Title should be short and descriptive of the proposed research.


The abstract should be a self-contained description of the proposed project. It should contain information about the proposed projectís significance and its broad objectives, hypotheses, specific aims, and methods to be employed. There should be a statement of how the project would relate to some integration ofUnited Nations Strategic Development Goals (SDGs), USDA High Priority Focus Areas (HPFAs), or how it will contribute to leveraging and/or strengthening the Agri-Food Environmental Economic Data System (Ag-FEEDS). The abstract should use lay language as much as possible. Do not include graphs or images in the abstract. The maximum length is 250 words. You may wish to consider the following questions when writing your abstract. Did you state the overall objective of the proposed research? Did you succinctly state the specific aims and how they relate to this grant programís aims? Did you briefly describe the methods? Does your abstract provide a snapshot of the whole proposal?

Relevance Narrative

Using no more than 150 words, describe the relevance of the proposed research to SDGs, HPFAs, and/or Ag-FEEDS priorities. In this section, be succinct and use plain language that can be understood by a general, lay audience.

Primary Investigator (PI) and Co-Investigator(s) (CI)

Each proposal will have a single lead PI. Proposals may have one or more CIís, where a CI is anyone who will do substantive work on the project and will likely co-author on published outputs. This can include graduate research assistants and post-docs (if known). List the PI and all CIís here, including affiliations and contact information. Each PI must also submit a separate 2-page CV that includes a section on publications that lists up to 10 manuscripts in press or published articles. You may wish to select recent publications and those most relevant to the application.


ASTAR grants are a maximum of $75,000. Uses of grant money should reflect the scope of the research proposed. The budget includes such items as student research assistant, post-doc, or investigator time, equipment, supplies, and travel expenses. Provide a narrative to explain each of the specific costs that the grant would cover (for example, Ďa post-docí); however, an itemized breakout of specific costs is not required in proposals. For more details concerning budgets, see the ĎGrant Awardsí section of the ASTAR Request for Proposals (RFP).


Above five sections should fit on one page. Proposals with several CIís and/or requiring a lengthy budget narrative can add (but must not exceed) a second page. Pages should have 1-inch margins, be written in 12-point font, and lines should be single spaced.


The Next four sections are limited to 4 total pages. Pages should have 1-inch margins, be written in 12-point font, and lines should be single spaced with indented new paragraphs.

Specific Aims

A strong proposal is driven by a strong hypothesis(es) that leads to clear research objectives. The Specific Aims section should encapsulate these concepts. It typically begins with a brief narrative paragraph or two that concisely states the issue or problem to be addressed, describes the long-term goals or objectives of the proposed project, and clearly states the hypothesis(es) to be tested. This is followed by a numbered list of Specific Aims. The aims test different aspects of the hypotheses, operationalize the objectives, and provide a rationale for the research approach to be described later. For clarity, each aim should consist of only one sentence. Use a brief paragraph under each aim if detail is needed. Make sure that the aims are logical, achievable, and clearly related back to the hypothesis and to ASTAR priorities. See ĎReview Processí section of RFP for description and weights given to proposal rating criteria.


The assessment of this research plan will largely determine whether the application is favorably recommended for funding. Images, graphs, and charts included, go within this section, not in a separate attachment. They count against the page limit. Investigators must use image compression such as JPEG or PNG. Applicants are strongly discouraged from submitting proprietary information unless it is essential to the evaluation of the proposed project. As this is a publicly funded award, all input and output data, plus programming code, must eventually be made available to the public in an open-source fashion.


In this section, state the research problem, current state of knowledge, and potential contributions of the research to the field. Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress in the field that the proposed project addresses. Explain how the proposed project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or application in one or more broad fields. The background leading to the present application should be brief. It should identify the gap(s) in the existing literature that this project will fill. If included, a literature review should be brief, provide only that information that directly pertains to the scientific need for your project, and reflect up-to-date knowledge of the field. Consider the following questions. Does this study address an important problem? Will it resolve an important controversy in the field? How does this study leverage or strengthen Ag-FEEDS? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or research applications be advanced?


In this section, explain how the application challenges and seeks to shift current research or approaches to specific issues or topics. Describe any novel theoretical concepts, methodologies, or data to be developed or studied, and any advantage over existing methodologies, or data. Explain any refinements, improvements, or new applications of theoretical concepts, methodologies, or data. Consider the following questions. Is the project original and innovative? For example, does the project challenge existing paradigms? Does it address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel data sources, concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?