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Powerful Project Summaries. Barbara Ustanko, Senior Proposal Editor Office of Research & Sponsored Programs. Why is the Project Summary Important?. Succinct stand-alone overview of: Research goals, objectives and methods Significance and Innovation

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powerful project summaries

Powerful Project Summaries

Barbara Ustanko, Senior Proposal Editor

Office of Research & Sponsored Programs

why is the project summary important
Why is the Project Summary Important?
  • Succinct stand-alone overview of:
    • Research goals, objectives and methods
    • Significance and Innovation
    • Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact (NSF)
  • Initial impression and reader engagement
  • Scope, credibility, importance of your project
  • Will represent project publically upon funding

It is your “Elevator Pitch”

workshop focus
Workshop Focus

Fulfilling agency requirements for Summary/Abstract

Using Project Summary/Abstrct as a springboard for:

Addressing key agency criteria

Significance Innovation

Intellectual Merit (NSF) Broader Impacts (NSF)

Discussing broadly applicable grant writing skills

Integration of proposal components

Focus, clarity, precision

Process

communication critical
Communication Critical

You MUST clearly articulate and communicate the importance of the proposed work:

  • to the field (what gaps and/or needs your work will fill; what it will contribute; what its implications are; what impact it will have);
  • to the funding agency (how this matches their priorities; how funding your project will help them fulfill their mission)
  • to your own longer-term research agenda (how this fits within your overall research trajectory)
key grantwriting skills
Key Grantwriting Skills

Concise and Precise

Focused

Persuasive

Engaging

- Write directly to the guidelines/agency

- Establish context and necessity for your work

- Balance level of specificity

- State contribution to your field and beyond

agency requirements
Agency Requirements
  • 1 pg Project Summary
  • Third person
  • Proposed Activity
    • Hypothesis or Need
    • Significance/Innovation
    • Specific Objectives
    • Methods
  • Intellectual Merit
  • Broader Impact
  • 30 line Summary
  • +3 line “Narrative”
  • Third person
  • Significance & Innovation
  • Hypothesis
  • Specific Aims
  • Methodology
  • Expected Results
  • Public Health Relevance/

Impact on Field

NSF

NIH

significance
Significance
  • What important problem or barrier to progress in the field does the project address?
  • How will the project improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice?
  • How will the project change concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, and/or preventive interventions that drive the field?
  • How does the project advance knowledge/ understanding within and across fields?
innovation
Innovation
  • What are the main barriers to progress in your field?
  • What has led to success so far? What limits remain?
  • What gap or need does your work fill?
  • What aspects of the current state-of-the-art lead to this proposal?
  • Why do the issues on which you focus need to be addressed at this particular time?
  • What lessons from past/current research motivate this project?
  • What elements of the research are novel/innovative?
  • How does the project suggest and explore creative and original concepts?
  • What is the relation to the present state of knowledge?

To current work here and elsewhere?

writing the nih summary abstract
Writing the NIH Summary/Abstract

After you have written Specific Aims page.

  • Unmet need/gap that drives this work.
  • Significance and Innovation.
  • “This application focuses on ____ “ (or “is centered on the development of ___”)
  • Hypothesis, Specific Aims.
  • Primary methods/approaches/results.
  • Outcomes, contribution, impact.
  • Public health relevance. (echoed in Narrative)
nih example significance innovation
NIH Example: Significance/Innovation
  • Several studies have examined the relationships between these adverse birth outcomes and maternal exposure to ambient air pollution but results have been inconclusive. A major impediment to this research has been the large sample size needed to investigate these relationships as well as the level of personal information needed to address potential confounders and accurately estimate exposure throughout pregnancy. (R01)
nih example significance innovation1
NIH Example: Significance/Innovation
  • Despite concerted efforts in changing lifestyles and the use of new pharmacologic approaches to lower plasma cholesterol concentrations (the main risk factor), cardiovascular disease continues to be the principal cause of death in the United States, Europe and much of Asia. Atherosclerosis in particular, is a chronic inflammatory disease involving the walls of large and medium-sized elastic and muscular arteries and can lead to ischemia of the heart, brain, intestine or extremities, resulting in infarction. (R15)
nih example significance innovation2
NIH Example: Significance/Innovation
  • Recent genomic breakthroughs have revolutionized our understanding of cancer. It is now possible to envision treatment paradigms that would be individualized, targeted and tailored according to the tumor genetic profile. However, high-throughput functional assays capable of identifying and validating potential cancer drugs, based on abnormal tumor gene expression profiles, in a setting that would directly translate to providing recommendations for patient treatment are not readily available. (R43)
nih example significance innovation3
NIH Example: Significance/Innovation
  • Over the past 15 years, the use of APDs in pediatric populations has doubled - a phenomenon that has garnered considerable attention in the scientific community and national media. This increase has occurred in the relative absence of basic research documenting the effects of early-life APD exposure on later brain and behavioral function. Studies of APD action in laboratory rats would serve as a significant first step in filling this void. It has been well established in adult rats that continuous receptor blockade caused by long-term APD treatment leads to compensatory yet transient changes in brain dopamine function. In contrast, there is currently no body of research that has ascertained the long-term effects of APD treatment in developing rats. (R15)
writing the nsf project summary
Writing the NSF Project Summary

After you have written Objectives/Specific Aims.

  • Proposed Activity:
    • Unmet need/gap that drives this work.
    • Significance and Innovation.
    • “This application focuses on ____ “ (or “is centered on the development of ___”)
    • Hypothesis, Specific Aims.
    • Primary methods/approaches/results.
  • Intellectual Merit (clearly labeled section)
  • Broader Impact (clearly labeled section)
nsf example significance innovation
NSF Example: Significance/Innovation
  • Little work has been done on detailed measurements of 3D wing deformation during flapping and the associated aerodynamic benefits in the study of animal free flight. This is mainly due to the small wing size, fast motion of the wings, and unpredictable motion of flying insects/birds that make it difficult to perform high-speed visual tracking of the details of wing flexion. To make such study possible, the PI is currently developing two sets of techniques for experimental measurement and computational flow simulation/analysis. Equipped with such tools and advances, it will be possible to discover the mechanisms surrounding complex flight dynamics and the fundamental physics behind insect flight. (CAREER)
nsf example significance innovation1
NSF Example: Significance/Innovation
  • (Selective detection and isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from blood provide valuable clinical insight into disease diagnosis and prognosis as CTCs have been demonstrated to be an independent predictor of disease progression and survival. Additionally, accurate CTC numbers can be used to manage the disease by monitoring changes in tumors during treatment. However, CTCs are extremely rare, comprising as few as one in 109 hematologic cells in the blood of patients with metastatic cancer, effective recognition and separation of the rare cells remain a tremendous challenge. CBET Standard Research Grant)
nsf example significance innovation2
NSF Example: Significance/Innovation
  • Rising costs of survey data collection and researchers' growing concerns about the quality of survey data necessitate the development of innovative approaches to data collection (SES – Standard Proposal).
nsf intellectual merit
NSF Intellectual Merit
  • How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?
  • How well qualified is the PI or team to conduct the project? (includes quality of prior work).
  • To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts?
  • How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity?
  • Is there sufficient access to resources?

Check program guidelines for specifics on individual

NSF programs (MRI, CAREER, TUES, etc.)

nsf example intellectual merit
NSF Example: Intellectual Merit
  • This research will advance scientific knowledge in survey methodology and related fields. Reducing measurement errors in survey data is critical to achieving accurate inferences from survey data. The project will create new tools that minimize or reduce measurement errors in survey data, will improve conclusions made from surveys across various disciplines, enable the improvement of survey designs/instruments, and enhance data quality by reducing interviewer and respondent burden. The interdisciplinary project team includes experts in statistics, psychology, sociology, computer science, and survey research and methodology. The team will leverage long-term collaborations and will partner with industry leaders -- Gallup and Abt SRBI -- as well as with the U.S. Census to accomplish its goal and objectives.
nsf example intellectual merit1
NSF Example: Intellectual Merit
  • A better understanding of how animal wing deformation impacts the efficiency of flight and how moving wings affect the ambient fluid environment will be developed across animals of various sizes and species. This work will advance the much-needed development of a comprehensive theory of animal flight aerodynamics with respect to low-speed low Reynolds number flow physics and dynamic force generation associated with vortex dynamics of deformable control surfaces. Methods and findings from this work can be applied by investigators in other areas to study the biological aspects of animal flight in ways not previously possible, and can also significantly advance the design of current flapping-wing micro air vehicles with superior performance. (CAREER)
broader impact overview
Broader Impact Overview
  • (1) Advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training and learning
  • (2) Broaden the participation of under-represented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographically)
  • (3) Enhance infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, partnerships, collaborations
  • (4) Broad dissemination of results to enhance scientific and technological understanding (include DMP?)
  • (5) Proposed benefits to society

Select most relevant from list of NSF options

option 1 advance discovery while promoting teaching training and education
Option 1Advance Discovery While Promoting Teaching,Training and Education
  • Integrate research activities into STEM teaching at various levels (e.g., K-12, undergraduate majors, non-majors, graduate students)
  • Include students/participants in proposed activities
  • Recruitment, training, and/or professional development of K-12 teachers
  • Develop research-based educational materials or contribute to educational databases (e.g., K-16 digital library)
  • Partner with researchers and educators to develop effective means to incorporate research into learning and education
  • Encourage student participation at professional meetings and activities
  • Establish special mentoring programs for high school students, undergraduates, grad students, and technicians conducting research
  • Involve graduate/ post-graduate researchers in undergraduate teaching
  • Develop, adopt, adapt or disseminate effective models and pedagogic
  • approaches to STEM teaching
option 2 broaden participation of underrepresented groups
Option 2 Broaden Participation of Underrepresented Groups
  • Establish research and education collaborations with UR students and/or faculty.
  • Include UR students as participants in the proposed research/ activities.
  • Establish research and educational collaborations with students/faculty from non-Ph.D. and UR-serving institutions.
  • Make campus visits and presentations at UR-serving institutions.
  • Establish research and education collaborations with faculty/students at community colleges, women’s colleges, undergraduate institutions, and EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) institutions.
  • Mentor early-career scientists and engineers from UR groups who are submitting NSF proposals.
  • Participate in developing new approaches (e.g., information technology and connectivity) to engage underserved individuals, groups, and communities in STEM.
  • Participate in conferences, workshops and field activities where

diversity is a priority.

option 3 enhance infrastructure for research and education
Option 3Enhance Infrastructure for Research and Education
  • Identify and establish collaborations between disciplines and institutions, among the U.S. academic institutions, industry and government and with international partners.
  • Stimulate and support the development and dissemination of next-generation instrumentation, multi-user facilities, and other shared research and education platforms.
  • Maintain, operate and modernize shared research and education infrastructure (e.g., facilities, science/technology centers, engineering research centers).
  • Upgrade the computation and computing infrastructure, (e.g., advanced computing resources, new types of information tools, large databases, networks and associated systems, digital libraries).
  • Develop activities to ensure that multi-user facilities are sites of research/mentoring for large numbers of STEM students.
option 4 dissemination to enhance scientific and technological understanding
Option 4Dissemination to Enhance Scientificand Technological Understanding
  • Partner with museums, nature centers, science centers, and similar institutions to develop exhibits.
  • Involve public or industry in research and education activities.
  • Give presentations to the broader community (e.g., museums, libraries, radio shows, other venues).
  • Make data available in a timely manner via databases, digital libraries, or other venues (e.g., CD-ROMs).
  • Publish in diverse media to reach broad audiences (e.g., non-technical literature, websites, CD-ROMs, press kits) .
  • Present research and education results in formats useful to policy-makers, Congressional reps, industry, broad audiences.
  • Participate in multi- and interdisciplinary conferences, workshops, and research activities.
  • Integrate research with educational activities to communicate your area of research expertise in a broader context.
option 5 potential benefits to society
Option 5Potential Benefits to Society
  • Demonstrate linkage between discovery and societal benefit by providing specific examples and explanations of potential application of research/educational results.
  • Partner with academic scientists, staff at federal agencies and/or private sector on STEM projects to integrate research into broader programs/activities of national interest.
  • Analyze, interpret, and synthesize research/educational results understandable/useful formats for non-scientists.
  • Provide information to impact public policy formation by Federal, State or local agencies.
nsf example broader impact
NSF Example: Broader Impact

This project will have a broad impact, because of the important role that the vibration of microcantilevers plays in an ever-increasing number of applications described above. Additionally, the undergraduate students involved in this project will have an extraordinary opportunity to perform cutting-edge on-campus research and to collaborate with well-known research groups at other institutions. These students will gain experience in a wide range of fields, including acoustics, optics, computer-controlled data acquisition, signal processing, modal analysis and computer modeling—all of which will provide valuable training for careers in physics and engineering. Students will develop demonstrations to communicate the principles and importance of this research to the general public, and to enhance the university’s well-established K-12 outreach programs. (NSF RUI)

nsf example broader impact1
NSF Example: Broader Impact

The proposed research will enhance the infrastructure for research and education at a publicly-funded university through interactions between the PI and collaborators, both national and international, with expertise in biology, applied mathematics, and engineering. The research effort is fully integrated with an education and outreach program to meet the ever-increasing demands of bio-engineering education. New courses and hands-on senior capstone projects will be developed to attract students of all backgrounds at Wright State University and will be adopted by collaborators at other institutions. This research project will also build a web-based interactive platform for biological fluid dynamics-related activities, which will be accessible not only to the engineering research community but also to the biological research community, as well as to teachers and students at many levels. The tools built in the course of the project have potential applications for the study of other low-speed low Reynolds number fluid dynamic problems such as swimming, efficient wind energy conversion, damage prevention from gusts, and internal biomedical fluid dynamics applications. (CAREER)

nsf example broader impact2
NSF Example: Broader Impact

The requested instrumentation will provide opportunities for training on cutting-edge computing facilities across four departments and two colleges. It will also allow student participation in the operation and maintenance of the system, and it will facilitate projects that foster inter-disciplinary research and collaborations. The Feynman integration project is supported by the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba, Japan. Collaboration for the radiation therapy project is established with staff of the Henry Ford hospital in Detroit. Further-more, some projects have applications in biomedical engineering (composite materials modeling, orthopedic implants and other medical devices, drug delivery with nanotubes, flow in IV tubes), medical physics (radiation oncology) and biochemistry (development of antibiotics, antimalarial drugs and herbicides), which can lead to new bio-engineering collaborations within the university. The research in multiscale modeling for composite materials may impact global energy usage through improved fuel economy associated with weight reduction in structural components. It will also contribute to improving the environment through advances in wind turbine models and other renewable energy-generating technologies. The findings with respect to flexible body aerodynamics will update, advance, and positively impact our understanding of fundamental mechanisms of migration, rotation, flocculation, and dispersion of flexible and deformable fibers and bio-particles. Thus, the instrumentation can set the stage for educational developments at an undergraduate institution.

Software, data, and materials from the participating research

projects will also be disseminated.

agency requirements1
Agency Requirements
  • 1 pg Project Summary
  • Third person
  • Proposed Activity
    • Hypothesis or Need
    • Significance/Innovation
    • Specific Objectives
    • Methods

√Intellectual Merit

√ Broader Impact

  • 30 line Summary
  • +3 line “Narrative”
  • Third person

√ Significance & Innovation

  • Hypothesis
  • Specific Aims
  • Methodology
  • Expected Results
  • Public Health Relevance/

Impact on Field

NSF

NIH

nih example summary abstract
NIH Example: Summary/Abstract

Preterm delivery, intrauterine growth restriction and low birth weight are major causes of infant mortality and severe morbidity in the United States. We propose to investigate the hypothesis that maternal exposure during pregnancy to ambient air pollution (CO, NO2, O3, PM2.5, PM10, SO2) and traffic (a significant local source of air pollution) is associated with increased risk for low birth weight (<2500 gm), preterm delivery (<37 weeks gestation) and small for gestational age birth (< 10th percentile weight for gestational age). Several studies have examined the relationships between these adverse birth outcomes and maternal exposure to ambient air pollution but results have been inconclusive. A major impediment to this research has been the large sample size needed to investigate these relationships as well as the level of personal information needed to address potential confounders and accurately estimate exposure throughout pregnancy. This study will utilize two related datasets for the same geographic area and time period: (1) an existing cohort of women (N=10,524) followed prospectively throughout pregnancy by the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology; and (2) birth certificate data (480,000 singleton live births in CT and MA, 2000 to 2006). The cohort data provides well characterized variables to control for all major confounders and information about each of the mothers' residences throughout pregnancy to accurately assess exposure. The birth certificate data provides the statistical power to investigate severe, less frequent outcomes (very low birth weight <1500 gm, very preterm delivery <32 weeks), and to examine the effects of air pollution and traffic among African American women, already at risk for preterm delivery and low birth weight. A comparison study will also be conducted to determine the reliability of birth certificate data for use in air pollution research. Since all exposure assessments have some limitations, we propose four methods to measure exposure to air pollutants: central site monitors; a GIS/traffic model; land use regression to measure NO2 exposure; and satellite imagery to measure PM2.5 exposure. The proposed study will have the power to

estimate odds ratios of 1.15 and 1.25 in the birth certificate and cohort data,

respectively. If an association is confirmed, reductions in specific types of

air pollution may result in a reduction in adverse birth outcomes.

nih example summary abstract1
NIH Example: Summary/Abstract

Recent genomic breakthroughs have revolutionized our understanding of cancer. It is now possible to envision treatment paradigms that would be individualized, targeted and tailored according to the tumor genetic profile. However, high-throughput functional assays capable of identifying and validating potential cancer drugs, based on abnormal tumor gene expression profiles, in a setting that would directly translate to providing recommendations for patient treatment are not readily available. The human tumor stem cell assay (HTSCA), also known as anchorage-independent growth assay, has been considered as the "gold standard" for chemosensitivity testing of patient tumor cells. In its current format, the HTSCA suffers from many pitfalls that make it unfit for high-throughput clinical testing. Falcon genomics, Inc. is developing the Cancer BioChip System (CBCS), a rapid, high-throughput, automated, and quantitative anchorage-independent growth assay for the personalized identification and validation of inhibitors of cancer cell growth. We will use silencing RNA (siRNA) or short hairpin RNA (shRNA) to inhibit expression of abnormally expressed tumor genes and test their impact on anchorage-independent tumor growth in a high-throughput fashion. In this Phase I application, we will develop a Test Cancer BioChip for optimizing plating, transfection, silencing, and cytostatic efficiencies. Results from these studies will validate the CBCS as a tool for cancer target identification and validation. Through future clinical trials, we anticipate development of the CBCS into a cancer diagnostic and personalized therapeutic tool.

nih example public health relevance
NIH Example: Public Health Relevance
  • Preterm delivery and low birth weight are major causes of infant death and disability in the United States. This study will investigate whether a mother's exposure during pregnancy to air pollution and traffic (a significant local source of air pollution) is associated with increased risk for these adverse birth outcomes. If confirmed, reductions in specific types of air pollution may reduce these major infant health problems. NIH R01
  • The use of antipsychotic drugs in pediatric populations has doubled over the past 15 years despite the relative absence of basic research documenting the effects of such drug exposure on later brain and behavioral function. The purpose of this research is to ascertain the long-term behavioral effects of early-life exposure to antipsychotic drugs in laboratory rats. This research will provide researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners with critical information regarding the long-term consequences of prolonged antipsychotic drug treatment during development, in addition to enhancing research experiences in neuroscience among college undergraduates at Northern Kentucky University.
  • (NIH R15)
enhance your persuasiveness
Enhance your Persuasiveness
  • Write directly to the funder’s guidelines
  • Tailor your presentation to funder’s mission
  • Clarify significance of project up front
  • Ensure that scope of work proposed is feasible (considering time and budget)
  • Writing: clear, concise, direct, affirmative
  • Plan for iterative/collegial review
  • Draft, Draft, Draft…. – Revise, Revise, Revise….

Get feedback from readers—both peers and generalists

data management plan nsf
Data Management Plan (NSF)
  • Mandatory
    • Exception: supplements to existing awards
  • 2 page limit
    • If your plan is more extensive and can’t fit in 2 pages, you may also use some of your proscribed narrative page limit for it.
  • Reviewed and scored
    • under either Intellectual Merit or Broader Impacts, or both,

as appropriate for the scientific community of relevance.

  • Subcontracts & collaborative proposals:
    • Use 1 DMP regardless of # of non-lead collaborative proposals or subawardsincluded.
dmp contents
DMP Contents

Types of data:

samples, physical collections, software, curriculum materials

Standards for data and metadata

format and content.

Access and sharing policies

protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, other rights/requirements

Policies/provisions for

reuse, redistribution, and production of derivatives

Plans for archiving:

data, samples, and other research products

Plans for preservation of access

dmp contents1
DMP Contents
  • May simply state: “No detailed plan is needed.”
  • Must have adequate justification (e.g., educationally-focused program in which no data or materials will be generated).
  • Check with Program Officer.
more specific dmp guidance
More Specific DMP Guidance
  • Requirements and plans specific to Directorates, Offices, Divisions, Programs, and other NSF units continue to evolve. Check: http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/dmp.jsp.
  • If program-specific guidance is not published, follow the general NSF guidance provided in the 3 prior slides.
  • If your DMP is too complex to fit the 2 page limit, you may also use part of the (limited # pages available for your Research Plan) for additional information.
websites dmp guidance
Websites DMP Guidance

Valuable tips on data management are given below.

  • UC3 website: http://www.cdlib.org/services/uc3/datamanagement/
  • MIT website:http://libraries.mit.edu/guides/subjects/data-management/

An online data management tool to create your management plan is available at http://dmponline.dcc.ac.uk/

Other useful online information on data management plans is available at:

http://www.cdlib.org/uc3/datamanagement/dmpo.html

Examples of NSF Data Management Plans are added at the end of this document and are taken from http://rci.ucsd.edu/dmp/examples.html

Other helpful resources:

DMP Online: http://dmponline.dcc.ac.uk/

For a Template for a Data Management Plan (Word), see http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/data-management-plans

Project Communication and Data Management Plan (Word Document) (Relu-DSS (UK Rural Economy and Land Use Programme Data Support Service) – see

http://relu.data-archive.ac.uk/introduction.asp.

Research Data Management Plan Template (Word) (University of Melbourne) – see

http://ilp.anu.edu.au/dm/ANU_DM_Manual_v10.09.17-63_2010-09-17.pdf

Australian National University Data Management Manual (pdf): Describes research data management in general and includes an outline for a generic data management plan see

http://ilp.anu.edu.au/dm/ANU_DM_Manual_v10.09.17-63_2010-09-17.pdf

Data Management Plan Examples (ICPSR):

Lnksto examples of data management plans in various scientific disciplines, see http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/dmp/index.jsp

Other Guides to Data Management see

http://www.data-archive.ac.uk/media/2894/managingsharing.pdf

slide40

Grantwriting is the onlygenreof academic writing in which you focus as intensively on “selling” your ideas.

“A grant proposal is a marketing tool.”