Sept. 25


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Sept. 25

  1. 1. Analyzing the RFP & Its Role in Proposal Development <ul><li>By Mike Cronan & Lucy Deckard </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Office of Proposal Development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Office of Research & Graduate Studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Texas A&M University </li></ul></ul><ul><li>305 J. K. Williams Administration Building (845-1811) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  2. 2. OPD Flash Seminar Series Noon-1 pm, Jack Williams Administration Building Room 310 <ul><li>&quot;How To&quot; Strategies for Finding Research Funding, September 18 & 19 </li></ul><ul><li>Analyzing the RFP & Its Role in Proposal Development, September 25 & 26 </li></ul><ul><li>Analyzing the Agency Culture, Mission and Research Priorities, October 2 & 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding the Review Process & Writing for Reviewers October, 9 & 10 </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of How to Write a Competitive Project Summary and Proposal Narrative, October 16 & 17 </li></ul>
  3. 3. Office of Proposal Development <ul><li>Supports faculty in the development and writing of research and educational proposals to federal agencies and foundations-- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Center-level initiatives, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interdisciplinary research teams, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New & junior faculty, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional diversity initiatives, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Health Science Center collaborations, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-institutional research partnerships. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Offers a full suite of grant writing training programs to help faculty develop and write more competitive proposals. </li></ul>
  4. 4. OPD Member List <ul><li>Jean Ann Bowman , PhD (Physical Geography/Hydrology), earth, ecological, environmental, [email_address] ; </li></ul><ul><li>Libby Childress , Scheduling, workshop management, project coordination, [email_address] ; </li></ul><ul><li>Mike Cronan , PE (inactive), BS (Civil/Structures), BA, MFA, Center-level proposals, research and educational partnerships, new proposal and training initiatives, [email_address] ; </li></ul><ul><li>Lucy Deckard , BS/MS (Materials Science & Engineering), New faculty initiative, fellowships, engineering/ physical science proposals, equipment and instrumentation, centers, [email_address] ; </li></ul><ul><li>John Ivy , PhD (Molecular Biology), NIH biomedical and biological science initiatives, [email_address] ; </li></ul><ul><li>Phyllis McBride , PhD (English), proposal writing training, biomedical, editing, [email_address] ; </li></ul><ul><li>Robyn Pearson , BA, MA (Anthropology), social sciences and humanities proposals, editing and rewriting, centers, [email_address] </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>“ There is no amount of grantsmanship that will turn a bad idea into a good one, but there are many ways to disguise a good one .” </li></ul><ul><li>William Raub former Deputy Director, NIH </li></ul>
  6. 6. Types of University Proposals <ul><li>Research (basic, applied, mission, applications, contract) </li></ul><ul><li>Educational </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid research and education </li></ul><ul><li>Small $, few PIs </li></ul><ul><li>Large $, multiple PIs, centers </li></ul><ul><li>Supplements to grants </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Solicitation <ul><li>Known as a Request for Proposals (RFP), Program Announcement (PA), Request for Applications (RFA), or Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). </li></ul><ul><li>One common starting point of the proposal writing process. </li></ul><ul><li>Other starting points to the proposal process include investigator-initiated (unsolicited) proposals, or white (concept) papers common to the defense agencies. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Unsolicited Proposals <ul><li>Program Description or Program Announcement instead of a solicitation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More general statement of interests of funding agency or program </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Typically the main source of research funding for individual researchers funded by NSF (~50%), NIH (~80%), DoD </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Majority of external research funded by NSF and NIH result from unsolicited proposals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Formatting guidelines often in a separate document </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NSF Grant Proposal Guide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NIH SF424 Application Guide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DoD long-term Broad Agency Announcements </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Unsolicited Proposals <ul><li>NSF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Administered by disciplinary “programs” within directorate and division </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Typically due once or twice per year (sometimes due dates; sometimes “target dates” or “windows”); 1 – 3 PIs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Synopsis of research interests and abstracts of funded proposals on web site </li></ul></ul><ul><li>NIH </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Parent Announcements (for RO1, R03, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Typically due twice per year </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DoD Agencies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Long-term Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Establish </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What entity (office, program, division) within the agency will fund research? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are their goals and interests? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What have they funded in the past? </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. What is a Solicitation? <ul><li>It is an invitation by a funding agency for applicants to submit requests for funding in research areas of interest to the agency . </li></ul>
  11. 11. What is in the Solicitation? <ul><li>The key information you will need to develop and write a competitive proposal that is fully responsive to an agency’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>submission process, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>research objectives, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>review criteria, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>budget requirements. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. What it is; what it is not <ul><li>The RFP is a non-negotiable listing of performance expectations reflecting the goals and research objectives of the funding agency. </li></ul><ul><li>The RFP is not a menu or smorgasbord offering the applicant a choice of addressing some topics but not others, depending on interest, or some review criteria but not others. </li></ul>
  13. 13. No irrational exuberance!! <ul><li>Understand the RFP for what it is… not what you want it to be… </li></ul><ul><li>It is not a speculative investment… </li></ul><ul><li>Invest your time, resources, and energy wisely </li></ul>
  14. 14. The RFP as Treasure Map <ul><li>Follow directions </li></ul><ul><li>Review step by step </li></ul><ul><li>Understand it </li></ul><ul><li>Understood by all PIs </li></ul><ul><li>Keep focused </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t wander off path </li></ul><ul><li>Continuously calibrate ideas, objectives, and details to the RFP </li></ul>
  15. 15. Map your expertise to the RFP <ul><li>Is it a fit? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it really a fit? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No partial fits allowed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No wishful thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Close doesn’t count </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If you are not a fit—don’t submit! </li></ul>
  16. 16. Relationship to Program Officer <ul><li>Never be hesitant about contacting a program officer for clarifications— </li></ul><ul><li>timidity is never rewarded in the competitive proposal process, but </li></ul><ul><li>ambiguities are always punished! </li></ul>
  17. 17. Reviewing the RFP <ul><li>Clarify ambiguities; if unresolved-- </li></ul><ul><li>Get clarification from a program officer. </li></ul><ul><li>Ambiguities need to be resolved prior to proposal writing so the proposal narrative maps to the guidelines with informed certainty. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Never be Timid!
  19. 19. The RFP as Reference Point <ul><li>It is used continuously throughout proposal development and writing as a reference point to ensure that an evolving proposal narrative fully addresses and accurately reflects the goals and objectives of the funding agency, including the review criteria. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Role of RFP in Proposal Organization <ul><li>Use the RFP to develop the structure, order, and detail of the proposal narrative. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the RFP as an organizational template during proposal development to help ensure every RFP requirement is addressed fully. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Keep on Track <ul><li>Copy and paste the RFP’s key sections, research objectives, and review criteria into the first draft of the proposal narrative </li></ul><ul><li>The RFP then serves as an organizational template for the proposal and a reference point to ensure subsequent draft iterations of the narrative are continuously calibrated to the guidelines . </li></ul>
  22. 22. RFP template ensures a proposal <ul><li>Fully responsive to all requested information, </li></ul><ul><li>Written in the order requested, </li></ul><ul><li>Provides the required detail, </li></ul><ul><li>Integrates review criteria into the narrative, and </li></ul><ul><li>Does not drift off topic or sequence. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Address the Review Criteria in the RFP <ul><li>The description of review criteria is a key part of the RFP. </li></ul><ul><li>A competitive proposal must clearly address each review criterion, and the proposal should be structured so that these discussions are easy for reviewers to find. </li></ul><ul><li>Subject headings, graphics, bullets, and bolded statements using language similar to that used in the RFP can all be used to make the reviewers’ jobs easier. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Read Material Referenced in RFP <ul><li>If the RFP refers or links to publications, reports, or workshops: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read the referenced materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand how the references influenced the agency’s vision of the program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cite those publications in the proposal as appropriate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate in the narrative you are fluent with the ideas underpinning the RFP. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 26. Well-Written & Less Well-Written RFPs <ul><li>A well-written RFP states the funding agency’s research objectives clearly. </li></ul><ul><li>Not all RFPs are clearly written. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes the funding agency may be unclear about specific research objectives, particularly in more exploratory research areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Where there is ambiguity, keep asking questions of the program officer to clarify. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Remaining OPD Flash Seminars Noon-1 pm, Jack Williams Administration Building Room 310 <ul><li>Analyzing the Agency Culture, Mission and Research Priorities, October 2 & 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding the Review Process & Writing for Reviewers, October 9 & 10 </li></ul><ul><li>Overview of How to Write a Competitive Project Summary and Proposal Narrative, October 16 & 17 </li></ul>