NSF Safe and Inclusive (SAI) Working Environments for Off-Campus or Off-Site Research

  • Safe and Inclusive Working Environment Plan - Princeton Template for PI use when applicable for off-campus or off-site work (download prior to filling out)
  • Safe and Inclusive Working Environment Plan - POLICY PDF


The National Science Foundation (NSF) as of January 30, 2023 requires proposers to to certify that they have a plan for Safe and Inclusive Working Environment(s) for projects that include certain kinds of off-campus or off-site research. The intent of this new requirement is to provide support and guidance for project team personnel/participants when they do not have readily-available access to resources that support a safe and inclusive working environment (i.e. in a remote/secluded location or vessel conducting field experiments or collecting data).


The plan must be tailored to the project and it must be disseminated to individuals participating in the relevant off-campus or off-site research prior to departure to the off-campus/off-site location. Please note this requirement does not apply to supplemental funding requests.

Proposers should not submit the plan to NSF for review unless specifically requested in the funding opportunity. 

What does off-campus or off-site mean? When does the certification apply?

NSF has defined off-campus or off-site research as, "data/information/samples being collected off-campus or off-site, such as fieldwork and research activities on vessels and aircraft." 

Note that the above NSF definition differs from Princeton's more general definition of off-campus research tied to the Off-Campus F & A Rate Policy which states, "If a research project, or part of a project, is conducted at a location other than Princeton University's academic lands or on leased space where the lease is a direct charge to the project, it is considered to be performed off-campus," The intent of the Princeton off-campus policy is to determine whether to use the full on-campus rate or the off-campus rate (currently 26%). However, the intent of the new NSF requirement discussed herein has no bearing on the definition of off-campus work for budgetary/F&A application purposes.

If your project participants will have undiminished access to University resources (or their equivalent) that support a safe and inclusive working environment during the full course of their research under the NSF award—even during the conduct of any off-campus/off-site work—then no plan is needed. If, however, participants are physically secluded or remote from campus at any point during the project scope of work such that access to these resources is more limited, then a plan is needed. Work from home by an individual employee would not, for the purposes of this policy, be considered “off-campus” or “off-site.” When in doubt, reach out to ORPA for guidance, or create a plan for inclusion with proposal documentation, and upload to the Funding Proposal (FP) in Princeton ERA.

What should the plan address?

As per the NSF guidelines, the plan for applicable off-campus or off-site research on a proposed project must describe how the following types of behavior will be addressed: 

  1. Abuse of any person, including, but not limited to, harassment, stalking, bullying, or hazing of any kind, whether the behavior is carried out verbally, physically, electronically, or in written form; or
  2. Conduct that is unwelcome, offensive, indecent, obscene, or disorderly; 
  3. Identify steps the proposing principal investigator(s)/project team will take to nurture an inclusive off-campus or off-site working environment;
  4. Consider how communications within the team and to the organization will be handled, minimizing singular points within the communications pathway (e.g., a single person overseeing access to a single satellite phone);
  5. Address how any special circumstances such as the involvement of multiple organizations or the presence of third parties in the working environment should be considered;
  6. Account for the process or method for making incident reports as well as how any reports received will be resolved.

What should I do with the plan?

In general, NSF does not currently require the plan to be submitted to them as part of a proposal. However, certain solicitations may require the submission of a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan that will be considered as part of the Broader Impacts criteria during the peer review process. (Note that this may be limited to specific NSF Directorates initially.) This means that the quality of the plan (when applicable) could ultimately play a role in the NSF’s funding decision.

For all NSF submissions, on the Cover Sheet there is a new check box for off-campus or off-site research. This should be checked when any off-campus or off-site research is being conducted and a plan is required, whether or not the plan is submitted to the NSF as a supplementary document. Only the lead organization must check the box on the cover sheet regardless of which collaborating institution proposes to conduct off-campus or off-site research.

Research.gov application – Cover Sheet fillable form area: PAPPG II.D.1.d (viii) and II.E.9


Please carefully reflect on your scope of work, and review your solicitation, to determine if you 1) must develop a plan and 2) submit that plan to the NSF as a supplementary document.

Who is responsible for creating the plan?

When applicable, the creation and distribution of the plan is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) at the lead institution. ORPA suggests that department-level administration assist PIs in this, utilizing resources available from the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The Office of Research and Project Administration (ORPA) has developed a Safe and Inclusive Work Environments Plan template as a starting point for PIs for such projects. Note that plans must be individually tailored to projects and the specific off-campus or off-site location(s) and participants involved.

In situations where a program solicitation requires submission to NSF of the safe and inclusive working environment plan at the time of proposal, consistent with how postdoctoral mentoring and data management plans are handled, the plan should be uploaded to research.gov by the lead organization, whether the lead or collaborating organization are performing the relevant off-campus or off-site research.

Applicable plans must be uploaded into the Funding Proposal (FP) in Princeton ERA with the other proposal documents, and clearly identified as the off-campus or off-site research plan. ORPA may decline to submit your proposal to the NSF if a required plan is not uploaded to Princeton ERA.

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