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GNS Science How to improve quality and quantity of proposal submissions through customized bidding strategies Chris Kroger, Deputy Director, Research GNS.

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Presentation on theme: "GNS Science How to improve quality and quantity of proposal submissions through customized bidding strategies Chris Kroger, Deputy Director, Research GNS."— Presentation transcript:

1 GNS Science How to improve quality and quantity of proposal submissions through customized bidding strategies Chris Kroger, Deputy Director, Research GNS Science, Lower Hutt, New Zealand Co-convener NZ&P chapter, ARMS

2 GNS Science Contents 1.Why to improve quality and quantity? –From an individuals perspective –From a research managers / institutes perspective –From a countrys perspective 2.How to improve quantity –How to know when little is more –How to know the target audience / bidders –Research managers as (quiet) leaders 2

3 GNS Science Contents, continued 3.How to improve quality –Targeted: Team approach –Targeted: Individual approach 4.Outcomes –From an individuals perspective –From a research managers perspective –From an institutes perspective 3

4 GNS Science Why to improve quality and quantity? Individual perspective Kudos, job satisfaction, job justification, a job! Collaborations, research expansion, Research manager / institute perspective Reputation, attraction of quality staff, funding Kudos, job satisfaction, job justification, a job! Subtle pressure on government to release funding Country perspective Small country at bottom of world wants to be among the leading science providers 4

5 GNS Science New Zealand at the top of the world (nearly) 5

6 GNS Science New Zealand research funding environment 6

7 GNS Science New Zealand research funding environment Frequently only one proposal per research question (program) funded, forcing teams to come together Decisions made by ministry-appointed panel, rarely including peers Emphasize on outcome- benefit to NZ Data by Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment

8 GNS Science New Zealand research funding environment, continued Research infers that number of bids decreases when success rates go below 15-18% However, Health and Marsden Fund (see figure) now consis- tently below 10%! (<50% NIH rate) 8

9 GNS Science Funding Opportunities Ministry issued Calls for Proposals (Ministry) Royal Society issued CfP (Marsden) Narrowly focused (limiting the number of potential proposals) Broad focus, but 10 assessment panels (e.g., social science) Best New Zealand teamSmall, but best international team Outcome-led, measurable benefitScience-led, quality publications Research outcomes implemented by research users (industry, government) Public, non-targeted results Infrequent opportunitiesAnnual call 2-6 year programmes(Up to) 3 year programmes Call aligned to government determined needs for New Zealand Merit based on science quality Requires user input (e.g., co-funding)Fully funded Funding-decision made by user dominated (paid) panel Funding-decision made by volunteering scientist panel ~4 times overbid~11 times overbid 9

10 GNS Science Sir Ernest Marsden The Marsden Fund takes its name from physicist Sir Ernest Marsden ( ) who made a remarkable contribution to science both in New Zealand and overseas. As undergraduate he worked with Ernest Rutherford. His skills as a lobbyist and forward thinker ensured the establishment of a department which could support all aspects of farming, New Zealands main Industry, thus ensuring science uptake by users. 10

11 GNS Science Ministry proposals Benefits to New ZealandRisk Management or Success Factors 1. Outcome Benefits to New Zealand Key Question: Assuming this project is successful, what is the potential contribution it will make to the achievement of target outcomes? 2. Implementation Pathway Key Question: What is the likelihood the team will successfully have the research implemented by research users, and what is the plan to achieve this? 3. Research, science and technology benefits to New Zealand Key question: Will the research be of high science quality and utilise capabilities of importance for New Zealand? 4. Ability to deliver research, science and technology results (outputs) Key question: What is the likelihood the team will achieve their proposed research outputs? Demonstrate this with reference to track record. 11

12 GNS Science How to improve quantity But why – arent there enough proposals swamping the system already? Answer: Target the right Call for Proposals, find the right quantity for it Research managers need to take the lead in identifying opportunities. Your life doesnt get better by chance, It gets better by CHANGE. 12

13 GNS Science Improving Quantity: Ministry Proposals 1.Analyse Call and it compare with in-house expertise to identify opportunities 2.Approach teams and line managers, bring together relevant researchers to raise awareness and interest 3.Identify most suitable team and PI Reject some ideas if necessary 4.Support team to collaborate with external teams and industry / users 13

14 GNS Science Improving Quantity: Ministry Proposals 5.Reiterate the need of the proposal to match the Call, reiterate again 6.Depending on need, write or contract writer; but provide researchers with proposal writing training opportunities independently 7.Project manage process 8.Facilitate and mediate if required 9.Encourage to maintain relationships if bid fails 14

15 GNS Science Improving Quantity: Ministry Proposals Timeline Call Start writing Submission 2-3 months1-2 months 15

16 GNS Science Improving Quantity: Marsden Marsden Fund: Relatively straight forward for small team projects rewarding science merit 1.Train, encourage, develop a culture of bidding 2.Provide exemplars 3.Celebrate success 4.Mentor early career scientists 5.Educate on low success rate: despite it, it is not a lottery (only once quality is ensured ) 6.Establish a Marsden in-house panel for early and informal feedback on idea 16

17 GNS Science Improving Quality P ROACTIVE, S TRATEGIC, H ANDS - ON A PPROACH 1.Training + 2.Encouragement + 3.Writing support (early, targeted, frequently) + 4.Understanding the Call of Proposals + 5.Inclusion of line management + 6.Project / time management + 7.Mentoring and guidance = 17

18 GNS Science Improving Quality: Priority is Understanding the target audience Different audiences for Ministry and Marsden Calls (and for journal papers!) Understand what they want to get what you want 18

19 GNS Science Improving Quality: Team approach (Ministry Call) More complex proposals, alignment with Call paramount Once team is assembled, assign lead writer Possibly write certain (non- science) sections More time needed to develop general proposal than writing it 19

20 GNS Science Improving Quality: Individual Approach (Marsden Call) Provide mentor and / or sounding board for idea Encourage to reach out to top international scientists to collaborate in project Provide long-term support to help researchers develop their track record, and present it effectively Encourage people to work on science panels, and do so yourself as research manager Provide writing training and direct support for proposal Teach to pitch your idea 20

21 GNS Science Improving Quality: Pitching the idea S ELLING THE PROPOSAL Emphasize the outcome, not the method Explain the opportunity loss if not funded Who will benefit from research? Sell the PIs track record and the specific skill relevant to the proposal Women may need some encouragement to be more assertive in their capability claims 21

22 GNS Science Improving Quality: Writing Verbosity is the leading cause of poor writing. Verbosity is most commonly caused by the wrong assumption that it impresses the reader Test whether a sentence (paragraph, document) can be written with less words (sentences, paragraphs) Brevity is the soul of wit. unknown 22

23 GNS Science Outcomes For individual: Better research and PI opportunities, control of outcomes, collaborations For research manager: Less deadline stress, better rapport with researchers For institute: Increased funding, enhanced reputation, good place to work 23

24 GNS Science Outcomes: Relative Funding Increase vs Inflation 24

25 GNS Science Summary R ESEARCH M ANAGERS AS L EADERS OF A STRONG B IDDING C ULTURE 1.Analyse each call and target potential PIs 2.Guide, mentor, lead the process from beginning to end 3.Provide training throughout the year 4.Support track record development 5.Develop a strong bidding culture with lots of support from RO and others 25

26 GNS Science Never allow someone to be your priority while you're just their option. unknown 26

27 11 th -15 th September 2016


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