The CNMS expects high-impact, peer-reviewed scientific or technological publications to result from all user research projects. PIs and reviewers should keep this in mind when proposing or evaluating research projects.

SCIENTIFIC MERIT – Definitions of Ratings (scale 1 to 5)

5 -Extraordinary The proposal involves cutting-edge research of great scientific importance. Proposed research will significantly advance knowledge in a specific field or scientific discipline. Access to the specialized capabilities and/or expertise of the CNMS is essential to the success of the proposed work. I believe this proposal must be supported with the highest priority.
4 -Excellent The proposed research is of high quality and has potential for making an important contribution to a specific field or scientific discipline. The work is innovative and is likely to be published in a leading scientific journal. Access to the specialized capabilities and/or expertise of the CNMS is highly desirable for the success of the proposed work. I strongly recommend that this proposal should be supported.
3 -Good The proposed research is inventive and likely to produce publishable results. Impact on a specific field or scientific discipline is likely. The proposed work will greatly benefit from access to the specialized capabilities and/or expertise of the CNMS. This proposal should be supported if ample resources are available.
2 -Fair The proposed research is interesting but may not significantly impact a specific field or scientific discipline. Publication may or may not result from this research. This proposal should not be supported if the required resources are limited.
1 -Poor The proposed research is not well planned or is not feasible. Results would not make important contributions to fundamental or applied understanding, and work is not likely to result in publication. This proposal should not be supported.

CAPABILITY OF THE PROPOSING GROUP – Evaluation Criteria (scale 1 to 3)

This score should be based on the capability of the proposing team, whose members are listed on p. 1 of the proposal. Consider the following factors:

  • Experience & education
  • Publication record in nanoscale science or nanotechnology or related science field
  • Sufficient and appropriate personnel to conduct proposed experiment/theoretical study in proposed time frame
3 -Excellent
  • The proposing research team is widely recognized in the field with an outstanding record of publication OR is led by junior researchers who have demonstrated exceptional promise for future accomplishment.
  • The combination of team members is strong across all technical areas needed to accomplish the proposed research.
2 -Good
  • The proposing research team has a solid reputation in the field and a strong record of publication in leading journals
  • The assembled group appears to have sufficient expertise across all technical areas required to accomplish the proposed research.
1 -Fair
  • The proposing research team has not established leadership in the field nor demonstrated the potential to make outstanding contributions
    The proposal does not provide convincing evidence that the proposing team has sufficient and appropriate personnel to accomplish all of their tasks as outlined in the proposal.


This criterion will be applied only to those projects that have been designated by the PI for the Partner User mode. These projects must enhance the capabilities of the CNMS or otherwise contribute to its operation. Typically they develop the facility instrumentation in some way, bringing outside financial and/or intellectual capital into the evolution of the CNMS, or improve the operation of its equipment and facilities. It is required that these contributions must be made available eventually to General Users.

A positive evaluation for this criterion indicates that the Partner’s contribution is likely to deliver significant value to the CNMS and its future users based on the following considerations:

  • Would the proposed development represent a major advance in the state-of-the-art either as a revolutionary new capability or through a significant, evolutionary enhancement of an existing capability?
  • Would the new capability developed under this proposal be unique in the world, the U.S., or the region (southeastern U.S.)?
  • Is the new capability likely to be of broad interest across several subfields of nanoscale science and technology?
  • How important is it that this capability be housed at CNMS, either (a) because the CNMS has essential, auxiliary capabilities, (b) because the capability will serve a substantial user community and needs to be centrally available in a NSRC, or (c) because it will significantly strengthen the CNMS in one of its identified Scientific Themes?

Technical Feasibility and Availability of Resources are determined by CNMS research leaders as follows.

TECHNICAL FEASIBILITY (Yes/No) – evaluated by CNMS staff prior to external review

CNMS staff and leadership make a determination that a project is feasible based on the answers to both of the following questions:

  • Are the present capabilities and expertise at the CNMS adequate to perform the requested tasks?
  • Can the research be performed safely at CNMS and in compliance with applicable environmental, safety, and health regulations?

If the answer to either question is NO, the proposal will be returned to the PI without external peer-review.

AVAILABILITY OF RESOURCES (No PRC evaluation or score)
The CNMS Director, in consultation with CNMS research leaders, will allocate all available resources based on priorities determined from PRC ratings using the criteria described above.