OARS’ 10th Annual Proposals and Awards Reception will be held Wednesday, February 12, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Advanced Instructional Space (AIS) in King Library, Suite 134.
Miami faculty and staff who submitted proposals and/or received awards from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 have been invited to celebrate their accomplishments. Department chairs and deans have also been invited to join in the celebration, and we encourage invitees to extend an offer to the office support staff who assist with their grant-seeking endeavors.
Those who have not already done so, are encouraged to register no later than Monday, February 10.
We look forward to this opportunity to honor Miami’s researchers, scholars, and creative artists.
OARS’ 9th Annual Proposals and Awards Reception will be held Wednesday, February 13, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Advanced Instructional Space (AIS) in King Library, Suite 134.
Miami faculty and staff who submitted proposals and/or received awards from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 have been invited to celebrate their accomplishments. Department chairs and deans have also been invited to join in the celebration, and we encourage invitees to extend an offer to the office support staff who assist with their grant-seeking endeavors.
Those who have not already done so, are encouraged to register no later than Monday, February 11.
We look forward to this opportunity to honor Miami’s researchers, scholars, and creative artists.
In February, OARS launched a survey to gather input from the Miami University research community about professional development opportunities. We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated. We also want to let you know what we heard and some of what we’re planning in response.
Seventy-four percent of the 83 respondents indicated they are or might be interested in professional development related to proposal writing. The strongest interest, as shown in the chart below, was in feedback from peers and experts on specific sections of a proposal.
Breaking things down further, 30% of “yes” and “maybe” respondents expressed interest in the NSF broader impacts section and 24% expressed interest in the NIH specific aims section and budget justifications, respectively.
In addition, 64% of respondents indicated they are or might be interested in OARS’ traditional proposal writing workshop, which meets for 90 minutes each week for six weeks. For those respondents, the Summer 2018 term was preferred over Fall 2018 (58% vs. 32%).
NIH specific aims – We’ll be inviting an expert to conduct a session within the next year.
Proposal writing workshop – OARS will offer a summer session of the traditional proposal writing workshop, with an emphasis on peer and expert feedback.
As for other topics, respondents seem most interested in:
Specific funding agencies (47% said “yes” and 32% said “maybe”)
How to talk to a program officer (43% said “yes” and 26% said “maybe”)
The review process (35% said “yes” and 35% said “maybe”)
NSF, foundations, and NIH were the agencies of greatest interest. In the “other” category, write-in candidates included the Department of Energy (5); and various defense agencies (13).
Less than half the respondents said they are or might be interested in professional development related to early career programs, applying for NSF supplements, and eSPA/Cayuse.
NSF – To address both the interest in NSF as a funding agency and the desire for more information about how to talk with a program officer, we will host a session led by Miami faculty who have served as NSF program officers.
eSPA/Cayuse – We will continue to offer eSPA/Cayuse training to accommodate new faculty and staff, but will likely keep it to just once each semester.
Early career faculty – We assume that at least part of the lack of interest in early career programs owes to fewer early career faculty participating in the survey (if for no other reason than that there are just fewer of them on campus!). So we will continue hosting a series of breakfasts for new faculty. These get-to-know you events help us learn more about new faculty members’ work and about how we can best support them in securing external funding. Limited space is available for faculty who started at Miami in 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 to have breakfast with us on one of the following dates (contact me at standeae@MiamiOH.edu for more information or to RSVP):
Wednesday, April 11, 8-9am in Oxford
Thursday, April 26, 8-9am in Middletown*
Friday, May 4, 8-9am in Oxford
Monday, May 7, 8-9am in Oxford
*We plan to host a breakfast in Hamilton during fall semester.
We asked about interest in three types of general professional development:
Brown bag/drop-in, “ask-me-anything” sessions with OARS staff
Interdisciplinary round tables
Networking for specific interdisciplinary programs
We were a little surprised to find an apparent lack of interest in interdisciplinary round tables, as we have had good showings at past events of this type. When given an opportunity to provide open-ended comments, one respondent said they miss frequent, informal gatherings to discuss research, like there used to be in the “old days,” as opposed to formal interdisciplinary round tables or “speed dating” events. While we don’t have a detailed understanding of this response (few of us were around in the “old days!”), the spirit of it struck a chord with us, and we suspect it captures the sentiment of some of the respondents who said “no” to interdisciplinary round tables.
For the other two types of events, there were a significant number of “maybe” responses, as show in the chart below.
It’s possible that this uncertainty stems from unfamiliarity with the format types. It’s fair to say that you don’t know whether you’d want to participate if you don’t know what to expect.
Brown bag sessions – We will initiate a brown bag lunch series, where OARS staff will be on hand to answer ask-me-anything-type questions. We will also incorporate some themes into these sessions, to encourage like-minded faculty to come together and build collaborations. Occasionally, a session may focus on a specific upcoming funding opportunity.
Just the beginning
The plans we’ve listed here are not the end. Rather, they represent a portion of what we’ve planned in response input from you — the Miami research community. Be on the lookout for more information about the opportunities mentioned here, as well as others. And if you have any suggestions for brown bag series topics (or any other professional development!), send them to me at standeae@MiamiOH.edu.
Written by Amy Hurley Cooper, Assistant Director of Proposal Development, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.
OARS’ 8th Annual Proposals and Awards Reception will be held Thursday, February 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Advanced Instructional Space (AIS) in King Library, Suite 134.
Miami faculty and staff who submitted proposals and/or received awards from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 have been invited to celebrate their accomplishments. Department chairs and deans have also been invited to join in the celebration, and we encourage invitees to extend an offer to the office support staff who assist with their grant-seeking endeavors.
Those who have not already done so, are encouraged to register no later than Friday, February 9.
We look forward to this opportunity to honor Miami’s researchers, scholars, and creative artists.
OARS’ 7th Annual Proposals and Awards Reception will be held Wednesday, February 15, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Advanced Instructional Space (AIS) in King Library, Suite 134.
Miami faculty and staff who submitted proposals and/or received awards from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 have been invited to celebrate their accomplishments. Department chairs and deans have also been invited to join in the celebration, and we encourage invitees to extend an offer to the office support staff who assist with their grant-seeking endeavors.
Those who have not already done so, are encouraged to e-mail acceptances or regrets to OARS@MiamiOH.edu no later than Friday, February 10.
We look forward to this opportunity to honor Miami’s researchers, scholars, and creative artists.
Anecdotal evidence from other institutions suggests that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is becoming more stringent in enforcing administrative compliance for proposal submissions. To avoid administrative returns without review, all researchers submitting to the NSF must carefully follow the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedure Guide (PAPPG).
It’s important to note that several new policies take effect for proposals submitted on or after January 30, 2017. OARS Director Tricia Callahan provided an overview of those changes in two posts published last year. You can find them here and here. In addition, you might find this NSF checklist provided by Arizona State University helpful.
As always, the most important thing to remember is that your OARS consultant is an expert in the PAPPG and can help ensure your proposal submissions comply with all administrative regulations. Contact Anne Schauer (513-529-3735) or Tricia Callahan (513-529-1795) if you have any questions.
On Thursday, November 3, Dr. Norman Braveman, Miami alumnus, former senior member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) extramural program, and current current President of Braveman BioMed Consultants, spoke with faculty in Miami University’s Department of Psychology about applying for funding from the NIH. This is the second of two reports summarizing Dr. Braveman’s advice. You can read the first one here.
In a presentation titled “Maximizing Your Grant Success: A Strategic Approach to Grant Writing,” Dr. Norman Braveman emphasized the importance of a proposal’s potential impact on advancing the field as a very key element required to ensure proposal success. In addition to lack of impact Dr. Braveman also identified other reasons a proposal might not be successful, including:
Lack of focus
Lack of original ideas
Insufficient experience of PI or research team
No proposed safety net in case problems arise
Unrealistic amount of work to be accomplished
Unclear or unjustified experimental approach
Failure to follow guidelines
In order to maximize grant success, Braveman suggested beginning each proposal with an explicit statement on the purpose of the proposed study, beginning, “The purpose of the proposed study is . . .” Beginning with a brief lead in and moving quickly to the aims of the proposal will help the writer keep focused on the purpose of the proposal and will make the purpose clear to the reviewers.
Following the intro and specific aims (i.e., objectives), should be a hypothesis and an explanation of how the investigator plans to test the hypothesis (i.e., approach or methods). Using the specific aims as a guide, the methods and analysis should flow naturally from the project’s objectives.
One strategy for successful proposal writing Braveman shared is the concept paper. A concept paper will help elucidate the problem/issues to be addressed and can help to identify gaps that need to be addressed. Like the specific aims, the concept paper can help focus proposal writing and can be used as a tool to facilitate discussion with a sponsor prior to proposal submission.
Typical format for a concept paper is 3-4 pages. The concept paper is not supposed to be a complete application, rather it is high-level overview of the problem to be addressed, the purpose (aims or objectives) of the proposed research, the significance or impact to the field, and brief descriptions of the approach to be taken and the capabilities of the research team, following this outline:
Project Purpose – What are the objectives of the proposed study?
Problem/Background – Why does this topic need to be studied? What gaps or clarifications in the field need to be addressed?
Significance – Why is this study important to the field? What impact will the outcomes have on people, processes, and so on?
Aims – What hypotheses will be tested to address the problem?
Design/Analysis – What approach will be used to test the hypotheses and why?
Team – What roles will key participants play and what experience do they have?
Braveman also emphasized good writing as key to success. As William Raub, Past Deputy Director of the NIH, said, “No amount of grantsmanship will turn a bad idea into a fundable one . . . but there are many outstanding ideas that are camouflaged by poor grantsmanship.”
In terms of grantsmanship and writing protocol, Braveman emphasized language, style, and organization in grant writing. “You aren’t writing a poem,” Braveman reminds us. The language and style must match the reviewers’ expectations. Additionally, organization is key. Points should be linear and logical so that the reviewer knows where the writer is going with the proposal and can follow the logic of the argument. Braveman also warned against including extraneous material. “Address only the criteria that reviewers will use to assess your application,” he said. On the other hand, Braveman warns, “If you don’t write it, it doesn’t exist for the reviewer.” In other words, no reviewer can read your mind.
Braveman concluded with these final thoughts on successful grant writing:
Peer review is a judgment, not a tutorial. You should not submit a working draft as a final proposal.
Always put your best foot forward.
Don’t fall in love with your drafts because drafts are meant to be replaced with something better.
Rely on colleagues to provide peer review prior to submitting your proposal
In the words of William Zinsser in On Writing Well, “Good writing . . . keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next.”
Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.
This past August, Miami University’s Humanities Center sponsored a presentation by Jon Parrish Peede, publisher of the Virginia Quarterly Review, on applying for funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Peede is a former director of literature grants, and two other programs for the NEA. Below, we share some of the highlights from his talk.
Peede began with an overview of the two agencies and what distinguishes them. The NEA, he said, is focused on the creation and distribution of art itself, while the NEH tends to focus more on the scholarship and preservation of arts and humanities.
Peede offered several grantsmanship tips of general benefit to those applying for most programs, not just the NEA and NEH. These include:
Reviewing eligibility criteria carefully and applying only if the applicant meets them.
Reviewing project guidelines carefully and complying with them in the application.
Contacting a program officer to discuss project ideas and agency fit before submitting an application.
Understanding key terms used by the agency and stressing them in the application.
Avoiding unnecessary jargon in the project narrative.
Being specific and realistic in the project narrative.
Making sure the narrative and budget are tightly articulated, so that every activity mentioned in the narrative corresponds to a line in the budget and every line in the budget corresponds to a specific activity mentioned in the narrative.
Requesting only what you need in the budget, resisting any urge to “pad” it.
Requesting panel review comments from any previous submissions to an agency and reviewing them before applying again.
In addition, Peede offered tips specific to NEA and NEH applications:
Propose projects that go narrow but deep or shallow but wide (and especially avoid narrow and shallow). Peede said the NEA prefers to fund projects that are either nationally distinctive or locally valuable.
Important terms to stress in the narrative include innovation, community engagement, underserved populations, social media outreach, inter-generational activities, lasting impact, evaluation metrics, multi-genre, multi-media, transmedia, transformative. Peede also said it’s important to use these terms properly. For example, the NEA does not consider mailing out postcards or putting an event on a campus calendar to be “community engagement.”
It is important to demonstrate — not just voice — a commitment to community and diversity/inclusion.
Make sure the most compelling project activities align with the grant period.
Since agency funding is unlikely to cover all actual expenses, ask for support for the most engaging project components. For example, Peede says, include artist fees in your budget, but not photocopying expenses.
If support is being requested for an event, remember to include marketing for that event in the budget.
Work samples submitted with an application should be consumable within 30-90 seconds.
If applying for a literature fellowship, send your best work, regardless of genre/style. Peede said well-roundedness in genre/style is not privileged in review of these applications.
Projects supported by translation fellowships must be literary.
It’s important to recognize that the NEA experiences ideological cycles. That may mean specific work is a better fit during certain time periods or under certain administrators.
Because the default is to assume that scholars of certain works should be fluent in the languages those works were originally written in, translation projects must demonstrate a need for an English language version.
Having a book contract in hand at the time of application demonstrates the applicant’s capacity to execute the grant, but the specific press holding the contract is not important, unless it is highly regarded in the subject area.
Fellowship narratives should follow this outline:
The Research and Contribution section should describe the intellectual significance of the project, including the value to scholars, general audiences, or both.
The Methods and Work Plan section should describe methods and clarify the part or stage of the project being supported by the fellowship.
The Competencies, Skills, and Access section should explain the applicant’s competence in the area the project focuses on.
The Final Product and Dissemination section should describe the intended audience and the intended results.
Finally, of particular interest to Miami faculty, Peede said there is good alignment between liberal arts institutions like Miami and the NEA and NEH. Peede described these agencies as “egalitarian,” and noted that while Miami’s institutional environment might be perceived as a disadvantage in applications to other Federal agencies — like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF) — that’s not the case with the NEA and NEH.
Written by Heather Beattey Johnston, Associate Director of Research Communications, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.
Photo of Bachelor Hall by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.
Below is a summary of changes in policy and procedure being implemented at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
National Science Foundation (NSF)
The NSF Policy Office has a long history of being responsive to the grant community. In response to comments from investigators and research administrators, the NSF is making a number of changes in its policies pertaining to preparation and award administration. Full details can be found in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide(PAPPG), but the changes that will have the most impact Miami University researchers are summarized below:
New proposal types and clarification on proposal types
Letters of Intent, preliminary proposals, full proposals, and invited proposals, oh my! Guidance on what to include in these different types of NSF proposals will now be outlined in the revised PAPPG. Special attention is given to what needs to be included in the new, separate section on Collaborator & Other Affiliation Information.
Look for two new proposal types to be implemented:
Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science (RAIS): RAIS will replace NSF INSPIRES to promote interdisciplinary science and education.
Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI): The GOALI program is expanding beyond Engineering to promote university-industry partnerships focused on solving basic research questions. Look for this cross-cutting program in many of the NSF Directorates.
Historically travel grants have supported international travel for students supported by NSF funds, while supplements — such as those for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) — have been used for domestic travel. Going forward, however, NSF travel grants will cover both foreign and domestic travel for students.
According to NSF policy, it is up to the institution, not the NSF program officer, to classify participant support. At Miami, we use the NSF definition of participant support recently adopted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): “Participant support costs are direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with meetings, conferences, symposia or training projects” (PAPPG).
The revised PAPPG will aid in clarifying the difference between an undergraduate participant (such as an REU student) and an undergraduate researcher. However, if you are uncertain how to classify any student, please contact your OARS representative for assistance.
Finally, just a note on food for participants. If a participant receives funds for individual meal compensation, those funds should be budgeted under “Participant Support.” Funds for meals provided for conferences/workshops, should be budgeted under “Other.” Contact your OARS representative if you need assistance making this distinction.
Changes to NSF forms
The 4,600 character limit will be removed from the Project Summary. Instead, the Project Summary will be limited to one printed page using appropriate font size and type.
Guidance on “Collaborator & Other Affiliation information” will be updated in the revised PAPPG.
NSF has adopted a 10% de minimis facilities and administration (F&A) rate for foreign subcontractors. Domestic subcontractors may used their Federally-negotiated F&A rate or may use the 10% de minimis rate, if they do not have a negotiated rate.
Use of an F&A rate less than the institution’s negotiated rate is considered by NSF to be cost share, which is unallowable for a majority of NSF programs. Using the NSF budget template provided by OARS will ensure you are using the correct F&A and fringe benefit rates.
NSF guidance on implementation of the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) can be found in their list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
A final draft of the revised PAPPG will be posted to the NSF website in October 2016, with changes to be implemented January 2017.
If you’d like to learn more about NSF grant administration and programs, consider registering to attend the upcoming NSF Grants Conference being held November 14-15 in Pittsburgh, PA.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
A number of changes have recently come out of the NIH Office of Extramural Research. Many of these changes have an impact on post-award accounting and reporting. The most helpful things for grant writers are the new NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts and the General Application Guide for NIH. These new guides offer streamlined overviews of NIH programs, open solicitations, and step-by-step instructions on preparing NIH proposals and reports.
Other changes to NIH policy and programs include:
New funding programs
The Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) program was announced by President Obama during his 2015 State of the Union address. The focus of this initiative is to take fundamental research and apply it to a specific cohort of individuals to produce individualized care. Funding programs for PMI can be found here.
The new Forms D are in effect for proposals submitted on or after May 25, 2016. The new forms include:
A new section on authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources in order to meet requirements for rigor and reproducibility.
New questions regarding enrollment of human participants (enrollment type, dataset source, participant location, etc.)
A PHS Assignment Request Form to help determine under which institute or center a proposal should be reviewed
Newly specified font types including Arial, Garamond, Georgia, Helvetica, Palatino Linotype, Times New Roman, and Verdana. All font types should be 11 points or larger.
As of June 12, 2016, eRA Commons usernames are required for primary mentors on Mentored Career Development proposals. If you need to register a PI, co-PI, investigator, sponsor, or mentor with eRA Commons, please contact your OARS representative.
While registration is not required for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral candidates at the proposal stage, once a project is funded and work by those personnel is supported by NIH funding, they must be registered with eRA Commons so that PIs can complete technical (annual and close-out) reports. Contact your OARS representative to register individuals with eRA Commons.
New guidance on completing the Research Performance Program Report (RPPR) will be published this October. The new guidance will cover completing and submitting the Final Progress Report (FPR), the Final Invention Statement & Certification (FIS), and the Final Federal Financial Report (FFR). Please remember that all financial reports must be submitted by Miami’s Grants & Contracts office, and should not be submitted by the PI.
If you’d like to learn more about NIH grant administration and programs, consider registering to attend the upcoming NIH Regional Seminar being held October 26-28 in Chicago, IL.
Written by Tricia Callahan, Director of Proposal Development, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.
Treadmill research photo by Scott Kisssell, Miami University Photo Services. Bird photo also by Miami University Photo Services.
The following guest post was written by Dr. Gary Lorigan. Dr. Lorigan is a professor in Miami University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Since 2010, he has served on 4 NSF and 18 NIH study panels. During that time he was a member of the Biochemistry and Biophysics of Membranes (BBM) NIH Study Section and served on several NIH and NSF instrumentation panels. Below, Lorigan shares an overview of NIH funding mechanisms and offers advice for Miami researchers based on his experience.
The NIH has a number of research-related mechanisms including the R01, R15, R21, and R03 grant mechanisms.
The R21 is the NIH’s Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award. It offers initial funding to support a new project for two years. The narratives for these projects are short (six pages) and no preliminary data is needed. Having said that, preliminary data is always nice to have. According to Dorothy Lewis, PhD, professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center, “Reviewers are human beings, and they like to see some evidence that what you propose is going to work. The best evidence of that is usually preliminary data.” If you do show preliminary data in a R21 proposal, make certain that it is convincing.
Like the R21, the R03 or Small Grant Program is shorter in duration (up to 2 years at $50,000 per year) and is meant to support pilot feasibility studies in which new research methodology and technology are being developed. Like the R21, the R03 does not require preliminary data.
R01 and R15 (AREA)
The R01 and R15 NIH programs both support “regular” research projects, but the research expectations for R01 applications are higher than for R15 applications. More funds are typically awarded for R01 than R15 projects. Under the R15 program – also known as the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program – a project can receive up to $100,00 per year in direct costs with a total direct cost cap of $300,000 for three years. Under the R01 program a project can receive up to $500,000 per year in direct costs for up to five years. Proposed budgets over $500,000 must be approved in advance by a program officer.
In an R15 application, it is important that you demonstrate you currently work with or plan to work with undergraduate students. This is where Miami has a significant advantage when compared to other academic institutions, as we have demonstrated a very strong emphasis on undergraduate research and training. If you have published papers with undergraduate students, have been part of the FYRE (First Year Research Experience) program, or have supported undergraduate research in your lab, the reviewers will look favorably upon that, so you should clearly point it out in your R15 proposal.
Regardless of the NIH program you apply to, if you don’t have the expertise for a particular part of the proposed work, then it is imperative that you collaborate with researchers who do. For collaborative projects, make sure your collaborator provides a letter clearly stating his/her expertise and interest in the project. Likewise, if you need a special technique for a certain phase of the project, make sure you get a letter from an expert who will assist you with the work.
Written by Gary Lorigan, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Miami University.
Chemistry lab photo by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services. 3D printing photo by Jeff Sabo, Miami University Photo Services.