NSF Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2)

Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity. Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO).

Program Summary

Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2) funds research projects that identify (1) factors that are effective in the formation of ethical STEM researchers and (2) approaches to developing those factors in all STEM fields that NSF supports. ER2 solicits proposals for research that explores the following: "What constitutes responsible conduct for research (RCR), and which cultural and institutional contexts promote ethical STEM research and practice and why?" Do certain labs have a "culture of academic integrity?" What practices contribute to the establishment and maintenance of ethical cultures and how can these practices be transferred, extended to, and integrated into other research and learning settings?" Factors one might consider include: honor codes, professional ethics codes and licensing requirements, an ethic of service and/or service learning, life-long learning requirements, curricula or memberships in organizations (e.g. Engineers without Borders) that stress responsible conduct for research, institutions that serve under-represented groups, institutions where academic and research integrity are cultivated at multiple levels, institutions that cultivate ethics across the curriculum, or programs that promote group work, or do not grade. Successful proposals typically have a comparative dimension, either between or within institutional settings that differ along these or among other factors, and they specify plans for developing interventions that promote the effectiveness of identified factors.

ER2 research projects will use basic research to produce knowledge about what constitutes or promotes responsible or irresponsible conduct of research, and how to best instill this knowledge into researchers and educators at all career stages. In some cases, projects will include the development of interventions to ensure ethical and responsible research conduct.

Proposals for awards from minority-serving institutions (e.g., Tribal Colleges and Universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions), women's colleges, and organizations primarily serving persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged. Proposals including international collaborations are encouraged when those efforts enhance the merit of the proposed work by incorporating unique resources, expertise, facilities or sites of international partners. If possible, the U.S. team's international counterparts should obtain funding through other sources.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST November 15, 2020

Sponsor Application Deadline: 5:00pm MST February 22, 2021

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Summary (2-3 pages maximum): Please include the following: project overview, key personnel, dissemination plan, impact statement describing how the project will benefit CU Boulder, and how the project will enhance the formation of ethical STEM researchers.
  • PI Curriculum Vitae
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6522/home


NSF expects project teams to include persons with appropriate expertise. This might include expertise in the domain or domains of science or engineering on which the project focuses, in ethics, values, evaluation, and pedagogy. For Institutional Transformation Research Grant proposals, it is highly recommended that one or more senior members of the administration (e.g., Provost, VP, and/or President) serves as a PI.

Limited Submission Guidelines

Only one proposal may be submitted by an eligible organization, as defined above, in which a member of their organization serves as the PI. Potential PIs are advised to contact their organizational office of research regarding processes used to select proposals for submission. Organizations submitting more than one proposal will be notified and given one week from notification to select one proposal for consideration. If one is not selected in that period, all of those proposals will be returned without review. There is no limit on the number of proposals under which an organization may be included as a non-lead collaborator or subawardee.

Award Information

Estimated total annual funding amount is $3,550,000 subject to the availability of funds. The maximum amount for 5-year awards is $600,000 (including indirect costs) and the maximum amount for 3-year awards is $400,000 (including indirect costs). The average award is $275,000.

Estimated Number of Awards: 6 to 8

Review Criteria

In addition to intellectual merit and broader impacts, the following review criteria are given because of the program's emphasis on the comparative dimension of different approaches to the formation of STEM researchers who are committed to ethical academic and research practices and to the cultivation of institutional cultures that value, expect, and reward academic and research integrity.

Reviewers will be asked to apply the following special criteria to all proposals in this program:

  • Is this an innovative effort?
  • Does the project include adequate grounding in the relevant research literature?
  • Do potential results have promise for broad utility?
  • Are there adequate supporting materials to document commitment from those individuals and institutions playing a substantive role in the project?

Additional review criteria for Institutional Transformation Research Grant (ITRG) proposals:

  • How significant will the contribution of the study of the proposed innovative components and other institutional transformation activities be to the institutional transformation knowledge base?
  • How strong are the indicators of institutional readiness for institutional transformation and commitment to the project activities and goals?
  • Does the proposal include well-formulated, feasible plans for evaluation of the effectiveness of the intervention?
  • How well are the proposed activities linked to the institutional context and data?
  • How well is the relevant social science literature incorporated into the design of the proposed innovative components and other institutional transformation activities?
  • Are mechanisms planned that ensure long-term sustainability beyond the duration of the funded project?