Research proposal review procedures

All proposals for new research projects at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve will be reviewed by the Associate Director, other researchers who have existing projects that may be impacted by the proposed work, and, as needed, the Land Use Committee (see below). The Associate Director will decide if the proposal is approved, denied, or must be modified for reconsideration. No research may be initiated until a proposal has been reviewed and approved. Ideally, any grant application seeking funding for experimental/manipulative research at Cedar Creek should be submitted for approval to Cedar Creek before submission to any funding agency or organization. Such prior approval would eliminate uncertainties about the suitability of the planned research for Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve.

The policy articulated here is instituted to provide speed, consistency and reliability in the review process. It is our goal to complete the review process within two weeks of electronic submission of a proposal. Exceptions to this two week interval may occur if complex questions or issues arise during the review process.

Submit a proposal

Upon receipt, the Associate Director will examine and categorize each proposal according to whether it represents (A) Extensive destructive sampling, experimental manipulations, the potential for lasting impacts, or the potential to impact existing studies or areas zoned for protection; (B) Minor manipulation and/or observation without lasting effect on the habitat or on other existing studies; or (C) Work that is obviously outside the scope of what is permissible at Cedar Creek or outside the scope of Cedar Creek’s mission.

Research proposals in Category C will be returned forthwith with an explanation from the Associate Director to the author(s), with a copy of the proposal and correspondence sent to the Director.

Research proposals in Category B may be approved by the Associate Director, if there will be no chance of impacts on Cedar Creek ecosystems or other projects. Alternatively, research proposals in Category B may be sent by the Associate Director to other researchers who have existing projects that may be impacted by the proposed work. If it is unclear which other researchers may be affected by a proposed project, then the proposal will be circulated to all Cedar Creek researchers. Cedar Creek researchers will have one week to submit comments to the Associate Director. After consideration of any comments received on a proposal, research proposals in Category B may be approved by the Associate Director without further review.

Research proposals in Category A will be distributed to all members of the Land Use Committee (except not to a member with significant conflict of interest, i.e., if the proposal was written by that member or that member’s student or post-doc, etc.) for comprehensive review. Within one week, each member of the Committee and the Associate Director will write a brief review of the proposal, and will tentatively recommend approval, rejection, or modifications. A proposal receiving a majority of Committee recommendations for its approval will be approved unless the Associate Director feels that the review process has raised issues that should be addressed. The Associate Director may request further discussion by the Committee, or modifications to the proposal by its authors, and one or more additional rounds of voting after receiving modifications and/or after discussion.

If the Committee has significant questions, suggestions, or objections that lead to a recommendation for modifications, copies of the reviews will be sent back to the researchers with a cover letter requesting clarification or revision. If modifications are requested, the review process may well exceed the original time goal. Modified proposals receiving a majority of Committee recommendations for approval will be approved.

Anyone whose proposal was rejected has the right to request reconsideration by the Land Use Committee after providing it with responses to review comments and a modified proposal. The Committee will provide a decision that articulates the basis of its decision in relation to Cedar Creek Land Use Policy. Anyone whose proposal is rejected after this process may petition the Director of Cedar Creek for reconsideration, providing additional comments and/or modifications to the research plan.