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TAMU-C Proposal Writing Workshop If you don’t write grants, you won’t get any

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  1. TAMU-C Proposal Writing WorkshopIf you don’t write grants, you won’t get any • Presented by Mike Cronan, PE, Director, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M University • Introductory Tips on Proposal Writing • Social & Behavioral Sciences & Education Funding Agencies (NSF, NIH, DoED, HHS) • Developing Partnerships in Math, Science & Education • Research Funding Advice & Strategies for Junior Faculty, or Faculty Transitioning Research to New Areas • 8:30 to 2:30 (lunch will be served) • 2:30 to 4:30 Individual PI meetings with Mike Cronan • Mayo Room, 2rd floor, Memorial Student Center • OPD WEB: http://opd.tamu.edu/ Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  2. Office of Proposal Development • Unit of Vice President for Research Office; • Supports faculty in the development and writing of research and educational proposals: • center-level initiatives, • multidisciplinary research teams, • research affinity groups, • junior faculty research, • diversity in the research enterprise. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  3. Office of Proposal Development, OPD-WEB • OPD-WEB (http://opd.tamu.edu/) is an interactive tool and faculty resource for the development and writing of competitive research and educational proposals to federal agencies and foundations: • Funding opportunities (http://opd.tamu.edu/funding-opportunities) • Junior faculty support (http://opd.tamu.edu/resources-for-junior-faculty) • Proposal resources (http://opd.tamu.edu/proposal-resources) • Grant writing seminars (http://opd.tamu.edu/seminar-materials) • Grant writing workbook (http://opd.tamu.edu/the-craft-of-writing-workbook) • PI Observations Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  4. Members, Office of Proposal Development • Jean Ann Bowman, ecological and environmental sciences/ agriculture-related proposals and centers, jbowman@tamu.edu; • Libby Childress, Scheduling, resources, training workshop management, project coordination, libbyc@tamu.edu; • Mike Cronan, center-level proposals, A&M System partnerships, new proposal and training initiatives, mikecronan@tamu.edu; • Lucy Deckard, New faculty initiative, fellowships, physical science-related proposals, equipment and instrumentation, interdisciplinary materials group, OPD web management l-deckard@tamu.edu; • John Ivy (June 1), biomedical & health related initiatives, NIH • Phyllis McBride, craft of proposal writing training, NIH and related agency initiatives in the biomedical, social and behavioral sciences; editing and rewriting, p-mcbride@tamu.edu; • Robyn Pearson, Education, social & behavioral sciences, and humanities-related proposals, interdisciplinary research groups, editing and rewriting, rlpearson@tamu.edu Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  5. Presenter Background • Mike Cronan, P.E., has 15 years experience at Texas A&M University in planning, developing, and writing successful center-level research and educational proposals. • Author of > $60 million in System-wide proposals funded by NSF: Texas AMP, Texas RSI, South Texas RSI, Texas Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation, CREST Environmental Research Center, Information Technology in Science, CLT. • Named Regents Fellow (2000-04) by the Board of Regents for his leadership role in developing and writing NSF funded research and educational partnerships across the A&M System. • B.S., Civil Engineering (Structures), University of Michigan, 1983 • M.F.A., English, University of California, Irvine, 1972 • B.A., Political Science, Michigan State University, 1968 • Registered Professional Engineer (Texas 063512, inactive) • http://opd.tamu.edu/people Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  6. Open Forum, Q&A Format • Audience is encouraged to ask questions continuously; • Audience questions will help direct, guide, and focus the discussion on proposal topics. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  7. Generic Competitive Strategies • Understanding the mission, strategic plan, investment priorities, culture, and review criteria of a funding agency will enhance the competitiveness of a proposal. • Knowledge about a funding agency helps the applicant make good decisions throughout the entire proposal development and writing process. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  8. Analysis of the funding agency • Know the audience (e.g., program officers, reviewers) and the best way to address them. • Identify a fundable idea and characterized it within the context of the agency research investment priorities. • Communicate your passion, excitement, commitment, and capacity to perform the proposed research to review panels. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  9. Develop Agency Specific Knowledge Base • Electronic Funding Alert Services / Email Alerts • http://opd.tamu.edu/funding-opportunities/electronic-funding-alert-services-email-alerts • Grants.gov • http://www.grants.gov/ • http://www.grants.gov/search/subscribeAll.do • MYNSF • http://opd.tamu.edu/funding-opportunities/electronic-funding-alert-services-email-alerts • NIH National Institutes of Health Listserv • http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/listserv.htm • U.S. Dept. of Education, EDINFO • http://listserv.ed.gov/cgi-bin/wa?A1=ind05&L=edinfo Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  10. Writing a competitive proposal • Preparing to write • Developing hypothesis & research plan • Preliminary data & background data • Writing the proposal Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  11. Preparing to write a competitive proposal • Develop a sound, testable hypothesis • Ask other faculty to review proposal for competitiveness of ideas and appropriateness to agency • Understand the program guidelines (RFP) • Relationship with program officers (e.g., NIH/NSF) • Understand funding agency culture, language, mission, strategic plan, research investment priorities (e.g. NIH Roadmap, NSF Strategic Plan) • Understand the agency review criteria, review process, & review panels (http://opd.tamu.edu/proposal-resources/understanding-the-proposal-review-process-by-agency) Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  12. Developing the hypothesis & research plan • Review research currently funded by an agency within your research domain (e.g., reports, abstracts) • Communicate your research passion and capacity to perform to reviewers • Know your audience (e.g., agency, program officers, reviewers) • Explain how your research fits the agency; • Support claims of research uniqueness and innovation • Build on your research expertise • Do not present overly ambitious research plans Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  13. Preliminary data & background data • Present evidence of “research readiness” to show the proposed work can be accomplished • Present evidence of institutional support for the research (e.g., facilities, equipment & instrumentation) • Know what counts as preliminary and background data and how much is sufficient • Map your research directions and interests to funding agency research priorities (e.g. NIH Roadmap) Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  14. Writing the proposal • Tell a good story grounded in good science that excites the reviewers and program officers • Ensuring the proposal is competitive for funding— • Proposal Form • Use program guidelines as a proposal template • Good writing, clear arguments, reviewer friendly text (don’t make reviewers work), organization, figures, etc. • Proposal Content Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  15. If you don’t write grants, you won’t get any • – Important to have your proposal targeted. Look for the intersection of: • where research dollars are available; • your technical interests; and • where you can write a competitive proposal within the time you have available. • Researchers have a lot of great ideas but if not in scope of the agency it will not be funded; • For proposals that have RFPs, or others that are blue sky, unsolicited research, the key is to have a good idea that you are enough of an entrepreneur to sell someone else that it is a good idea and worthy of funding. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  16. If you don’t write grants, you won’t get any • Get someone who writes well to read your proposal for coherence and “hook” and to review the writing, • Remember your reviewers are broader in scope than your one proposal and if you get too technical you get too many reviewers that don’t understand; • Some think if you submit your best idea it will be stolen but if you submit your second best idea it won’t be funded . Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  17. Elements of a Successful Proposal • Relates to purposes & goals of the applicant agency. • Adheres to the content and format guidelines of the applicant agency. • Establish your major points succinctly & repeatedly. • Directed toward the appropriate audience--i.e., those who review the proposal. • Write for technically diverse reviewers; intelligent readers, not experts • Avoid unnecessary complexity and technical minutia Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  18. Elements of a Successful Proposal • Addresses the review criteria of the funding agency. • Interesting to read; compelling ideas; conveys excitement to reviewers. • Uses a clear, concise, coherent writing style, free of jargon, superfluous information, and undefined acronyms -- i.e., easy to read. • Organized in a logical manner that is easy to follow; use RFP as an organizational template. • Use of figures, graphs, charts, and other visuals. • Proofread so it is free of grammatical errors, misspellings, & typos. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  19. Elements of a Successful Proposal • Clear, concise, informative abstract that stands alone and serves as roadmap to the narrative. • Clearly stated goals and objectives not buried in a morass of dense narrative densely formatted. • Clearly documents the need to be met or problems to be solved by the proposed project. • Indicates that the project's hypotheses rest on sufficient evidence and are conceptually sound. • Clearly describes who will do the work (who), the methods that will be employed (how), which facilities or location will be used (where), and a timetable of performance outcomes (when). Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  20. Elements of a Successful Proposal • Justifies the significance and/or contribution of the project on current scientific knowledge. • Includes appropriate and sufficient citations to prior work, ongoing studies, and related literature. • Establishes the competence and scholarship PI • Does not assume that reviewers "know what you mean." Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  21. Elements of a Successful Proposal • Makes no unsupported assumptions. • Discusses potential pitfalls & alternative approaches. • Plan for evaluating data or the success of project. • Is of reasonable scope; not overly ambitious. • Work can be accomplished in the time allotted. • Demonstrates that PIs and the organization are qualified to perform the proposed project; • Does not assume that the applicant agency "knows all about you." Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  22. Elements of a Successful Proposal • Includes vitae which demonstrate the credentials required (e.g., do not use promotion and tenure vitae replete with institutional committee assignments for a research proposal.) • Documents facilities necessary for the success of the project. • Includes necessary letters of support and other supporting documentation. • Includes a bibliography of cited references. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  23. Elements of a Successful Proposal Budget • Has a budget which corresponds to the narrative: all major elements detailed in the budget are described in the narrative and vice versa. • Has a budget sufficient to perform the tasks described in the narrative. • Has a budget which corresponds to the applicant agency's guidelines with respect to content and detail, including a budget justification if required. • The forgoing list was collected from various sources, including Rebecca Claycamp, assistant chair, Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  24. Social & Behavioral Sciences & Education Funding Agencies (NSF, NIH, HHS, DoED) • Gain a better understanding of each agency • Agency cultures • Competitive strategies • Comparisons among and between agencies • Review processes • Strategies for developing multidisciplinary proposals Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  25. Types of Research Agencies & Research • Basic research agencies (NIH, NSF); • Mission-focused agencies (DoED); • Hypothesis-driven research; • Need- or applications driven research at agencies. • http://opd.tamu.edu/the-craft-of-grant-writing-workbook/manual/the-craft-of-grant-writing-workbook/analyzing-funding-agencies Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  26. National Institutes of Health • It is interesting to get the "other side of the story" especially with respect to funding priorities and how they can change very quickly given specific research findings (not that the funding is immediately available for new projects, but more like decisions are made quickly about how to re-prioritize). • Funding is definitely tight at NIH right now and will be for the next few years. Applications have to be exemplary and very much tied to the current strategic plan of each institute and center. I guess that's what you guys have been preaching for some time....it just seems particularly relevant now. • Susan E. Maier, Ph.D., Office of Scientific Affairs, NIH/NIAAA (prior OPD) Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  27. NIH Reference Toolkit • All About NIH Grants, Writing the R01 • http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/default.htm • Annotated R01 Grant Application and Summary Statement • http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/app/default.htm • How to Write a NIH Grant Application • http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/write/write_pf.htm • Advice for New Investigators: Who is a New Investigator? • http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/plan/plan_i1.htm • http://www.training.nih.gov/careers/careercenter/grants.html • Develop a Strong Hypothesis • http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/plan/plan_c1.htm • Research Plan Section a. Specific Aims • http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/write/write_j1.htm • Proposal Writing: The Business of Science (NIH) • http://www.whitaker.org/sanders.html • NIH Grant Writing Handbook, Univ. Pennsylvania • http://www.med.upenn.edu/rpd/documents/gwm.pdf Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  28. Social Work Links: HHS, NIH & others • HHS Funding (http://www.hhs.gov/grants/index.shtml) • HHS Funding for Women’s Health (http://www.4woman.gov/fund/) • HHS Funding Opportunities, ACF (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/hsb/grant/fundingopportunities/fundopport.htm) • HHS Office of Community Services Funding (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/grants_ocs.html) • Research on Social Work Practice and Concepts in Health (R01) (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-06-081.html) • Research on Social Work Practice and Concepts in Health (R03) (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-06-082.html) • GWB School of Social Work, Washington Univ. (http://gwbweb.wustl.edu/library/websites.html) • A Guide to Internet Resources in Social Work (http://www.abacon.com/internetguides/social/weblinks.html); Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  29. Social Work Links: HHS & others • Social Work Internet Resources (http://www.hshsl.umaryland.edu/resources/socialwork.html) • Institute for Advancement of Social Work Research (http://www.charityadvantage.com/iaswr/TechnicalResources.asp) • Ball State Social Funding (http://www.bsu.edu/oarsp/pubs/htmlnewsltr/dec2003/social.htm) • LSU Health Science Center Funding (http://nursing.lsuhsc.edu/ResearchAndEvaluation/Research/FundingOpportunities.html) • CNDC Funding (http://www.cndc2.org/funding_opportunities.htm#recent) Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  30. Selected Slides for NIH Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

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  36. NIH: Don't Propose Too Much • Sharpen the focus of your application. Novice applicants often overshoot their mark, proposing too much. • Make sure the scale of your hypothesis and aims fits your request of time and resources. • Reviewers will quickly pick up on how well matched these elements are. • Your hypothesis should be provable and aims doable with the resources you are requesting. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  37. NIH: Develop a Solid Hypothesis • Many top-notch NIH grant applications are driven by strong hypotheses rather than advances in technology (NSF, DoD counterpoint). • Think of your hypothesis as the foundation of your application -- the conceptual underpinning on which the entire structure rests. • Generally applications should ask questions that prove or disprove a hypothesis rather than use a method to search for a problem or simply collect information. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  38. NIH: Develop a Solid Hypothesis • Choose an important, testable, focused hypothesis that increases understanding of biologic processes, diseases, treatments, or preventions. • It should be based on previous research. State your hypothesis in both the specific aims section of the research plan and the abstract. • Avoid a fishing expedition. Reviewers see many grants that did not have a hypothesis; rather, the investigator was obviously hoping that something interesting would pop up in the course of his or her investigation. That sort of approach is not appealing to a study section. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  39. NIH: Applications Driven Research • A new trend is pushing NIH toward more applied research. • Especially in key areas, such as studies of organisms used for bioterrorism, NIH is turning more to applications seeking to discover basic biology or develop or use a new technology. • If your application is not hypothesis-based, state this in your cover letter and give the reasons why the work is important. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  40. Section a. Specific Aims • Your specific aims are the objectives of your research project, what you want to accomplish, and your project milestones. • Write this section for audiences, primary reviewers and other reviewers, since they'll all read it. • Choose aims reviewers can easily assess. • Your aims are the accomplishments by which the success of your project is measured. • Recommended length of this section is one page. • A common mistake new applicants make is being too ambitious. You should probably limit your proposal to three to four specific aims. • Design your specific aims and experiments so they answer the question posed by the hypothesis. Organize and define your aims so you can relate them directly to your research methods. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  41. NIH: Investigator-initiated review criteria • Significance • Does the study address an important problem? • Approach • Are the design and methods appropriate to the address the aims? • Innovation • Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches, methods? • Investigator • Is the investigator appropriately trained to carry out the study? • Environment • Will the scientific environment contribute to the probability of success? Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  42. Developing Partnerships in Mathematics, Science & Education • There are three general categories of grants made to universities by federal agencies that include educational partnership components: • research grants, • integrated research and education grants, and • education grants. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  43. Key Partnership Infrastructures • Developing educational partnerships or partnerships to address agency specific educational and outreach components to research proposals, include: • institutional commitment to the effort • resources available on campus, • effective models, • evaluation and assessment capacities, • defining long term objectives and outcomes. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  44. Required Educational Partnerships • Increasingly, principal investigators are required by federal research agencies, most notably the National Science Foundation, to address educational or related activities in research proposals. • At NSF, this requirement derives from two agency-wide priorities: 1) the agency strategy for the integration of research and education and 2) the broader impacts review criterion (http://opd.tamu.edu/proposal-resources/broaderimpacts/main.html). • However, many researchers struggle with the boarder impacts requirement, and often seek help in developing this section of the proposal and implementing and evaluating it if funded. Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  45. Educational Partnership Topics • Topics will include: • Developing and writing educational components to research grants, • Developing and writing any required evaluation and assessment components; • Linking to successful broader impacts models, • Linking to other groups on campus that can implement the required broader impacts or educational components to research grants Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  46. Define Community of Interest • Researchers • Providers of educational components • Providers of educational component models • Providers of evaluation and assessment • Writers of educational components of research grants Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  47. Define Educational Components by Agency • National Science Foundation • Broader Impacts criterion • Research-education integration core strategy • Societal impacts • National Institutions of Health • Educational objectives mostly separate programs • NASA Education and Public Outreach • http://science.hq.nasa.gov/research/epo.htm • http://ssibroker.colorado.edu/Broker/Eval_criteria/Guide/Default.htm • Energy, NOAA, Others Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  48. NSF Broader Impacts • The advance of discovery and understanding; • Improvement of the participation of underrepresented groups; • Enhancement of the education/research infrastructure; • Broad dissemination of results; and • Benefits of the activity to society at large. • http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2003/nsf032/bicexamples.pdf Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  49. 1. Tips on Developing Partnerships • Fully committed PI with institutional support • Beware “good idea” that lacks institutional advocate • Analysis of the RFP • Assemble proposal development team • Partnerships/collaboratives are often more competitive • Ensure team members "brings something to the table" Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University

  50. 2. Tips on Developing Partnerships • Clearly define reasons for and nature of partnership • State concise benefits of the partnership • Review each team member's relevance to the RFP • Develop major concepts specific to each RFP item Office of Proposal Development Texas A&M University