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University of Wisconsin–Madison


Criteria Used to Evaluate Proposals

Significance and Impact

  • What is the problem you are trying to solve? Why is this the right  time to address this problem?
  • What are the innovative features, the potential impact, and the significance of the research? How will it be transformative for the field?
  • Does the study have clear transformative potential?
  • How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
  • How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within the field?


Are the concepts, approaches, or methodologies novel in a broad sense? Are the hypotheses or proposed methodology exceptionally innovative?


Are the Principal Investigators (PIs), co-investigators, collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? Have they demonstrated a record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project involves multiple PIs, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise? Do the past achievements of the PI(s) suggest that the investigator(s) is/are highly innovative and likely to produce high-impact discoveries?

What, if any, is the role of graduate students and/or postdoctoral fellows in the project? Do the PI(s) have suitable experience in supervising trainees in research?

Research Plan

Is the logic of the research plan sufficiently compelling? Is the overall design, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the aims of the project? Has the methodology or hypotheses been tested before? Are potential problems addressed? Does the plan include appropriate metrics for assessing success? Does information on the timeline inspire confidence that the PI(s) will be able to complete the project within the budget period?

Are equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed?

Likelihood of Extramural Support

What is the likelihood that the completion of the project will lead to a successful external grant application? Is there a plan for moving from UW2020 funding to external support?

Budget and Period of Support

Is the budget and the requested period of support fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research. Is there departmental or college support for the project?

Criteria used to evaluate equipment and instrumentation


Does the equipment/technology bring important new capabilities for campus research? Does the proposal provide an incremental gain over current research infrastructure or an entirely new approach? Does the proposal describe how the new equipment will connect with campus core infrastructure?


Will the availability of the equipment/technology benefit a substantial number of research programs on campus? Is there strong evidence of faculty interest in using the new resource? Will the availability of the equipment/technology expand the training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows? Does the proposal describe multiple research areas or disciplines that will be enhanced?

Budget and Environment

Is the budget and the requested period of support fully justified and reasonable? Will the equipment/technology be placed within an environment that provides appropriate support for its operation and ready availability to campus researchers? Is there an adequate plan, involving commitments from the school, department, or center, and/or cost recovery from users, that will insure the successful continuing operation of the proposed infrastructure? Is the space needed for this equipment described and committed for this purpose?