University of Southern California


NSF-19-609: Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2)

Note: This solicitation is an update of NSF’s Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM (CCE STEM) solicitation.

Slots:                                                     1

Internal Deadline:                           January 8, 2021, 5pm PT

LOI:                                                        N/A

External Deadline:                          February 22, 2021

Award Information:                        Type:  Standard Grant

Estimated Number of Awards:  6 to 8

Anticipated Amount: $3,550,000. 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.

Budgetary Requirements:           For “Conference Proposals,” ER2 conference support is typically around $30,000 in direct costs. The ER2 program will consider requests for conferences that exceed this amount given special circumstances. Indirect costs are in addition to this direct cost limitation and are subject to the awardee’s current Federally negotiated indirect cost rate. We encourage seeking support from multiple agencies and organizations.


For “Project Incubation” proposals, ER2 Project Incubation Grant support is typically around $60,000 in direct costs. The ER2 program will consider requests for Project Incubation proposals that exceed this amount given special circumstances. Indirect costs are in addition to this direct cost limitation and are subject to the awardee’s current Federally negotiated indirect cost rate. We encourage seeking support from multiple agencies and organizations. 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.

Submission Process:                     PIs must submit their application as a Limited Submission through the Office of Research Application Portal:

Materials to submit:

Link to Award:                         

Who May Serve as PI:                    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.


The ER2 program encourages novel research approaches for fostering the formation of STEM researchers who are committed to ethical academic and research practices and to cultivating institutional cultures that value, expect, and reward academic and research integrity. The program ultimately aims to increase the number of students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members exposed to ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ ethical research training (i.e., responsible conduct of research) (Herkert, J.R. 2004). The ER2 program also seeks improved approaches to motivating student and faculty interest in exploring and being cognizant of the ethical dimensions of STEM.


The Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2) program accepts proposals for innovative research projects that contribute to understanding what it takes to foster ethical STEM research in all STEM fields, including within interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, and international contexts. ER2 research projects will use basic research to produce knowledge about which factors lead to responsible or irresponsible, just or unjust scientific cultures, practices, and sociotechnical systems, and how to best instill this knowledge in faculty and students.


Projects can include qualitative and/or quantitative approaches, and mixed methods approaches are encouraged. Proposals should specify plans to disseminating findings to appropriate research and educational communities and assist them to implement projects or programs based on the findings. ER2 awardees must share their findings with others via the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science (Award #1355547) and at the biennial PI meetings held at NSF. PIs are responsible for covering the expenses of participating in these PI meetings throughout the tenure of their award and should indicate this and include these costs in their budget.




Proposed research should seek to provide answers to the following: “What constitutes ethical STEM research and practice? 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, or 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 membership 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 (1) between or within institutional settings that differ along the factors suggested or other factors, or (2) over time—before and after an intervention. For Institutional Transformation Research Grants, investigators are expected to gather and report baseline data in the first annual report. Both Standard and Institutional Transformation Research Grant proposals can be collaborative.



The ER2 program supports thematic conferences designed to bring together researchers and students to foster new ER2 research, synthesize results across previously funded ER2 projects, and develop new ethical standards for STEM research. It does not support gatherings whose purpose is primarily to convey the results of completed research. Conference proposals can focus on any topic within STEM ethics, but they should do so from a perspective that moves beyond explaining unethical behavior at the level of the individual researcher and towards more collective, cultural explanations and solutions for advancing ethical and responsible STEM. Conference proposals should generally be submitted a year in advance of the proposed event. The ER2 program encourages including graduate students and members of underrepresented groups as active conference participants. While conference proposals may be submitted at any time, they may also be reviewed by review panels along with other senior research proposals submitted to the regular target dates. For general guidance about conferences, including a list of required elements and budget exclusions, follow the PAPPG guidance for preparing Conference Proposals (PAPPG Chapter II.E.7). Please follow those instructions while keeping in mind the ER2 program”s specific interests and limitations. Conference proposals must be submitted via FastLane or



ER2 supports small Project Incubation proposals that provide funds for STEM researchers and administrators from multiple organizations to collaborate to develop and submit a full ER2 STANDARD Grant. Proposers must span at least two organizations. Those who intend to submit a Project Incubation proposal must consult with a cognizant NSF Program Officer before submitting to ascertain the suitability of the envisioned activity. These proposals are reviewed along with other senior research proposals and should be submitted to one of the deadline dates for this solicitation. Project Incubation proposals provide only one year of support. Proposers should follow the guidance in the PAPPG, adapting the Project Description as needed for the particulars of the project.


Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.