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Program Information

What is the PEER program?

The Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program is a competitive awards program, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), that invites scientists in developing countries to apply for funds to support research and capacity-building activities on topics of importance to USAID and conducted in partnership with U.S. Government (USG)-supported and selected private sector partners.

The PEER program is meant to leverage investments by other USG agencies and the private sector in scientific research and training in order to enhance the development priorities of USAID.  Learn more about the PEER program...
 
When will future PEER solicitations be announced?

It is anticipated that future calls for proposals will be announced annually in the Fall.  Information on future deadlines and any special topical focus areas for those program cycles will be posted when available.
 
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Application Information

How do I apply for a PEER award?

The PEER proposal submission process now has two phases:

• Phase 1: A brief pre-proposal is required for all applicants. The deadline for submission of pre-proposals is January 20, 2017. Details for pre-proposal submission are provided below.

• Phase 2: If invited to submit a full proposal, applicants will be notified around February 28, 2017. The deadline for submission of full proposals is April 17, 2016.

Potential applicants are encouraged to carefully review the eligibility requirements and focus areas for this cycle of PEER before beginning the application process. Pre-proposals must be submitted through the online application system.  

Paper or emailed submissions will not be accepted.

How many awards are anticipated?

The number of awards is dependent on the quality of the proposals received and subject to the availability of funds.

What is the duration of a PEER award?

PEER awards may range from one year to three years (projects submitted under the Digital Development for Feed the Future focus area for 2016/2017 are limited to only one year). If needed, requests for no-cost extensions may be submitted to the PEER program at peer@nas.edu.  The program managers will consider the justification provided and the awardee’s previous progress on the project in deciding whether to authorize an extension.

Do pre-proposals need to be submitted in English?

Yes. PEER sponsors and staff understand that it may be more difficult for developing country applicants whose native language is not English to write proposals and reports in English. If necessary, PEER applicants are encouraged to work with their USG-supported partners to prepare a pre-proposal application.

What additional information will be requested at the full proposal stage?

Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be asked to further elaborate on their proposed project including: scientific and development objectives, methodology, capacity building activities, ethical considerations, and implementation and dissemination plans, among other topics. Applicants will also be required to submit a detailed budget justification, as well as letters of support from all institutional partners. Instructions for full proposal submission will be posted on the National Academies website at the time when invitations to submit full proposals are sent out, to help applicants anticipate full proposal requirements.

Are any special advance registrations or permits required in order to apply to PEER at the pre-proposal stage?

No. There are no registrations or permits necessary for the pre-proposal submission. However, applicants who are ultimately awarded PEER grant will be required to ensure that activities conducted outside the United States are coordinated as necessary with appropriate U.S. and developing country government authorities and that all necessary licenses, permits, or approvals are obtained prior to undertaking the proposed activities. This includes any special authorizations that may be required in applicants' countries to receive funding support from foreign sponsors. Applicants should keep this in mind while planning their projects. Further information will be available for applicants selected to submit a full proposal. If invited to submit a full proposal, applicants will be encouraged to work with their USG-supported partners, the USAID Mission, and the PEER staff to address these requirements.

Will letters of support be required from my institution at the pre-proposal stage?

No. A letter of support from your institution is not needed at the pre-proposal stage. Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be required to submit letters of support from all involved institutions. More information on what should be contained in institutional letters of support will be shared with applicants invited to submit a full proposal.

Is a letter of support required from my USG-supported partner at the pre-proposal stage?

Yes. A brief letter of support from the USG-supported partner is required for all applicants at the pre-proposal stage. The letter should state the partner’s intention to collaborate on the proposed PEER project and include the title, award number, and program contact of his or her active USG award. At the full proposal stage, submission of a more detailed letter from the partner is required that explains his or her expected role in the PEER project, and provide details on how the proposed PEER project relates to his or her USG-supported award.
 
Can a PEER applicant submit more than one pre-proposal to the PEER program in a given cycle?
 
No. A PEER applicant may be listed as the lead PI on only one pre-proposal in any application cycle. However, applicants who have unsuccessfully applied to PEER in previous cycles are welcome to apply.

Can a PEER applicant serve as a lead PI on one pre-proposal submission and a co-PI or collaborator on another pre-proposal?

Yes. Applicants are not allowed to be listed as the lead PEER PI on more than one pre-proposal, but may be listed as a co-PI on another proposal

Can more than one developing country institution participate in a PEER project?

Yes. PEER supports both single and multiple institution grants. Some focus areas specifically call for projects that are regional in nature. However, only one institution must be designated to lead the project, with the other institutions serving as collaborating partners. If the pre-proposal is selected to move on to the full proposal stage, separate budgets and institutional letters of support will be needed from each participating institution.

Can more than one PEER applicant apply for a single pre-proposal project?


No. While co-PIs on a PEER project are allowed, each project must have a lead PEER PI.  The full proposal will also provide space for applicants to elaborate on additional collaborations other than the primary PI and USG-supported partner.
 
Can I apply to PEER if I already receive USAID funding? 

PEER applicants who have current USAID funding must demonstrate that the research objective that they propose under the PEER program is distinct from the research objective of their current USAID-funded work. 

Can I apply to PEER if I received USAID funding in the past, but no longer receive USAID funding? 


Yes.  

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Responding to Development Objectives

What are USAID’s development objectives?

When writing pre-proposals, applicants should consider how their proposed research and/or capacity building activities will contribute to USAID’s strategic priorities in development. Collaborative projects involving multiple developing countries that explore regional development issues are also encouraged. More information on USAID’s strategic priorities can be found on the USAID website.  
 
How do I learn about country-specific development objectives?

With a presence in more than one hundred countries around the world, each USAID Mission also has development objectives specific to country needs. Country-specific development objectives are reflected in Country Development and Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) reports, which are posted publicly on each USAID Mission’s homepage. Each CDCS lays out high-level strategic priorities for each bilateral USAID Mission over a five-year time frame. We encourage PEER applicants to review CDCS and other documents specific to USAID Mission priorities and reflect how their proposed research may contribute to these high-level objectives.

A directory of USAID Missions and links to home pages can be found here: http://www.usaid.gov/mission-directory 
 
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Eligibility

Who is eligible to apply for PEER funding?

PEER applicants who submit pre-proposals to PEER must be based at an academic institution, non-profit organization, or government-managed research laboratory, center, or institute in a PEER-eligible country. Applicants in government ministries who conduct research are also eligible, but will be screened for compliance with bilateral agreements on a case-by-case basis. We encourage applicants from government ministries to consult with PEER program staff at peer@nas.edu prior to submitting their pre-proposal. All institutions will be vetted to determine compliance with USAID policies for receipt of funds. PEER awards are issued to the institutions or organizations, not to individuals.

PEER applicants must also hold a career-track position or equivalent at their respective institution or organization. Applicants should be working in the country from which they are applying and should be nationals (citizens or permanent residents) of a PEER-eligible country for the focus area to which they are applying

Are current PEER PIs eligible to apply for new PEER awards?

PIs of currently active PEER grants are not eligible to apply to serve as PIs in future cycles of PEER until their first supported project has been successfully completed. For the current cycle of the program, this successful completion date must be prior to September 1, 2017.

Which countries are eligible for this cycle of the PEER ?

Country eligibility is dependent on focus area.

Can applicants partner with a currently supported PEER grant recipient?

Applicants are welcome to collaborate with a currently supported PEER grant recipient. However, applicants MUST also partner with a USG-supported investigator receiving funding from one of the participating agencies in order to be eligible to apply for a PEER award. 
 
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Partner Eligibility

Which USG-supported researchers are eligible to participate as a PEER partner?

Only USG-supported researchers supported by agencies participating in the PEER program are eligible to participate as a PEER collaborator. These participating agencies are: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the USDA/Forest Service (FS), the USDA/National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Partners must be the primary principal investigator or co-principal investigator of an active USG-supported research award. Funding can include grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts. Alternatively, researchers employed at NASA, NOAA, Smithsonian, USDA/ARS, USDA/FS, USDA/NIFA, USGS, and NIH (i.e., intramural researchers) are also eligible to serve as partners.

Applicants are encouraged to consult the "Find a USG-Supported Partner" page for more information.

Can an applicant work with a USG-supported partner from NASA or the Smithsonian Institution who is not included on the list provided in the RFP?

Applicants are encouraged to contact USG agency contacts listed on the "Find a USG-Supported Partner" page for additional information on eligible partners.
 
Can a PEER applicant include more than one USG-supported partner on their pre-proposal application?

While collaborations with other USG-supported partners are encouraged, only one USG-supported partner can be listed as the lead for each PEER project. Additional collaborations can be elaborated in the pre-proposal and at the full proposal stage.
 
Are co-PIs of USG-supported research awards allowed to serve as lead USG-supported PEER Partners?

Yes. Co-PIs of USG awards are eligible to serve as lead PEER partners. At the full proposal stage, a letter of consent and a CV from the lead PI of the USG award is required.
 
Can a USG-supported PI be listed as the partner on more than one PEER pre- proposal?

Yes, provided he or she has sufficient time to devote to the collaboration.

Do USG-supported partners have to be based in the United States?


No. Some USG agencies (for example, NIH) provide research funds to scientists outside of the United States. The critical component is that the USG-supported partner is a PI or co-PI of an active research award from a USG agency participating in the PEER program that can be leveraged to support the proposed project and partnership.

Can researchers from non-eligible countries or employees of for-profit institutions participate in PEER projects?

Yes. Researchers from non-eligible countries and employees of for-profit firms may participate in the proposed PEER projects using their own resources but may not serve as principal investigators or receive PEER grant funds.

Can I partner with a U.S. government-supported partner who is currently receiving USAID funding?

Yes, on two conditions: (1) the U.S. government-supported partner must also be supported by one of the nine partner agencies; and (2) the proposed PEER partnership must be focused on accomplishing a research objective that is distinct from the research objective of the U.S. government-supported partner's current funding from USAID. 

My U.S. government-supported partner has not completed his/her terminal degree. Can I apply for a PEER award to work with him/her?

No. The U.S. government-supported partner must have a terminal degree. Graduate students in the process of completing their terminal degree cannot serve as U.S. government-supported partners. However, U.S. government-supported post-doctoral fellows are eligible to serve as U.S. government-supported partners on PEER proposals. 
 
My U.S. government-supported partner has an NIH training grant, not an NIH research grant. Can I apply for a PEER award to work with him/her?
 
To be eligible as a PEER partner, your colleague would either need to be a principal investigator (PI) on an NIH research award (an R or K award), or if he/she is a co-PI on such an award or a recipient of an NIH training or fellowship grant, he/she would need to submit an additional support letter from the PI of the NIH research award under which he/she is working. If your colleague is on a training award, both that award and the primary PI’s research award must be valid through at least August 31, 2018.
 
 
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Finding a Partner

Is the PEER program looking to support new collaborations, or is there a preference for projects build on existing partnerships that have either been previously supported by a participating agency (NASA, NIH, NOAA, NSF, Smithsonian Institution, USDA, or USGS)?

There is no preference. PEER applicants can submit pre-proposals with existing or new partners. At the full proposal stage, proposals will be evaluated on the strength of the proposed partnership and synergy with the USG-supported collaborator’s expertise.

How can PEER applicants find a USG-supported collaborator?

NAS cannot suggest USG-supported partners for applicants. Instead, PEER applicants are encouraged to consult the “Find a USG-Supported Partner” page for information on how to find a USG-supported partner at multiple agencies. The partner page also includes suggestions for how to reach out to potential partners via email. 

What is the role of the USG-supported partner?
 
The role of the partner may vary by project. Some partners collaborate very closely with their developing country colleagues, carrying out joint field work, exchanging samples, jointly analyzing data, or exchanging visits by students or other junior collaborators from their labs to receive training or gain experience. In other cases, the partner might only serve as a mentor via e-mail or phone, providing guidance on research design or data analysis or recommendations on manuscript preparation. In-person visits are not required under PEER. If the PEER project is selected for funding and the developing country PI wishes to visit the partner's lab or send a student or junior researcher to receive training or conduct research, they would have all the funds required for their support, including travel, living expenses, and health insurance. Therefore, the partner is not expected to contribute any funds toward the collaboration.

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Funding for USG-Supported Partners

Are U.S. institutions able to receive funding under PEER ?

No. Only institutions in PEER-eligible developing countries can receive PEER funding. As stated before, PEER funds will go directly to the developing country institutions.

The aim of PEER funding is to create new possibilities for USG-supported partners to expand the international scope of their research. It is recommended that USG-supported partners contact their agency program officers regarding possible supplemental funding to their existing awards.
 
Can an USG-supported researcher apply for a supplement for PEER-related activities to his/her existing grant ?

It depends on the policy of each USG agency funding your collaborator’s award. For example, in the case of NSF, any NSF-supported researcher can apply for a supplement to his or her NSF award. However, supplemental funding from NSF must clearly enhance the NSF project. USG-supported partners interested in seeking supplemental funds are encouraged to reach out to agency contacts listed on the “Find a USG-Supported Partner” page

Can PEER grant recipients use the funding to support a visiting scientist from the United States, including for workshops?

No. Visiting scientists from the United States should obtain travel funds directly from their funding agencies, even if the purpose of the visit is to present at or attend a PEER-funded workshop. In exceptional cases arising after PEER awards are made, in which urgently needed training is unavailable from other sources, PEER program managers may approve requests to use small amounts of PEER funds to cover travel expenses for a U.S. researchers. However, when estimating their project budget needs, applicants should not count on receiving such an exception to the rules.

 
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USG-Supported Partner Awards

What if my USG-supported partner’s USG award is about to expire?

A goal of the PEER program is to leverage existing U.S. government investments in research. Therefore, a partner with active USG funding is required. In order for a PEER pre-proposal to be considered eligible for review, the USG-supported partner’s award must remain active for at least 12 months after the expected start date of the PEER project (which may start no earlier than September 1, 2017) to ensure that both sides have resources available to support their collaboration.

If the USG-supported partner’s award expires prior to 12 months of overlap with the PEER award, a no-cost extension will need to be obtained before the PEER award can be issued. The prospective USG-supported partner may wish to consult with the award manager at his or her funding agency to discuss whether a no-cost extension for the necessary duration would be authorized, should the PEER project be selected for funding. Written confirmation of the extension would be required before a PEER award could be made but need not be submitted with the pre-proposal application.

My colleague had USG-supported grants in the past, but none is currently active. Can I apply for PEER funding to work with this collaborator?

No. You must have a USG-supported partner with an active award from an eligible USG partner agency for your project to be eligible for PEER funding.

My USG-supported collaborator has received notification from his/her program officer that his/her USG proposal has been recommended for funding, but the grant award has not yet been finalized. Can I apply to PEER to work with this partner?

Yes, applicants in this situation may submit a pre-proposal. The pre-proposal review process includes verification of the status of the USG-supported award. If the USG-supported partner’s grant is not awarded by the time of this verification process, the PEER pre-proposal will be withdrawn from consideration. If you have questions about your USG-supported partner’s award eligibility, please contact PEER staff at peer@nas.edu.

Does the proposed PEER research topic have to be related to the USG-supported award?

Yes. The USG-supported collaborator’s research should complement the proposed PEER project, but it is not expected that the PEER project will exactly align with the USG-supported partner’s award. Proposed PEER project topics must complement research goals specified in the proposed U.S. collaborator’s USG award, as well as technical and development goals specified by USAID. For the pre-proposal, applicants will be asked to explain what is being gained by the USG-supported partners’ expertise and award, and this will be judged during the pre-proposal review.

 
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Budget

What is the anticipated award size for PEER projects?

Budget requests should be developed according to the support needed to implement the project goals. The primary objective of PEER is to support collaborative research projects of one to three years in duration, with release of each funding increment contingent on the project meeting annual financial and technical reporting requirements. Single institution awards are anticipated to range in size from U.S. $40,000 to $80,000 per year for one to three years. Multiple institution awards may range in size from U.S. $80,000 to $100,000 per year for up to three years.

Applicants whose requests would fall outside of this range are encouraged to discuss their projects with PEER staff (peer@nas.edu) prior to pre-proposal submission.
 
How do I estimate the budget for the pre-proposal phase?

At the pre-proposal phase you are asked to submit a total budget figure. At the full proposal stage applicants will be asked to submit a detailed budget that includes the categories Personnel Costs, Travel, Equipment, and Indirect Costs. We encourage applicants to develop a pre-proposal budget estimate with these categories in mind, although applicants will not be asked to provide figures for each category. A budget template will also be posted on the NAS website for reference.

Can my budget change between the pre-proposal and full proposal stage?

Yes, budget estimates are permitted to change between the pre-proposal and full proposal stage. If you need help estimating your budget at the pre-proposal stage please use the  PEER budget template (18KB, .xls). This template is not required for pre-proposal submission but may be helpful for more accurately anticipating budget costs.
 
Should the PEER budget be reported in U.S. dollars or local currency?

All pre-proposal budgets must be in U.S. dollars. No compensation will be allowed to adjust for fluctuations in the exchange rate of the dollar to other currencies.

Can PEER grants be used to support training? What costs are allowable for PEER awards?

Training is an allowable cost, along with travel, equipment, supplies, organizational expenses for workshops and conferences, salaries and stipends, and limited institutional indirect costs if essential to the project and fully justified. Additional information on allowable budget costs will be provided at the full proposal stage.
 

Are there any other opportunities for support beyond what could be requested in the PEER budget?

You may be eligible for additional research assistance from USAID's technology partner, National Instruments (NI). Through its Planet NI Program, the company collaborates with USAID to help ensure that PEER research projects have greater and more sustainable impact on development. Any PEER applicant or participant may be eligible. Those interested in exploring this opportunity may review current NI technology at http://www.ni.com/solutions and http://www.ni.com/power/ and contact Planet NI at planetni.peer@ni.com to find out how you might use the following potential benefits to improve your PEER research projects:

• Selected complimentary refurbished NI hardware (based on availability)
• Free online technical training for up to two people for every grant
• Special discounts on all NI hardware and software tools
• Technical support online and over the phone (where available) during the development period
 
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Pre-Proposal Submission and Review Criteria

What is the deadline for the pre-proposal submission? When will the results of the review process be announced?

The deadline for submission of pre-proposals is January 20, 2017. Pre-proposals should be completed through the PEER online application site no later than 11:59 PM (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) on that date. Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be notified around February 28, 2017.

How will pre-proposals be evaluated?

The pre-proposal review process will be managed by the National Academies. Pre-proposals will be evaluated by USAID and the National Academies based on the following criteria:
 
• PEER applicant compliance with eligibility requirements
• Participation of USG-supported partner, including verification of USG-supported collaborator’s active research award
• Alignment with research priorities outlined in respective “Focus Area” section

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Application Website


I applied for a PEER grant previously, but was not selected. Now when I log on to the application webpage using the same email and password, I only see my old proposal. How do I submit my new pre-proposal application with my old credentials?
 
When you log in with your email and password, you will still see your old proposal near the bottom of the page. However, to start a new application, click on “Apply” under the heading “Requests” in the gray column at the left side of the page. That will open another page where you can click on the blue link PEER Cycle 6, which will open up the new pre-proposal application form. Then you can start filling in that form, and after you save your work, when you sign in next time, you will see both your old proposal and your new PEER Cycle 6 proposal that you can access and continue working on.

 

 

If you have a question that was not addressed in these FAQs or covered in the program solicitation or instructions, please email peer@nas.edu. You will receive a personal response from PEER staff, and your question may be added to the FAQs.



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