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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

AD421 Transition Standard Report

1) Why were changes made to the CRIS AD-421 (Progress Report)?

Changes were made to improve the quality of information reported by NIFA awardees. Better information from NIFA awardees will mean higher quality outcomes and impacts reports from NIFA investments in research, education, and extension projects. Congress, OMB, GAO, and other sources often request examples of outcomes/impacts from recent NIFA investments. Because NIFA relies on the partnership to generate outcomes/impacts from NIFA funding, better information must be obtained from the partnership. Better information will also facilitate program management within NIFA and lead to a higher quality of information for internal and external portfolio reviews.

The revised categories and instructions in the Transition Standard Report moves the CRIS system toward the language used in the Research Business Models (RBM) Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR).  The final version of the RPPR can be found at http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/rppr/index.jsp. The draft format of the RPPR is a uniform format for reporting performance on federally-funded research projects. Development of standard reporting categories across the federal government will facilitate development of a common electronic solution for collecting information in lieu of collecting it through numerous agency-specific forms. When the RPPR is finalized, all federal agencies that support research projects will use the RPPR to report progress on grants and cooperative agreements. The RPPR was developed by the Research Business Models Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, a committee of the National Science and Technology Council, as part of the implementation of the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-107).

The language used in the Transition Standard Report is also consistent with the "Outputs" and "Outcomes" sections of the Generic Logic Model for NIFA Reporting (v 1.3). This will facilitate reporting for project directors who use this logic model in program planning.

2) Why wasn't a separate form developed for reporting on extension projects/activities?

The Transition Standard Report will contain the same reporting categories and guidance for research, extension, and education projects and will provide a more consistent format for project directors who may be reporting on multiple types of NIFA grants.

3) Project Directors are used to reporting "experimental results", "findings", and "conclusions". Where is this information reported on the Transition Standard Report? 

Instead of reporting "experimental results", "findings", or "conclusions" project directors should report "changes in knowledge" in the Outcomes/Impacts section. Congress, OMB, GAO, and other sources are usually not interested in detailed technical results or findings. They are most interested in outcomes/impacts. NIFA defines outcomes/impacts as changes in knowledge, actions, or conditions. A change in knowledge occurs when the participant (scientist, trainee, or citizen) learns or becomes aware. A change in knowledge can occur from a positive or negative experimental result or from duplication of an experiment or study.

4) Previously, the Impacts area included expected outcomes/impacts. In the Transition Standard Report, actual outcomes/impacts are requested. Most research projects or extension projects cannot demonstrate impacts in a short time frame. Why the change?

Congress, OMB, GAO, and other sources request information on actual outcomes/impacts of NIFA investments in research, education, and extension projects. We do not receive requests for expected outcomes/impacts. Thus, NIFA must collect actual outcomes/impacts from our awardees to satisfy various reporting requirements. NIFA defines outcomes/impacts as changes in knowledge, actions, or conditions. NIFA does not expect that all projects will be able to demonstrate a change in knowledge during the first year of the project; however, we expect that most research or extension projects should at least be able to describe a change in knowledge by the end of the project.

5) International collaborators or co-project directors provide meaningful contributions to many projects. Can international collaborators or co-project directors be included in the Participants section?  

Yes. Information on individuals from outside the US can be included in the Participants section. Additional information is provided in the "collaborators and contacts" section of the guidance to the Participants section.

6) In the past, project directors have not reported publications that were "submitted" or publications that appeared in the lay media. Why does NIFA want these publications reported?

Manuscripts that have been "submitted" for publication are one metric that can be used to measure progress on a project. Since many manuscripts may not be published before the termination date of the award, submitted manuscripts may be the only output for some projects. Publications in the lay media are important because they provide one of the best methods for communicating research results or new information directly to the public who otherwise might not have access to scientific or technical journals.


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