Proposer Guidelines for NASA Keck Dual Anonymous Reviews

The NASA Keck proposal review process is now using a Dual Anonymous Proposal Review (DAPR) format. The DAPR conceals the proposers' identities from the Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC) members and, as has always been the case for the NASA Keck TAC, member identities will remain anonymous. The NASA Keck proposal review process is managed for NASA by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) at Caltech/IPAC.

These guidelines are intended to assist proposers in preparing their DAPR proposals and help ensure a fairer proposal evaluation process. These guidelines do not replace the Call for Proposals which should be read for complete details on applying for NASA Keck time.

NExScI understands that dual-anonymous peer review represents a major shift in the evaluation of proposals, and as such there may be occasional slips in writing anonymized proposals. However, NExScI reserves the right to return without review proposals that are particularly egregious in terms of the identification of the proposing team. The NASA Selection Official (NExScI's Executive Director) will determine the severity of any writing slips.

NExScI further acknowledges that some proposed work may be so specialized that, despite attempts to anonymize the proposal, the identities of the Principal Investigator and team members are readily discernable. As long as the guidelines are followed, NASA/NExScI will not return these proposals without review.

Proposers must still enter the names and affiliations of all investigators into the NASA Keck online proposal submission site, however the names and affiliations of the proposing team (PIs and Co-Is) will not be included in the proposal versions sent to the TAC members nor revealed to them until all proposal grading and ranking is finalized.

After proposal submission, you will receive a confirmation email that has two versions of your proposal attached: one with the anonymized Science Program and anonymous coversheet information and a non-anonymized version with the Expertise and Access document, WMKO coversheet, and Mission Support letters if applicable. If you see errors in either, you may resubmit your proposal up until the proposal deadline.

After the proposal deadline and before the anonymized proposals are sent to the TAC members for review, NExScI staff will check the submissions to ensure that they follow the DAPR guidelines. NExScI staff will not change/alter any information (either in the PDFs or in the information entered on the submission website). The NASA Keck Selecting Official will make the final decision on the severity of the violation of the guidelines as well as if the proposal will be reviewed or returned.

The proposing team identities will be shown to the TAC only after the science and strategic evaluation grading and ranking of all proposals has taken place. This information will be used by the TAC to determine if the team is qualified to complete the proposed program. This information will be in a separate non-anonymized Expertise and Access document (see section below) that will also include information on the PI and team's institutional access to Keck and/or Subaru time (if applicable).

Information submitted via the webform (left panel) along with submitted documents (right panel) will be used to generate the two PDFs (center panel) that are used during the TAC process. Click image to download.

Proposal Submission

As in previous semesters, proposals will be submitted through the online website. A complete proposal will have:

Writing the Anonymized Science Program

Proposers are required to write the proposal abstract and the main proposal in an anonymized format that does not explicitly identify the team members or their institutions. Use of this template, provided in Word and Latex is required.

Below are some guidelines to help with the anonymization process.

  • Proposers should be able to make their case through the description of the proposed observing program and method of analysis that they have the necessary skills to achieve success; if specific skills are required, the panel will flag that and will be able to verify this after seeing the Expertise and Access document.
  • Do not include author names or affiliations anywhere in the anonymized proposal. This includes but is not limited to, page headers, footers, diagrams, or figures.
  • Previous and/or related work can be discussed, however they should be described without attribution to a particular investigator or group.
  • Do not claim ownership of past work, e.g., "my previously funded work..." or "Our prior analysis demonstrates that..." Instead say simply "previous work".
  • Do not include the names of the personnel associated with the proposal or their organizational affiliations. This does not include references to past work, which should be included whenever relevant.
  • When citing references use third person neutral wording. This especially applies to self-referencing. For example, replace phrases like "as we have shown in our previous work (Gelino, 2021), …" with "as previously shown in Gelino 2021, ..."
  • Do not include URLs or YouTube links in the proposal text, footnotes, references, etc. that might identify the PI or a team member.
  • Do not refer to previous observing programs using Keck or other observatories in an identifying fashion. For instance, rather than write "we observed another cluster, similar to the one we are proposing," instead write "Keck in month/year has observed this target..."
  • Another common situation that occurs in proposals is when one or more team members have institutional access to unique facilities (e.g., an observatory or laboratory) that are required to accomplish the proposed work. See section on "Access to Keck and/or Subaru Time" below for instructions on how to handle this.
  • Depending on the proposed research, it may be occasionally important to cite exclusive access datasets, non-public software, unpublished data, or findings that have been presented in public but are not citable. Each of these may reveal (or strongly imply) the identity of the investigators on the proposal. In these instances, proposers must use language such as "obtained in private communication" or "from private consultation" when referring to such potentially identifying work.
  • Work that is "submitted" but not yet on arXiv or another similar site that would likely identify the team should be referenced as “personal communication." Please note that references to "submitted" work IS allowed in the non-anonymous E&A document, just not in the anonymous Science Program.

It takes some effort by authors to anonymize their PDF submissions. As the guidelines show, grammar and structure are expected to be different than in NASA Keck proposal submissions prior to 2022A. Take sufficient time to prepare the proposal, especially if you plan to resubmit a proposal from a previous semester.

Proposers should make an effort to describe the past work in the field, and how this proposal will improve, build-upon, or complete that past work. Many successful proposals discuss stated sample goals or statistical completeness, and how this proposed work will fit in. Similarly, proposals may also discuss the uniqueness of the sample, and goals in comparison to similar work.

Example Text for Anonymized Science Programs

Writing the Non-anonymized Expertise and Access (E&A) Document

As part of the DAPR process, NExScI is requiring that proposers submit an Expertise and Access (E&A) document in addition the anonymized Science Program. The E&A document is non-anonymized and this template Word or Latex format, containing the following sections, must be used. See the Call for Proposals for detailed information on the sections in the E&A document.

Team Expertise

The one-page team expertise document should include the team's expertise in the following: Keck instrumentation, data reduction and analysis/modeling, and observational experience. For proposals with a large number of Co-Investigators, it is not necessary to report on the qualifications of every team member, only those conducting or leading major aspects of the proposed study. This does not need to be a bio of the team members.

An example of the Team Expertise section of the E&A document is:

Dr. Jane Doe has expertise in Keck data reduction for HIRES, the prime instrument for the proposed observations. Dr. Doe is an expert in exoplanet transit events and has led several past Keck programs resulting in 5 papers published on detecting planetary transits with Keck HIRES. Dr. John Doe is an expert in computational simulation of planetary transits. Sarah Smith is a graduate student working with Dr. Jane Doe.

Access to Keck and/or Subaru Time

PIs and Co-Is applying for NASA Keck time may have access to Keck/Subaru time through their own institutions. This information can also be included in the anonymized Science Program, however in that document, it must be written in a way that does not identify any team members.

The online submission site includes a question about the level of access to Keck/Subaru time of the proposing team and how that time is being used (or not) for the proposed program. This access must be more fully explained in this section of the E&A document.

If no team members have access to Keck/Subaru time through their home institutions, please state that in this section.

Here are some examples:

"The team has access to telescope time on the W. M. Keck Observatory, which will enable spectroscopic follow-up of the galaxies in the sample. The NASA time requested for this proposal is to gather complementary imaging data that could not be accommodated through access to their own TAC."

"The PI is a graduate student at an institution with Keck access that does not allow graduate students to apply for Keck time through their TAC."

"Neither the PI nor any of the Co-Is have access to Keck through non-NASA partners."

Progress Report for Ongoing or Recently Completed Keck Projects AND Status of Allocated Time on Large Telescopes

Please summarize the PI's and key Co-I's current involvement on existing Keck research programs to inform the reviewers of the status of completed and planned observations, data analysis, and publications. A similar summary should be made for other relevant large or space-based telescope time that has been awarded during the past two years.

Web Curator and NExScI Cognizant Official: Dr. Dawn Gelino

(last updated February 14th, 2022 14:19:47)