Presentation on theme: "Strengths of Funded & Weaknesses of Unfunded MRI Proposals"— Presentation transcript:
1 Strengths of Funded & Weaknesses of Unfunded MRI Proposals Helen HansmaJoan Frye, Sally O’Connor, Angela Klaus, Mark Farmer, and othersNSF
2 Call Your Program Director Ask Us Early, Ask Us Often!!
3 Strong Proposals have: healthy and vigorous researchstudent-faculty research collaborationsexternally funded researchpublished in peer-reviewed research journalsno doubt that the requested instrument will bewell cared for andput to good use forresearch and research training
4 Weak Proposals raise Lots of Questions: Is the requested instrument is actually needed for the proposed research??Will the instrument be involved in outreach and teaching??How have each of the PIs used this instrument in the past??What about thelow funding level of current faculty researchers,lack of undergraduate and graduate student researchers,lack of publications ??
5 Strong Proposals have: Several users with a clear need for the instrumentPreliminary dataResearch descriptions start with need for instrumentIntegration of research and education
6 In Strong Proposals: PIs have a past history of outreach activities Broader Impacts - strongPossible problems - anticipated & addressedMany women and underrepresented minority students
7 Weak Proposals:“If we get the instrument, users will come” = a recipe for failureUsers describe their research and say at the end, “And if we had [the new instrument], we could do [something more].”
8 Weaknesses.... Weak science: Research proposals not well developedResearch is of relatively low-impactNot clear that the instrument was well justified.Typographical errors = careless preparation??Few / poor references
9 “I always wondered what it felt like to get an NSF award!” Strong Proposals“Walks on water”Each investigator includes a training component in his / her research description“I always wondered what it felt like to get an NSF award!”-a new awardee, upon receiving her award phone call
10 Weak Proposals Vague generalizations Figures & images are poor or lackingDouble spaced textThe reviewers say:“It’s a sad little proposal.”“It’s like reading a proposal by Charlie Brown’s teacher – it’s just noise”“Instrumentation without a Cause”
11 A Weak Figure:As this image shows, our current microscope needs to be replaced.Image is too dark! è
12 A Strong Figure:Figure 1. Images with our current Costco microscope [left] and with the Zeus Alive! Microscope that we propose to buy [right].Image is lighter here è
13 Proposals MUST have:Intellectual Merit AND Broader Impacts in the Project Summary15 pages or fewer of Project DescriptionLarge enough font sizes and marginsResearch - NOT medical
14 Proposal Title should be: “Acquisition of _______ “
15 Weaknesses: BudgetInstrument has too many / too few features for proposed researchInstruments not relatedToo many instruments requested“We figured we’d ask for TWO of the same instrument, and they’d give us ONE.”-an unsuccessful PI“A Ferrari isn’t good in traffic.”-a reviewer
16 A Solid Management Plan describes: Maintenance plans for the instrument(s)How costs of instrument use and maintenance will be covered (user fees or ??)The available expertise in use of the equipmentHow new users will be trainedHow user time will be allocated (if necessary)
17 Pitfalls to Watch out for... Follow guidelines carefully!Request the appropriate instruments (e.g. Is high throughput really needed? How does the instrument relate to the research?)Emphasize research – not only teaching !Do not request a “laundry list” of items
18 Strategies for Success Student involvement: co-authors on papers & presentations.Strong maintenance of existing equipment and plans for requested equipmentInvolvement of under-represented groups
19 Strategies.... Wide use of instrument Demonstrated need, e.g., # samplesPreliminary results/measurements
20 Most proposals are NOT funded! ResubmissionsMost proposals are NOT funded!
21 Weak Resubmissions Whining or angry responses to reviewers’ comments Project description starts with responses to reviewers’ commentsProposal has few changes
22 Strong Resubmissions: Good responses to reviewers’ comments – can be incorporated into the revised proposal without mentioning the reviewers’ commentsSignificant improvements in the proposal
24 Evaluating Proposals: NSF Merit Review Criteria Intellectual MeritBroader Impacts of the Proposed Effort
25 MRI-Specific Criteria: Instrument Acquisition shared use of the instruments for research and/or research trainingavailability of technical expertisemanagement & maintenance planeffective instrument use
26 Summary of Review Criteria Merit Review Criteria:Intellectual meritBroader impactsIntegration of research and educationIntegrating diversity into the proposed activitiesAdditional MRI Review Criteria:for instrument acquisition - the management plan;for instrument development - the rationale for development of a new instrument.
28 Your “Holy Books”: The MRI Program Announcement: NSF2. The Grant Proposal Guide – GPG:NSF 04-23
29 To Do: NSF Fastlane – start using it Early! Other Senior Personnel – give them an early deadline for finishing their parts of the proposal.
30 Summary Start early – give yourself enough time Read the MRI PA and the GPG, and follow their rulesGet feedback on your proposal from your colleaguesProposals should be clear, appropriate, and justifiedAnticipate some frustrationStudy reviews carefullyIf declined - Call your Program Director after reading your reviews (take some time to think about them)If awarded - follow up on reporting and find out about supplemental funding (stay in touch with PD)