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NSF Announces New Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Sciences Competition

October 09, 2012

The Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation in the U.S. has issued a new Dear Colleague Letter that alerts researchers to a range of options for pursuing support for interdisciplinary research that bridges the social, behavioral, and economic (SBE) sciences. The Dear Colleague Letter is accessible at

In addition to highlighting opportunities for support of interdisciplinary research through funding by standing programs in the directorate (reviewing proposals either individually or through co-review by multiple programs), research coordination networks, and a new track in the SBE post-doctoral research fellowships competition, the Dear Colleague Letter highlights a new competition for Interdisciplinary Behavioral and Social Sciences (IBSS) research.

The new IBSS competition will support emphasize the conduct of interdisciplinary research by teams of investigators in the social and behavioral sciences. Emphasis is placed on support for research that involves researchers from multiple disciplinary fields, that integrates scientific theoretical approaches and methodologies from multiple disciplinary fields, and that is likely to yield generalizable insights and information that will advance basic knowledge and capabilities across multiple disciplinary fields.

The two types of projects that may be supported by IBSS are IBSS large interdisciplinary research projects (with maximum award sizes of $1,000,000) and IBSS interdisciplinary team exploratory projects (with maximum award sizes of $250,000). The solicitation for the new IBSS competition is accessible as an HTML file at and as a PDF at

The proposal-submission deadline for the new IBSS competition is January 23, 2013. In future fiscal years, the submission deadline will be the first Tuesday in December.

Proposals submitted to the IBSS competition will be evaluated both with respect to the standard NSF merit review criteria of intellectual merit and broader impacts and also with respect to special review criteria focusing on three different dimensions of their interdisciplinarity: the interdisciplinarity of the research team, the interdisciplinarity of the research approaches to be used, and the interdisciplinarity of the expected intellectual significance of the research results. No specific topics will be given priority, and research sites may be in or outside the U.S.

There are special requirements regarding researcher involvement in IBSS proposals. Each proposal submitted for the IBSS competition must include three or more senior personnel from at least two different SBE disciplinary fields. (Additional researchers from other fields also are welcome to be members of research teams.) An individual researcher may participate as a principal investigator (PI), co-principal investigator (co-PI), or other member of the senior personnel of a project for only one project submitted for the IBSS competition during a single year.

Researcher team members who are interested in pursuing IBSS support should consult the solicitation. If they have additional questions, they should contact one of the program officers managing the IBSS competition, Thomas Baerwald ( and Brian Humes ( E-mail contact is preferred, and if researchers want to determine whether a project may be appropriate for the IBSS competition, they should send a prospectus of not more than one page. The prospectus should briefly describe the conceptual framework of the project, the research methods that will be used, the composition of the researchers on the research team, and the anticipated intellectual merit and broader impacts of the proposed work.


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