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Developing Collaborative Grant Proposals Robert Porter, Ph. D. University of Tennessee

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Presentation on theme: "Developing Collaborative Grant Proposals Robert Porter, Ph. D. University of Tennessee"— Presentation transcript:

1 Developing Collaborative Grant Proposals Robert Porter, Ph. D. University of Tennessee

2 Collaboration: A Global View Bennis & Ward, Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration, 1997 In a global society, in which timely information is the most important commodity, collaboration is not simply desirable, it is inevitable. In all but the rarest cases, one is too small a number to produce greatness.

3 Why build collaborative teams? Science evolves to converge disciplines - Ex: Computational biology, nanotechnology Sponsors are increasingly emphasizing interdisciplinary research - Limited budgets, bigger bang for the buck Most large grant programs require an interdisciplinary approach - Complex problems best approached from multiple perspectives Problem: Institutions not structured to foster IDR - Universities built on departments & colleges - Funders want to solve problems Real world problems do not come in disciplinary boxes. - J. Klein

4 Unidisciplinary Multidisciplinary Interdisciplinary Transdisciplinary Levels of collaboration:


6 Benefits of collaborative proposals: For researchers: Bigger & better ideas Access to larger grant programs Stronger research outcomes Expanded career opportunities Improved recruitment For institutions: Enhanced academic prestige Improved infrastructure Expanded service delivery Greater capacity utilization Improved recruitment Miner, Miner & Griffith, Collaborative Grantseeking, 2011

7 Forms of Collaboration Institution/Institution: Partnerships to achieve a mutual goal EX: NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate (R25) Network support for institutions or researchers EX: NIH IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE NSF Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Training programs to encourage interdisciplinary research EX:NIH NRSA Institutional Training Grant (T32) Targeted research programs focused on core theme EX:NIH Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Womens Health NSF Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) Institutional capacity building grants EX: NIH Science Education Partnership (SEPA R25) NSF ADVANCE: Increasing the Participation of Women in Academic and Science Careers

8 Research collaboration: A thought experiment ______________________________________________ Epidemiologists have long known that door knobs and elevator buttons are major links in disease transmission. Your idea: Develop a durable antimicrobial coating that would prevent the spread of illness. What academic disciplines/research expertise will you need on your team?

9 A Starting Point... What are you passionate about? What is the problem (and why is it important)? How is existing knowledge or practice inadequate? Why is your idea better? How is it new, unique, different? What will it contribute and who will benefit from it?

10 Tradition & Change: A Tug of War? Disciplinarity: Tradition bound Departmentally constrained Conservative (rigid?) Slow to change Pride in high standards Dedicated to order and control Wary of interdisciplinarity (vague speculative) Interdisciplinarity : Trailblazing Break down the silos Liberal Seek change Excited by new approaches Embrace flexibility Frustrated with disciplines (narrow confining)

11 Barriers to teambuilding Academics are accustomed to a single disciplinary focus Every discipline has its own culture; some mix easily, others dont Rewards systems not consistent with interdisciplinary goals Deans, Department Heads not enthusiastic about crossing disciplinary barriers Building trust is both necessary and difficult! Simple logistics can be a problem: Where to meet? Who leads the discussion? Who owns the project? Junior faculty sometimes discouraged from collaboration Difficult to decide specific roles of team members Strong leadership is essential and rare!

12 Building a Research Team 1.Bring together members with diverse backgrounds 2.Leader: establish expectations 3.Participants: know your role and responsibility to team 4.Agree on team goalsexpect them to change! 5.Expect disagreements and conflict (especially early) 6.Agree on: a) sharing data b) sharing credit c) managing authorship d) ownership of intellectual property Collaboration and Team Science: A Field Guide NIH, 2010

13 Collaborative grant writing tips: 1.Establish leadership. Every project needs a skilled leader(s) to succeed. Strong communication, teambuilding, and project management skills required! 2.First meeting. Brainstorm ideas; seek strong core theme; work up rough outline 3.Schedule. Working back from deadline, outline schedule for proposal development 4.Team assignments. Assign proposal sections to team members (literature search, data mining, graphics, project narrative, letters of support, budget) 5.Accountability. Set due dates and regular meetings! 6.Editor. Identify an editor (not necessarily team leader) 7.Compile drafts. Editor compiles draft materials and brings to each meeting 8.Red Team Review. Identify 1 – 3 experienced researchers to review late draft (Note: For large grant, PAY an external reviewer!) 9.Incorporate review. Meet as team to consider reviewers comments 10.Final editing. Editor makes final changes 11.Checklist. Editor and Office of Research double check final draft for compliance with RFP and funding agency guidelines 12. Submission. Proposal is submitted!

14 Critical points in a collaborative proposal: 1.Stress the need. Why does this problem/issue require a multifaceted approach? 2.For new teams: Show how this project will lead to further advances in the long term 3.For established teams: Emphasize past successes and how this work will build on them 4.Team skills. Describe complementary skills and experience of team members 5.Team roles. Clearly delineate respective roles and responsibilities of team members in the project plan. Who does what and when? 6.Management plan. What mechanisms will assure the team will accomplish assigned tasks on time, on budget (Leadership roles, team meetings, administrative accountability, progress reports, etc.) 7. Value added. Highlight positive outcomes that cannot be achieved without the collaboration (Note: these must be desired by the funder!)

15 Critical points in the proposal, contd: 8.Proposal development. Document how collaborators have worked together on the proposal, start to finish 9.Common goals. Stress how project fits each collaborators mission and will achieve common goals 10.Sustainability. Develop a pre-agreement on what will happen when funding ends 11.Documentation. Enclose cover letters from collaborating organizations signed by leadership! 12.Institutional commitment. Describe all resources each party will contribute: personnel time, facilities, equipment, administrative support, (and cash, if possible)

16 Sample Gantt Chart, Proposal Development

17 How institutions can facilitate more research collaborations: Ensure the faculty reward system (promotion, tenure) adequately recognizes the value of interdisciplinary research Hold academic leaders responsible to reach beyond disciplinary boundaries Restructure budget to reserve funds dedicated to common good (as opposed to colleges/departments) Provide seed funding to launch new IDR groups Engage more undergraduates in interdisciplinary courses and research Aggressively pursue funding opportunities that support interdisciplinary work

18 Resources Collaboration Success Wizard - University of Calif., Irvine by Gary Olson Online survey tool to provide researchers feedback to facilitate success Identifies strengths and weaknesses of a collaborations Completed by an individual

19 Resources, contd NIH Collaboration and Team Science website: BUD/Home Team Science Toolkit ome.aspx?js=1

20 Resources, contd The COALESCE project provides on-line learning resources to enhance skills to perform transdisciplinary, team-based translational research.

21 A Final Note…. Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story. - Casey Stengel

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