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FH Health Research Intelligence Unit

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1 FH Health Research Intelligence Unit
How to Write Successful Proposals and Grants FH Health Research Intelligence Unit

2 How to Write Successful Research Grant Applications

3 Who we are:        Susan Chunick ( ), Director, Research Administration and Development (RAD).       Camille Viray ( ), RAD Administrative Assistant.       Rosa Haywood ( ), Research Ethics Coordinator, Research Ethics Board. Michael Wasdell ( ), Grant Facilitator-Writer. Rae Spiwak ( ), Epidemiologist.


Total Studies 492 (From 2005 September 01 to Date) ACTIVE STUDIES = PENDING APPROVAL = 29 Active Studies by Department Area Access & Utilization 1 Family Medicine 2 Nursing 4 Planning Acute Programs Finance Obstetrics 7 Professional Practice 6 Administration Food & Nutrition Occupational Therapy Psychiatry 14 Biomedical Engineering Health Services 3 Oncology Public Health Prevention Cardiology 31 Infection Control Operating Room Residency Facility Chronic Care Internal Medicine Orthopaedics 17 Respiratory Critical Care (ICU) 8 Material Management Palliative Care Social Work Decision Support Services Medicine Pathology Surgery Elder Research Mental Health Pediatrics Workplace Health Emergency Multiple Sclerosis 12 People Services Non FH Research Environmental Health Nephrology Pharmacy 9 Ethics Neurology Physiotherapy

6 FH Health Research Intelligence Unit How can we help?
Epidemiologist Specifying the research goal, objectives and hypothesis Identifying measurable outcomes Specifying the variables for analysis Identifying sources of data Developing data collection tools for quantitative or qualitative studies Developing the statistical analysis plan Analyzing the data Understanding how to use statistical software, such as SPSS Grant Facilitator-Writer Conducting a search for funding opportunities Automatic notification of new funding sources and deadlines Identifying a research team Preparing letters of intent Identifying resources required for conducting research Formulating the research budget Writing the grant application in collaboration with researchers Understanding FH and funding agency requirements regarding preparation of specific documents

7 The Great Idea Putting your ideas for research down on paper will allow you to articulate clearly your ideas to others Create a program proposal to help present your idea to others. Create a program outline that will enable people who are not involved in the study to understand exactly what you plan to do Review the literature to ensure that your proposal is unique Obtain feedback from experts, colleagues and stakeholders

8 Develop a Project Management Plan
Prepare an up to date resume/curriculum vitae Identify appropriate sources of funding Select funding source Develop a timeline for development of research proposal and submission of letter of intent and application for funding Identify the research collaborators Prepare the budget Prepare the grant application package Submit grant application to RAD office to obtain signature of authorizing Executive   Submit for and obtain approval by FH Research Ethics Board prior to or in tandem with application for funding.

9 How we can help - HRIU For assistance with any of the above steps, contact the FH grant facilitator-writer, Michael Wasdell,  who can: Provide overall project management to ensure that FH internal and agency requirements for funding applications are met Co-ordinate the development of the research proposal with the FH epidemiologist, Rae Spiwak, Collaborate in the writing of the grant application

10 Planning for the Grant Application
Funding Cycles Unique, Annual, Semi-Annual, etc. Application Process Announcement – Request for Applications (RFA) Letter of intent - LOI Signals to the agency that you will be submitting an application Some agencies may request a brief synopsis of the proposal to screen out inappropriate applicants Time between RFA and LOI may only be 1 or 2 months Full application Time between letter of intent and full application is usually 2-3 months Award Announcement May be up to 6 months

11 Planning for the Grant Application
Having adequate time to prepare your application is essential It is best to have your research ideas developed, team identified and proposal written in advance of the RFA Unfortunately, this does not happen frequently Keep in mind that the time from RFA to funding decision can be up to one year Tip – begin at least 6 months in advance of deadline

12 Where to find funding National and regional agencies for health research (eg., CIHR, MSFHR, BCMSF) Provincial branches and associations of health agencies (eg., Canadian Lung Association, Canadian Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation) Professional Associations Health/Disease based Associations

13 FH Funding Resources Community of Science Funding Opportunities Database.  web based 400,000 listings Contact Rosa Haywood News Now has monthly updates of new funding opportunities FH HRIU consultation request form contains a listing of funding agencies.  

14 Grant Matchmaking Your research matches the objectives of the funder
They have made previous awards in your area of research They make awards to your institution You meet basic investigator eligibility They have sufficient funds The application deadline is achievable

15 Request for Applications
Understanding the funding formats Operating grants Team grants Seed/development grants Randomized controlled trials Research synthesis Environmental scans Workshops Special initiatives and priority announcements

16 Strategy Consider all the funding formats with respect to your proposal Select several funding programs to increase your chances Think of ways to build a program of research Scenario Apply for funding for an environmental scan. This helps you to identify a poorly researched area. With this knowledge, you apply for a team planning grant to bring together key stakeholders and researchers with similar interest to identify a program of research The team submits for a seed grant to obtain pilot data and demonstrate the feasibility of the research and the likelihood of success With a solid team, rationale and foundational data, you apply for an operating grant

17 Eligibility Requirements
Principal Investigator and/or Co-Investigators Role - academic, clinical or decision making position Degree and profession Experience Previous awards Publications Evidence of completed research Years of research experience Tips For national funding agencies, partner with an experienced researcher Consider participating as a co-investigator to establish track record Contact funding agency to review qualifications – exceptions may be made

18 Eligibility Requirements
Institution Academic Health services Government or government agency Community agency Institutional role - Sponsor Administer and account for grant funds Research ethics review Academic oversight Facility and staff support Appropriate research environment

19 Eligibility Requirements
Type of research Some agencies may request specific research formats and exclude others Biomedical, Clinical, Health Services, Population Conclusion Oriented, Decision Oriented Other Geographic location Country of citizenship Residency Co-Sponsorship

20 General Tips Review funding agency guidelines
Make sure your proposal fits within the guidelines Look at funding allotment of past competitions to ensure that your financial request is reasonable Check with agency to obtain updates on changes to guidelines and deadlines Follow all the rules and requests specified in the application guidelines Is the proposal ethical?

21 Preparing the Proposal

22 Typical parts of a research proposal include
Abstract Introduction (including statement of problem, goals, objectives and significance of research) Background or literature review Method Knowledge Dissemination List of References Personnel Budget

23 Abstract Short paragraph that is a clear, logical summary of your proposal Usually does not exceed 250 words

24 Introduction Should begin with a capsule statement of what is being proposed and then should proceed to introduce the subject to a stranger. Should not assume that your reader is familiar with your subject. Should be comprehensible to an informed lay reader. It should give enough background to enable the reader to place your particular research problem in a context of common knowledge and should show how its solution will advance the field or be important for some other work. In introducing the research problem, it is sometimes helpful to say what it is not, especially, if it could easily be confused with related work. You may also need to explain the underlying assumption of your research or the hypotheses you will be using.

25 Background Literature reviews should be selective and critical.
Reviewers do not want to read through a voluminous working bibliography; they want to know the especially pertinent works and your evaluation of them. Discussions of work done by others should therefore lead the reader to a clear impression of how you will be building upon what has already been done and how your work differs from theirs. It is important to establish what is original in your approach, what circumstances have changed since related work was done, or what is unique about the time and place of the proposed research.

26 Method The heart of the proposal and is the primary concern of the technical reviewers Be as detailed as possible about the schedule of the proposed work. Objectives/Research Questions/Hypothesis Methods, study design Sample Selection/Sample Size Data Measurement Data Collection Data Analysis Be specific about the means of evaluating the data or the conclusions. Be certain that the connection between the research objectives and the research method is evident.

27 Knowledge Dissemination Plan

28 Knowledge Dissemination
Very important step What will you do with your new found knowledge? How will you share this knowledge? Who will benefit from this knowledge sharing? “Applications must include a clear, explicit, and manageable knowledge translation plan, which specifies the intended audience(s), the means of involvement and communication, and the intended post-grant follow-up”. CIHR (2006)

29 References Placed at the end of the text
Lists text and information included in proposal from other authors/sources The grant guidelines will specify the format of in-text citations and reference list

30 Biographies This section usually consists of two parts: an explanation of the proposed personnel arrangements and the biographical information for co-investigators. The explanation should specify how many persons at what percentage of time and in what professional/academic categories will be participating in the project. If the program is complex and involves people from other departments or institutions, the organization of the staff and the lines of responsibility should be made clear.


32 Communication Know your audience Put your readers first
Review panels are often composed of content experts as well as generalists Consider bias, myths and other unfounded opinions Put your readers first Reviewers are usually volunteers so try to make reading your application pleasant Reviewers may have limited time to review your proposal – an easy read is very appreciated Your proposal may be one of 20 that the reviewer must evaluate – make it stand out Compare your proposal to the RFA to ensure that it contains all the required elements Bolding of relevant information can help the reviewer make connections to key evaluation categories Use tables and figures if they are informative and help to reduce text

33 Writing Tips Organize the content for logical flow of ideas
Use ‘lead’ statements as an opening to any section state briefly the most important concept and then provide background/context Check grammar and tense Cut wordiness Eliminate jargon Avoid or limit acronyms Obtain feedback from peers This will prevent your proposal from looking like………


35 The Budget Prepare budget in consultation with:
FH Human Resources if it is intended to hire grant staff and contractors before finalizing budgets.  Note that benefits and future salary increases may have to be accounted for in the budget. FH Departments/Areas, such as Decision Support, Health Records, Laboratory/Pathology, Medical Imaging, Operating Room, Patient Care and Pharmacy if any of these will be asked to provide research-related services.  For information on the process for obtaining Departmental Agreement for Providing Research-related Services (DAR), see the DAR webpage.

36 Budget Planning Personnel Salaries and wages Estimated merit increases
Primary research staff Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators not usually covered Estimated merit increases Anticipated increases in minimum wage Benefits Excluded staff Bargaining units

37 Budget Planning Facility Expenses Telecommunications Furnishings
Phone, fax, internet Installation expenses Furnishings Maintenance and Cleaning Overhead* Utilities: gas, electricity, water *overhead not usually covered by Canadian agencies

38 Budget Planning Computers and other specialty equipment*
Cost of equipment Installation expenses Lease, warranty and maintenance contracts Repair * In most cases, equipment purchased through a grant becomes the property of the sponsor institution

39 Budget Planning Office Supplies Medical Supplies Paper Photocopying
Binders Storage – file cabinets Medical Supplies Specimen vials Clinical assessment supplies

40 Budget Planning Consultants Dues, memberships, subscriptions
Staff mileage and parking Patient expenses Postage Courier Training sessions Media Travel, meeting and conference expenses


42 Budget Justification Explains how the money will be spent and justifies the need for the requested amount Without a good budget justification, a funder may reduce the amount of the award, potentially limiting the feasibility of the project

43 Budget Tips More detail is better than less
Prepare both a line-item budget as well as a budget narrative describing each line-item cost in detail Don’t round out. Provide bids and estimates for consultants, equipment, supplies etc. Don’t pad or economize the budget – good reviewers know the cost of goods and services Include sources of in-kind contributions Volunteer time Donated space Borrowed equipment Donated supplies

44 Budget Guidelines Budget guidelines are usually found in the application guide List allowable costs List excluded costs Specify matching-funding if necessary (eg., co-sponsored funding) Provide instructions on how to justify the costs.

45 Important Attachments

46 Curriculum Vitae Components Canadian Common CV
Academic preparation Positions/Appointments Awards/Scholarships Grants Collaboration Publications Presentations Canadian Common CV

47 Letters of Support Department and/or sponsor institution
Collaborating institutions Community partners Statement of support Relevance of proposal to writer/department/institution Summary of involvement How the research results will be used

48 Quotes to Support Budget
Include quotes for: Consultants* Services Equipment Supplies *Fee for service consultation for grant funded projects is provided by the Fraser Health Epidemiologist

49 Research Ethics Board Approval
Some funding agencies require notice of REB approval Some will request approval before funding is awarded Some will request approval before funds are released

50 All done? Proof read all documents Have someone else proof read
Grant facilitator Colleague Lay person Check that all components have been assembled Obtain signatures Department Head Fraser Health Signatory – Geoff Crampton (3 days) Make necessary number of copies Courier or application (retain routing slips/tracking history)

51 Now you can take a break……
….before the next grant deadline


53 The Review Process FUNDING

54 The Review Review of the Proposal Significance and relevance to health
Knowledge of the field (cited literature) Clear, testable hypothesis or central research problem, appropriate methods Originality and innovation in concept or approach Feasibility of work plan

55 The Review Review of the Applicants Qualifications and experience
Track record Past grants Publications Supportive environment

56 Example – Reviewer Checklist
RATIONALE, RELEVANCE, ORIGINALITY Does the proposal explain why this project should be undertaken? (5 points) Does the preamble reflect an adequate review of the literature? (10 points) Is the project relevant to the funding program? (5 points) Is the proposed project original or unique in any respect (is it a new problem or question? Does the research apply a new or unique study method or evaluation technique?) (5 points)

57 Example – Reviewer Checklist
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESEARCH a) A project scope of major tangible benefit to patient care (e.g. potential impact on patient morbidity, mortality, an innovative program that advances direct patient care) (10points) b) A project scope of perceptible tangible benefit to patient care (e.g. retrospective reviews, compatibility studies, surveys) (5 points) c) A project scope of limited impact on patient care. (1 point) (Select the one statement that you believe best describes the significance of the proposed research) Please assign a score between 1 and 10. (Examples below)

58 Example – Reviewer Checklist
RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS AND OBJECTIVES Are the objectives for the project clearly stated in terms of the end points or outcomes? (5 points) RESEARCH METHODOLOGY Does the proposal describe in sufficient clarity/detail the study method to be used (8 points) Is the described method valid for the stated objectives? (8 points) Are the sample population, sampling technique and sample size valid and clearly described? (8 points) Is the proposed data analysis appropriate for the nature of the data collected (including statistical tests if appropriate) (8 points) Is the study ethical, in so far as the potential risks and benefits to the patients and/or society?(8 points)

59 Example – Reviewer Checklist
PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES Are the professional competencies and experiences of the principal investigator(s) appropriate to carry out the work required? (5 points) ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY, PROJECT SCOPE AND TIMETABLE Are all the necessary budget inputs defined and costed (e.g. personnel, supplies,equipment)? (4 points) Do the amounts allocated to the various components of the budget appear to be appropriate? (4 points) Has a proposed work plan been established identifying activities, centres of responsibility and target completion dates? (4 points) Given the proposed work plan, does it appear reasonable that the project can be completed within the stated timeframe? (3 points)

60 CIHR Rating Scale Range Descriptors 4.5 - 4.9 outstanding
excellent very good solid/significant needs revision needs major revision seriously flawed 0 not acceptable usually funded may be funded seldom funded not fundable : funding possible through partnerships and strategic initiatives, particularly where building capacity is a high priority

61 CIHR Standards ALL GRANTS ARE RATED on a scale from 0 to 4.9, within descriptive categories ranging from "seriously flawed" to "outstanding." Only applications rated 3.5 or higher are normally eligible for CIHR funding. Applications rated below 3.0 are flawed in some way, so that they do not represent a good investment of public funds. The range 3.0 to 3.5 is used for applications which, while technically and conceptually acceptable, are not considered to be a high priority for CIHR funding, perhaps because the topic is not considered relevant to an important health issue, or because the work proposed seems unlikely to yield major advances in knowledge, or because the approach is not particularly innovative. Nevertheless, a proposal rated less than 3.0 may ultimately be fundable, may even be approved for funding in a resubmission, if the applicant(s) adequately addresses the reviewers' concerns. Scientific Officers are asked to encourage applicants to resubmit these proposals if this is the case. Conversely, some proposals, though initially rated highly, may be limited in their originality, potential impact, and so on, that their rating is unlikely to be increased above the competition cut-off upon resubmission, even if the applicant(s) address the reviewers' comments.

62 Common reviewer complaints
Forms are not complete or completed incorrectly Text is small dense and difficult to read– does not conform with formatting guidelines Improper citations, pagination, table references and other forms of poor organization Too much narrative with unnecessary or irrelevant information. Too much jargon

63 Why Proposals are Rejected
University of Michigan Proposal Writer's Guide by Don Thackrey  

64 Why Proposals are Rejected
Approach (73 percent) The proposed tests, or methods, or scientific procedures are unsuited to the stated objective. (34.7) The description of the approach is too nebulous, diffuse, and lacking in clarity to permit adequate evaluation. (28.8) The overall design of the study has not been carefully thought out. (14.7) The statistical aspects of the approach have not been given sufficient consideration. (8.1) The approach lacks scientific imagination. (7.4) Controls are either inadequately conceived or inadequately described. (6.8) The material the investigator proposes to use is unsuited to the objective of the study or is difficult to obtain. (3.8) The number of observations is unsuitable. (2.5) The equipment contemplated is outmoded or otherwise unsuitable. (1.0)

65 Why Proposals are Rejected
Problem (58 percent) The problem is not of sufficient importance or is unlikely to produce any new or useful information. (33.1) The proposed research is based on a hypothesis that rests on insufficient evidence, is doubtful, or is unsound. (8.9) The problem is more complex than the investigator appears to realize. (8.1) The problem has only local significance, or is one of production or control, or otherwise fails to fall sufficiently clearly within the general field of health-related research. (4.8) The problem is scientifically premature and warrants, at most, only a pilot study. (3.1) The research as proposed is overly involved, with too many elements under simultaneous investigation. (3.0) The description of the nature of the research and of its significance leaves the proposal nebulous and diffuse and without a clear research aim. (2.6)

66 Why Proposals are Rejected
Investigator (55 percent) The investigator does not have adequate experience or training for this research. (32.6) The investigator appears to be unfamiliar with recent pertinent literature or methods. (13.7) The investigator's previously published work in this field does not inspire confidence. (12.6) The investigator proposes to rely too heavily on insufficiently experienced associates. (5.0) The investigator is spreading himself too thin; he will be more productive if he concentrates on fewer projects. (3.8) The investigator needs more liaison with colleagues in this field or in collateral fields. (1.7)

67 Why Proposals are Rejected
Other (16 percent) The requirements for equipment or personnel are unrealistic. (10.1) It appears that other responsibilities would prevent devotion of sufficient time and attention to this research. (3.0) The institutional setting is unfavorable. (2.3) Research grants to the investigator, now in force, are adequate in scope and amount to cover the proposed research. (1.5)

68 The Rejected Proposal Review comments Identify areas for improvement
Make changes Resubmit to the same or another funding agency You might have a better chance of obtaining an award with subsequent submissions, but…..

69 ……you have to be in the game to win!

70 Practical Exercise



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