Observing > Prop Eval & Time Alloc > Documentation > Technical Review Instructions

Technical Review Instructions

by Dana Balser last modified Aug 08, 2017 by Mark Claussen

1 Technical Reviews

This document provides instructions for entering your technical reviews of proposals using the Proposal Submission Tool (PST; Section 2). Review guidelines are provided in Section 3. NRAO policies on conflicts of interests and confidentiality are fully covered in Section 4. 

Starting with semester 16A, Regular VLA/VLBA proposals requesting 20 hours or less of telescope time no longer undergo technical review.

 

2 Entering Technical Reviews Using the PST

I. Login through the NRAO portal at my.nrao.edu

You will enter the PST at the Dashboard, which allows you to perform a number of functions related to proposal preparation and review, access documentation, and modify your user profile.

As a technical reviewer, seven tabs should be visible below the National Radio Astronomy Observatory banner:

  • Dashboard

  • Proposals

  • Reviews

  • Data Processing

  • Obs Prep

  • Helpdesk

  • Profile

II. Click on the Reviews tab. If the Reviews tab is not visible, please click the Helpdesk tab and submit a ticket immediately to the Proposal Review department.

III. Upon clicking the Reviews tab you will see a new page that has the same banner and primary tabs across the top. It should have one secondary tab below the primary tabs labeled My Reviews. Brief instructions are provided to technical reviewers in the grey box. More detailed instructions are provided here.

The remainder of the page displays all of the proposals assigned to you for technical review.

  • Column 1 gives the PST proposal ID.

  • Column 2 gives the legacy ID.

  • Column 3 gives the proposal title.

  • Column 4 gives the proposal authors.

  • Column 5 indicates whether the technical reviewer is conflicted on a proposal.

  • Column 6 gives the reason for a given conflict.

The PST automatically captures one type of conflict: the reviewer is the PI or a co-I on a proposal under consideration by the reviewer. If you believe any of the conflicts identified by the PST are in error, please submit a Helpdesk ticket to the Proposal Review department.

Please examine all other proposal titles and author lists for which the PST has not identified a conflict (unchecked box) and self-declare any conflicts based on this information. Whether or not a technical reviewer self-declares a conflict is left largely to their discretion. The main consideration is whether or not the reviewer believes that he/she can make a fair and impartial assessment of the technical soundness or feasibility of the proposed observations. If not, the reviewer should declare themself conflicted. A technical review should remain completely neutral regarding the scientific merit of the proposal.

Once all conflicts have been identified click on Accept conflicts status in the upper right of the page. This takes you to the main review management page.

IV. The banner, primary, and secondary tabs on the review management page remain as before. Below the secondary My Reviews tab is a field and Search button on the left side that can be used to find proposals of interest. To the right are four buttons labeled Export Technical Reviews, Import Technical Reviews, Print, and Help. The Help button provides general help on the use of the User Portal for proposal preparation. The other three buttons are discussed below.

To the left of the page, below the Search field and button is an Options box that allows you to filter the proposals displayed on the page by telescope. Additional filtering options may be added in future releases of the PST.

The rest of the page contains 7 columns.

  • Column 1, labeled “All”, allows one to print all proposals that the reviewer is not conflicted on. To do so, click the “All” button. The check boxes of all proposals should automatically be checked. Then click the Print button to the upper right of the page. A window is opened that allows you to select which portions of the proposals to print: the cover sheet, the science justification, the student support application, and/or the student dissertation plan. After making your selections, click on “Print” in the window to print all proposals to a pdf file that can, in turn, be saved to a file on your computer or sent to your printer. One can also use the check boxes in Column 1 to manually check one or more proposals to print via the Print button.

  • Column 2 lists the PST proposal ID and also displays two icons. By clicking on the column’s heading, one can sort the proposals in numerical order. By clicking on the PST proposal ID in column 2, highlighted in blue, one can view the proposal. From that proposal’s page:

  1. One can use the Options column to the left to navigate to different sections of the proposal (e.g., general, authors, scientific justification, etc.),

  2. One can also enter the scientific reviews page by clicking on Reviews in the Options column.

  3. One can also directly view other (unconflicted) proposals by clicking on the ID number in the Options column. Clicking My Reviews at the top of the Options column returns you to the main proposal management page.

  4. A printer icon below the secondary My Reviews tab allows one to print the proposal in its entirety to a printer or to your computer’s hard disk.

  5. Clicking on the pen-and-paper icon in column 2 takes you to the technical review page for that proposal (see below); the printer icon in column 2 allows you to send a pdf copy of the proposal to a printer or to your computer’s hard disk.

  • Column 3 shows the legacy ID.

  • Column 4 gives the proposal title.

  • Column 5 gives the name of the PI on the proposal.

  • Column 6 indicates whether the reviewer is conflicted on the proposal. NB: if the reviewer is conflicted, they should not be able to view, print, or review the proposal in question.

  • Column 7 indicates the status of the review, initially labeled Enter Review.

V. We now offer two ways to enter your technical reviews. We describe each in Sections A and B.

A. One can use the PST to enter the reviews one by one. To enter a technical review for a proposal on which you are not conflicted, you can click Enter Review in Column 7 or the pen-and-paper icon in column 2. A less direct path is to click on the proposal ID in column 2 and then click on Reviews under the Options bar from the proposal-viewing page.

The Technical Reviews page summarizes the review for the proposal of interest.

  • Column 1 gives your name.

  • Column 2 shows the review comments for the proposer.

  • Column 3 shows comments for the Science Review Panel (SRP) and Time Allocation Committee (TAC). These comments are not seen by the proposer.

  • Column 4 shows review status information.

Clicking on your name in column 1 allows you to enter your technical reviews and, if necessary, comments for the SRP/TAC. Please type comments regarding the technical merit of the proposal into the box in column 2. If there are comments that the SRP/TAC should see, but that the proposer should not, please enter those into the box in column 3 (it's ok to leave column 3 blank).

The fifth column on the review page allows you to Save or Cancel a review in progress. If you wish to defer completion of the review until later click Save. If you wish to return the review to a pristine state or to its status following the previous Save, please click Cancel.

If the review is complete, please check the Completed box in column 4 and then click on Save in column 5. If you later find that you have made a mistake in checking the Completed box for a particular proposal, please submit a Helpdesk ticket to the Proposal Review department.

B. The second method to enter your reviews is to write them in a text file external to the PST, and then use the Import Technical Reviews button (on the My Reviews page) to import them into the PST. This method is advantageous to those who wish to work offline. While preparation of the external text file is straightforward, it must nevertheless conform to some simple conventions. The easiest way to proceed, therefore, is to create an external reviews template by clicking the Export Technical Reviews button, which produces a simple text file listing all proposals on which you are not conflicted. Here is an example of a template produced by clicking the Export Technical Reviews button:

* ###
* Proposal ID%%%
* Review (text)%%%
* Comments For TAC (text)%%%
* Completed Status (Yes/No)%%%
* ###
GBT/15B-186%%%
Dates: All Information provided is satisfactory
Observing Time: All Information provided is satisfactory
Mapping: All Information provided is satisfactory
RFI Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory
Overhead: All Information provided is satisfactory
Novel Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory
Pulsar Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory%%%
%%%
No%%%
###
VLA/15B-039%%%
Combined Telescopes: All Information provided is satisfactory
Array Configuration:  All Information provided is satisfactory
Scheduling Restrictions: All Information provided is satisfactory
Receivers Requested: All Information provided is satisfactory
Correlator Setup: All Information provided is satisfactory
Mosaic Requirements: All Information provided is satisfactory
Sensitivity: All Information provided is satisfactory
Integration Time: All Information provided is satisfactory
Dump Time: All Information provided is satisfactory
Imaging Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory
Polarimetric Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory
RFI Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory
Other: All Information provided is satisfactory%%%
%%%
No%%%
###
VLBA/15B-433%%%
Stations Requested: All Information provided is satisfactory
Receivers Requested: All Information provided is satisfactory
Scheduling Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory
Correlator Setup: All Information provided is satisfactory
Self-Calibration and Phase Referencing: All Information provided is satisfactory
Sensitivity: All Information provided is satisfactory
Integration Time: All Information provided is satisfactory
Recording Bit Rate: All Information provided is satisfactory
Imaging Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory
Polarization: All Information provided is satisfactory
Flux Calibration: All Information provided is satisfactory
Other Considerations: All Information provided is satisfactory%%%
%%%
No%%%
###

.

.

and so on.

This template can be saved to a file on your computer that you can edit without being logged into the PST. Alternatively, one can create the external text file manually, making sure that it conforms to the simple conventions outlined below.

The first six lines are comments that start with a "*" symbol and list the four entry fields which are separated by "%%%".  The proposals are separated by "###".   This format allows you too use multiple lines for each field; the pound and percent symbols may be used in your text (assuming you do not have three consecutive symbols).   In the default file there are no comments (or cues) to the "Comments to the SRP/TAC" field and thus there are two "%%%"  expressions back-to-back.

The first entry is the proposal ID (e.g., VLA/15B-039).  The second entry is the technical review.  This entry has been populated with cues, with a default response "None", where each cue corresponds to a text box in the Technical Justification page.  The third entry is used for comments to the SRP/TAC.  The last entry is a simple “Yes” or “No” to indicate whether you have completed the review. If you import a proposal with the entry set to “Yes”, it will not be possible to over-write or otherwise change the review of that particular proposal thereafter. If the entry is set to “No”, it will be possible to change or over-write.

To import the reviews, return to the My Reviews page and click on the Import Technical Reviews button. At the top of the page, a text pane will appear. To the left of the text pane are three buttons: “Browse”, “Upload”, and “Cancel”. Clicking on the “Browse” button opens a browse window on your computer that allows you to identify the external text file with your technical reviews. The directory path and name of the file then appear in the text pane. Click the “Upload” button to import the file into the PST. The PST will report the number of reviews successfully uploaded and whether any problems were encountered. Click “Cancel” if you decide not to import the reviews.

For those reviews that you indicated were incomplete (a “No” in the fourth field), you can either continue to revise them in the text file and upload again later; or you can complete them in the PST. It is also possible to re-export your reviews for further editing outside the PST, and then re-import them. Again, once you have indicated that you have completed a review with a “Yes” in the fourth entry field, no further changes to the review will be allowed by the PST. However, as noted in Section V.A, if you find that you have made a mistake by indicating that a particular proposal has been completed, please submit a Helpdesk ticket to the Proposal Review department.

VI. Once all (unconflicted) reviews are completed, either by manually indicating that this is the case proposal by proposal in the PST, or by setting the fourth field of all proposals to “Yes” in an external review field that is then imported, the PST will acknowledge the fact and thank you!

 

3 Guidelines for Technical Reviewers

Here are some guidelines on technical reviews of proposals for the VLA, the VLBA, the GMVA and the GBT. Please be as careful as possible in your reviews. It is very important that a proposal not be downgraded (or rejected) by the SRP or TAC because of a faulty technical review. Please be as succinct as possible, providing only as much detail as needed. No comments should be made upon the science proposed except as it applies to the technical requirements for that science. Finally, please ensure that your comments conform to professional standards; i.e., avoid gratuitous remarks or personal opinions.

That said, the science reviewers and the TAC have requested that the technical reviews be more uniform, as much as can be done given that the technical reviews are for different telescopes. To help achieve this goal (and to focus the proposers' technical ideas), we have implemented into the PST a “Technical Justification” page. Currently, the proposers are required to fill out text boxes and upload .pdf (VLA) or .png (VLBA, GMVA) files for the exposure calculators.

The capabilities advertised for the VLA, the VLBA, and the GBT can be found in the call for proposals:

https://science.nrao.edu/observing/call-for-proposals

It is very important that technical reviewers familiarize themselves with what is offered in the Call for Proposals. Not knowing or understanding what is offered for that cycle's Telescope Resources is one of the main reasons for incorrect technical reviews.

For technical reviews for all telescopes, cues are already populated in the technical review box (with “All information provided is satisfactor” as the text). If a particular item needs to be addressed for the technical review, the reviewer can delete the “All...” and put in his/her comments.  In addition, beginning with the 2016B review cycle, there is a button on the technical review page which allows one  to view the Technical Justification from the proposal.

Very Large Array

For the most part, the items discussed below are taken from the VLA Technical Justification Page. Most are self-explanatory; also the Technical Justification page gives further instructions:

  1. Combination of data: If requested, what other configurations or telescopes will the proposed data be combined with ?

  2. Array configuration: Why is the specific configuration needed ? Is the angular extent of the source and the largest angular size included ? Please check whether Resources, Technical Justification, and Scientific Justification specify the same array configuration.

  3. Scheduling restrictions: Daytime/nighttime; target elevation; required dates; number of LST passes available (for Large proposals) ?

  4. Receivers requested: Which receivers are needed and why.

  5. Correlator setups: 3-bit / 8-bit (bandwidth), etc.

  6. Mosaic Requirements: Is mosaicking needed ? How is it to be done ?

  7. Required Sensitivity: What sensitivity does the science require ? Include frequency or velocity width assumed.

  8. What on-source integration time is needed to achieve the required sensitivity ? Include considerations such as source confusion, RFI, self-noise, overhead (if different than that given by the exposure calculator). Upload calculator graphics, for each resource.

  9. Correlator dump time, data rate, total volume: Dump time and data rate can be taken from resource or GOST. Total volume follows. Justify data rates > 25 MB/s.

  10. Imaging issues: Wide fractional bandwidths, ionosphere, nearby strong sources, complex source structure. Can target be self-calibrated ? How does obsersver plan to ameliorate these issues ?

  11. Polarimetric observations: parallactic angle coverage needed ?

  12. RFI problems: In particular satellite belt, etc.

  13.  For joint external proposals, provide technical information for the external telescope (HST, Chandra, Swift, etc.)
  14. Special technical considerations: RSRO uses this space to discuss who fills the residency requirements, etc.

  15. Minimum/Maximum LST range for sessions.  If the range is different than what the PST calculates, the proposer is asked to justify why.

Note that we specifically do not ask the technical reviewers to tell us what would be necessary (in terms of time, bandwidth, etc.) for the project to be successful. We ask the technical reviewers to answer the question: What will the proposers get for what they proposed, and how does that relate to the science that is proposed? In other words, we do not ask technical reviewers to re-write the technical sections of proposals. This is one of the most important parts of the VLA technical review as far as it pertains to proposals getting downgraded or rejected by the SRP or TAC. There are some, but very few, cases when this comment does not apply. If there is a definite need to mention the amount of time required to obtain the requested noise level put this in “Comments to the SRP/TAC”. Please heed this warning about technical reviews.

Trigger criteria should be summarized in the “Comments to the SRP/TAC”.

For requests for joint external proposals, the request should be copied to "Comments to the SRP/TAC."

 

Technical reviewers should consult the web page about proposing:

https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/vla/proposing/

The VLA exposure calculator can be found here:

https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/vla/docs/manuals/propvla/determining/source

GOST can be found here:

https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/vla/docs/manuals/propvla/gost

and the VLA configuration plans and proposal deadlines can be found at

https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/evla/proposing/configpropdeadlines

If you need to consult on a technical review, please contact Mark Claussen.

 

Very Long Baseline Array

For the most part, the items discussed below are taken from the VLBA Technical Justification Page. Most are self-explanatory; also the Technical Justification page gives further instruction.

  1. Stations requested: Minimum number, optional and required stations. Justify why HSA is needed for science. Verify that all stations can sample/record the same observing mode.

  2. Receivers requested: What receivers are required for the science case. Dual polarization ?

  3. Scheduling considerations: weather, preferred dates, a series of observations with specific spacing, minimum scheduling block length: What are minimum scheduling blocks ? If 24-hr blocks, can break points be inserted ?

  4. Correlator setup: Use of pulsar processing, multiple phase centers, multiple correlator passes, wide-field phase centers ? Justify number of phase centers if > 100.

  5. Self-calibration: Can target be self-calibrated ? Phase referencing – estimate flux density. Extra time (VLA or VLBA) needed for calibrators ?  If possible, identify phase reference sources.

  6. Sensitivity requirements: What is the sensitivity needed for science goal ? What is the total time needed to achieve this sensitivity ? Exposure calculator graphics uploaded. Assume minimum number of stations, include u-v coverage considerations, etc. Baseline sensitivity for non-imaging experiments.

  7. Integration time needed: What is the total time needed to achieve the sensitivity in number 6 ? Exposure calculator graphics uploaded. Assume minimum number of stations, include u-v coverage considerations, etc.

  8. Recording bit rate: Clearly justify the requested bit rate.

  9. Imaging considerations: Potential imaging issues. For example, Sensitivity/dynamic range limited; wide fractional bandwidths, ionosphere, nearby strong sources, complex source structure, etc.

  10. Polarization observations: VLA observations needed for EVPA of calibrators ? How soon after (or before) VLBA observations ?

  11. Accurate flux density calibration: Specify extra calibration steps to be taken if very precise flux calibration is needed.

  12. Correlator output data rate: calculate size of output FITS files.
  13. Joint External Proposal:  For joint external proposals, use this space to provide technical information abuot the external telescope (HST, Swift, Chandra, etc.)
  14. Special/other/RSRO technical considerations.  VLBA RSRO proposals use this section to describe resident observer, and their technical expertise.
  15. Minimum/Maximum GST for sessions:  If the range is different than what the PST calculates, the proposer is asked to justify why.

Note that we specifically do not ask the technical reviewers to tell us what would be necessary (in terms of time, bandwidth, etc.) for the project to be successful. We ask the technical reviewers to answer the question: What will the proposers get for what they proposed, and how does that relate to the science that is proposed? In other words, we do not ask technical reviewers to re-write the technical sections of proposals. This is very likely the single most important part of the technical review as far as it pertains to proposals getting downgraded or rejected by the SRP or TAC. There are some, but very few, cases when this comment does not apply. If there is a definite need to mention the amount of time required to obtain the requested noise level put this in “Comments to the SRP/TAC”. Please heed this warning about technical reviews.

Trigger criteria should be summarized in the “Comments to the SRP/TAC”.

Joint proposal requests should be copied to "Comments to the SRP/TAC."

 

The EVN calculator may be found at

http://www.evlbi.org/cgi-bin/EVNcalc

If you need to consult on a technical review, please contact Mark Claussen.

 

Global Millimeter VLBI Array

We have implemented a Technical Justification for the GMVA. It is likely that we will learn from experience just how much of the technical justification is useful. We already have some feedback from GMVA proposers that we were unable to get into the PST. Several items from the GMVA Technical Justification page are the same or similar to the VLBA, so they will not be repeated here.

  1. Stations requested: There is a standard set of stations for the GMVA, but “Other” stations could be requested (or the entire standard set may not be required).

  2. Receivers: Obviously, 3mm receivers should be requested. In addition, 7mm receivers can be requested for pointing, etc.

  3. Session constraints: The GMVA is scheduled in 2 sessions per year.

  4. Correlator setup: All GMVA projects are correlated at the Bonn correlator.

  5. Sensitivity:  What is the science justification for the needed sensitivity; for some projects, u-v coverage is more important than sensitivity.

  6. On-source time and total time: The EVN calculator should be used here, but an upload was not required.

  7. Imaging:  Potential imaging issues expected (e.g. due to wide fractional bandwidths, ionosphere, nearby strong sources, comples source structure, etc.)

  8. Phase referencing:  Is phase referencing needed, or can self-cal be used ?  If possible, identify phase-reference sources.

  9. Special technical considerations: any other technical requirements/issues.

  10. Minimum/maximum GST:  If the range is different than what the PST calculates, the proposer is asked to justify why.


For technical reviews of GMVA proposals please concentrate on the technical capabilities of the VLBA and DiFX correlator (if it is requested);  we also rely on you to give whatever technical detail you think is appropriate for those proposals.

 

Green Bank Telescope

Please provide short, succinct responses to the following topics. Use full sentences so that the PIs have the impression that you have read and understood the proposal.  You should not use the templates provided in the PST as they are guidelines for potential topics to cover in your review.  Please make sure to include all relevant information if you find an issue or believe that the requested time is not satisfactory.

  1. Ensure that the requested setup(s) are both possible and will work as expected by the proposers. If not then please provide a potential alternative if possible.

  2. Please check that the sensitivity calculation is roughly correct and, if not, state what the correct value is for the proposed observations and possible implications (e.g., the proposers need four times the requested time allocation in order to meet their science goals). Note that the sensitivity calculator is designed to only be correct to within 5-10%.

  3. For continuum observations make sure that they are have taken into account 1/f noise.
  4. For maps make sure that they have calculated the time for a map correctly.  Double check that they did not confuse time per pixel with time ber beam.  Also make sure that sampling times are within limits and that telescope motion and accelerations are OK.
  5. Can different hardware or different observing techniques be used to make the observations more successful? Present these as alternatives that the proposers could employ and state why they may be better than the proposed hardware or technique.

  6. Is RFI a potential issue for the proposed observations and did the proposers present a plan to deal with this RFI?

  7. For Large Proposals you must also consider if the data management plan is sufficient. Large proposals should address data reduction, data storage and data releases.

  8. If extra scientific staff support or experience beyond what the project team currently possesses will be needed in order for the proposers to successfully carry out their observations then please note this in the comments to the SRP/TAC.

Here is an example of a good technical reivew:

The PIs wish to observe HI using the GBT spectrometer. They use a standard setup and a standard observing technique. Their estimated observing time is correct. They did not address the potential of RFI in the observations. However, this should not be a problem for HI observations.

Here is an example of a bad technical review for the same project:

Setup: Good

Observing technique: OK

Time estimate: Good

RFI: not addressed


4 NRAO Conflicts of Interest and Confidentiality Polices

Peer-reviewed proposals to use NRAO facilities for scientific investigations are the bedrock on which observing time is allocated to the community. The NRAO proposal review and time allocation process is described in detail in the Guide to NRAO Proposal Evaluation and Time Allocation. The process relies on the scientific community to evaluate proposals based on their scientific merit and to make recommendations regarding time allocation. The process must be robust and free of real or perceived conflicts of interest and must maintain confidentiality. This document details AUI/NRAO conflicts of interest and confidentiality policies associated with the proposal evaluation and time allocation process.

 

Conflicts of Interest

For the purposes of the NRAO proposal evaluation and time allocation process, an individual is considered to have a potential conflict of interest if one or more of the following is true:

  1. They are a PI or a co-I on a proposal under consideration.

  2. They are affiliated with the same institution and department as the PI or a co-I on a proposal under consideration.

  3. They are a spouse, partner or other family member of a proposal author.

  4. They are a current or recent collaborator of a proposal author.

  5. They are a former student or advisor of a proposal author.

  6. They have any other reason to believe they cannot render a fair and impartial judgment on the scientific merit of the proposal.

In order to ensure that all proposals are treated fairly and without bias, such potential conflicts must be identified and declared. The response to a conflict depends on the role of the participant. The following participants in the NRAO proposal evaluation and time allocation process must declare conflicts of interest:

  • Members of Science Review Panels (SRPs)

  • NRAO staff responsible for technical reviews of proposals

  • Members of the Time Allocation Committee (TAC)

  • NRAO staff that support SRP and TAC meetings

  • NRAO staff that participate in the Directors Review

Members of Science Review Panels. Science reviewers are external to NRAO and are subject to all conflict criteria enumerated above. The NRAO automatically captures conflicts of type (1) with the software tools used to manage the proposal review process. Members of SRPs are expected to otherwise declare those proposals on which they believe themselves to be conflicted. Conflicts of type (4) and (5) are in force if a given reviewer has collaborated with the proposal author, or has been a student of the author, or the thesis advisor of the author, within the last five years. Conflicted panelists will not be allowed to access or review the proposal(s) in question. During the course of SRP discussions, conflicted panelists will not hear or participate in discussion of the relevant proposal(s).

Technical Reviewers. Technical reviews are performed by NRAO staff. Technical reviewers are subject to all conflict types except for those of type (2). In particular, conflicts of type (4) and (5) are, as for science reviewers, only in force if the reviewer has collaborated, been a student, or the thesis advisor of a proposal author within the last five years. Proposals on which a technical reviewer is conflicted are assigned to another reviewer.

Members of the Time Allocation Committee. Each TAC member is the Chair of one of the eight SRPs. As such, they are subject to the same conflicts of interest policy as other SRP members during the science review of proposals. During the face-to-face TAC meeting, rigorous enforcement of all conflict types is impractical. Nevertheless, conflicts of types (1) and (6) are always enforced. TAC members may otherwise collectively identify proposals on which a member is believed to be conflicted. A conflicted TAC member must remove himself or herself from the room when the proposal in question is discussed and recommendations made.

NRAO Support Staff. NRAO staff support the SRP and TAC meetings. They are subject to all conflict types with the exception of type (2). If an NRAO staff member is conflicted during the course of an SRP discussion, they are prevented from hearing discussion of the proposal in question. NRAO staff members do not, in any event, participate in the discussion of the scientific merits of proposals under evaluation. If an NRAO staff member is conflicted during the course of a TAC meeting, they are subject to the same conflict criteria as TAC members.

Directors Review. The Directors Review is intended to review the time allocation process each semester to ensure that all relevant NRAO policies and procedures have been followed, resulting in a fair and transparent allocation of telescope time. NRAO staff members participating in the Directors review are subject to all conflict types except for type (2). Any participant of the Directors review that has a potential conflict must withdraw from discussion of the proposal(s) in question. If such conflicts involve the Director, the Director, too, must withdraw from discussion of any proposal(s) in question. To ensure that appropriate consideration is given to Observatory programmatics and priorities, the Head of Observatory Science Operations will lead the Directors Review in lieu of the Director in such cases. If the Directors Review results in changes to the science program recommended by the TAC, such changes must be recorded. An account of the Directors Review, a description of the changes made to the science program, and the justification for such changes will be prepared by the OSO Head and forwarded to the AUI President for review.

 

Confidentiality

Both NRAO staff and external members of the scientific community participate in the NRAO proposal evaluation and time allocation process. They will regularly be exposed to confidential information and proprietary data and ideas. The information, data, and ideas must be held in confidence and not disclosed to others. However, several exceptions apply according to the role of the individuals in question.

  • Members of a given SRP may disclose and discuss the contents of any proposal assigned to them with one another, consistent with the conflicts of interest policy.

  • Members of the TAC may disclose and discuss the contents of any proposal under consideration with each other, consistent with conflicts of interest policy.

  • NRAO staff serving as technical reviewers may need to consult with each other to ensure a fair and complete assessment of technical elements of the proposal. Hence, technical details may be disclosed and discussed internally by relevant NRAO staff as needed.

  • NRAO staff members that participate in the Directors Review may disclose and discuss the contents of any proposal under consideration with each other, consistent with the conflicts of interest policy.

The following individuals must comply with NRAO policies on confidentiality:

  • Members of Science Review Panels

  • Members of the Time Allocation Committee

  • NRAO staff responsible for:

    • technical reviews of proposals

    • proposal management software tools and associated data bases

    • providing SRP and TAC support

    • scheduling approved proposals on NRAO telescopes

  • NRAO staff that participate in the Directors Review of TAC recommendations

Proposals printed out for technical or science review must be disposed of by SRP and TAC members in a manner consistent with NRAO policy on confidentiality. Proposals and associated information (source conflicts, proposal rankings, pressure plots, etc.) printed out and made available to TAC members during NRAO TAC meetings must remain at the NRAO. NRAO staff will dispose of these materials in a manner consistent with NRAO policy on confidentiality.

 

Compliance

All participants in the NRAO proposal evaluation and time allocation will be asked to review the policies detailed herein and asked to confirm that they understand and agree to comply with them.