Presentation on theme: "Developing Successful Grant Proposals Department of Botany and Microbiology 12 April 2010."— Presentation transcript:
Developing Successful Grant Proposals Department of Botany and Microbiology 12 April 2010
Outline of Topics to be Addressed Ideas – the foundation Timing Understanding the landscape Learning what’s out there – finding funding Developing the proposal itself –Common mistakes –Selecting the right type of proposal for your idea –Steps –Content –Peer review Summary of important tips to remember
It All Begins with YOUR Idea Describing it is key – sounds simple! –One of the most difficult aspects of a proposal –Don’t be afraid to “promote” yourself and the idea as appropriate Understand and be able to express the context, and often the practical value –Requires critical analysis of previous work, funding source priorities (more later), direction(s) of the field(s) Assess and describe methodologies to be used –Must know institutional resources –Sometimes very hypothesis-driven Anticipate potential for success, even outcomes Seek constructive criticism from peers – this is CRITICAL Continue to refine – nurture like you do a paper!
Timing Can be Important Is now the right time to bring the idea forward? Intrinsic aspect –Is the idea sufficiently developed –Do you have necessary initial results? (Important today!) Extrinsic aspect –Have agencies been funding similar work? Check previous awards to the extent possible) Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects (http://crisp.cit.nih.gov) NSF (http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/index.jsp) Community of Science (http://fundedresearch.cos.com) DoEd (see next slide) –Are the requisite data and other resources available?
Before You Look For Funding, Understand the Landscape Funding agencies (DoEd, NSF, NOAA, FAA, DoD, DoE, NASA, EPA) + private industry + foundations –Different procedures for proposals/reviews, different philosophies –Visit their web sites to learn more – do the necessary homework! Plus talk to your peers!! –Federal FY starts October (FY09 started Oct ‘08); Federal agencies often receive their budgets several months into the fiscal year! –Keep track of the process (can do so via OU)
Research Topics Widely varying – function of agency Based upon –Community input (workshops) –National needs –Science and engineering opportunities (latest hot topics, e.g., nanotechnology) –Politics or agency head likes and dislikes FY09 Interagency Priorities –Homeland Security and National Defense –Energy and Climate Change Technology –Advanced Networking and Information Technology –National Nanotechnology Initiative –Understanding Complex Biological Systems –Environment –Next Generation Air Transportation System –Science of Science Policy
Tackle Problems at the Boundaries While Maintaining Strength in Disciplines Economics Policy Technology and Engineering Physical Science Social and Behavioral Sciences
Learning What’s Out There
OU Research Information Services –Provides funding and other announcements via –All of you should be receiving these automatically –Will do customized opportunity searches too! Contact Amanda Hale at –Especially important for foundation funding
Learning What’s Out There By the time a solicitation hits the street, you’re already behind unless you anticipated it! By the time a solicitation hits the street, you’re already behind unless you anticipated it! –We’re working harder to mine “intelligence” from agencies to anticipate solicitations –We’ll also be asking faculty for 2 years of “look ahead” Must have awareness by engaging with funding agencies, monitoring activities in your discipline Must have awareness by engaging with funding agencies, monitoring activities in your discipline Volunteer for review panels (no cost to you or OU) to better understand the decision process Volunteer for review panels (no cost to you or OU) to better understand the decision process Visit agencies (costs can be split among college, department, VPR office) Visit agencies (costs can be split among college, department, VPR office) Participate in advisory committees (no cost to you or OU) and professional societies Participate in advisory committees (no cost to you or OU) and professional societies Consider temporary assignment as an agency program officer Consider temporary assignment as an agency program officer
By the time a solicitation hits the street, you’re already behind unless you anticipated it! By the time a solicitation hits the street, you’re already behind unless you anticipated it! –We’re working harder to mine “intelligence” from agencies to anticipate solicitations –We’ll also be asking faculty for 2 years of “look ahead” Must have awareness by engaging with funding agencies, monitoring activities in your discipline Must have awareness by engaging with funding agencies, monitoring activities in your discipline Volunteer for review panels (no cost to you or OU) to better understand the decision process Volunteer for review panels (no cost to you or OU) to better understand the decision process Visit agencies (costs can be split among college, department, VPR office) Visit agencies (costs can be split among college, department, VPR office) Participate in advisory committees (no cost to you or OU) and professional societies Participate in advisory committees (no cost to you or OU) and professional societies Consider temporary assignment as an agency program officer Consider temporary assignment as an agency program officer Learning What’s Out There We should be driving the national agenda, not just waiting for opportunities to arrive
Driving the Research Agenda With all that bureaucracy, do you really have a role? Yes!!! –Serve on NSF advisory committees, which plan priorities for the directorates, and similar committees in other organizations The US Department of Education alone has a dozen and a half FACA committees at –Serve in national organizations, such as professional societies, which have a strong voice, especially in education –Lead workshops on key topics to help define priorities for research congruent with your interests –Serve in agency program manager rotator positions –Visit the Hill (in coordination with OU leadership, e.g., Danny Hilliard, and with adequate preparation)
Developing the Proposal
Office of the VP for Research Norman Campus
Agency Websites for Proposal Preparation: NSF (A very good site for developing any proposal) PI Tips Sheet for Proposal Preparation –https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a0/about/pitips.htm Grant Proposal Guide –http://www.nsf.gov/pubsys/ods/getpub.cfm?gpg Instructions for Preparing and Submitting a Standard NSF Proposal –https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a1/newstan.htm FAQs: NSF FastLane Proposal Preparation –https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/a0/about/a1faq.htm
Before we get into the Weeds: Common Mistakes/Weaknesses Absence of a solid idea and acceptable approach Goals and objectives not clear or too broad and unachievable Too heavy on acronyms and jargon – many proposals are reviewed by experts from many disciplines Lack of sufficient time commitment Lack of enthusiasm and boldness – selling the idea Work not placed in context: significance and impact not obvious Too much work proposed for the level of funding requested/represented Weak risk mitigation strategies (no Plan B) Resources not available For NSF proposals, broader impacts are weak
Important Definitions Proposal documents what you seek to accomplish Grant is the “award” made when a proposal is funded (you don’t write a grant!) Principal Investigator: THE manager/director and the one LEGALLY responsible! –Co-Principal Investigators: Now deemed by OMB to be equals to the PI –Co-Investigators: Collaborating scientists –Students usually not allowed to be a PI/Co-PI –Others sometimes need permission Awardee institution – the funding becomes State funding once it hits OU Sub-contracts – mechanism to provide funding to pr receive funding from collaborators
Numerous Types of Proposals Unsolicited –No deadlines for submission –Any topic is possible –Budgets can be large or small Solicited –Special program announcements/topics –For NSF, these are determined by the community –TONS of these out there (centers, facilities, etc) –Often fierce competition; interdisciplinary Special –SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) –STTR (Small Technology Transfer Research) –BAA (Broad Agency Announcements) –EPSCoR (NSF, DOD, NIH, NASA, DOE, EPA, USDA)
Source: NSF Impact of Proposal Award Management Mechanisms (IPAMM), 2007 Should you submit an “unsolicited” proposal or wait for a particular solicitation?
Source: NSF Impact of Proposal Award Management Mechanisms (IPAMM), 2007 Should you submit an “unsolicited” proposal or wait for a particular solicitation?
Which is Right for You? Standard “individual investigator” research grant Equipment grant Collaborative grant Center grant Grants for conferences, symposia, workshops International research and travel grants Dissertation grants Fellowships Graduate Student Fellowships Others…
Identify and Make Contact With the Potential Funding Source Identify the appropriate agency or foundation –Where does your idea best fit? –How do you know (next slide) Be aware of agency priorities –Cyber-Enabled Discovery –Bio-Neuro Technology –Dynamics of Water Processes in Environment –Cyber-Enabled Learning –Effects of Climate Change on Disruptive Events –Science and Engineering Beyond Moore’s Law
Develop Relationships with Program Personnel This is EXTREMELY important The point isn’t to “get in good” with an agency official The program officer’s function is to help you be successful Get to know their programs, help them get to know your work and where it fits OU supports travel for doing so (should also get to know the agency by serving on review panels, etc) Example from the EIP Program…
Special Opportunities for New Ideas and Investigators NSF RAPID – for rapidly responding, e.g., hurricanes NSF EAGER – early idea exploration NSF CAREER – pre-tenure faculty NIH Pioneer and New Innovator Again, program officers can help direct you to appropriate opportunities
New Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment Will begin operation 1 July 2010 Led by an outstanding new hire – Dr. Alicia Knoedler from Penn State Multi-faceted in its mission – works one-on-one with faculty to help, not just direct Proposal content, management plans, education and outreach, diversity, “Criterion 2,” pre- submission reviews, agency linkages, centers, interdisciplinary work, etc. Located on 2 nd floor of 3 Partners Place
Steps in Preparing Proposals Notify OU by submitting an infosheet –This triggers a substantial internal process and assigns to you a Proposal Development Specialist Submit early documentation to the funding source –Letter of intent (usually brief, often required by solicitation to determine conflicts of interest and potential response rate) –Formal pre-proposal Often required by solicitation and can be substantial, e.g., 15 pages Used to determine which efforts will be allowed to submit full proposal –Informal letter of intent (e.g., NSF)
Informal Letter of Intent
Steps in Preparing Proposals Prepare and submit full proposal –Agency guidelines are readily available –Follow all guidelines TO THE LETTER! –Deadlines and formats (e.g., page limits) are CRITICAL Almost all proposals now submitted electronically Grants.gov eventually (?) will become the single point of submission OU proposal specialists are certified in research administration – they have the answers or can find them!
Project Description Must be compelling and show enthusiasm (not “just the facts ma’am” The first paragraph should grab the reviewer and make them want to read more Clarity makes the reviewer’s job much easier –Don’t make them did –If you don’t include it, they’ll assume you didn’t consider it! Follow guidelines TO THE LETTER A hastily-assembled proposal is a turn-off to reviewers and conveys lack of seriousness
Project Description Lay out the project –Motivations and previous research: set the stage and convince the reviewer that this work is important and relevant –Goals and objectives: be very specific about what you propose to do, even in the form of hypotheses –Lay out the research methods, tools and techniques and even specific experiments as appropriate Absence of specificity in this area often results in rejection –Describe data sources, validation and verification –Go to IRB for human subjects research
Project Description Describe partnerships or collaborations, if applicable and show org charts (e.g., for centers) For long-distance collaborations, discuss communication mechanisms Describe how results will be shared/disseminated Discuss advisory mechanisms as appropriate Now must include mentoring of post docs, certification for Responsible Conduct of Research (still pending) Describe broader impacts (NSF)
Timelines Provides a chronological overview including major milestones –Indicates organization and forethought Lists activities and phases and estimates of time to completion –Although discovery can’t be scheduled, good organization is essential
Budget Very critical part - OU Proposal Services provides a lot of help (e.g., current salaries, verification) Very specific content –Salaries and wages (senior investigators, post-docs, students, technical support staff) Number of months (tied to level of effort) Faculty can have academic release Faculty can cost-share part of their 9-month State salary –Fringe benefits Health and retirement for professionals, students
Budget –Equipment Must be specific about model and purpose Indirect cost –Travel Must be specific about location, duration, purpose OU has standard rates for hotel, meals –Other costs Materials and supplies (paper, pens, software, disks) Publication (page charges; usually $120/page) Computer services Other: local and long-distance telephone, tuition Cost sharing
Budget –Indirect costs (IDC) A portion of the total grant costs go to the institution for lights, heating & A/C, office space, etc. It is a real cost the University must meet in order to support the research Current OU cost is 500% (i.e., 0.50 x rest of budget) Our rates are competitive - some places (MIT) are > 100%. Some private companies (DC area) are 200+% –Sponsored research incentive (SRI) A portion of the IDC is returned to the unit that generated it to seed new research activities Unit receives 18% of the 50% of the IDC expended
Peer Review Ask colleagues to review your proposal before submission –New proposal center will do this or you can just contact me until it’s up and running Include someone who is not familiar with your project Actual peer review is mostly panels and anonymous mail reviews Peer and especially panel review tends to be conservative, especially in tight budget times If you’ve not served as a peer reviewer, volunteer TODAY!!
NSF Review Criteria Criterion #1 – Intellectual Merit How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?
NSF Review Criteria Criterion #2 – Broader Impacts How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?
Peer Review Reviews can be brutal – but they’re ALWAYS valuable! Very few proposals are funded on the first attempt Carefully consider reviewer comments because they usually lead to improvements (you’ll usually receive ver batim comments as well as summaries but reviewers remain anonymous) Ask colleagues to help you interpret reviews and ALWAYS feel free to dialog with the program officer Refer in re-submissions to prior reviews and how you addressed their suggestions because panel composition frequently changes Often you can tell agency who you want to NOT review your proposal
Awards First step after receiving the award is to turn the proposal (your strategy) into a work plan (your tactics) Meeting reporting requirements are critical NSF will not release funds if reporting is delinquent Acknowledge sponsor in publications
Typical Success Rates Depends upon the agency, program within NSF-wide average is about 26% Major programs (centers, large dollar solicitations) usually below 10% -- a real turn off! NSF trying to extend grant duration (currently 3 years) and increase size Can resubmit – often with good outcomes if you follow reviewer advice Some programs limit number of proposals per institution, or require approval of a pre-proposal prior to full submission
Source: NSF Impact of Proposal Award Management Mechanisms (IPAMM), 2007
Summary Tips Don’t wait until the last minute Prepare the pathway by talking with program officers Place your work in context and make the value proposition clear Avoid jargon, especially for efforts that involve multiple disciplines Develop a clear research plan with goals, objectives Show some early results Anticipate outcomes and speak to potential impacts and extensibility
Summary Tips Major issues today –Diversity enhancement –Workforce development –Engaging undergraduates –K-12 and STEM learning If your program has a major education or outreach component, make sure you address the issues head on –You needn’t reinvent the wheel – leverage existing resources, such as the K20Center Don’t be afraid to sell your work – think of what differentiates it from that of others/competitors
Research Competitiveness – Big thinking, competitive proposals; programmatic excellence; another major Federal agency presence; undergraduate research Research Engagement – Major push on DoD research and development; new translational programs with industry; interdisciplinary research; alignment with State agencies Research Culture – New incentives and rewards for creativity and bold, transformative thinking; directed resources; higher expectations for ourselves and greater accountability; benchmarking and comparisons against peers 63 Transforming Research Competitiveness Transforming Research Culture Transforming Research Engagement Nation’s Foremost Public Comprehensive Research University of Our Size Goal: To be the Nation’s foremost public, comprehensive research university of our size