How to Compete for Research Funding Prepared for the Texas A&M University Evans Library Faculty 8 April 2009 Office of Pro...
Texas A&M University Office of Proposal Development <ul><li>Unit of the Division of Research and Graduate Studies </li></u...
Check out the OPD Website! <ul><li>http://opd.tamu.edu </li></ul><ul><li>Funding opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Proposal ...
Types of Funding Agencies <ul><li>Basic research agencies  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NSF, NIH, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mis...
Common Terminology <ul><li>Solicitation  – the program description; what the funder is seeking to fund </li></ul><ul><ul><...
Learn to search for funding in the right places!
Information on the Internet <ul><li>Funding agency and foundation websites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually the first place a...
Funding Opportunities and e-mail Alert Services <ul><li>All Federal Funding Opportunities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www...
Improve Your Success in Finding Funding <ul><li>Get to know your most likely funding agencies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Missio...
Deciding Whether a Funding Opportunity is Right for You <ul><li>What do they want to accomplish through this program? </li...
Explicit Proposal Requirements <ul><li>Note carefully formatting rules (page limits, fonts, margins, etc.) – these may be ...
Proposal Process Planning <ul><li>What do you control? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proposal narrative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li...
Preparing your proposal <ul><li>Allow lead time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To identify and fully assess what you need </li></ul...
Preparing your proposal <ul><li>Allow work time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To talk with the program manager </li></ul></ul><ul>...
Preparing your proposal <ul><li>Allow wrap-up time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To have your colleagues review your application <...
Reading the Solicitation <ul><li>Read, read, and re-read the solicitation! </li></ul><ul><li>The solicitation is  not  a l...
Things to Look for in the Solicitation <ul><li>Proposal Guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose of the program </li></ul><ul>...
Proposal Guidelines <ul><li>Formatting (page limit, margins, fonts) </li></ul><ul><li>Document order </li></ul><ul><li>Pro...
Purpose of the Program <ul><li>Commonly discussed in “background” section </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure the goals of your pr...
Program Requirements <ul><li>Read carefully and make a checklist </li></ul><ul><li>Plan to explain how you will meet each ...
Talking to the Program Officer <ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read solicitation carefully </li></ul></ul><...
Never be timid about contacting a program officer for clarification <ul><li>Timidity is never rewarded in the competitive ...
Introductory writing tips <ul><li>Summary and introduction are key elements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May be the only section ...
Review Criteria <ul><li>Most important part of solicitation! </li></ul><ul><li>Plan early how to address each review crite...
Connect to Review Criteria <ul><li>Throughout the proposal narrative, point out explicitly how program components address ...
Make your proposal easy to read <ul><li>Reviewers often have numerous proposals to read </li></ul><ul><li>Use white space,...
You must intrigue the reviewers!
Collaborations/Partnerships <ul><li>Identify partners before you start writing </li></ul><ul><li>Be clear about roles of c...
Examples of Common Proposal Sections <ul><li>Project Summary </li></ul><ul><li>Project Description/Proposal Narrative </li...
Project Summary/Executive Summary <ul><li>Provides a framework for the reviewer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand how the e...
Project Description/Proposal Narrative <ul><li>Goals/Specific Aims: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State specific, measurable goals...
Approach/Methodology <ul><li>Be very clear about how you will accomplish your stated goals and objectives </li></ul><ul><l...
Focus on your program interests
Preparing your budget <ul><li>Adhere to agency and program requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Include only allowable costs...
Connect narrative text to budget <ul><li>Budget categories are defined by the funding agency </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure act...
Preparing a budget justification <ul><li>Use this section to continue to persuade reviewers that you are a thoughtful and ...
Project assessment and evaluation <ul><li>How will you know if you were successful? </li></ul><ul><li>Describe what will b...
Revisions <ul><ul><li>Revise, revise, revise! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask colleagues to review your executive summary <...
Interpreting Reviews <ul><li>If you are funded… </li></ul><ul><li>Whoop!! Go out </li></ul><ul><li>and play! </li></ul><ul...
Interpreting Reviews – Planning to Resubmit <ul><li>Were certain issues mentioned consistently? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plan...
Don’t give up… be persistent!
Summary <ul><li>Start early:  It takes time to find a funding opportunity and to craft a competitive proposal. </li></ul><...
Questions?? <ul><li>Robyn L. Pearson </li></ul><ul><li>Office of Proposal Development </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </...
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Library Seminar Power Point Presentation

  1. 1. How to Compete for Research Funding Prepared for the Texas A&M University Evans Library Faculty 8 April 2009 Office of Proposal Development Robyn L. Pearson [email_address]
  2. 2. Texas A&M University Office of Proposal Development <ul><li>Unit of the Division of Research and Graduate Studies </li></ul><ul><li>We provide funding support for TAMU faculty, staff, and students: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Workshops, seminars, presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify funding opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New faculty initiatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop collaborative, multidisciplinary research activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Center-level initiatives </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Check out the OPD Website! <ul><li>http://opd.tamu.edu </li></ul><ul><li>Funding opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Proposal resources </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule for seminars </li></ul><ul><li>and workshops </li></ul><ul><li>Seminar materials </li></ul><ul><li>Craft of Grant Writing Workbook </li></ul>
  4. 4. Types of Funding Agencies <ul><li>Basic research agencies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NSF, NIH, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mission-oriented agencies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>USDA, ED, NEH, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Private Foundations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be national or local in scope </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Industry, professional organizations, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Common Terminology <ul><li>Solicitation – the program description; what the funder is seeking to fund </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RFP (Request for Proposals), RFA (Request for Applications), PA (Program Announcement) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Eligibility – defines who is eligible to apply (i.e., individuals, non-profits, universities) </li></ul><ul><li>Budget guidelines – how funds may be used and other financial requirements (i.e., cost sharing, matching) </li></ul><ul><li>Review criteria – how your proposal will be evaluated </li></ul>
  6. 6. Learn to search for funding in the right places!
  7. 7. Information on the Internet <ul><li>Funding agency and foundation websites </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually the first place an announcement will appear </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Compilations of funding opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Automatic e-mail notification services </li></ul><ul><li>Database services </li></ul><ul><li>Google! </li></ul>
  8. 8. Funding Opportunities and e-mail Alert Services <ul><li>All Federal Funding Opportunities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.grants.gov/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email alert service: http://www.grants.gov/applicants/email_subscription.jsp </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Foundations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://fdncenter.org/pnd/rfp/index.jhtml </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Email alert service: http:// fdncenter.org /newsletters/ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>OPD website listing of email alert services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://opd.tamu.edu/funding-opportunities/electronic-funding-alert-services-email-alerts </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Improve Your Success in Finding Funding <ul><li>Get to know your most likely funding agencies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mission, vision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Funding mechanisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recurring funding opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Check funding opportunities regularly </li></ul><ul><li>Learn how to quickly evaluate a potential funding opportunity (eligibility, deadlines, budget restrictions, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Keep a list of funding agencies, funding opportunities with URLs (e.g., Word table with hotlinks) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Deciding Whether a Funding Opportunity is Right for You <ul><li>What do they want to accomplish through this program? </li></ul><ul><li>How much money is allocated and how many awards are anticipated? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is eligible to apply? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the budget guidelines or restrictions? </li></ul><ul><li>What, if any, partnerships are required? </li></ul><ul><li>What other types of programs have been funded? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Explicit Proposal Requirements <ul><li>Note carefully formatting rules (page limits, fonts, margins, etc.) – these may be in a separate document </li></ul><ul><li>Look for suggested or required sections </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make an outline that mirrors solicitation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include checklist of everything that must be addressed, divided by sections; stick to this checklist through early drafts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Note supplementary documents needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bios, Current and Pending Research Funding, Letters of Support, Facilities and Equipment, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Proposal Process Planning <ul><li>What do you control? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proposal narrative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Budget </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What do others control? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Routing & signatures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Budget approvals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Submission </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data requests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional support </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Preparing your proposal <ul><li>Allow lead time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To identify and fully assess what you need </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To review and evaluate funding opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To obtain background information on the agency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To download application forms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To become familiar with application instructions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To create a proposal checklist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To select collaborators </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Preparing your proposal <ul><li>Allow work time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To talk with the program manager </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To draft the application </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cover sheet, applicant data, abstract, summary, project design, significance, background, literature review, preliminary studies, project schedule, references, biographical sketch, facilities and resources, grant support </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To prepare the budget and budget justification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To request and obtain supplementary materials </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Preparing your proposal <ul><li>Allow wrap-up time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To have your colleagues review your application </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To revise, edit, and proofread your application </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To route your proposal and budget for institutional approvals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To submit your application </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Reading the Solicitation <ul><li>Read, read, and re-read the solicitation! </li></ul><ul><li>The solicitation is not a list of suggestions; it is a list of requirements </li></ul><ul><li>It is a window into the thinking of the funding agency </li></ul>
  17. 17. Things to Look for in the Solicitation <ul><li>Proposal Guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose of the program </li></ul><ul><li>Program requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Budget guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Review criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Contact information </li></ul>
  18. 18. Proposal Guidelines <ul><li>Formatting (page limit, margins, fonts) </li></ul><ul><li>Document order </li></ul><ul><li>Project description </li></ul><ul><li>Scope of work </li></ul><ul><li>Performance goals </li></ul><ul><li>Management plan </li></ul><ul><li>Budget guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Attachments </li></ul>
  19. 19. Purpose of the Program <ul><li>Commonly discussed in “background” section </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure the goals of your proposed project mirror the program goals </li></ul><ul><li>Look for words that are repeated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g., “innovative” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You will want to use these words to describe your project (and back up those claims) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The outcomes of your proposed project should support program objectives </li></ul>
  20. 20. Program Requirements <ul><li>Read carefully and make a checklist </li></ul><ul><li>Plan to explain how you will meet each program requirement </li></ul><ul><li>Start work on setting up collaborations, partnerships if needed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supporting letters may be needed for your proposal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To be competitive, you must meet all program requirements </li></ul>
  21. 21. Talking to the Program Officer <ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read solicitation carefully </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Read background documents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Investigate previously funded projects </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prepare a concise description of your project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals, objectives, outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One short paragraph </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Try e-mail and phone </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If possible, use e-mail to set up phone conversation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Never be timid about contacting a program officer for clarification <ul><li>Timidity is never rewarded in the competitive grant process. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Introductory writing tips <ul><li>Summary and introduction are key elements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May be the only section a reviewer will read </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should clearly define your core ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reviewers will assume errors in language and usage will translate into errors in your program </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be overly ambitious in what you propose, but convey credibility and capacity to perform </li></ul>
  24. 24. Review Criteria <ul><li>Most important part of solicitation! </li></ul><ul><li>Plan early how to address each review criterion </li></ul><ul><li>Structure your proposal outline to reflect review criteria </li></ul><ul><li>If you are weak in an area, include a plan about how to address this area </li></ul>
  25. 25. Connect to Review Criteria <ul><li>Throughout the proposal narrative, point out explicitly how program components address review criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Address each criterion separately </li></ul><ul><li>Make this easy to find </li></ul><ul><li>Make this concise </li></ul>
  26. 26. Make your proposal easy to read <ul><li>Reviewers often have numerous proposals to read </li></ul><ul><li>Use white space, underlining, bold, bullets, figures, flowcharts to make main points easy to find </li></ul><ul><li>Put main idea of sections and paragraphs up front </li></ul>
  27. 27. You must intrigue the reviewers!
  28. 28. Collaborations/Partnerships <ul><li>Identify partners before you start writing </li></ul><ul><li>Be clear about roles of collaborators and partners </li></ul><ul><li>Establish split of resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For TAMU collaborators, agree on budget split </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be sure collaborators and partners get something out of participating in the project </li></ul><ul><li>If you need a letter of collaboration, offer to write a draft for your collaborator to edit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Include specifics on what they will do and support they will provide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain who the collaborator is and their motivation </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Examples of Common Proposal Sections <ul><li>Project Summary </li></ul><ul><li>Project Description/Proposal Narrative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals/Objectives/Specific Aims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Background and Significance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approach/Methodology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research Plan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preliminary Data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Literature Cited </li></ul><ul><li>Budget and Budget Justification </li></ul><ul><li>Biosketches and other Supplementary Documents </li></ul>
  30. 30. Project Summary/Executive Summary <ul><li>Provides a framework for the reviewer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand how the executive summary is used in the review process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Remember that reviewers must generally evaluate numerous applications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Remember that reviewers must generally conduct their evaluations fairly quickly </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Strive to make a good first impression </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Remainder of proposal will flesh out this framework </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity to make important points up front </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate your excitement! </li></ul>
  31. 31. Project Description/Proposal Narrative <ul><li>Goals/Specific Aims: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State specific, measurable goals of your project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tie to program/agency mission and goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If hypothesis-based research, state your hypothesis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss expected outcomes </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Approach/Methodology <ul><li>Be very clear about how you will accomplish your stated goals and objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Include details </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What, specifically, will you do when you get the money? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schedules and milestones are often helpful </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Address any potential dead ends, roadblocks, show-stoppers and how you will deal with them </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid ambiguous terminology – be very specific! </li></ul>
  33. 33. Focus on your program interests
  34. 34. Preparing your budget <ul><li>Adhere to agency and program requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Include only allowable costs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Request what you need to complete the project </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure the budget reflects the project’s objectives, scope, and duration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Base budget on real costs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remember that reviewers know what things cost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Factor in direct costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personnel, travel, equipment, materials and supplies, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Factor in indirect costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>On-campus rate = 46.5% of MTDC </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Off-campus rate = 26.0% of MTDC </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Factor in cost escalations for multi-year projects </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Connect narrative text to budget <ul><li>Budget categories are defined by the funding agency </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure activities discussed in narrative are reflected in budget </li></ul><ul><li>Connect narrative text to the budget to ensure appropriate balance and proportion </li></ul><ul><li>If a budget justification section is requested, use it to complement and deepen the narrative detail </li></ul>
  36. 36. Preparing a budget justification <ul><li>Use this section to continue to persuade reviewers that you are a thoughtful and careful investigator </li></ul><ul><li>Provide a clear explanation of why each budget request is needed </li></ul><ul><li>Verify accuracy in both the budget and the budget justification </li></ul>
  37. 37. Project assessment and evaluation <ul><li>How will you know if you were successful? </li></ul><ul><li>Describe what will be measured in order to assess how well project met each of its objectives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who will conduct assessment? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss logistics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Formative assessment: conducted throughout project and results fed back to improve project </li></ul><ul><li>Summative assessment: final assessment at end of project </li></ul>
  38. 38. Revisions <ul><ul><li>Revise, revise, revise! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask colleagues to review your executive summary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Request feedback on scientific/technical issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Request feedback on grantsmanship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Incorporate appropriate revisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proofread the final draft carefully </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E-mail your summary to the program manager well before you begin working on the rest of your proposal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To confirm that you are targeting the right program </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>To obtain suggestions on how to improve proposed project and proposal </li></ul></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Interpreting Reviews <ul><li>If you are funded… </li></ul><ul><li>Whoop!! Go out </li></ul><ul><li>and play! </li></ul><ul><li>If not…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you have review comments, read through them carefully </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Call the program officer for more feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decide whether you should resubmit </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Interpreting Reviews – Planning to Resubmit <ul><li>Were certain issues mentioned consistently? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plan how to address those issues </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Did the reviewers misunderstand your proposal? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Plan how to make your text more clear </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Was no clear issue mentioned? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>May not have sold your idea well enough </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May not be an area they wish to fund now </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May not fit into their program </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many funded proposals were funded after multiple submissions; intelligent perseverance is the key! </li></ul>
  41. 41. Don’t give up… be persistent!
  42. 42. Summary <ul><li>Start early: It takes time to find a funding opportunity and to craft a competitive proposal. </li></ul><ul><li>Use all resources at your disposal: Talk with colleagues, mentors, program officers. </li></ul><ul><li>Know what’s being funded in your field : Do your homework. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow guidelines and directions: Stick to the program and write clearly and concisely. </li></ul><ul><li>Persevere: If at first you don’t succeed, try again. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Questions?? <ul><li>Robyn L. Pearson </li></ul><ul><li>Office of Proposal Development </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>979-847-9363 </li></ul>

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