For Applicants | Frequently Asked Questions|
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...
Where can I find a complete copy of the solicitation?
The Request for Applications (RFA) may be downloaded in PDF through this link.
When will future PEER solicitations be announced?
It is unclear whether future calls for proposals will be offered by PEER beyond the current one being announced in November 2019. Information on future deadlines will be posted when available.Application Information
How do I apply for a PEER award?
The PEER proposal submission process has two phases:
• Phase 1: A brief pre-proposal is required for all applicants. The deadline for submission of pre-proposals is February 10, 2020. Details for pre-proposal submission are provided below.
• Phase 2: If invited to submit a full proposal, applicants will be notified around April 3, 2020. The deadline for submission of full proposals is June 2, 2020.
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?
For PEER Cycle 9, awards offered under most of our focus areas are for up to two years, but some focus areas (Family Planning and Reproductive Health; Afghanistan/Urban WASH and Transboundary Water; Bangladesh/Clean Energy; Tunisia/Economic Growth, ICT, and Small and Medium Enterprises; and Vietnam/Bioremediation of Dioxin and Furans) will support projects of up to three years in duration. Projects in good standing may request and receive a no-cost extension, generally of no more than one year beyond the initial duration. Requests for no-cost extensions may be submitted to the PEER program at email@example.com
near the end of the original grant term. 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. 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. It should also provide a brief explanation of how the PEER partnership will contribute to the partner's USG-supported research. At the full proposal stage, submission of a more detailed letter from the partner is required that explains his or her expected role and responsibilities in the PEER project, as well as plans for how the PI and partner will collaborate during the project.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?
Can more than one developing country institution participate in a PEER project?
No. PIs of currently active PEER awards are not eligible to apply to serve as PIs or co-PIs in future cycles of PEER until their first funded project has been successfully completed. For the current cycle of the program (Cycle 9), this successful completion date must be prior to October 1, 2020.
Yes. PEER supports both single and multiple institution grants. 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?
Responding to Development Objectives
What are USAID’s development objectives?
How do I learn about country-specific 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
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
Who is eligible to apply for PEER funding?
In general, applicants who submit pre-proposals to PEER must be based at an academic institution (a university or other institution that grants academic degrees).
For some focus areas only (Family Planning and Reproductive Health; Afghanistan/Urban WASH and Transboundary Water; Bangladesh/Clean Energy; Tunisia/Economic Growth, ICT, and Small and Medium Enterprises; and Vietnam/Bioremediation of Dioxin and Furans), applicants may also be based at non-profit organizations (NGOs) or at government-managed research laboratories, centers, or institutes in a PEER-eligible country. For the previously listed focus areas only, applicants based in government ministries who conduct research may be 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 teaching or research position at their respective institution. 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 awards are not eligible to apply to serve as PIs or co-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 October 1, 2020.
Which countries are eligible for this cycle of the PEER ?
Can applicants partner with a currently supported PEER grant recipient?
Applicants are welcome to collaborate with a currently supported PEER award recipient, with the restriction that PIs of currently active PEER awards are not eligible to serve as PIs or co-PIs on additional projects. 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. 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?
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.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 postdoctoral 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 a recipient of an NIH training or fellowship grant. Your colleague's NIH funding must be active at least through February 10, 2020, the deadline for submission of your pre-proposal to PEER.
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?
Funding for USG-Supported Partners
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.
Are U.S. institutions able to receive funding under PEER ?
It has been shown that in-person collaboration, usually at the beginning of a project, can strengthen the research methodology and technical activities of projects while improving communication and expectations between partners. Therefore, applicants to PEER Cycle 9 are encouraged to assign up to 10% of the total proposed PEER budget to support the costs of travel by the USG partner or other U.S.-based project participants. These funds generally will be managed by the PEER PI’s institution and not awarded directly to the U.S. institution.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 from previous cycles before Cycles 8 and 9 use their funding to support a visiting scientist from the United States, including for workshops?
USG-Supported Partner Awards
In cases of need for travel by USG-supported partners that arise after PEER awards are made, PEER program managers may approve requests to use small amounts of PEER funds to cover travel expenses for U.S. researchers. In addition, PEER may contact recipients of active PEER grants to offer them opportunities to apply for supplemental funds for this purpose. The schedule for such supplement calls is not definite, so PEER PIs with questions should contact their grant managers for guidance.
What if my USG-supported partner’s USG award is about to expire?
As long as the USG-supported partner's USG award is active at the time of the PEER Cycle 8 pre-proposal submission deadline of February 10, 2020, it is fine.
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 as of February 10, 2020, in order to be eligible to apply 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 email@example.com
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.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 up to two years in duration (up to three years for certain focus areas as noted in the descriptions of those focus areas), with release of each funding increment contingent on the project meeting financial and technical reporting requirements. Awards are anticipated to range in size from U.S. $40,000 to $80,000 per year.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 Travel, Equipment, Other Direct Costs, Salaries, Scholarships and Fellowships, 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.
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 February 10, 2020. 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 April 3, 2020.
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 active research award or eligibility status, and degree of alignment with his or her expertise;
• Alignment with research priorities outlined in the respective “Focus Area” section
• Development impact of proposed research;
• Degree to which the project brings a new or underrepresented voice to the field, pushes the boundaries of our current understanding of a development challenge, or provides a novel approach to such a challenge;
• (If a prior PEER awardee) Demonstration by the applicant of how the proposed work is distinct from their prior PEER award, and/or how the proposed work significantly builds off the previous PEER award to achieve broader development impact.
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 for PEER Cycle 9, 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 9 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a personal response from PEER staff, and your question may be added to the FAQs.