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Guidelines for Physical Oceanography Planning Letters

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) Physical Oceanography team recognizes that the preparation of a full proposal is a time-consuming and often costly proposition for the investigator. Therefore, before a full proposal is written, investigators are encouraged to write and submit concise planning letters to the program. Planning letters allow investigators to submit their ideas in confidence to ONR for program officers to evaluate, provide technical feedback and offer some indication of the likelihood of success for a full proposal based on program interests and priorities. Investigators who are invited to submit full proposals are reminded that the invitation to submit does not represent a commitment to fund the proposal.

Planning Letters Should Include:

  • Contact information for the principal and co-investigators, including a full mailing address, email address and phone number for each.
  • A synopsis of no more than three pages for the proposed research project, including a rationale, questions and/or hypotheses to be addressed, the methods to be used, and anticipated results. This should be comparable to an executive summary of a full proposal, and a description of the role of each investigator should also be included in the three-page summary.
  • Investigators should focus on what is new, groundbreaking or potentially transformative about the proposed research. Investigators are not expected to address the relevance of the proposed research to the Navy.
  • No more than one page describing the estimated budget, with approximate cost per year – any major equipment procurements or platform costs (e.g. ships, aircraft, significant computing resource needs) should be identified.
  • Up to one page of relevant references to the literature.
  • A one-page biographical sketch for each investigator, with a focus on research activities and publications relevant to the proposed research.

For the core program, research efforts are usually two to three years in duration. For DRI programs, investigators may make plans and estimates out to five years with the understanding that field efforts typically occur in the second and third year depending on the lead time required for development, reserving sufficient time in the final year(s) for data analysis and publication.

Planning letters submitted for potential core program support should use the naming convention: LASTNAME_CORE_PL_FY23. If multiple planning letters are submitted, please number them sequentially (e.g. LASTNAME01_CORE_PL_FY23, LASTNAME02_CORE_PL_FY23, etc).

Planning letters submitted to a DRI should be named as LASTNAME_DRI-NAME_PL_FY23, with multiple submissions following the sequential numbering convention noted above.

All planning letters should be submitted by email as PDF files no later than August 15, to Dr. Scott Harper (, Dr. Louis St. Laurent (, and Dr. Emily Shroyer (