RTE Review Process

Rapid Turnaround Experiment (RTE) Review Process

All RTE proposals are reviewed for feasibility, program relevance, and technical/scientific merit. Proposals are reviewed according to the schedule provided on the RTE Overview page.

The technical/scientific peer reviewers are selected from the nuclear community. Proposals are scored on scientific merit (50%), technical feasibility (30%), and capability of the group (20%).

The scientific merit criterion includes the importance of the scientific or technological need addressed in the proposal as well as the innovation, including such aspects as the influence that the project might have on the future direction, progress, and thinking within the area of science and technology; the likelihood of achieving valuable results; and the scientific innovation and originality indicated in the proposed research. The proposal should demonstrate a logical approach to applying materials characterization to solve a technological problem and/or provide new scientific knowledge as well as a high degree of innovation being substantially different from work being pursued elsewhere.

The technical feasibility criterion provides an assessment of the technical approach and research tasks outlined in the proposal. The proposal must

  1. show the appropriateness of the proposed research methods, equipment and approach;
  2. address the risk posed by the approach; and
  3. identify an acceptable approach to ensure a successful research outcome based on information in relevant literature, and from the knowledge-base of the field.

In addition, the proposal should address potential showstoppers, present a project schedule (including a sequence of project tasks, principal milestones, and times for each task), detail the planned assignment of responsibilities, and highlight the required technical expertise available to the applicant in carrying out the project at the NSUF partner facility.

The group capability criterion will take into consideration the background, past performance, and potential of the principal investigator as well as the research environment and facilities that will be provided by the PI and co-PIs. Research potential and background will be weighted more heavily for a junior investigator with a more limited track record than an established researcher.

Each proposal receives relevancy reviews performed by DOE-NE staff and NSUF program leads. In the event of a review conflict, a determination of relevancy is made by the NSUF Director. Proposals submitted should directly support the Office of Nuclear Energy research and development programs. Information on these programs can be found on the Office of Nuclear Energy website.

The programmatic relevance abstract should:

  1. describe how the proposed research advances DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy mission;
  2. describe how the proposed research supports and advances a specific DOE-NE topic(s);
  3. demonstrate significant, easily recognizable ties to the mission and relevant topics;
  4. focus on critical knowledge gaps or where limited work is currently being performed; and
  5. outline how your project will build on synergies with ongoing direct- or competitively-funded projects or meets a critical mission need.

The proposed work scope should not replace or supplant ongoing or planned DOE-NE programmatic work. Proposals that do not directly tie to the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy mission, but that demonstrate innovative ideas and approaches to the advancing of nuclear energy, including industry needs, may be considered.

Feasibility reviews will be performed by the NSUF facility requested in the proposal. Each proposal will be evaluated on cost, schedule, and availability/capability of instruments requested to perform the proposed work.

A panel performs a review of submitted technical comments and scores to ensure consistency across the reviews.Based on the results of the review, the panel provides a ranked list to the NSUF Director. The NSUF Director considers the panel ranking, along with other programmatic considerations, in order to make the final award recommendation to DOE-NE.


Technical Review Criteria

Scientific Merit

This criterion includes the importance of the scientific or technological need addressed in the proposal as well as the innovation. Consider such aspects as the influence that the characterization might have on the future direction, progress, and thinking within the area of science and technology; the likelihood of achieving valuable results; and the scientific innovation and originality indicated in the proposed research.

  • Does the proposal describe a logical approach in applying materials characterization to solve a technological problem and/or provide new scientific knowledge?
  • Does the proposal demonstrate a high degree of innovation or is substantially similar work being pursued elsewhere?

Technical Approach

This criterion provides an assessment of the technical approach and tasks of the research outlined in the proposal. The appropriateness of the proposed research methods, equipment, or approach should be evaluated, including risk posed by the approach, as well as the extent to which the strategy and plan identifies an acceptable approach to ensure a successful research outcome. Based on information presented in the proposal, in relevant literature, and from your own knowledge of the field, is it reasonable to expect that the proposed tasks can be completed successfully?

  • Potential showstopper that has not been addressed?
  • Merit, feasibility, and realism of the proposed methodology
  • Schedule, including sequence of project tasks, principle milestones, and times for each task
  • Planned assignment of responsibilities
  • Technical expertise available to the applicant in carrying out the project at the NSUF partner facility

Capability of Group

This score should include consideration of the background, past performance, and/or potential of the principal investigator, and the research environment and facilities that will be provided by the PI and co-PIs. The research potential and background should be weighted more heavily for a junior investigator who may have a more limited track record.

  • Does the PI have a background that is appropriate for leading the proposed collaboration?
  • Does the assembled research team have expertise in all of the key areas needed to achieve the project objectives? If the team does not have the technical expertise to carry out the project is that expertise available at the NSUF partner?
  • Does the group publish regularly in highly regarded, high impact peer-reviewed journals?

Feasibility Review Criteria

Feasibility Review
Please indicate whether this proposal is feasible, given the facility capabilities, scheduling, and resources. If this proposal is feasible, please upload a detailed cost estimate spreadsheet for this project.

Programmatic Review Criteria

Programmatic Review
This is intended to be a blind narrative of 500 words or less.

The programmatic relevance abstract should:
  • describe how the proposed research advances DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy mission;
  • describe how the proposed research supports and advances a specific DOE-NE topic(s);
  • demonstrate significant, easily recognizable ties to the mission and relevant topics;
  • focus on critical knowledge gaps or where limited work is currently being performed;
  • outline how your project will build on synergies with ongoing direct- or competitively-funded projects or meets a critical mission need.
The proposed workscope should not replace or supplant ongoing or planned DOE-NE programmatic work. Proposals that do not directly tie to the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy mission, but that demonstrate innovative ideas and approaches to the advancing of nuclear energy, including industry needs, may be considered.

Information regarding the Office of Nuclear Energy mission and topics can be found at the following: https://www.energy.gov/ne/mission