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Part of the intellectual merit of your research project is based on your merit to do this work.In other words, your project should not come out of left field.
Try to make your personal statement and research proposal a part of the same story.
For example, if you have experience in two separate topics or methodologies, it may be beneficial to combine them for your proposal.
They are trying to support the next generation of researchers who will impact not only their fields, but their communities as well.
Broader impacts are about the scope and potential influence of your research. Use the personal statement to showcase your experiences that fit into the overarching theme of your application — ideally a theme that ties in the NSF’s stated mission and goals!
Help each other with essays, timelines and GRE prep.
This will help you stay on track, and you get to celebrate twice when you both get into grad school!
Although you want to show how you will be moving forward, proving your foundation of knowledge also is critical.
The relevant experiences you describe in your personal statement and your current and future interests can be easily, even if subtly, connected to your research proposal.
It’s not just about telling any old story; it’s about telling a story that supports your claim of deserving the NSF Fellowship.
Think about writing a manuscript for a peer-reviewed journal — every single claim you make must be backed by previous research. Stating your ambitious goals and future plans is great, but the key is backing up your claims.