Criteria for Judging:



Source of guidelines

30 Scientific merit USDA-NIFA 
20 Significance NIH
20 Broader impacts  NSF 
10 Qualifications USDA-NIFA
10 Quality of the presentation Review panel

Scientific Merit

Novelty, innovation, uniqueness, and originality; 2. Where model systems are used, ability to transfer knowledge gained from these systems to organisms of importance to U.S. agriculture; 3. Conceptual adequacy of the research and suitability of the hypothesis, as applicable; 4. Clarity and delineation of objectives; 5. Adequacy of the description of the undertaking; 6. Suitability and feasibility of methodology and data management plan; 7. Demonstration of feasibility through preliminary data; and 8. Probability of success of the project is appropriate given the level of scientific originality, and risk-reward balance. 


Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field? If funded, will the AREA award have a substantial effect on the school/academic component in terms of strengthening the research environment and exposing students to research?

Broader impacts

The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes. 
1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to: a. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and b. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)? 2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? 3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success? 4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities? 5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Qualifications of Project Personnel, Adequacy of Facilities, and Project Management:

1. Qualifications of applicant (individual or team) to conduct the proposed project, including performance record and potential for future accomplishments; 2. Demonstrated awareness of previous and alternative approaches to the problem identified in the application; Updated December 18, 2020 | Page 2 3. Institutional experience and competence in subject area; 4. Adequacy of available or obtainable support personnel, facilities, and instrumentation; and 5. Planning and administration of the proposed project, including: time allocated for systematic attainment of objectives; and planned administration of the proposed project and its maintenance, partnerships, collaborative efforts, and the planned dissemination of information for multi-institutional projects over the duration of the project.