Review Guidelines

Read this section of an RFP from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for National Leadership Grants for Libraries. It gives applicants information about how proposals will be reviewed.

Application Review Information

1. What are the Review Criteria?

Reviewers are instructed to evaluate applications according to the review criteria in this section. Reviewers consider all Required, Conditionally Required, and Supporting Documents, as listed in Section D3.


a. Preliminary Proposals

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate preliminary proposals based on the following questions:

  • How well does the proposal address the indicators of successful projects (see Section A2)?
  • What components are, or are not, in place to ensure successful implementation of the proposed project? What recommendations do you have for improving the proposal?
  • Considering the topic, project category selections, amount of funds requested, and scope of potential impact, should the applicant be invited to submit a full proposal at this time? Why or why not?


b. Invited Full Proposals

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate Invited Full Proposals based on the following questions:

National Impact

  • Are the project's benefits, outcomes and impact clearly stated?
  • Does the proposal make a compelling case for how it might ultimately scale, transform practice, or otherwise lead to systemic change within the community and at the national level?
  • Are the project's intended findings or products clearly articulated, appropriate, and realistic, given the project's selected funding categories?
  • Will the proposed project generate results that can extend beyond a single institution?
  • Does the proposal adequately describe how it will ensure that results and deliverables will be readily adaptable to other institutions and communities?
  • Is there a well-grounded and practical plan for sustaining the outputs or resources of the project beyond the conclusion of the award?
  • Will results have the potential to inform current and future work? Is there an effective plan for communicating results and sharing findings in a manner that has potential for national impact?
  • Are the proposed evaluation activities appropriate for the project? As appropriate, does the project design incorporate evaluation throughout the project and in the final deliverables?

For Research in Service to Practice grant proposals only:

  • Is the research informed by current practice and does it have the potential to produce generalizable results that could advance professional practice?
  • Is the dissemination and communication plan comprehensive in terms of national reach to practitioners and other communities of interest?

Current Significance

  • Does the proposal make a compelling case for the significance and timeliness of the proposed project?
  • How well does the proposed project address the goals of the NLG-L program and project categories (See Section A4)?
  • Is the proposed work well-grounded in current theory, scholarship, or practice drawn from inside or outside the library and archival fields? Does this evidence base support the proposed project goals or methods?

For Research in Service to Practice grant proposals only:

  • Are the research questions of significant interest to the library and archival fields?
  • Are the questions appropriately constructed to address the project design, data collection, interpretation, and other aspects of the research process?

Strategic Collaborations

  • Are appropriate collaborations, such as partners, individual experts, intermediaries, advisory boards, or other stakeholder engagements, used to ensure project success?
  • Have collaborators' roles and contributions to the project been clearly described, and do they align with the needs of the project?
  • Does the project design allow for iteration, external input, or consensus-building?
  • Does the project design account for relevant and appropriate outreach, engagement, or retention strategies?
  • As applicable, are plans to engage with specific communities clearly articulated and realistic?

Demonstrated Expertise

  • Do the project team members have the necessary expertise, background, and capacity to successfully plan, implement, and manage the proposed work?
  • Have subject matter experts and advisors been appropriately included in the project?
  • How well are the intended audiences defined and understood? Does the project team have knowledge about the needs and perspectives of the intended audiences?
  • Are the goals, projected outcomes and impact, and assumptions clearly stated? Will the activities achieve the stated outcomes and goals?
  • Are clear methods described for tracking the project's progress and adjusting course when necessary?
  • Are the identified time, personnel, financial, and other resources appropriate for the scope and scale of the project?

For Research in Service to Practice grant proposals only:

  • Are the research methods adequate and appropriate to answer the research questions?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (if applicable)

  • Will the project strengthen the field's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • Does the project include a diversity of perspectives in the development and implementation of the work?
  • Are the relevant participants and communities involved in defining the challenges or opportunities and creating and implementing the project?


c. Is Cost Sharing Considered in the Review Process?

Cost-sharing is an eligibility criterion and is not considered in the peer review of applications. Cost-sharing requirements for this grant program are addressed in Section C2.


2. What is the Review and Selection Process?

We use a peer-review process to evaluate all eligible and complete applications. Reviewers are professionals in the field with relevant knowledge and expertise in the types of project activities identified in the applications. We instruct reviewers to evaluate applications according to the review criteria. Peer reviewers must comply with IMLS's Federal ethics and conflicts of interest requirements.

The Director takes into account the input provided by the review process and makes final funding decisions consistent with the purposes of the agency's mission and programs.


3. What is the Designated Integrity and Performance System and How Does IMLS Comply with its Requirements?

IMLS, prior to making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $ 250,000 but periodically adjusted), is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. § 2313 and 41 U.S.C. § 134).

An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered.

IMLS will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in considering the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 2 C.F.R. § 200.205 (Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants).


4. When will We be Notified of Funding Decisions?

We will not release information about the status of an application until the applications have been reviewed and all deliberations are concluded. We expect to notify both successful and unsuccessful applicants of the final decisions by July 2021.


Source: U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS),
Public Domain Mark This work is in the Public Domain.

Last modified: Monday, October 12, 2020, 1:52 PM