Large Grants
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Agency in the Physical World
An International Request for Proposals

Frequently Asked Questions

Do FQXi or FFF have a preferred philosophical or scientific agenda?
No. We are equally interested in all proposals with great promise and talent falling within the program purview and the parameters of the request for proposals.

Who is eligible for grants?
Researchers and outreach specialists working in academic and other non-profit institutions are eligible. Grants cannot be given to for-profit organizations or institutes. Grant awards are sent to the PI’s institute and the institute’s administration is responsible for disbursing the awards to the PI. When submitting your application, please make sure to list the appropriate grant administrator that we should contact at your institute. If you are not affiliated with an institute, you will have to find an institute to help administer this grant.

Applicants do not need to be FQXi Members.

Can researchers from outside the U.S. apply?
Yes, applications will be welcomed from any country.

Please note that the US Government imposes restrictions on the types of organizations to which US nonprofits (such as FQXi) can give grants. Given this, if you are awarded a grant, your institution must a) prove their equivalency to a non-profit institution by providing the institute’s establishing law or charter, list of key staff and board members, and a signed affidavit for public universities and, b) comply with the U.S. Patriot Act. Please note that this is included to provide information about the equivalency determination process that will take place if you are awarded a grant. If there are any issues with your granting institution proving its equivalency, FQXi can help provide a list of organizations that can act as a go-between to administer the grant. More detail about international grant compliance is available on our website here.

Can I submit an application in a language other than English?
All proposals must be in English. Since our grant program has an international focus, we will not penalize applications by people who do not speak English as their first language. We will encourage the review panel to be accommodating of language differences when reviewing applications. All applications must be coherent.

How and when do we apply?
Apply online here. Initial Proposals must be submitted by February 1, 2018. After screening, you may then be invited to submit a Full Proposal, due June 12, 2018. Please see the RFP Overview for more information.

Do you allow grant extensions?
Please note that FQXi has been accommodating with grant extensions in the past, but for this grant program we are not able to do so beyond August 31, 2020. Please ensure that you can complete the research or outreach project you plan to apply for with a guaranteed final date of August 31, 2020 or earlier. We will require all unused grant funds to be returned after this date.

What kinds of programs and requests are eligible for funding?
  • Student or postdoctoral salary and benefits for part of the academic year
  • Summer salary and teaching buyout for academics
  • Support for specific projects during sabbaticals
  • Assistance in writing or publishing books (please see additional detail below)
  • Modest allowance for computer equipment, publication charges, or supplies, provided that these items are clearly justified in the proposal
  • Experimental equipment (Keep in mind that while we are very interested in experimental proposals, the total available funding means that funding for large equipment purchases will be unlikely.)
  • Modest travel allowance
  • Development of large workshops, conferences, or lecture series (Note that small programs of this type, and others costing less than US $15K, are best supported by an FQXi Mini-Grant. Mini-Grant applications, however, are restricted to FQXi Members.)
  • Development of outreach or educational programs for laypeople that disseminate knowledge regarding foundational questions in physics and cosmology (The impact criterion, in this case, will be judged on the proposal's ability to disseminate knowledge rather than develop it.)
  • Overhead of at most 15%

What is your policy on overhead?
The highest allowed overhead rate is 15%. This is FQXi policy and not negotiable.

Can I request an advance for a book?
We do permit funding for book-related projects, but grants should not be viewed as a substitute for a publisher’s advance. Review panels will give preference to projects in which the writing is a part of the PI's regular research (e.g. technical manuscripts, teaching materials), or the final product is available as a public resource, or in which the grant enables the writing but does not bear full support. In particular, we would not likely support the commission of a book that then goes to market commercially. FQXi Members should strongly consider using the Mini-Grant program for smaller book projects, in lieu of a Large Grant.

How will proposals be judged?
After screening of the Initial Proposal, applicants may be asked to submit a Full Proposal. All Full Proposals will undergo a competitive process of external and confidential expert peer review. An expert panel will evaluate and rank the reviews according to the criteria described in the RFP Overview.

Can you give me any guidance on my research proposal, and on whether or not our project fits within the funding vision?
Please see the Examples page for topics that appropriate research proposals will tackle. We do not provide any further feedback on Initial Proposals. We may provide feedback on a successful Initial Proposal that has been invited for a Full Proposal. Please keep in mind that however positive we may be about a proposal at any stage, it may still be turned down for funding after peer review.

Can I submit multiple proposals?
We will consider multiple Initial Proposals from the same PI; however, we will invite at most one Full Proposal from each PI or closely associated group of applicants.

What if I am unable to submit my application electronically?
Only applications submitted through the form on our website are accepted. If you encounter problems, please contact FQXi immediately.

Is there a maximum amount of money for which we can apply?
No. You may apply for as much money as you think is necessary to achieve your goals. However, you should carefully justify your proposed expenditure. Keep in mind that projects will be assessed on potential impact per dollar requested; an inappropriately high budget may harm the proposal’s prospects, effectively pricing it out of the market. Referees are authorized to suggest budget adjustments.

What will an average award be?
We expect that research awards will average around $100,000 total over the life of the award (two years maximum).

What are the reporting requirements?
Grantees will be asked to submit a progress report and/or a final report consisting of narrative and financial reports. Renewal of two-year grants will be contingent on satisfactory demonstration in the progress reports that the supported research is progressing appropriately, and continues to be consistent with the spirit of the original proposal.

What are the qualifications for a Principal Investigator?
Since this is a program run by researchers for researchers, we may be a bit more flexible than traditional funding agencies in the definition of a Principal Investigator; thus, we may accept applications from postdoctoral fellows as the PI or a co-investigator if his/her institution allows this. Should a postdoctoral fellow be invited to submit a Full Proposal, we might request that the fellow obtain co-signatures on the proposal from the department head or a department host with a post extending the duration of the grant.

My colleague(s) and I would like to apply as co-PIs. Can we do this?
Yes. For administrative purposes, however, please select a primary contact for the life of the award. The primary contact, the Principal Investigator, will be the reference for your application(s) and all future correspondence, documents, etc.

Can you fund PhD student research assistantships?
Yes. However, because of the unconventional nature of the FQXi and FFF missions, full-time student support is discouraged. Potential students cannot directly apply for a studentship.

Will the grants pay for laboratory expenses?
Yes, however due to budgetary limitations we cannot fund capital-intensive equipment. Also, laboratory expenses must be clearly required by the proposed research, which must clearly fulfill the 'foundational’ relevance criterion.

I have a proposal for my usual, relatively mainstream research program that I may able to neatly repackage as an appropriate proposal for this program. Sound OK?
We are very sensitive to the problem of "fishing for money"—that is, the re-casting of an existing research program to make it appear to fit the overall thematic nature of this Request For Proposals. Such proposals will not be funded, nor renewed if funded initially.

What are FQXi "Mini-Grants"?
FQXi has initiated an on-going program to fund small projects (approximately $1,000 to $15,000) by FQXi Members only. If you are a Member, please contact FQXi to find out information on the next Mini Grant round.

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