In the likely case this has been asked before, please direct me to the thread. I couldn't find it. Anyway, I was hoping to get some opinions on the proposed plan of research statement part of the NSF GRF application. I can't seem to get a consensus on what it should be. In particular, does the committee really expect the applicant to have a full-fledged research plan for the next 3 years *before* even entering graduate school? Or are they looking for a general outline of what you intend to study? I have very specific projects in mind on which I could see myself working and could describe relatively well, but I'm not certain that's what I will be doing. I think it's more likely I'll be working in some given field and won't pick a specific topic until a year or two in, as is the case with most graduate students. The obvious answer to my question is: "read the guidelines on the NSF application." Indeed, these are pretty clear and seem to imply they want something quite specific. However, I have been told from others who have been through the process that this isn't true and that if you don't have a specific project in mind, it's OK to describe your interests and where you think they might take you. This is probably helpful: I'm a (pure) mathematics major.