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Writing Grants for Research or Programs Carol Runyan, PhD University of North Carolina UNC IPRC.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Grants for Research or Programs Carol Runyan, PhD University of North Carolina UNC IPRC."— Presentation transcript:


2 Writing Grants for Research or Programs Carol Runyan, PhD University of North Carolina UNC IPRC

3 Why are there grants for injury control ( or anything )? Grants are intended to use scarce dollars as an investment to answer important questions that help: –build the scientific foundation of the field –inform policy & program directions Grants are NOT: –charity –entitlements UNC IPRC

4 Therefore… Grants: Are competitive Are peer reviewed AND Need to convince the agency (via the peer reviewers) that this work is worthy of the investment UNC IPRC

5 Purpose of Proposals To describe what you will do – in detail– if the project is funded To enable reviewers to decide if what you propose: –Is important –Is innovative –Is feasible –Can be done well by your team in your setting UNC IPRC

6 Main Message in Proposal Proposal should tell why it is a good idea and important to: – do this project – this way – at this time – by your team UNC IPRC

7 Types of Proposals State or Federal Government –usually have a structured format –initiated by the project or responsive to specific request for applications (RFA) Private Foundations/ Corporations –may have structured format –may require a letter and invitation UNC IPRC

8 Questions to ask in deciding whether to apply Do you have time to prepare a good proposal? How many will be awarded? Who are the likely competitors? How do you chances compare to the likely competitors? UNC IPRC

9 More Questions… Do your chances of success justify the time? Who will be the PI? –Is s/he credible with this agency for this topic? Who else should be on the team? Can you/do you want to do the work if actually funded? Can you successfully manage the project? UNC IPRC

10 Getting ready to do the proposal Develop timeline to do the task –think in weeks, not days –plan for mishaps Plan how to get the task done Line up necessary resources to prepare (e.g. budget planning, clerical help) UNC IPRC

11 Process of doing the proposal Grants come to institutions, not individuals Institutions generally have units to deal with (processing, accounting, personnel, human subjects) Know the procedures/policies of your institution re: processing grants –deadlines –signoff –overhead rates UNC IPRC

12 Responding to an RFA READ THE RFA ! Then, read it again, and again… UNC IPRC

13 Responding to an RFA Consider: –any citations in the RFA –who potential reviewers might be & what their interests, biases are –approach taken by the agency –what other kinds of work does this agency fund UNC IPRC

14 Responding to an RFA Re-read the RFA several more times ! – be sure to notice dates, dollar amounts – numbers of copies to send – rules about formatting (e.g. font) UNC IPRC

15 Proposal Sections (PHS 398) Cover sheet Table of contents Abstract Budget Biosketches Other support Resources & environment UNC IPRC

16 Proposal Sections (PHS 398) Specific aims Background & Significance Progress report/preliminary studies Research design & methods Human subjects Literature cited UNC IPRC

17 Abstract May be all that most reviewers read Must be: – succinct – clear – give overview of purpose, significance & methods Write it last, but carefully (not rushed) UNC IPRC

18 Preparing the Budget Anticipate needs in every element Must be realistic (not too big, not too small) Anticipate raises and timeline Enough for principal investigator Be sure to budget in appropriate categories, e.g. –supplies vs. equipment –consultants vs. co-investigator UNC IPRC

19 Budgeting (other points) Subcontracts –include OH of subcontracting agency Consultants –who can be, who can’t –rates may be capped Overhead – need to know –rate for your institution –what to charge it on (e.g. subs, equipment, tuition) –what the agency allows UNC IPRC

20 Parallels in Research & Practice Grants Specific Aims Background & significance Preliminary studies Research design & methods Goals & objectives Background & significance Formative research Implementation & evaluation methods Research Practice UNC IPRC

21 Specific Aims -- Research What is the purpose of this research? (i. e. What are you trying to accomplish?) Broad aims, narrower research questions Most difficult and important part of proposal UNC IPRC

22 Formulating Good Questions Ask yourself: –Does this help address a problem? –Will answering the question matter? –Can you explain the questions to an intelligent, but naïve person (e.g. your neighbor, your mother)? –Are you sure you know what you mean (will it still make sense to you tomorrow)? UNC IPRC

23 Research Questions Clarity Simplicity (one idea per question) Operationalizable variables Answerable UNC IPRC

24 Goals and Objectives -- Program Goal –broad statement of what the program is trying to accomplish Objectives –specific –time-framed –outcome oriented UNC IPRC

25 Objectives -- example “As a result of this fire safety program, 85% of children in the study schools will be able to correctly perform stop, drop and roll procedures by January 1, 2004” UNC IPRC

26 Common Problems with Goals & Objectives Vague Not important/boring Not time-framed Objectives that don’t go with goal Not realistic Don’t match the problem UNC IPRC

27 Background & Significance Why is this research or program important (i.e. “So what?”)? How does this research fit into the body of knowledge on this topic? Where is this line of research heading & does it matter? How will a successful study advance the field? UNC IPRC

28 Background (lit. review) Develop a strategy for searching Identify databases for search Read lots of material but include only papers that relate to your study Weed out the “junk” Organize the papers according to key concepts & ideas, NOT according to study or author UNC IPRC

29 Problems with Literature Reviews Obsess about getting everything, so develop nothing – get stuck Get stuck on details of literature and lose sight of the big picture Do too little literature review, ask meaningless or redundant questions UNC IPRC

30 Significance Why is this important? What new knowledge will be gained? What problems will be solved? What unique or innovative contributions will this research make to the field? UNC IPRC

31 Background & Significance What theories guide this research/hypotheses/intervention? What is evidence that this approach should work in your situation? Why is this opportunity to do this project important or unique? UNC IPRC

32 Background & Significance How will your study add to the body of existing work? How will this advance the field? What is national significance of this work? UNC IPRC

33 Be clear Don’t assume they know what you are talking about (reviewers come from multiple disciplines) Do up to date literature review Avoid jargon & abbreviations UNC IPRC

34 Progress Report & Preliminary Studies Why are these the right investigators to do this work? How does this work build on prior research of these investigators? Includes prior work of these investigators: –related earlier studies leading up to this work –pilot studies for this project –general expertise in subject area (e.g. expertise in the methodology) –productivity & know-how UNC IPRC

35 Formative Research What efforts have been made to develop the program/intervention? How was it carried out? What was learned? What are experiences in similar programs/ addressing similar problems? General capabilities of setting UNC IPRC

36 Design & Methods of Research / Evaluation MUST FOLLOW FROM THE QUESTIONS, GOALS, OBJECTIVES! How are you going to do the proposed project? Organize by element – for example: –overview – review gist of methods –research design– what study design is used (e.g. cross-sectional, RCT, longitudinal) –study population of interest (e.g. age, region) and rationale UNC IPRC

37 Design & Methods of Research / Evaluation Sampling strategy (how will subjects be selected?) - power calculations Measurement / operationalize the variables (how, SPECIFICALLY, will each variable be measured?) Data collection methods (I.e. how will data be obtained or gathered) - if secondary analysis study – explain how data WERE obtained originally UNC IPRC

38 Design & Methods of Research / Evaluation Data management & analysis strategy Data entry Overall analysis strategy Statistical tests to be used Advisory Groups? (who, why those persons, tasks, leadership, purpose) Timeline (month by month; graph it) UNC IPRC

39 Design & Methods of Research / Evaluation Dissemination –Think about who will use the data –Think about visibility & reasons for it –Types of journals, conferences, etc. for getting information to other researchers and practitioners UNC IPRC

40 Human subjects Major issues are: –Confidentiality Participation in study Data from study –Informed consent Informed appropriately (language, complexity, timing, full information) Consent obtained - voluntary, non-coerced UNC IPRC

41 Packaging matters… Font size (10+) & style (Times or Arial) Subheadings (use bold, italics) Clear diagrams Some white space Good grammar, syntax, sentence length Careful use of jargon, acronyms, abbreviations NO typos UNC IPRC

42 Other Tidbits Look for & address the weakest points, critique yourself; have others critique more than once Double check RFA Consider use of appendices Clarity important; verbosity deadly Don’t just revise beginning UNC IPRC

43 Reviews… Don’t take it personally Learn from critique; read it carefully Resubmit, stating how you addressed criticisms Remember: If the reviewers didn’t “get it”, it is YOUR fault. UNC IPRC

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