When submitting an NSF proposal on a research topic that is closely related to work done in a previous or soon-to-expire grant (i.e., essentially a continuation of a research project), the options are:
- Submit a complete, new proposal. Of course you need to be very clear in the project description why new work on the same or closely related topic is justified and compelling, but otherwise the new proposal is administratively distinct from the previous one. This is reviewed just the same as proposals on entirely new research.
- Submit an Accomplishment-Based Renewal (ABR) proposal consisting of up to 6 reprints of publications that resulted from the original project in the past 5 years (2 reprints may actually be preprints) and a summary (max 4 pages) about the new research proposed.
I like writing proposals, but I can see the appeal of assembling 6 reprints and preprints and sending them off with a short summary of the transformative new research (+ all the usual forms and information about "human resources" and so on). My impression, though, is that ABRs are quite rare in my field. Perhaps the program officers don't like to go this route because it's better to have a full-scale review to back up decisions. (?)
The obvious advantage of the ABR is, of course, the time it saves. You write 4 pages of new research rather than 15 pages, and you send a bunch of reprints and preprints instead of writing a Results of Prior NSF Support section in the project description of a 15-page proposal.
In the NSF Grant Proposal Guide, PIs are "encouraged" to discuss renewal proposals with the program officers and are "strongly urged" to discuss ABRs with the program in advance. I have a feeling that this is code for "No matter how great you and your research are, you definitely need to discuss this with a program officer before packaging up your awesome reprints and bypassing the full proposal route."
So, my fellow NSF supplicants, have you submitted a renewal proposal, how close was the new research to the old research, which route did you go, and how successful were you?
5 months ago