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Science  22 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6284, pp. 393
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6284.393

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has found a potentially powerful tool to help it tamp down the workload created by some 48,000 grant proposals annually: It can simply eliminate deadlines. Last week, NSF officials revealed that proposals to four geoscience grant programs dropped by 59% after they eliminated deadlines in favor of anytime submissions, evaluated on a rolling basis. The no-deadline experiment is part of a longstanding NSF effort to manage the agency's workload. After trying out the approach in 2011 with a small grant program for earth science instruments and facilities, the agency has now expanded it to four regular grant programs in the surface earth processes section. Some scientists believe the tactic eliminates hasty proposals and encourages more thoughtful ones.