Alerts & Tips for Proposers

by Bryan Butler last modified Jan 03, 2018 by Davis Murphy

Source Lists

The Observatory requires proposers to specify their source lists in full. This enables the Observatory to identify potential conflicts between observing programs and to better understand scheduling pressure on the instruments it operates. It may be the case that the final target list has not been selected at the time a proposal is submitted. In such cases, all potential targets and fields should be listed. The only exceptions to this requirement are for Triggered proposals to observe targets that are unknown a priori. Proposal source lists are not made public by the Observatory.

Dissertation Plans

Students planning to use one or more NRAO telescopes for their PhD dissertation must submit a "Plan of Dissertation Research" of no more than 1000 words with their first proposal. This plan must be referred to in later proposals for time allocations relevant to the thesis work described in the plan. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the information contained in the plan is up-to-date at the time a given proposal is submitted. By the same token, a proposal for work that is relevant to a student thesis should refer to the plan and clearly state the relevance of the proposal to the plan. At a minimum the plan should contain:

  1. An overview of the research program
  2. The thesis timeline, including the expected date of completion
  3. An estimate of the NRAO telescope resources needed to complete the program of research
  4. Clear statements about the importance of each proposal to the thesis as a whole.

The plan provides some assurance against a dissertation being impaired by an adverse review of a proposal when the full scope of the thesis is not seen. The plan can be submitted via NRAO Interactive Services. Students are reminded to submit their plan comfortably in advance of the proposal deadline. Thesis plans must be in pdf format so science reviewers can easily access the plans. Students who have not yet graduated but have active plans on file should update those plans to a pdf format if they are not already in that form.

Tips for Proposers

The NRAO proposal evaluation and time allocation process is panel based. That is, members of the scientific community are responsible for reviewing proposals based on their scientific merit through eight Science Review Panels. As a means of broadening the scientific perspective of its reviewers, and of increasing the participation of the wider astronomy and astrophysics community in the science program of NRAO facilities, SRP membership is deliberately selected to include some colleagues that are not necessarily experts in radio observational techniques. This being the case, we encourage proposers to consider the following when preparing their proposals:

  1. Avoid the use of radio astronomy jargon
  2. Do not assume the reader is familiar with a particular observing technique - explain it briefly
  3. Do not assume the reader is familiar with an earlier rationale for a developing line of research - provide adequate historical context and connect the dots as necessary
  4. Describe previous observations and publications relevant to the proposed observations
  5. If a particular point source or brightness temperature sensitivity is required, justify it.