awardees! Generally, USU has 2 - 6 fellows per year. Sadly, none of which have ever come from the psychology department.

A few comments about my review

Reviewer 2 asked about data analyses. I have two pages -- I can't really use real estate on pre-processing techniques and planned statistics without denting my already limited methods.

Reviewer 2 and Reviewer 3 agree that there needs to be more practical application and extension beyond the current literature. I suppose the inclusion of people with autism would of been a "more practical" application, but I feared that would of put me less in the realm of basic science and more in the realm of applied science.

Seems like my broader impacts were good -- aside from Reviewer 2 who would have liked me to expand more on my own interests. Intellectual merit needs to be more specific to include future directions of some sort.

Reviewer 1 said I had clear research interests. Reviewer 2 said I wasn't clear and needed "a more focused explanation". Reviewer 1 and 3 believe I have a "clear vision" in my proposal and this is a "clear extension" of previous research experiences. I guess "clear" doesn't really mean "excellent".

I'll be most likely resubmitting this application in the fall after revisions. Hopefully with the inclusion of future directions, potential result implications and some mentions of analyses I'll be more competitive.

Overall, it was good reading feedback. It's good to know I was in the group of reviews that got three reviews as opposed to only two. Those who only get two are automatic rejections. Then again, I didn't get an honorable mention... but most honorable mentions I've read reviews from have scored very very well (Very Good/Excellent for both merit and impact), and I did not (I guess "Fair" is like the equivalent of an NIH 5. Maybe 6.)

Next Fall, we'll try this again. But if it doesn't go through, I'll probably try reworking the entire proposal towards an F31 (at that point, I'll have plenty of preliminary and pilot data on various projects I'm planning for, and hopefully I can use the extra 4 pages of real estate to elaborate on specifics).

Reviewer 1
Intellectual merit (IM): Very Good
Broader impacts (BI): Good

Intellectual Merit Criterion
Overall Assessment of Intellectual Merit
Very Good
Explanation to Applicant
The intellectual merits of this proposal are relatively strong. Mr. Wan has 2 conference presentations at the Western Psychological Association, and scienti c questions he is interested in investigating, use of neuroimaging techniques to study cooperative decision making, is quite interesting. He has training in use of EEG methods and in computer programming. He has also helped with research at UCSF on the e ffects of meditation. He is the first in his family to attend graduate school. The letters of reference are unanimously positive and supportive, but the students undergraduate GPA is somewhat low (2.6).

Broader Impacts Criterion
Overall Assessment of Broader Impacts
Good
Explanation to Applicant
The broader impacts of this proposal are good. Mr. Wan has been very active in outreach to the community, organizing a weekly literature review club, a graduate school applicant panel, and founding the Logan Nerd Night, a monthly science outreach event focused on bringing the research of current grad students to the general public.

Summary Comments
This is a good proposal from a motivated graduate student with a clear vision of his research interests. The broader impacts of the proposal are also strong.

Reviewer 2
IM: Good
BI: Fair

Intellectual Merit Criterion
Overall Assessment of Intellectual Merit
Good
Explanation to Applicant
It would be helpful to provide a stronger linkage to practical applications of the research. Although the applicant described a research project, it was not entirely clear how the data would be analyzed and how the results would inform the theory and practice of science.

Broader Impacts Criterion
Overall Assessment of Broader Impacts
Fair
Explanation to Applicant
The applicant did a great job of providing a guiding statement that helped to de fine him as a multidimensional science advocate. The applicant describes an intense passion for engaging in discussion about scienti fic research. However, the applicant presented this interest too generally. It would have been helpful to have a more focused explanation of his scienti fic interests.

Summary Comments
The applicants interest in studying the neurological explanations of cooperation holds promise. The application could have been more succinct with regard to how the applicant's speci fic research interests would result in important scienti fic discoveries.

Reviewer 3
IM: Fair
BI: Excellent

Intellectual Merit Criterion
Overall Assessment of Intellectual Merit
Fair
Explanation to Applicant
The applicant is a graduate student at Utah State University following an undergraduate career at St. Marys College. While his classroom performance as an undergraduate was weak, he has immersed in successful research. As an undergraduate, the applicant was involved in research for 2 years, examining music processing in dancers using EEG methods. Between his academic pursuits, he was a research assistant at UCSF for one year where he also used EEG to examine meditation and video game training.
The applicant plans to continue to use EEG in his graduate research but he will expand his knowledge base by moving to studies of social neuroscience. Specifi cally, he will use EEG to study cooperation in tasks such as the Prisoners Dilemma and Snowdrift. The research clearly follows on a set of literature on EEG measures of cooperation on these games. However, the research would bene fit from clearer motivation of the speci fic studies beyond this existing literature.

Broader Impacts Criterion
Overall Assessment of Broader Impacts
Excellent
Explanation to Applicant
The applicant has clear interest in scienti c outreach as demonstrated by his introduction of Nerd Night to Logan, UT shortly after he arrived there for graduate school. He will continue this in addition to maintaining a website to engage scientifi c discussions. Furthermore, as an underrepresented minority, he will serve as a role-model to budding scientists in the community.

Summary Comments
The applicant has a clear and exciting plan for scientifi c outreach and, as an underrepresented minority, he will serve as a role model in doing so. The applicants graduate career is a clear extension from his earlier work. However, his academic record is not as strong as the applicant pool as a whole and the proposed research is undermotivated.

Application status: Not Recommended

 

Leave a Reply