pointless activity #725: nsf 2-page cvs

Three colleagues and I are putting the final touches on an NSF grant, due Tuesday, and one of today’s tasks is to produce the 2-page version of our CVs.  The format of the two pager is laid out in the Grant Proposal Guide, and is longer in words than most of these “biographical sketches” will be.   It starts with a long list of things to NOT list and then goes on to enumerate what MUST be included.  The NOT list are things that are “irrelevant to the merits of the proposal.”  Of course, if you ask me, the very first thing on the MUST list is irrelevant as well: Undergraduate Institution, Major, Degree, and Year.  Yeah, let’s give the grant to Dan Myers because he majored in Political Science in undergraduate instead of Omar Lizardo, who only majored in Psychology.

The biggest mystery, of course, is the section on “Synergistic Activities.”  There is a description, but it’s pretty clear that most applicants have no idea what NSF really wants there and there is absolutely no in-practice agreement about what to put.  What I saw in the last round was absolutely all-over-the place.

The 2-page CV exercise is a fun task, it really is, but I wonder how much these bios are taken into account in the decision-making process.

Oh wait!  I know who I can ask! Me!

Q: So, how much discussion was there of applicants’ CVs at the NSF panel meeting?

BM: None whatsoever.

Q: Really? Not even about synergistic activities?

BM: Sinner-what?

Q: Well, did you get the impression that panelist had incorporated information from the CVs when writing reviews or making their judgments?

BM: Not at all.

Q: Well, surely it was apparent that the panelists had read all the CVs.

BM: Nope.

Q: Some of the CVs?

BM: No!

Q: Any of the CVs?

BM: No!  Get off it already!

Q: But YOU read the CVs, right?

BM: No comment! This interview is over!  (Rips off the mike and storms out of the room).

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