Preliminary Proposal Review Guidelines for Units and Committees

Through the Innovation Fund (IF), APS is strategically investing in emerging opportunities and innovative ideas. The Fund was identified in the APS Strategic Plan as part of our commitment to serve and strengthen the physics community. It is important to have guidance from our members/leaders when selecting these awards to ensure broad scope and diverse perspectives are represented. To accomplish this, APS Committees and Units are asked to review and provide feedback on which projects to advance to the full proposal stage.


The lead-reviewer for each APS Unit or Committee will be notified on March 13 when access is available to their assigned pre-proposals. Each pre-proposal will receive a single rating and written feedback (see evaluation criteria below). Unit or Committee leadership are free to determine their own process for review; however, we recommend the following practices:

  • Create a small subcommittee dedicated to reviewing IF pre-proposals (~2-5 people)
  • Each pre-proposal should be reviewed by two or more people
  • Come to a consensus as a group as to the final rating and written commentary (usually done during a virtual meeting)
  • Keep in mind effective practices regarding implicit bias.

If a member of the review subcommittee has participated in drafting a proposal or has a perceived conflict of interest with any proposal, they should recuse themselves from participating in the review and recommendations for that submission.

To view applications:

  1. Lead-reviewer should log on to our online review system, SurveyMonkey Apply, with their myAPS credentials
  2. You will see a Review Dashboard that says "APS Committee Review" and note how many applications are assigned and completed. Click the "Continue" button to see a table of all assigned pre-proposals.
  3. Download and send pre-proposals to your Committee/Unit's reviewers.
    1. Check the top box on the left-most column to highlight all applications and then click the "Actions" dropdown menu to download all applications
    2. You have the option to download applications as individual pdfs or as a single pdf with all pre-proposals included.
  4. Lead-reviewers can also view applications directly in the browser after clicking "Start."

To enter reviews:

  1. The Lead-reviewer should log on to SurveyMonkey Apply with their myAPS credentials and navigate to the table of applications via the Review Dashboard (if you can’t log in, email for assistance).
  2. Click the green "Start" button and enter your rating and comments in the “Your Review” panel on the right.
  3. You will not be able to edit your review after submission.
  4. After March 27, you will lose access to your review (so download your reviews if you wish to have a record).

Evaluation Criteria

Assign each pre-proposal a rating based on the NSF-style rubric below, recognizing that the Steering Committee will primarily consider proposals rated Good or higher to be advanced to the full proposal stage. We anticipate requesting 10-20% of the pre-proposals to submit full proposals.

  • 5: Excellent (active recommendation to proceed, no concerns)
  • 4: Very Good (active recommendation to proceed, possible concerns)
  • 3: Good (recommendation to proceed, significant concerns)
  • 2: Fair (recommendation to not proceed, serious concerns)
  • 1: Poor (recommendation to not proceed, outside scope)

In addition, please write a short (<200 words) description of how the pre-proposal addresses the following criteria:

  1. Relevant: Aligns with the APS Strategic Plan
  2. Beneficial: Advances the interests of the physics community
  3. Innovative: Enables creative ideas that are not a continuation of current activities
  4. Measurable: Provides clear metrics for assessing the expected results

Note: Ratings and reviews will be sent verbatim to successful applicants following decisions of the IF Steering Committee to provide feedback to make stronger full proposals.

Important Dates

  • March 13, 2020: Pre-proposals ready for review.
  • March 27, 2020: Deadline for feedback from Unit/Committees for IF Steering Committee review.
  • April 27, 2020: Finalists are notified and asked to submit a full proposal.

Helpful Links


If a member of a Unit or Committee has questions or needs additional guidance on the review process, contact IF Program Coordinator, Tessa Lewis, at The IF inbox is monitored regularly from 9 AM - 5 PM ET, Monday - Friday and most issues are addressed within one business day.