NSF Proposals for Off-campus/Off-site Research - Plan for Ensuring Safe and Inclusive Work Environment

Dear NSF-funded Researchers and Applicants,

As we have previously communicated, as of today (January 30, 2023) all NSF proposals that include off-campus or off-site research must have a plan to ensure a safe and inclusive work environment for that specific project, and must share the plan with all participants.  NSF defines “off-campus or off-site research” as “data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork on research vessels and aircraft.”

To support principal investigators in meeting this new requirement, we have created two templates that principal investigators can download, customize for their specific project(s), and then disseminate to their team members: 

  1. Template Plan for Ensuring a Safe and Inclusive Work Environment for Off-Campus or Off-site Research Activity.  This template plan (“Plan”) includes a project-specific information sheet for the Principal Investigator to complete, plus a description of Columbia-wide policies, resources and information relevant to safe and inclusive research environments, and a place to add any school or departmental resources.
  2. Template Email to Disseminate Plan.  NSF requires the Plan to be disseminated to all members of the team before they depart for field or off-site research activity.  Principal investigators should use this template email to do so.  It is important for principal investigators and/or their administrators to keep a copy of the email after it is sent, to document that this NSF requirement was fulfilled.

In addition, as of today, a new certification has been added to the Rascal Proposal Tracking Data Sheet, to confirm compliance with this requirement.  The certification says:

“I/we certify that a plan has been developed for this proposal in accordance with NSF requirements on ensuring a Safe and Inclusive Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research.”

Please note: In general, NSF does not require the plan to be submitted to NSF. However, several solicitations from the NSF Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO) and Geosciences (GEO) will soon require the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the review process. Program Directors from BIO and GEO will hold a Virtual Office Hour on Tuesday, February 7, 2023; 3:30 - 4:30 PM Eastern on this new pilot effort regarding Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plans. Register here for this webinar.

If you have questions about this new requirement, please contact your SPA Project Officer.

Thank you.

William Berger
AVP for Sponsored Projects Administration

Naomi Schrag
Vice President for Research Compliance, Training and Policy

January 30, 2023