Observing > Prop Eval & Time Alloc

Proposal Evaluation and Time Allocation

by Davis Murphy last modified Sep 01, 2017 by Dana Balser
Semester News

Proposals to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the Green Bank Observatory (GBO), and the Long Baseline Observatory (LBO) for the scientific use of its telescopes are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit and technical feasibility using a panel-based proposal review system.  This joint process is run by the NRAO in accordance with it’s policy of non-discrimination and inclusion.  A panel-based proposal review system is used to ensure that scientifically knowledgeable peers representing the broad diversity of the community at large provide expert proposal evaluations. We believe that inclusiveness and broad representation of our users produces the most compelling scientific program. 

In June 2016, the NRAO informed all current members of its review panels that gender-related systematic effects had been identified in the NRAO proposal review process (see the memo on Gender-Related Systematics in the NRAO Proposal Review Processes).  The results of a study of such effects undertaken by the Observatory was released on astro-ph on 15 November 2016 and is available here.  The NRAO is concerned by the evidence of gender-related bias revealed by this study, and is committed to improve the level of equity and inclusion in its review processes. The observatory will continue to monitor and investigate the effects and the root causes of gender-related systematics, and will explore mechanisms to ensure greater equity and transparency, including providing information to review panel members and the astronomy community regarding these issues.

Proposals to use one, or a combination, of the GBT, the VLA, or the VLBA/HSA are submitted with the Proposal Submission Tool  (PST).

Three proposal types can be submitted for the standard deadlines of 1 Feb and 1 Aug each year: Regular, Large, and Triggered.  (NRAO policy regarding Large proposals may be found here.)  Director's Discretionary Time (DDT) may be submitted at any time and are reviewed by the observatory scientific staff on the basis of the proposals' scientific merit and technical feasibility.  DDT proposals are for Target of Opportunity proposals or Exploratory Time.  A number of tools are available to support proposal planning; e.g., sensitivity and exposure calculators, and a Proposal Finder Tool (PFT) that may be used to search cover sheets of proposals previously approved for time on NRAO/GBO/LBO telescopes.

The NRAO has agreements with HST, Chandra, Fermi, and Swift for Joint proposals where telescope time on NRAO’s North American facilities may be granted by these external telescope allocation committees (TACs). Reciprocal agreements exists for HST, Chandra, and Swift where the NRAO TAC may grant time on these external facilities. Since ALMA is an international partnership, it has an independent international proposal review process coordinated by the Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO).