General Information for Applicants

The IVS welcomes applications dealing with bold scientific ideas. We particularly seek out challenges to current thinking on fundamental issues in natural science, because successful challenges in that realm may have the highest impact.

We do not entertain proposals to develop technologies — only fundamental science.

Applications comprise two stages. The first involves preparation of short pre-proposals, which allow us to evaluate whether the effort required to prepare full proposals, the second stage, may be worthwhile.

The IVS welcomes applications dealing with bold scientific ideas


Those interested in submitting a proposal to the IVS must first submit a pre-proposal.

Pre-proposals should be no more than two pages long, plus title page. They must follow the format below, each section beginning with the indicated heading. Otherwise, they will be returned without review.

Please tell us the following, using language understandable to non-experts:

  • What hypothesis do you propose and why do you propose it?
  • Why is your proposal of earth-shaking significance?
  • Briefly, how will you test your hypothesis?
  • Which field of science or group of scientists does your proposal challenge?

Please submit your pre-proposal as an email attachment, in Word or PDF, to A title page should include your name, contact information, and pre-proposal title. Be sure to append your resume or CV when you submit.

A few suggestions for preparation:

  1. Scope. We are seeking proposals that have the capacity to turn conventional thinking upside down. Proposals with modest goals will not receive favorable evaluation. Nor will proposals with weak rationale. We understand that a two-page proposal cannot include comprehensive supporting arguments. (These will be requested later at the full-proposal stage.)
  2. Clarity. Reviewers of your pre-proposal may include people outside your field. Acronyms, abbreviations, jargon and the like not defined in the document should not be used. It goes without saying that unclear pre-proposals will not be favorably reviewed. To reach the next stage, you will need to use clear writing to convince reviewers that you have a potentially powerful idea that could reshape scientific thinking.
  3. Technology. We do not support technology development, although we understand that new technologies may arise from your research. Successful applications will generally propose testable hypotheses on fundamental scientific concepts rather than on development of technology.
  4. Feedback. Expect brief comments on your pre-proposal. Regrettably, we have no capacity to respond to questions about the content of these brief reviews.
  5. Success. Successful applicants will be encouraged to submit full proposals in which detailed arguments can be presented.
  6. Failure. Unsuccessful applicants are discouraged from submitting full proposals. They may, however, submit pre-proposals in future rounds, without prejudice. Further, those who consider the negative response to their pre-proposal unjust may still submit full proposals, although they should consider whether the exercise is worth the effort. A brief response to the pre-proposal critique, one page or less, should accompany the full proposal submission.

Pre-proposal submissions are now closed. The next opening will be announced in our newsletter.

Full proposals

No proposals will be accepted unless a pre-proposal has first been submitted and reviewed. Proposals are invited following successful outcome of pre-proposal review.

The instructions below were used for the previous round of proposals, and are offered here to provide some impression of format and scope. Specifics are subject to change.

Part A

  • Seven pages, 12-point font, single spaced, with line space between paragraphs.
  • No appendices permitted. Any included appendices will not be forwarded to reviewers.
  • Please do not rest your case on linked material. Reviewers are not obliged to read any links.
  • Verbiage should be clear to non-experts, who will review your proposal.
  1. Cover page: (not included in page count): Include proposal title, applicant name(s) and contact information. Please place the label “Part A” on this page.
  2. Hypothesis: please state hypothesis clearly in a few identifiable sentences. Include background material as necessary. Vague hypotheses may not fare well.
  3. Significance: If your hypothesis is experimentally supported, how will this shake the earth?
  4. Testing: How will you test your hypothesis? We don’t expect minute details, but enough for reviewers to judge the merit of your long-term strategy.
  5. References: Choose judiciously. Included in page count.
  6. CVs of principals: (not included in page count): As much detail as deemed necessary, but reasonable length appreciated.

PART B – no page limit. Please be concise.

  1. Cover Page: Include proposal title, applicant name(s) and contact information. Please label this page “Part B”.
  2. Detractors: What types of scientists, i.e., from which disciplines, will be most challenged/offended by your hypothesis?
  3. Specific Detractors: (MANDATORY) Provide names and contact information of at least six scientists whom you are confident will object to your thesis. We may ask some of them for their critique, which you will have an opportunity to rebut. Strong rebuttal will elevate your standing with reviewers.
  4. Supporters: Provide names and contact information of scientists whom you think might be inclined to follow along the lines of your research proposal. If we fund you, the IVS will be seeking others to follow along the lines of your ideas. Please provide up to 10 names, with a few sentences on each one, describing reasons why you think he/she might be inclined to follow along the same lines of inquiry.
  5. Facilities: Describe what facilities you have available at present, and what more, if any, you might need to carry forth this research.
  6. Budget: Describe in approximate terms the boundaries of what you might need each year, for five years, to carry out your research. Be realistic about the high end. Also let us know what’s possible at the low end. Our goal is for you to be successful, but within the constraints that are realistic. NOTE: we have no indirect cost policy in place yet; however, statements on indirect cost regulations of your institution are welcome, if you know them.
  7. Recommendation letters are welcome from colleagues outside your laboratory who support your thesis. We recognize that many applicants are senior, leaders in their fields and hardly requiring letters of recommendation; however, support letters, especially those coming from outside your immediate domain, could be useful for luring donors. Letters should be appended as the final item of this section of your proposal.


Full-proposal reviews will be comprehensive. We first submit your application for critique by likely “opponents.” Then, you respond. (A second round of debate may be considered.) A small committee of reviewers, chosen largely from outside your field and hence with no stake in the outcome, will review your proposal and judge the conversation. A Skype conference with reviewers will give you an opportunity to argue your case.

Then, the review committee awards your application a priority score. The score is based mainly on two general categories:

  1. If validated, how much will the hypothesized paradigm shake the earth?
  2. What is the likelihood that the hypothesis will be validated?

Each category receives a score of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). The product of the two scores (100 highest) gives the overall review score.

Along with those numerical scores, reviewers are asked to write a one-page summary, to be shared with the applicant and the Board. The Board will use those summaries, along with the review scores, to set funding priorities.

Full proposals allow us to judge the potential impact of the projected endeavor.