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MANAGING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES. Michelle Schoenecker University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee March 15, 2013. Purpose of Presentation Identify/discuss best practices of grant searching and dissemination

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managing grant opportunities


Michelle Schoenecker

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

March 15, 2013

Purpose of Presentation
    • Identify/discuss best practices of grant searching and dissemination
    • Focus on developing structure/processes for managing the opportunities we find and that faculty want
    • Share experiences and learn from each other

Out of Scope

    • Identification of free/paid search engines
    • How to use search engines
    • Comparison of subscription services
      • Features, benefits, tools, cost
    • Recommendations for subscription services
      • Every institution is unique

What is the scope of your situation?

  • Who are you helping?
    • Small or large department?
    • School/college or entire campus?
    • Junior, middle, or senior faculty?
    • Attitudes/expectations?
      • Institution or department philosophy
      • Faculty
    • Sponsored Programs Office: PreAward Focus
      • Is this part of a broader faculty mentoring effort?
The Big Question: How much help do they need with a grant search?
    • Detail
      • Personalized based on their own research?
      • A basic list with URLs? Summaries?
    • Format
      • Posted on Web site? Email? Newsletter?
    • Frequency
      • Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly?
What do I need to know to meet these needs?
    • General or specific understanding of their research?
    • Where do I obtain information?
  • How do I organize/maintain the information?
    • Format: Excel? Access? Word doc? HTML?
    • Online tools?
    • Who should have access to information?
    • Archiving: How long do I keep information?
The Big Challenges for RAs
    • T I M E
      • Pre-award staff juggle multiple responsibilities
      • Searching can be very time-consuming
      • Searching is easily usurped by more immediate tasks
      • Searching may be given to student workers
        • Quality issues with content, format, accuracy
      • Preparing and sending information
      • Recordkeeping/maintenance
Knowledge Base
    • Unfamiliarity with topic(s)
    • Too much information to know
  • Budget
    • Paid subscriptions are costly (Pivot, IRIS)
    • Tools are costly (MyWebGrants)
    • Staff is costly
  • Return on Investment
    • Quantitative: App/win ratio? Financial threshold?
    • Qualitative: Service delivery? Client satisfaction?
GOAL: Manage Opportunities Effectively
    • Search efficiently
      • Know the right sponsors
      • Know your sources for information
      • Know your faculty’s research, if necessary
    • Record and archive wisely
      • Make it easy to use
      • Make it accessible
    • Don’t recreate the wheel
      • Create/modify templates
      • Research what other institutions are doing/share tools
Getting Started: Know Your Faculty
    • Stage of research career
      • Early-stage
      • Experienced
    • Research interests
      • Sponsors
      • Keywords
Early-Stage Faculty
    • Inexperienced
      • May be unfamiliar with funding sources/programs that benefit early-stage investigators
      • Little to no proposal development experience
    • Highly Motivated
      • Must get tenure
      • Shoot at everything and hope to hit something
      • Need strategic planning/mentoring
Experienced Faculty
    • Established funding track record
    • Established contacts (colleagues, program officers)
    • Familiar with federal/private funding sources and programs, but don’t keep up with changes
    • Seek sustainability
      • Sustain current projects
      • Seed funding for new projects
      • Leverage expertise in large-scale grant projects
Know Your Faculty Members’ Research
    • Keywords
      • Faculty profile (e.g., internal Web site/PubMed)
      • Publications
      • Biosketch
      • One-on-one interview
      • Lab tour
Know Faculty Members’ Primary Sponsors and Programs
      • Early investigator/career; mentored; pilot/seed funding; clinical trials; centers/institutes
    • Investigate unlikely sponsors
      • DoD funds medical research
      • NIH funds polymer research for drug applications
      • NSF and DoD fund large-scale instrumentation for non-clinical applications
Go to the Well:Manual searching
    • Sponsor Web sites
      • Less-robust search functions; fewer options
    • Free databases (e.g.,, FedBizOpps, internal)
      • More robust functionality due to scope
    • Paid subscription databases (e.g., Pivot, SciVal)
      • Highly robust functionality; extensive customization
Benefits of the Well
    • Allows for very refined/granular search
    • May find links/references to new sources
    • Increased knowledge/familiarity with sponsor
    • Better organization
  • Drawbacks of the Well
    • Can be very time-consuming
    • Difficult for busy offices/departments

Turn on the Faucet:Auto-aggregation/ Notification Services

    • Free or a feature of paid subscription service
    • Typically just a list with no additional functionality (sorting, bookmarking) unless generated by a paid subscription service
    • Pre-determined frequency
    • Reliable, easy to use, accurate
    • “Hands-free” approach
Types of Free Faucets
    • Government-wide
      • Federal Register
      • Grants.Gov
      • FedBizOpps
    • Agency-specific
      • Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs(CDMRP/US Dept. of Defense)
    • Public Service
      • ScanGrants
Paid aggregation subscriptions offer to do all the work for you
    • Finding
    • Alerting
    • Organizing
    • Reporting/predicting
    • Archiving
    • Awards
Examples of Paid Subscription Services
    • SciVal
    • Community of Science/Pivot
    • InfoEd/SPIN
    • ResearchResearch
    • Foundation Center
    • Grant Spy
    • Grant Forward (formerly IRIS)
  • In-house databases (Arizona State, NU)
    • National Association of Children\'s Hospitals and Related Institutions
    • State Science and Technology Institute Weekly Digest (SSTI)
    • HNet (Humanities & Social Sciences Online)
    • FundSource (behavioral/social science)
    • Grants Alert System (for grants that serve non-profits and citizens in Illinois)
Value of Paid Subscription Services
    • Save time
    • Broad access and distribution
    • Save money?
      • Reduce staff?
      • Improve efficiency?
    • Improve win rate?
    • Increase faculty satisfaction?
Benefits of the Faucet
    • Receive notices from the agencies/orgs of your choice
    • Set parameters once and change as needed
      • Keyword list
    • Faster and easier to sift through a collection of opportunities
    • Repetition can help make sure you didn’t miss important opportunities
  • Drawbacks of the Faucet
    • Easy to put aside; easy to scan through too fast
    • Can be easy to miss a good match
    • Deadlines can be too close
    • Repetition bores the mind; easy to disregard
Drawbacks of the Faucet
    • Overlapping/repetitive information
    • Price
    • Free services lack useful features/online tools
    • Accuracy in paid subscriptions – better to go directly to the source?

What Data do I Need to Keep?

    • Keywords
    • Program titles
    • Sponsors
    • Deadlines
    • Faculty distribution
      • Individual
      • Department/college/school
      • Date sent

What Data do I Need to Keep?

    • Recurring opportunities
    • Limited submissions
    • Applications based on distribution
    • Awards and/or rejections
    • Web sites
    • List of free subscription services that you receive (e.g.,; NSF Update, NIH Update)

Where do I Keep the Data?

    • Excel® and Access® databases
      • Easy to categorize, sort, query, generate reports
      • Low-cost
      • Advanced knowledge helpful
    • Homegrown/internal systems
    • Full-service subscription service
      • Generate reports when needed
    • Email folders
      • Sponsor, faculty, dept., deadlines, etc.

How to Make the Data Accessible?

    • Shared drives
    • Web-based storage
    • Hard copies, if necessary
    • Multiple users on subscriptions

How Long Should I Archive the Data?

    • Why should you keep it?
      • Topic trending
      • Faculty documentation for tenure
      • Recycle recurring opportunity announcements
        • Create templates and boilerplate content
      • Metrics to determine ROI
        • Volume
        • Application/win rates
        • Faculty satisfaction (surveys)
        • Assess effectiveness of paid subscription services
Determine how faculty prefer to receive opportunities
    • Visit a Web site?
      • Your institution’s? The sponsor’s?
    • Receive an email or e-newsletter that you created?
    • Forward sponsor’s/vendor’s email w/aggregated list?
    • All of the above?
    • Make sure the method is manageable for you and effective for faculty
Do not waste faculty members’ time
    • Send only relevant opportunities
    • Do not send too many, too often
    • Briefly summarize the most important information
    • Create a format that is easy to skim
    • Include links to full solicitation, program Web page, and other relevant sources
    • Solicit feedback often – are you providing the right kinds of opportunities?
Entice faculty members to read your information
    • Use language and formatting strategies (keywords, headers, boldface, underline, bulleted lists, numbering)
    • Use lots of white space to increase readability
    • Maintain standard format for consistency, familiarity
    • Use templates and boilerplate content when possible
Provide ample lead time before the deadline
    • Keep track of deadlines
    • Keep a record of distributions
    • Send reminders
      • Determine preferred frequency
      • Remind yourself!
  • Stay on top of searching and distributing
    • Make it a priority
    • Easy to let it get away from you
    • Hard to catch up


    • Determine the scope of grant searching for your institution
    • Understand your faculty and their needs for the information
    • Determine if the well or faucet is best for your institution and faculty
    • Determine if you want to pay for comprehensive services

Summary, continued

    • Create a database of information based on the metrics that you want to track and report
    • Create informative, but easy to read templates
    • Make grant opps a priority to avoid falling behind and missing great opportunities for faculty


Michelle Schoenecker

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

[email protected]