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					  Grant applications:
How to meet with success
        Mike Cruise
        Chair AGP
• Have a really good idea about something
  really important
• Look up the rules for AGP grants
• Follow them

Research Grants/Funding
  Opportunities/Astronomy Research Grants
          Issues covered
• The AGP Process
• What to do
• What not to do
           The AGP Team
• The Astronomy Grants Panel has a four
  person secretariat at Swindon led by Kim
  Burchell and responsible to Dr Colin
• These people are very much part of the
  Astronomy Community
• They are extremely helpful and give a lot
  of very good advice
            AGP Structure
• Chairman: Me - until March 2010
• Four specialist panels
  – Astronomy Observation
  – Astronomy Theory
  – Solar System Studies
  – Planetary Science
• Rolling Grant Panel
          Scale of Operation
• One grant round a year
  – But there is an urgency procedure
• About 100-120 standard grants per year
• About 20 rolling grants per year
• Rolling grants have a three year review and
  so the same rolling grants appear every three
  years, giving the grant spend a cyclical
  nature, averaging about £100 m p.a.
• We give out about 85 pdra’s to RG’s and 15-
  20 standard grants
• Send in the grant by the deadline!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
• Grant is sent to an assessor on the most
  appropriate panel
• Assessor advises office of five or six
  suitable referees
• Grant is sent to referees
• Referees comments are returned to
  applicant and assessor
           Process part 2
• Applicant has a few weeks ( and six
  pages) to respond to the referees
• Assessor compiles a summary of referee’s
  criticisms and applicant’s responses
            At the meeting
• Grants are discussed in turn
• Chair of the specialist panel asks the
  assessor to introduce the grant to the
  panel and comment on the inputs
• There is an open discussion and the chair
  brings it to a consensus on the amount
  that should be awarded
  is given a marking on the IPRA scale
Initial Peer Review Assessment
• Marks the grant against 10 criteria
  –   Scientific Excellence
  –   International Competitiveness
  –   Fit to STFC strategy (??)
  –   Productivity of Applicant       2
  –   Productivity of PDRA’s          2
  –   Management                      2
  –   Suitability of Institute        1
  –   Knowledge Exchange Plan         1
  –   Outreach Plan                   1
  –   Sustainability of the group     1
               Next Stages
• After all the grants in a specialist panel are
  reviewed, the marks are used to rank
  order them.
• The rank order is discussed to see if there
  is any anomaly in the ordering done by the
  IPRA- changes are made
• After each panel has its rank order , they
  are combined and the final order is again
• The marking scheme is only a tool to
  transfer assessments from one meeting to
  another- it is not sacrosanct.
• Ample time is left for discussion of the
  rank orderings
              Final Stages
• The total rank ordered list is handed over
  to the office.
• They cost each proposal ( from the top of
  the list ) and then decide how many can
  be afforded
• This process gives the community the
  maximum amount of grant spend
             Rolling Grants
• - a bit different
• Same process with referees and responses
• Applicant ( + two colleagues) invited to give
  a 30 min summary of grant to the RG panel at
• RG panel have 45 mins questioning with the
• Panel then spend 45 mins agreeing PDRA’s
  travel, equipment, etc and an IPRA marking
             Final Stages
• Chair of AGP reports the statistics of a
  round to PPAN and ( if PPAN supports the
  process) passes the panel’s
  recommendations to the STFC Executive.
• The STFC Executive awards the grants.
• We have offered guidelines
  – 30% for a fully engaged academic supervising a
  – 10% for an academic managing a PDRA, but with
    other grant support
• Bids for up to 100% FeC can be made if
  –   Direct project involvement
  –   Time limited
  –   University support guaranteed
  –   Benefits beyond immediate group
• Travel-£2k per FTE p.a.( £2.4 k per FTE in
  remote places )
• Computing £2k per FTE per p.a.
• Secretarial support 8% per FTE
• Computing support 10% per FTE
• Visitor travel £1k per FTE
• Page charges £0.5k per POST ( not FTE )
• Recruitment costs £1k per unamed PDRA post
               Current Context
• STFC seems unable to support
 second division research any
  –   Groups who are not leading new developments
  –   Groups with less than critical mass
  –   Groups who don’t publish enough
  –   Groups who don’t use the best facilities
  –   Groups who are unaware of the best work carried out
Scientific           Highly innovative proposal very likely to result in
             5   5
Excellence              seminal changes in knowledge

                     Proposal likely to substantially advance the
             5   4

                     Likely to make an important contribution to the
             5   3

             5   2   Competent proposal for worthy science

                     Interesting science but outcomes considered
             5   1

                     Proposal poor quality, flawed or unlikely to deliver
             5   0
                        meaningful or interesting results
                  5   5   Clearly a world leading proposal

                          Competitive with the best science
                  5   4
                            funded world wide

                  5   3   UK leading proposal

                  5   2   Competitive with the best UK proposals

                  5   1   A proposal of average quality

                          Not as good as currently funded work in
                  5   0
                             the UK
• Write clearly
• Write your proposal for an intelligent, but not
  specialist, audience
• Explain:
   – What you want to do
   – Why you want to do it
   – Why you should do it
• State clearly what the PDRA/student will do
• Clearly justify departures from guidelines
• Get a colleague to read through the application
• Exaggerate your claims or reputation
• Propose large expansions without clear
• Avoid difficulties that your proposals will
  have to face
• Make unsubstantiated claims
               Good Luck
• Good Luck
• Participate fully in forming STFC policy via
• Think about the balance between facilities
  and exploitation
• Good Luck