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AAPT Review Board Guidelines for Submitting Proposals or Requesting Endorsements

Sections 3 and 4, below, were adopted by the AAPT Executive Board in its meeting in Omaha on 3 August 20 2011 and revised during its meeting in Atlanta on 21 February 2017.

3. Review proposals which will be submitted to other agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education and for which AAPT will be the fiduciary agent or, if  not the fiduciary agent, from which AAPT will at least receive some monetary benefit.

As soon as possible as the proposal is being conceived, the PI(s) will contact the AAPT Executive Officer (EO), who will make these guidelines available.  Then, if invited by the EO, the PI(s) will submit to the EO (1) the identity of the intended funding agency, the deadline for submission to that agency, and a web link to the guidelines of the specific funding program, (2) a project summary of no more than two pages that places the activity in context, explains its specific objectives and procedures, and addresses all of the criteria imposed by the funding agency, (3) a preliminary budget, (4) a curriculum vitae for each PI, and (5) a statement describing the way AAPT will be involved in the proposed activity and share in the funds. If the proposal is a resubmission of a proposal previously approved but not funded, then the project summary should include a statement on how the reviewers' comments have been addressed. These documents must be provided to the EO at least two months prior to the deadline for submission of the final proposal.  In some cases (see next paragraph), the EO will transmit those documents immediately to the AAPT Review Board, which after its review will in some cases (again see next paragraph) seek the endorsement of the full AAPT Board of Directors.  On the basis of the provided information, the EO and, when required, the Review Board and the Board of Directors will decide whether to authorize AAPT’s involvement in the activity.

The Board of Directors has authorized the EO alone to make the final decision regarding any proposal not exceeding $250K.  For proposals exceeding $250K but not exceeding $500K, the Board of Directors has authorized the EO and the Review Board together to make the final decision.  Proposals exceeding $500K must first be reviewed by the EO and the Review Board.  For collaborative proposals involving one or more additional organizations, the totals apply to only the budget amounts being requested by AAPT and not to the total proposal budget. The EO and Review Board may either jointly make a positive recommendation to the AAPT Board of Directors, which in turn will make the final decision, or reject the proposal and notify the AAPT Board of Directors of that decision. If a grant proposal is greater that $500K and is a resubmission of a grant proposal previously approved by the Board of Directors but not funded and the Review Board deems there have been no significant changes to the project, the resubmission can be approved by the Review Board and does not need further approval by the full Board of Directors.

Since some back and forth communication between AAPT and the PI(s) may need to occur before AAPT can come to a decision, the PI(s) must understand that, if the initial information comes to AAPT too close to the deadline for final submission, AAPT may decline to be involved.

Regardless of its amount, every proposal for which AAPT will be the fiduciary agent (example: 2009 Advanced Lab Topical Conference) or from which AAPT will receive monetary benefits (example: the 2001 PhysTEC proposal submitted by APS) will be assigned a co-PI from the AAPT Executive Office. The AAPT co-PI must have at least one month (six weeks if the submission deadline is during or right after the Christmas holiday or within two weeks of an AAPT national meeting) to review a draft of the entire proposal and to work with the PI(s) to finalize the text and the budget, to work out the programmatic and financial details of AAPT’s involvement, and to assure that the plans for dissemination include one or more presentations or workshops at an AAPT national meeting. A final budget must be submitted to the AAPT co-PI no later than one week prior to the proposal deadline.  Further, even if the initial decision has authorized AAPT involvement in the proposal, failure to complete a final proposal that satisfies the AAPT co-PI will be grounds for withdrawing AAPT’s involvement.

In all cases, the PI(s) will submit to the EO a copy of the final proposal (including the final budget, the budget justification, the project description, and the project summary) and, by inclusion in the iBook for the next Board meeting, the EO will inform the Board that the proposal has been submitted and provide the Board with the project summary and the final budget. 


4. Review proposals for which the individual or organization submitting the proposal requests a letter of support or endorsement or collaboration from AAPT for a project in which the AAPT Executive Office is not represented as a co-PI. (example: AAPT endorsement of participation by PTRA in MSP projects)

Please note that since 2016, NSF no longer allows for letters of support or endorsement.  Here is the relevant text from the NSF proposal preparation guide: Documentation of collaborative arrangements of significance to the proposal through letters of collaboration. (See Chapter II.C.2.d.(iv).) Letters of collaboration should be limited to stating the intent to collaborate and should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project.The recommended format for letters of collaboration is as follows: "If the proposal submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal." While letters of collaboration are permitted, unless required by a specific program solicitation, letters of support should not be submitted as they are not a standard component of an NSF proposal.

As soon as possible as the proposal is being conceived, the PI(s) will consult informally with the AAPT Executive Officer (EO), who will make these guidelines available.  Then, if invited by the EO, the PI(s) will submit to the EO (1) the identity of the intended funding agency, the deadline for submission to that agency, and a web link to the guidelines of the specific funding program, (2) a project summary of no more than two pages that places the activity in context, explains its specific objectives and procedures, and addresses all of the criteria imposed by the funding agency, (3) an estimate of the total amount to be requested from the funding agency, and (4) a curriculum vitae for each PI (NSF 2-page format is okay, but not required). These documents must be provided to the EO at least one month (six weeks if the submission deadline is during or right after the Christmas holiday or within two weeks of an AAPT national meeting) prior to the deadline for submission of the final proposal.

While the EO can certainly seek input from the Review Board whenever he or she wishes, the AAPT Board of Directors has given the EO alone the authority to make the final decision regarding a letter of support if the proposal is for less than $500K or, regardless of the budget, if

  • one or more individuals with a long-time relationship with AAPT seek a letter saying that AAPT judges previous similar work by the same individual(s) to be valuable and expects that the proposed project will allow that work to continue and to grow or
  • the letter is to say that AAPT is pleased someone is going to be using specific AAPT products and the PI has communicated to the EO that these products will be used in a way that the EO has reason to believe will be effective.

Otherwise, the EO will immediately transmit all documents to the Review Board, which will, in consultation with the EO, decide whether or not a letter of support should be submitted by the EO.

Since some back and forth communication between AAPT and the PI(s) may need to occur before AAPT can come to a decision, the PI(s) must understand that, if the initial information comes to AAPT too close to the deadline for final submission, AAPT may decline to provide a letter of support.

No less than one week prior to the deadline for submission of the proposal, the PI(s) will send the latest draft of the proposal to the EO for review, primarily so that the EO can confirm that the authors have not overstated the intent/extent of AAPT’s endorsement and to verify that plans for dissemination include one or more presentations at an AAPT national meeting.

In all cases, the PI(s) will submit to the EO a copy of the final proposal (including the final budget and a project summary) and, by inclusion in the iBook for the next Board meeting, the EO will inform the Board the proposal has been submitted and provide the Board with the project summary and the final budget.