The National Science Foundation (NSF) has updated its policy on grant titles and abstracts. Stating that the agency is “acting to ensure that our award Abstracts and Titles clearly convey to the public justification for our actions,” NSF will now place an emphasis on the need for the nontechnical component of the abstract to clearly define the need for the project.

NSF believes that clearly worded abstracts and titles will assist their goal of “improving public understanding of our funding decisions” and “ensuring that the broad areas of supported research… are aligned to the national interest, as defined by NSF’s mission, ‘to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare, to secure the national security and defense…’”

The need for researchers to clearly explain the purpose of their work has become more acute in recent years as conservative Republicans look to the NSF budget as a place to cut so called “wasteful spending.”

To that end, NSF is emphasizing the need for nontechnical portions of abstracts that clearly define “the theoretical or analytical foundation of the proposed research, the fundamental issues that may be resolved by the research, the project’s relation to NSF’s mission, the project’s place in the context of ongoing research in the field, the project’s impact on other fields, and the prospect that it will lead to significant advances or the integration of related lines of inquiry.”


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