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Writing Competitive Research Grants 2010

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Writing Competitive Research Grants 2010

  1. 1. What is RIF all about? ZU internal competitive grant awards offered annually to encourage and support faculty research. DATE ACTION 1 November 2009 Request for RIF proposals issued by the Office of Research. 29 November 2009 RIF proposals submitted by faculty to Dean of College 27 December 2009 College and Dean reviews completed, and supported proposals forwarded to Office of Research 11 February 2010 RIF Review Panel complete review of proposals and makes recommendation to the Assistant Provost, Research. 18 February 2010 Announcement of RIF Awards for 2009 Details at http://www.zu.ac.ae/research/aspx/ResearchersFundingRIF.aspx
  2. 2. How many RIF grants are awarded? In 2009, 42 applications were received and 25 grants awarded – just under 60% success rate. In the 2010 competition, it is anticipated that 30 grants will be able to be funded. How does this compare internationally? A proposal success rate of 20-30% is common (NSF, NIH, USDA, most private foundations)
  3. 3. Internationally … 60% are rejected on first reading because: •Proposal did not match program •Applicant did not follow directions How does ZU compare?
  4. 4. Out of 42 applications received in 2009: • 19 (45%) had pieces of the application missing (e.g. Proposal Summary Sheet, Dean Approval, budget justification, CV, ethical clearance…) • 16 (38%) were over the 5 page limit for the main proposal (ranging from 6-11 pages!) • 1 applied for a 3 year grant • Budgets were not good …  One applied for around 110,000 AED (limit was 75,000 AED)  Several budgets were not added up correctly  Several applications had “budget justifications” missing or miniscule
  5. 5. So, what are essential things to know when writing a grant submission?  Your research/creative topic  The instructions  What makes a good grant proposal  The reviewers and the evaluation process
  6. 6. A good start … • Choose something you are passionate about! • What is the problem, and why is it important? • How is existing knowledge or practice inadequate? • How is your idea going to make a difference? • What will it contribute and who will benefit?
  7. 7. • What is research? Research is defined as a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. (45 CFR 46.102(d)) Research should discover new information, or reach a new understanding. • Research is not … A trip to a conference A “fishing expedition” – there must be something out here … A group of “interesting observations”
  8. 8. What is a creative project? RIF grants will also support creative projects, including – – – – – the creation production exhibition performance, or publication of works … demonstrating originality in design or execution. Creative projects should include a clear articulation of the scholarly process, a definable product, and a mechanism for outside review and/or dissemination.
  9. 9. • Where will you find the instructions? • What are the GOALS of the RIF program? Are you planning to address them? • Who will you direct questions to?
  10. 10. … one theoretical example starts.. This research proposal will explore advanced quantum algorithms for encryption and develop a theoretical framework of a quantum network on top of virtual private network. To achieve the deployment of high security of information exchange in critical systems (e.g., financial, defense, military, medical), this proposal considers substituting advanced algorithms for encryption with quantum algorithms. This proposal examines advanced security algorithms Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA), Diffie-Hellman-Merkle (DHM), Shor, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). Furthermore, this research will explore the possibilities to deploy QKD in UAE or substitute with a virtual model (e.g., QKD as a Web Service), without huge investments .
  11. 11. 3.1 Start with the pitch – sell your idea!       Set the stage – lay out the problem (who cares?) Get the reviewer interested – identify the importance Identify what problem you are solving and the potential benefits Show how your proposal will address the goals of the funder Describe your project’s fundamental purpose Create a vision – how will your work advance the field (so what?) Let’s have another look at that example…
  12. 12. … one theoretical example starts.. This research proposal will explore advanced quantum algorithms for encryption and develop a theoretical framework of a quantum network on top of virtual private network. To achieve the deployment of high security of information exchange in critical systems (e.g., financial, defense, military, medical), this proposal considers substituting advanced algorithms for encryption with quantum algorithms. This proposal examines advanced security algorithms Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA), Diffie-Hellman-Merkle (DHM), Shor, Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). Furthermore, this research will explore the possibilities to deploy QKD in UAE or substitute with a virtual model (e.g., QKD as a Web Service), without huge investments .
  13. 13. … alternate examples “This proposal addresses a priority of the World AIDS Foundation: AIDS prevention in developing countries. Specifically, we propose to conduct a series of five-day AIDS prevention workshops in four cities in Indonesia. The participants will be …” Vitamin D (VTD) is the only vitamin which can be synthesized in the skin after exposure to sun light. It is also naturally found in very few food items like oily salmon and eggs (Holick et al., 2004). This vitamin is very essential for supporting bone formation and integrity (Holick, et al., 2004, 2005). Recent discoveries have documented a protective role for VTD in the case of several chronic morbidities like osteoporosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cardio-vascular diseases, depression, and even certain life threatening infections like tuberculosis and influenza (Barnes et al., 2006; Schleithoff, 2006; Holick, et al., 2008). In some countries, it is often assumed that casual sun exposure by the residents could secure them sufficient VTD levels (Dawodu et al., 1998; Holick, et al., 2007). Paradoxically however, in sunny countries like the UAE, residents tend to avoid exposure to sunlight because of excessive heat (Dawodu et al., 1998). As food enrichment with VTD is not implemented in the UAE, many groups within this population could be vulnerable for developing VTD deficiency (Dawodu et al., 1998, 2001). This is particularly relevant to individuals who limit their outdoors activities or spend most of their times indoors like students or cover the body extensively like Emirati females (Dawodu et al., 1998, Saadi et al., 2006).
  14. 14. 3.2 Passive vs Active voice  “It is hoped that this project …  “Through the work of this project, it is anticipated that … versus …  “This research will accomplish …  “This is currently a problem affecting … , and the results of this research will …
  15. 15. 3.3 Brevity  “It has been demonstrated by research that…. OR  “Research shows clearly that …  “Following administration of the third dosage, measurements will be taken… OR  “After dosage 3, we will measure … "I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter.“ 3.4 Avoid insider jargon and acronyms “Information retrieval will involve RSS services from databases and blogsites which can either feed into email or a separate RSS reader, thus becoming selective information receipt, rather than broad retrieval.”
  16. 16. 3.5 Avoid generalizations. Stay focused! “… this is a step towards peace in the Gulf region and a step towards a Global peace and collaboration.” 3.6 Check your spelling and English language “The methodology should specify that security requerments be included during the requierments definition phase” • Is it focused and clear? • Is it achievable within the available timeframe/funding?
  17. 17. 3.7 Ease of Readability Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin accumsan. Curabitur felis pede, pulvinar non, faucibus accumsan, sodales sed, nisl. Phasellus porta nunc ut pede. Praesent et tortor. Vestibulum in lacus. Proin dignissim, nisl vel posuere condimentum, libero elit faucibus nunc, quis porttitor dui dolor a enim. Cras eu velit vitae lectus ultricies tincidunt. Etiam leo massa, ornare id, pharetra feugiat, lobortis nec, neque. Donec aliquam ultricies lorem. Integer ornare, eros vel varius pharetra, mi libero fermentum ligula, in congue risus ipsum ac est. Curabitur aliquet sem nec risus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Mauris turpis turpis, vehicula nec, tincidunt et, dapibus eu, nisl. Nunc auctor vulputate tortor. Curabitur velit ipsum, vehicula ut, pellentesque quis, faucibus non, metus. Pellentesque laoreet ante vitae metus. Donec aliquam ultricies lorem. Integer ornare, eros vel varius pharetra, mi libero fermentum ligula, in congue risus ipsum ac est. Curabitur aliquet sem nec risus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Mauris turpis turpis, vehicula nec, tincidunt et, dapibus eu, nisl. Nunc auctor vulputate tortor. Curabitur velit ipsum, vehicula ut, pellentesque quis, faucibus non, metus. Pellentesque laoreet ante vitae metus. OR The Heading Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin accumsan. Curabitur felis pede, pulvinar non, faucibus accumsan, sodales sed, nisl. Phasellus porta nunc ut pede. Praesent et tortor. Vestibulum in lacus. Donec aliquam ultricies lorem. Integer ornare, eros vel varius pharetra, mi libero fermentum ligula, in congue risus ipsum ac est. Curabitur aliquet sem nec risus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Mauris turpis turpis, vehicula nec, tincidunt et, dapibus eu, nisl. Nunc auctor vulputate tortor. Curabitur velit ipsum, vehicula ut, pellentesque quis, faucibus non, metus. Pellentesque laoreet ante vitae metus. Subheadings Etiam leo massa, ornare id, pharetra feugiat, lobortis nec, neque. Donec aliquam ultricies lorem. Integer ornare, eros vel varius pharetra, mi libero fermentum ligula, in congue risus ipsum ac est.  Curabitur aliquet sem nec risus. In hac habitasse platea dictumst.  Mauris turpis turpis, vehicula nec, tincidunt et, dapibus eu, nisl. Nunc auctor vulputate tortor.  Curabitur velit ipsum, vehicula ut, pellentesque quis, faucibus non, metus. Pellentesque laoreet ante vitae metus.
  18. 18. Don’t be scared of inserting images or diagrams PLAYLOAD BAY DOORS PLAY LOAD BAY FLIGHT DECK MAIN ENGINE radio waves receiver where waves are collected waves converted into electro signals computer received as signal
  19. 19. 3.8 Avoiding unsubstantiated claims • “..according to David Mason. He illustrates “In all my time involved I never saw much movement in health-related applications.” ” • “It will enhance student engagement and is projected to reduce overall failure rates.” • “The quality of customer service in the Middle East … is inferior to that found in many Western countries”
  20. 20. 3.9 Methodology! Clearly articulate how you are going to undertake this research:  What data collection are you planning?  How will you achieve your data collection to ensure independent, reproducible results that are meaningful and generalizable?  What will your data analysis involve?  Have you considered ethical clearance for your research?  What is your information dissemination plan? Goals (2-3 maximum) and Objectives with specific, measurable outcomes or mileposts
  21. 21. 3.10 … and finally, the Abstract Written last, but read first by reviewers Must be an intriguing “first advertisement” Should reflect entire scope of project Must convey:  What the researcher intends to do  Why it’s important  Expected outcomes  How work will be accomplished
  22. 22. “grant writers place high value on feedback at every phase of proposal writing…. Proposals that bypass this essential process have a much greater chance of failure.” Porter, R. (2007) Why academics have a hard time writing good grant proposals. None of us really like to hear criticism
  23. 23. How many people will see your proposal before submission? What College review process exists? Plan for it! How long does it take to write a grant proposal? 1/3 learn the rules/ 1/3 write/ 1/3 edit, revise Successful grant writing is a team sport!
  24. 24. Why are researchers sometimes shy to seek constructive feedback? Howard Aiken – Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921: “Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.”
  25. 25. “This research is imperative to ZU and also fosters national and international collaborations” “The proposal show originality and addresses and important problem at Zayed University. Well written and referenced proposal, although it would have benefited from clearer definition earlier …” “Finally, a proposal that is within 5p! Well organized and argued.” “The proposed work is very well organized and clearly presented. The PI proceeds to use standard and well tested techniques to address changes in fish habitat as a result of unusually large man-made changes to the UAE coastline. The results of the research will speak directly to a potential problem of very high ecological and economic impact.” “The CBBEAW proposal addresses an issue of importance to UAE as well as to any region of the world where multiply languages and dialects are spoken.” “The researchers presenting this proposal seem to be well-established professionals and academicians in the fields of …as well as curriculum development. The investigators ‟ CV‟s also show clearly that all three investigators are well-published, and have gathered a wide variety of experiences in more than one part of the world.”
  26. 26. “The PI needs to more thoroughly develop the rational for this work.” “The literature review was of very limited scope with no references to peer reviewed literature - if there is none; is the problem really worth studying?” “Sample unlikely to be representative of general population.” “Awareness of any other such social research and discussion with any such relevant researchers may prove useful in this regard.” “Disconnect between the research methodology and budget.” “Confusing and needs focus.” “Methodology – unclear sample size and sampling methodology” “Had the PI added a parallel, or a series of parallel studies to isolate factors such as ESL users, gender, cultural bias etc, the results may have had much larger impact.” “This is completely Chinese. I am sorry but I do not see myself competent to judge this RIF application.”
  27. 27. All agencies offering Grants have to decide which applications will be successful. … how to weed out
  28. 28. “Grant reviewers are impatient readers. Busy people with limited time, they look for any excuse to stop reading.” Porter, R. (2007) Why academics have a hard time writing good grant proposals.
  29. 29. Who are the reviewers of the RIF Grant proposals? What College process for review occurs?  Does it give constructive feedback to enable re-writes?  Do they have a ‘red team’ of subject experts?  Can your College check for adherence to instructions? What are the evaluation criteria?
  30. 30. Contact information: research@zu.ac.ae http://www.zu.ac.ae/research/aspx/ResearchersFundingRIF.aspx Credit for ideas and some content – R. Porter reporter@utk.edu Dr. Suad Joseph will be visiting Zayed University 12, 13 and 14 December to conduct Research Grant Writing workshops and individual consultations. Book in!

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