The International Ocean Discovery Program is based on proposals to use the program's drilling platforms for hypothesis-drive science in line with the themes and challenges outlined in the program's Science Plan Illuminating Earth's Past, Present, and Future. Proposals frequently involve collaborations between international researchers from the multiple geoscience disciplines and the lead proponent need not be from an IODP member country. Because proposals will not result in a financial arrangement (contract) with the proponent's institution, they are submitted by the individual investigator and not through the investigator's institution.
A Call for Proposals is agreed between the IODP Facility Boards and released by the IODP Science Support Office, usually for two proposal submission deadlines (April and October) per year. Currently, the deadline for submitting site data is one month after the proposal submission deadline.
Proposed drill sites must be supported by site characterization data that builds confidence that the targets are correctly identified, achievable, and safe.
Drilling proposals are peer-reviewed within the IODP framework by the Science Evaluation Panel (SEP) aided by anonymous external reviewers in a process facilitated by the Science Support Office. SEP typically meets in January and June and reports containing the outcome of the review are sent to the lead proponent by the Science Support Office within one month of the panel meeting.
At annual scheduling meetings, the IODP Facility Boards consider drilling proposals that have been forwarded by the Science Evaluation Panel. Once a proposal is with a Facility Board for consideration, the Board may ask for further refinements/changes or may change the scope of a proposal to be compatible with the platform capability or operating budget. When a proposal is scheduled or close to being scheduled, the Facility Board will request a safety review by the Environmental Protection and Safety Panel or an equivalent panel.
Proposals are developed into research expeditions by the platform science operator in accordance with the IODP Principles of Scientific Investigation. Recent examples of successful proposals can be found on the expedition pages. Detailed guidance on proposal contents is found in the IODP Proposal Submission Guidelines.