Alerts & Tips for Proposers

by Bryan Butler last modified Jul 02, 2019 by Davis Murphy

Change to the Science Categories

The ETP science category will be split into two in order to manage the increasing number of proposals received in this science area. The new categories will be:
GWT – Gravitational Waves and Energetic Transients: supernovae, gravitational wave sources, gamma-ray bursts, tidal disruption events, fast radio bursts, exotic/unknown transients.
PCO – Pulsars and Compact Objects: millisecond pulsars, cataclysmic variables, black hole and/or neutron star x-ray binaries, pulsar timing, pulsar proper motion.

All proposals submitted on or after 4 January 2019 will need to specify one of the following nine science categories: SSP, GWT, PCO, SFM, ISM, NGA, EGS, AGN or HIZ.

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 PROPOSING to use an NRAO telescope for their PhD dissertation MUST submit a "Plan of Dissertation Research" IF THEY CHECK THE THESIS BOX ON THE PST. THE PLAN SHOULD BE no more than 1000 words, AND SUBMITTED with their first proposal. This plan can be referred to in later proposals.  The Plan of Dissertation is important in the proposal review process and should be well written; it is not a placeholder.  At a minimum it should contain:

  • A summary of thesis science and goals.
  • The role played by NRAO observations being proposed.
  • A thesis time line.
  • The adviser name and institution.
  • An estimate of the total NRAO telescope resources needed.

The plan provides some assurance against a dissertation being impaired by adverse referee comments on one proposal, when the referees do not see the full scope of the project. This requirement applies to all three of the NRAO major instruments: VLA, VLBA and GBT.

The Plan of Dissertation Research can be uploaded either from the Author's page or from the student's user profile at: Profile > My Profile > User Preferences. The Plan of Dissertation Research is associated with an Author which can then be used in one or more proposals. The Plan of Dissertation Research field here is only used to display the current status. For example, if there are no students listed on the proposal who are observing for their thesis the text box will display: Dissertation Research Plan(s) not required''

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 the 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.