John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis

Tips and Examples

Not just here for show...

Please carefully consider the tips below to make sure your submission is as successful as possible. 

To help Working Groups develop successful proposals, the Powell Center Science Advisory Board has adopted the following NCEAS rules of thumb to guide proposal preparation:

  • Proposals are evaluated primarily on the significance and novelty of the idea(s) under consideration and should be question-driven (i.e., not purely descriptive).
  • Provide a clear rationale for why the proposed activities should be, or can only be, done at the Powell Center with or without potential NSF co-funding.
  • Be clear and concise. Provide brief examples of major points being made or approaches being used. “Trust me” proposals are not effective.
  • Your reviewers are not always subject matter experts. Minimize technical jargon and unidentified acronyms.
  • Include a diverse array of participants who are committed to the project. Pay attention to gender balance and ethnic diversity, and include individuals at all stages of their career. Your team should reflect depth and breadth in expertise, career stage, gender and ethnicity, and your diversity statement should not be a count of under-represented populations. 
  • For each participant, specify the expertise brought to the project and whether he/she has agreed to participate. 
  • Indicate sources and attributes of data used in the project and their availability.
  • If the results are designed or imagined to be useful to resource managers, make clear, valid statements about why and how that is so.

Ethics and Collaboration

Most group project participants recognize the challenge of maintaining clear channels of communication among team members. Powell Center collaborators are encouraged to discuss authorship and data sharing early and often. Publications resulting from Powell Center activities are authored by groups of researchers representing scientific fields with diverse views on authorship and data sharing.

Check the "Publication" section of the Ecological Society of America's Code of Ethics as a starting point for discussions about co-authorship. The Powell Center endorses these principles in establishing authorship. You might also wish to check guidelines published by the journal(s) to which you anticipate submitting your work.

The Powell Center Data and Information Policy outlines requirements for publicizing data generated by work supported by the Powell Center.

Download the Powell Center Code of Ethics [pdf], which must be agreed to prior to project initiation.


Examples of Successful Proposals

A broader view of North American climate over the past two millennia: Synthesizing paleoclimate records from diverse archives [pdf]
includes a data management plan
Powell Center Working Group Proposal, 2013

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: An Assessment of the Potential Effects of Shale Gas Development on Water Resources in the United States [pdf]
Powell Center Working Group Proposal, 2011

Characterizing a Link in the Terrestrial Carbon Cycle: A Global Overview of Individual Tree Mass Growth [pdf]
Powell Center Working Group Proposal, 2010


John Wesley Powell Center
Phone: 970-226-9103

Jill Baron, Ph.D.

Research Ecologist Senior Scientist (ST)
Fort Collins Science Center
Phone: 970-491-1968