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Some notes on effective comments to NSF. 

First, keep in mind that NSF's Federally mandated job is to support leading edge science. Comments like the one on the DBI Blog site that starts out about cultural patrimony will only contribute to the idea we are antiquated and no longer relevant to modern science.  Patrimony and history, and wonderful specimens kept safe are not what is important here.  Keep comments limited to the impact of the collections served by the CSBR program on innovative SCIENCE.  Second, NSF supports non-Federal research.  All comments are valuable, but community comments should be led by the scientists who are NSF targets. Third, do not lead with the self-serving.  This program is about Infrastructure impact,not about how the program allows the collection itself to be better.  Get people not associated with the collection to write and tell stories of how they use the collections. How the collection is critical to training STEM scientists, how the data (specimens) housed there contributed to innovative research findings and provided impactful benefit.  Tell stories about how a collection improvement grant led to the discovery of something, anything.  How many extra loans to projects supported by NSF were made, how many new species were discovered because of bringing backlogs into the available pool of infrastructure. 

Every supporting letter from people outside the collection community is worth two from inside.  That does not mean we don't write, and our groups don't lobby, but it does mean we need to reach out.  We need to swamp this issue with positive examples of impact on NSF supported science areas. The project impacted does not need to be actually NSF funded, but within an area that NSF funds.  Citing the NSF program areas that are impacted by this infrastructure is critical.

Writing letters is only half the battle, writing smart letters is what wins.

Mike
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Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

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Montana Entomology Collection
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