NSF Safe/Inclusive Environment Requirements
February 6, 2023
NSF Principal Investigators,
For new proposal submissions (or a resubmission) after January 30, 2023, NSF requires that PIs have a plan in place to safeguard participants when engaging in off-campus research activities. You are receiving this message because you have previously submitted proposals to NSF and any future submissions to NSF that include off-campus research activities will be subject to this requirement.
NSF’s new requirement states that there must be a plan for a safe and inclusive work environment created—and distributed to each participant—in advance of departure for an off-campus research activity. Off-campus or off-site research is defined by NSF for this requirement as “data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork or research activities on vessels and aircraft.” The underlying premise is that all participants need to know how to recognize and report inappropriate behavior and receive guidance in advance about how to feel safe and protected, even when they are away from campus.
The creation and distribution of the plan is the responsibility of the award PI. To ease the administrative burden, OSP has created a template for you to use. This document can be found on the NSF Safe/Inclusive Environment Requirements. You will need to complete the boxes on the last page of the template document for your specific grant. You may use or re-use the same plan throughout your grant if your off-site work is the same throughout the grant period, but you must make sure that all participants (regardless of when they join the grant) receive a copy before they participate in off campus research. If the work varies (e.g., fieldwork in a remote location one year and research activities at another US institution at another time), you will need to update your plan to reflect the specific special needs pertinent to each activity and re-distribute the updated plan.
The template has been designed to help you identify areas where you may need to think about special circumstances. We have also created a Frequently Asked Questions to help you think through good and viable options that you may wish to deploy for those special circumstances. Additional information can also be found on the OSP website NSF Safe/Inclusive Environment Requirements.
If you need help or have questions, please reach out to Lisa Mosley, Executive Director of OSP (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Pamela S. Caudill
Senior Associate Provost for Research Administration
NSF Principal Investigators
Lead Administrators and Operations Managers