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					        PVAMU Grant Writing Workshop
             March 28-29, 2007

•Presenter:
  •Mike Cronan, PE (inactive)
  •Director, Office of Proposal
   Development, Office of the
   Vice President for Research,
   Texas A&M University

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   1
   A&M System Coordination
• Dr. K. Lee Peddicord, System
  Vice Chancellor for Research
  & Federal Relations;
• Tami Davis Sayko, System
  Associate Vice Chancellor for
  Research & Federal Relations.
• ―Dr. Peddicord and Ms. Sayko
  are to research promotion
  what Jerry Lee Lewis is to the
  piano.‖ (Texas A&M research
  administrator comment.)


  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   2
   Office of Proposal Development
• Supports faculty in the development and
  writing of proposals;
• Supports center-level initiatives,
  interdisciplinary research teams, junior
  faculty, and diversity initiatives;
• Helps develop research partnerships at
  Texas A&M and among System institutions
  and the Health Science Center;
• Offers a full suite of training programs to
  help faculty develop and write more
  competitive proposals.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   3
                         OPD Member List
• Jean Ann Bowman, PhD (Physical Geography/Hydrology),
  earth ecological, and environmental sciences,
  jbowman@tamu.edu;
• Libby Childress, Scheduling, workshop management, project
  coordination, libbyc@tamu.edu;
• Mike Cronan, PE, BSCE, BA, MFA, Center-level proposals, A&M
  System partnerships, new proposal and training initiatives,
  mikecronan@tamu.edu;
• Lucy Deckard, BSMS, MSMS&E, New faculty initiative,
  fellowships, engineering and physical science proposals,
  equipment and instrumentation, l-deckard@tamu.edu;
• John Ivy, PhD (Molecular Biology), NIH biomedical and
  biological science initiatives, johnivy@tamu.edu;
• Phyllis McBride, PhD (English), proposal writing training,
  biomedical, editing, p-mcbride@tamu.edu;
• Robyn Pearson, BA, MA, social sciences and humanities
  proposals, editing and rewriting, rlpearson@tamu.edu

   PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   4
                     Presenter Background
• Mike Cronan: 20 years at Texas A&M University planning,
  developing, and writing successful research and educational
  proposals to federal agencies.
• Developed and built the TEES Office of Research Development &
  Grant Writing (Director, 1994-2004); restructured the Texas
  A&M University Office of Proposal Development (Director, 2004-
  current).
• Authored over $60 million in System-wide proposals funded by
  NSF: Texas AMP, Texas RSI, South Texas RSI, Texas CETP ,
  CREST Environmental Research Center, Information Technology
  in Science, among others.
• Named Regents Fellow (2000-04) by the Board of Regents
  for leading, developing & writing System partnership proposals
  funded by NSF and other federal agencies.
• B.S., Civil/Structural Engineering, 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)

    PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   5
      Open Forum, Q&A Format
• Curious? Please
  ask questions;
• Questions will
  help direct,
  guide, and focus
  the discussion on
  proposal topics.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   6
                       Type of Proposals
• Research (basic, applied, mission, etc.)
• Educational
  • Institutional, e.g., McNair, GAANN, STEP
  • Direct to applicant (e.g., NSF Fellowships,
    dissertation grants)
• Hybrid research and educational (REU)
• Small $, few PIs
• Large $, center-level, multiple PIs
• Supplements to grants (NSF, NIH)
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   7
 If you don‘t write grants, you won‘t
               get any
• Target the proposal at the
  intersection where:
   •research dollars are available;
   •your research interests are met;
   •a competitive proposal can be
    written within the time available.

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   8
                     Narrative Detail

   Agencies will not fund an
   idea not embedded in a
   convincing pattern of
   narrative detail and
   performance specificity.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   9
                   Presentation topics
• Generic competitive strategies
  •Identifying funding solicitations
  •Analyzing the solicitation
  •Analyzing the funding agency
  •Understanding the review process
  •Writing the proposal narrative
       •Checklist for writing the proposal

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   10
                  Searching for funding

• Develop
  search
  protocols to fit
  research
  interests;
• Know relevant
  agencies;
• Learn grant
  cycles.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   11
   Searching for research funding


• Focus on your
  research
  interests




PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   12
           Searching for research funding
• Define a general disciplinary domain of interest (e.g.,
  science, social science, humanities, education, health
  and biomedical sciences, engineering);
• Characterize the nature of the research interests
  within the disciplinary domain (basic, applied,
  applications, contract, mission agency);
• Identify funding agencies whose mission, strategic
  plan, and investment priorities are aligned with the
  specific research interests;
• Focus on this subset of agencies in the search for
  funding opportunities, a process that may go through
  several search iterations until the researcher
  converges on a reasonable alignment of research
  interests with possible funding sources;
• Further align research interests with funding agency
  funding opportunities by reviewing past funding
  solicitations, agency mission statements, strategic
  investment plans, and related documentation.
   PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   13
OPD-Web Funding Opportunities




 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   14
                         Grants. gov
The Grants.gov web portal serves as
a single point of access for all federal
agency grant announcements. New
funding announcements from federal
agency are posted to this site daily,
and a range of other features allow
subscribing to email funding alerts,
linking to agency web sites, and
searching for funding among
agencies.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   15
       http://www.grants.gov/




PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   16
Receive Grants.gov Funding Email Alerts




 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   17
Search & Browse Grant Opportunities


• http://www.grant
  s.gov/applicants/s
  earch_opportuniti
  es.jsp
• http://www.grant
  s.gov/search/age
  ncy.do



PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   18
Search Grants.gov Opportunities




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PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   25
http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/rfp/




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PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   28
     http://www.neh.gov/news/nehconnect.html




PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   29
http://listserv.ed.gov/cgi-bin/wa?A0=edinfo&D=1&H=0&O=D&T=0




   PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   30
http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_list/elists/




 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   31
Reading the proposal solicitation
    The Request for Proposals
    (RFP) – also called the
    Program Announcement (PA),
    Request for Applications
    (RFA), or Broad Agency
    Announcement (BAA) – is one
    common starting point of the
    proposal writing process.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   32
Reading the proposal solicitation
      Other starting points to the
      proposal process include
      investigator-initiated
      (unsolicited) proposals, or,
      common to the defense
      agencies, white papers and
      quad charts.


 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   33
Reading the proposal solicitation
   The solicitation represents
   an invitation by a funding
   agency for applicants to
   submit requests for funding
   in research areas of
   interest to the agency or
   foundation.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   34
                 Program Solicitation
It is used continuously throughout
proposal development and writing
as a reference point to ensure
that an evolving proposal
narrative fully addresses and
accurately reflects the goals and
objectives of the funding agency,
including the review criteria.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   35
                 Program Solicitation

The RFP contains most of the
essential information the
researcher needs to develop and
write a competitive proposal that
is fully responsive to the
agency‘s funding objectives and
review criteria.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   36
                  Program Solicitation
• The RFP is not a menu or
  smorgasbord offering the applicant
  a choice of addressing some topics
  but not others, depending on interest,
  or some review criteria but not others.
• The RFP is a non-negotiable listing
  of performance expectations
  reflecting the stated goals, objectives,
  and desired outcomes of the agency.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   37
Map your expertise to the RFP
• Is it a fit?
• Is it really a fit?
      • No partial fits
        allowed
      • No wishful
        thinking
      • Close doesn‘t
        count
• If you are not a
  fit—don‘t submit

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   38
You and the RFP need to be like…




PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   39
                The RFP as Treasure Map
•   Follow directions
•   Review step by step
•   Understand it
•   Understood by all PIs
•   Keep focused
•   Don‘t wander off path




     PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   40
   No irrational exuberance!!
• Understand the RFP
  for what it is…not
  what you want it to
  be…
• It is not a
  speculative
  investment…
• Invest your time,
  resources, and
  energy wisely
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   41
                 Contents of the RFP
• Agency research goals,
  objectives, and performance
  expectations
• Statement and scope of work
• Proposal topics to be addressed
  by the applicant
• Deliverables or other outcomes
• Review criteria and process

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   42
                  Contents of the RFP
• Research plan
• Key personnel, evaluation, &
  management
• Eligibility, due dates, available
  funding, funding limits, anticipated
  number of awards, performance
  period, proposal formatting
  requirements, budget and other
  process requirements, and reference
  documents.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   43
                  Reviewing the RFP
• It is not a document to skim quickly,
  read lightly, or read only once.
• It defines a very detailed set of
  research expectations the applicant
  must meet in order to be competitive
  for funding.
• It needs to be read and re-read and
  fully understood, both in very
  discrete detail and as an integrated
  whole.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   44
                  Reviewing the RFP
• The RFP sets the direction and
  defines the performance
  parameters of every aspect of
  proposal development and writing.
• Read it word by word; sentence
  by sentence; paragraph by
  paragraph; and page by page.
• Know it well, both at the macro
  and micro level
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   45
                   Reviewing the RFP
• Focus
• Carefully
• On
• Directions.
• Don‘t
• Get
• Distracted.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   46
                  Reviewing the RFP
• Clarify ambiguities;
  if unresolved--
• Get clarification
  from a program
  officer.
• Ambiguities needs to
  be resolved prior to
  proposal writing so
  the proposal
  narrative maps to
  the guidelines with
  informed certainty.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   47
                    Reviewing the RFP
    A well-written RFP clearly
    states the funding agency‘s
    research objectives in a
    concise and comprehensive
    fashion, and is devoid of
    wordiness, repetition, and
    vaguely contradictory re-
    phasing of program
    requirements.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   48
                    Reviewing the RFP
 • Not all RFPs are clearly written.
 • Sometimes the funding agency
   itself is unclear about specific
   objectives, particularly in
   cutting-edge research areas.
 • Where there is ambiguity, keep
   asking questions: converge
   on clarity.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   49
 Never be timid about contacting a
  program officer for clarification


• Timidity is
  never
  rewarded in
  the
  competitive
  grant process.



PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   50
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization


• The RFP provides the key
  instructions for the construction
  of a competitive proposal.
• It defines the expectations of the
  funding agency and the domain
  of research performance.


 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   51
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization

• Use the RFP to develop the
  structure, order, and detail of the
  proposal narrative.
• Use the RFP as an organizational
  template during proposal
  development to help ensure every
  RFP requirement is addressed
  fully.
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   52
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization
• Copy the requirements in each
  section of the RFP into the draft
  text, including the review criteria,
  as a template for the proposal.
• This template provides initial
  section and subsection headings to
  guide preliminary responses that
  mirror the program solicitation
  requirements.
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   53
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization

     Reviewers will expect to see
     the narrative text in the same
     general order as presented in
     the RFP, along with the review
     criteria, since that ordering
     conforms to instructions given
     to reviewers by program
     officers.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   54
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization


    Using the RFP as a template to
    create a proposal outline
    makes it easy for reviewers to
    compare the proposal to the
    program objectives and review
    criteria.


 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   55
Reading Material Referenced in the RFP

 If the RFP refers to any publications,
 reports, or workshops, it is important
 to read those materials, analyze how
 that work has influenced the agency‘s
 vision of the program, and cite those
 publications in the proposal in a way
 that illustrates the topics are
 acknowledged and understood.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   56
  Analyzing the funding agency
• Analyzing the
  mission, strategic
  plan, investment
  priorities, and
  culture of a
  funding agency
  provides
  information key to
  enhancing
  proposal
  competitiveness.
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   57
             Know the funding agency
• In marking our 50th anniversary [Dr. Rita
  R. Colwell, former NSF Director], we are
  celebrating vision and foresight. The
  recently retired hockey-great, Wayne
  Gretzky, used to say, "I skate to where
  the puck is going, not to where it's
  been."
• At NSF, we try to fund where the fields
  are going, not to where they've been.
• We have a strong record across all fields of
  science and engineering for choosing to
  fund insightful proposals and visionary
  investigators.

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   58
Analyzing the funding agency
         Competitiveness depends on a
         series of well-informed decision
         points made throughout the
         writing of a proposal related to
         arguing the merit of the
         research and culminating in a
         well-integrated document that
         convinces the reviewers to
         recommend funding.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   59
 Analyzing the funding agency
• Funding agencies have a clearly
  defined agenda and mission.
• Funded grants are those that best
  advance the mission of the
  funding agency.
• If a proposal does not meet an
  agency's mission, it will not be
  funded.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   60
Analyzing the funding agency
• Having a "good idea" by itself
  is not enough.
• Good ideas must be clearly
  connected and integrated with
  a specific solicitation.
• The funding agency funds
  research that supports their
  mission.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   61
Finding information on funded projects
• NSF Award Search Site:
http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/index.jsp
• NIH Award Search Site:
http://crisp.cit.nih.gov/crisp/crisp_query.generate
  _screen
• Dept. of Ed. Awards Search:
http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/CFAPPS/grantaward/s
  tart.cfm
• USDA Awards Search:
http://cris.csrees.usda.gov/
• NEH Awards Search:
http://www.neh.gov/news/recentawards.html
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   62
Analyzing the agency mission
     Funding agencies are not
     passive funders of programs,
     but see themselves as leaders
     of a national dialogue on
     scientific issues, research
     directions, and driving the
     national agenda through
     research solicitations.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   63
    Analyzing the agency mission
• A strong proposal allows the funding
  agency to form a partnership with the
  submitting institution that will carry
  out the agency's vision and mission.
• The applicant must understand the
  nature of this partnership and the
  expectations of the funding agency,
  both during proposal development and
  throughout a funded project.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   64
Analyzing the funding agency
    Knowledge about a funding agency
    helps the applicant make good
    decisions throughout the entire
    proposal development and writing
    process by better understanding
    the relationship of the research to
    the broader context of the funding
    agency‘s mission, strategic plan,
    and research investment priorities.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   65
     Analyzing the funding agency
• Who is the audience (e.g.,
  program officers, reviewers)
  and what is the best way to
  address them?
• What is a fundable idea and
  how is it best characterized
  within the context of the
  agency solicitation?


PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   66
Analyzing the funding agency
• How are claims of research
  uniqueness and innovation best
  supported in the proposal text and
  reflective of agency research
  objectives?
• How does the applicant best
  communicate his or her passion,
  excitement, commitment, and
  capacity to perform the proposed
  research to review panels?
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   67
     Analyzing the funding agency
•    Mission                                     •   Web speeches
•    Culture                                     •   Public testimony
•    Language                                    •   Review criteria
•    Investment $‘s                              •   Review process
•    Strategic plan                              •   Review panels
•    Org chart                                   •   Project abstracts
•    Management                                  •   Current funding
•    Program officers                            •   Solicitations
•    Reports, pubs

    PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   68
    Analyzing the funding agency
• Differentiate between funding agencies
  by mission, strategic plan, investment
  priorities, culture, etc.
• Researchers in the social and behavioral
  sciences and the physical,
  computational, and biological sciences
  may have research opportunities at
  several agencies, e.g., NIH, NSF, DOD,
  EPA, but these agencies are dissimilar
  in many ways.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   69
     Analyzing the funding agency
• Research focus                             • Multidisciplinary or
  within disciplines                           interdisciplinary
• Research that is                           • Classified, non-
  basic, applied, or                           classified
  applications driven                        • Proprietary, non-
• Research scope and                           proprietary
  performance time                           • Independent
  horizon                                      research, or
• Exploratory, open-                           dependent linkages
  ended research, or                           to the agency
  targeted to                                  mission, e.g., health
  technology develop                           care, education

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   70
      Analyzing the funding agency
• Differentiate between basic research
  agencies (e.g., NSF, NIH) and
  mission-focused agencies (e.g. DOD,
  NASA, USDA).
• Differentiate between hypothesis-
  driven research and need- or
  applications driven research.
• Differentiate research at disciplinary
  boundaries, e.g., social sciences

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   71
            Basic research agency
• Independent agency                         • Focus on
  and management                               fundamental or basic
• Independent                                  research at the
  research vision,                             ―frontiers of
  mission, and                                 science,‖ innovation,
  objectives                                   and creation of new
• Award criteria based                         knowledge
  on intellectual and                        • Open ended,
  scientific excellence                        exploratory, long
• Peer reviewed,                               investment horizon
  ranked, and awarded                        • Non-classified, non-
  by merit                                     proprietary



PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   72
        Mission-oriented agencies
• Scope of work tightly defines research
  tasks/deliverables
• Predominately applied research for meeting near-
  term objectives, technology development and
  transfer, policy goals
• Predominately internal review by program officers
• Awards based on mix of merit, geographic
  distribution, political distribution, long term
  relationship with agency program officer,
  Legislative, and Executive branch policies
• Classified and non-classified research
• http://opd.tamu.edu/seminar-materials/seminar-
  materials-by-date/seminars-by-date

   PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   73
            Mission-Oriented Agencies
• Have a specific, focused mission
• All research funding must clearly advance
  that mission
• Research often a small part of overall budget
• Often have intramural research
• Shifts in focus and priorities within the overall
  mission may change rapidly – often short
  time horizons for research payoff
• Often sensitive to changes in political
  leadership

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   74
    Analyzing the funding agency
 • Agencies often speak in a
   dialect unique to them.
 • Echo the language of the
   funding agency back to them.
 • This is important in writing the
   proposal narrative, and helps
   to frame arguments more
   clearly and make them more
   easily understood by program
   managers and reviewers.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   75
    Addressing Review Criteria
A competitive
proposal must
clearly address each
review criterion, and
the proposal should
be structured so that
these discussions
are easy for
reviewers to find,
compare, and
contrast.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   76
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   77
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   78
      Addressing Review Criteria

• The description of review criteria is a
  key part of the solicitation.
• The description of review criteria is a
  key part and the proposal template.
• Make the reviewers job easier by
  using language similar to that used
  in the solicitation.


 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   79
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   80
 Understanding the review process
• When evaluating a grant application, reviewers
  will not only consider the quality of the ideas, but
  also the extent to which the application
  addresses the funding agency‘s review criteria.
• Therefore, it is important to identify these review
  criteria, understand exactly how the agency
  defines them, and determine the relative weight
  (if any) that the agency assigns to each of them.
• This information can then be used to develop an
  application that clearly addresses these criteria
  and that is therefore much more competitive.


 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   81
           Identify the review criteria

• Most agencies publish standard
  review criteria on their web pages
  and in each solicitation.
• Some programs will have additional
  review criteria specific to the
  solicitation.




 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   82
DHHS (NIH)
Center for Scientific Review                 http://cms.csr.nih.gov/
NIH review criteria                          http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/grants/basics/basics_b3.htm

NIH peer review process                      http://cms.csr.nih.gov/AboutCSR/OverviewofPeerReviewProcess.htm

NIH review groups                            http://cms.csr.nih.gov/PeerReviewMeetings/CSRIRGDescription/

NIH study section rosters                    http://www.csr.nih.gov/Committees/rosterindex.asp
NSF

NSF review process, criteria      Sec. 3      http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/nsf04_23/3.jsp
DOD


AFOSR review process, criteria    Sec. 2.14   http://www.afosr.af.mil/pdfs/proguide.PDF

ARO review process, criteria      Sec. 3      http://www.aro.army.mil/research/arl/arobaa06a.pdf

DARPA review process, criteria               http://www.darpa.mil/body/information/proposal.html

ONR review process, criteria      Sec. 5      http://www.onr.navy.mil/02/baa/docs/baa_05_024.pdf
USDA

NRI review process, criteria                 http://www.csrees.usda.gov/funding/nri/pdfs/nri_review_guidelines.pdf

NASA
                                              http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/nraguidebook/proposer2005.
NASA review process, criteria     App. C
                                                   doc
Department of Energy
DOE review process, criteria                 http://www.sc.doe.gov/grants/process.html
US Department of Education
ED review process, criteria       Sec. 5      http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/about/grantmaking/pt504.html

       PVAMU 3-28 '07       Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M                           83
    Understand the review process
• The review process varies from agency to
  agency
• The review process may include a peer
  review of outside experts from related
  fields; an internal review by agency
  personnel; or a combination of both.
• Most agency review processes share some
  common features. At most agencies, for
  instance, an application will first undergo
  a merit review and, depending upon the
  results, an administrative review.

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   84
      Difference between NSF & NIH
• This is a fundamental difference between NIH's and NSF's
  selection methods--by the end of the NIH review,
  applications are ranked alongside other entries according
  to an overall numerical priority score. At NSF, proposals
  are not given a numerical rating but are classified
  according to written "recommendations."
• Fred Stollnitz, program director at NSF explains further:
  "When panels review, [the reviewers] put each proposal
  into categories such as 'outstanding,' 'good and should be
  funded,' 'not ready in its present form,' or 'decline.' "
• A particularly vocal reviewer could influence the final
  rating of the panel or where the proposal should be
  classified, but because there is no absolute score, only
  opinions are noted in the review analysis report--not
  actual decisions. An opinionated NIH reviewer on the
  other hand could affect the scores an application receives
  and so alter its ranking.
                       Source: http://nextwave.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1999/10/06/3




   PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M                    85
                  NSF review panelists
• NSF panelists convey their opinions and
  recommendations in a ―panel summary.‖
  They compose an overall analysis of
  review for each proposal that incorporate
  factors such as the panel summary,
  subject area, available resources, and the
  potential impact of the research. They
  then make final award decisions with the
  division director.
• Proposals that receive lower classifications
  by the panel can sometimes be funded
  over "higher rated― research proposals
  because their overall assessment by the
  program officer is more favorable.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   86
           NSF review panelists
• The budgetary consideration also plays a key
  role in the decision-making process. ―The
  program officer doesn't just make 'yes' or 'no'
  decisions,‖ explains Stollnitz. ―They have to
  balance all those proposals that should be
  funded with the actual funds that are
  available.‖
• Sometimes a proposal classified as ‗good and
  should be funded‘ submitted by an
  investigator with minimal existing funds may
  be given the edge over an ‗outstanding‘
  proposal submitted by an established and
  well-funded candidate.
                 Source: http://nextwave.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1999/10/06/3



PVAMU 3-28 '07    Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M                87
  NSF proposal process and timelines




PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   88
    NSF example review criterion 1
• What is the intellectual merit of the proposed
  activity?
• How important is the proposed activity to
  advancing knowledge and understanding within its
  own field or across different fields?
• How well qualified is the proposer (individual or
  team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the
  reviewer will comment on the 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?
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   89
                    NIH review criteria
• Significance. Does the study address
  an important problem?
• Approach. Are the methods
  appropriate to the aims of the project?
• Innovation. Does the project employ
  novel concepts or methods?
• Investigator. Is the investigator well
  trained to do the work?
• Environment. Does the environment
  contribute to success?

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   90
Developing the proposal narrative
    Contrary to what some people
    seem to believe, simple writing is
    not the product of simple minds. A
    simple, unpretentious style has
    both grace and power. By not
    calling attention to itself, it allows
    the reader to focus on the
    message.--Richard Lederer and
    Richards Dowis, Sleeping Dogs
    Don't Lay, 1999.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   91
                    Craft of writing
Good writing lies at the core of
the competitive proposal. It is
the framework for crafting and
structuring the arguments,
ideas, concepts, goals,
performance commitments,
and the logical, internal
connectedness and balance of
the proposal.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   92
Charles Mingus on Grant Writing
Making the simple
complicated is
commonplace;
making the
complicated
simple,
awesomely
simple, that's
creativity.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   93
   Albert Einstein on Grant Writing
• If you can't explain
  something simply, you
  don't understand it well."
• Most of the fundamental
  ideas of science are
  essentially simple, and
  may, as a rule, be
  expressed in language
  comprehensible to
  everyone.
• Any fool can make things
  bigger, more complex, and
  more violent. It takes a
  touch of genius--and a lot
  of courage--to move in the
  opposite direction.
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   94
The proposal is the only reality
A proposal is not unlike a novel or a
movie. It creates its own, self-
contained reality. The proposal contains
all the funding agency and review panel
will know about your capabilities and
your capacity to perform. With few
exceptions, an agency bases its
decision to fund or not fund entirely on
the proposal and the persuasive reality
it creates.
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   95
Good writing is more than mechanics
• Strong, comprehensive, integrated
  knowledge base;
• Organizational clarity (stepwise
  logic/connections; sequencing);
• Structural clarity (integrative logic;
  logical transitions)
• Argumentative clarity (reasoning;
  ordering; synthesis)
• Capacity for synthesis
• Connect, connect, connect
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   96
Good writing is more than mechanics
• Descriptive clarity (who, what, how,
  when, why, & results)
• Clear, consistent vision sustained
  throughout text
• Comprehensive problem definition;
  corresponding innovative solutions
• Confidence in performance and
  excitement for your ideas must be
  instilled in reviewers
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   97
       Grammar and spelling count
• Proposals are not graded on grammar.
  But if the grammar is not perfect, the
  result is ambiguities left to the reviewer
  to resolve.
• Ambiguities make the proposal difficult
  to read and often impossible to
  understand, and often result in low
  ratings. Be sure your grammar is
  perfect.
                 George A. Hazelrigg, National Science Foundation



PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   98
Internal consistency & synthesis
• A competitive proposal must be
  internally consistent by language,
  structure, and argument;
• All internal ambiguities must be
  resolved.
• The competitiveness of a proposal
  increases exponentially with the
  capacity of the author to synthesize
  information.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   99
Internal consistency & synthesis
 • Synthesis represents the relational
   framework and conceptual balance
   of the proposal.
 • It is the synaptic connections
   among concepts, ideas,
   arguments, goals, objectives, and
   performance.



 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   100
Ideas matter (Slogans are not Ideas)
• Shaping ideas by language is hard work.
• Do not confuse slogans, effusive exuberance,
  and clichés with substantive ideas.
• Show the reviewers something new by
  developing ideas that are clear, concise,
  coherent, contextually logical, and insightful.
• Capitalize on every opportunity you have to
  define, link, relate, expand, synthesize,
  connect, or illuminate ideas as you write the
  narrative.
• Connect, connect, connect! (E.M. Forrester).

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   101
             Positioning to submit

• Find an appropriate solicitation
• Review the solicitation in detail
• Assess your capacity to perform
• Map your expertise to the RFP
• Assess your capacity to write a
  competitive proposal

 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   102
                             Poor planning
    Everybody has a plan--until they are shot at, Colin Powell

• Match the RFP
• Schedule a timeline
• Start proposal early
• Partnerships take more time
• Collaborator compatibility
• Let ideas develop slowly
• No midnight warriors
• Periodic calibration to RFP
• Define and schedule
  development tasks
• Anticipate the unexpected

    PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   103
               Poor Process Planning
• What do you control?
  • Proposal narrative
  • Collaborators
  • Budget
• What do others
  control?
  •   Routing & signatures
  •   Budget approvals
  •   Submission
  •   Data requests
  •   Institutional support

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   104
Keep focused on development tasks
• Define and develop
  goals & objectives
• Plan narrative
  iterations
• Who does what and
  when
• Review and assess
  progress of goals &
  objectives
• Budget process by
  task

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   105
           Anticipate the unexpected
• Some ideas don‘t
  work out
• Some partnerships
  don‘t work out
• Some budgets don‘t
  work out
• Some proposals
  don‘t work out



 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   106
           Project Summary/Abstract
• May be the only section read by some
  reviewers
• Use it to give a clear, concise, and
  complete overview of the proposal
• Start with the global vision of the proposal
• Provide finer grain detail: goals, objectives
• Emphasize significance
• Describes expected outcomes
• Hook the reviewers


 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   107
                  Proposal Introduction
• Compressed version of proposal
• Summary overview of response to RFP
  • Vision/global response
  • Performance details linked to objectives
  • Integrate ideas and concepts
  • Connect multiple research strands
  • Explain how
  • Explain synergy
  • Explain outcomes and importance
• Roadmap to entire proposal
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   108
                 Resubmitting proposals
• Take reviewers‘
  comments to
  heart, but not
  necessarily as
  inerrant;
• Assess next step:
      • Start over
      • Major renovation
      • Minor renovation
• Re-conceptualize
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   109
                  Write for the reviewers
• Reviewers are typically given multiple proposals
  to review, and often tight timelines for
  completion;
• ―While you may be viewing your grant application
  as the magnum opus of your life's ambitions and
  plans--for the next 5 years anyway--a reviewer
  sees it as one of six to 12 other "magnum opii"
  projects to evaluate.‖ (Source:
  http://nextwave.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2003/12/10/6)

• The proposal needs to clearly present everything
  the reviewers will need to read, understand, and
  evaluate the proposed research project;



 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   110
        Intrigue the Reviewers




PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   111
                 Write for the reviewers
• Synthesize key concepts and articulate
  the links--
      • between the overarching goal and the
        specific objectives,
      • between the specific objectives and the
        hypotheses,
      • between the hypotheses and the approach,
      • between the approach and the expected
        outcomes, and
      • between the expected outcomes and the
        significance and broader impacts of the
        project.

PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   112
       Create reviewer-friendly text
• Divide the proposal into the required
  sections.
• Place the sections in the required
  order.
• Use parallel structure at both the
  section and sentence levels.
• Incorporate logical paragraph breaks.
• Open paragraphs with clear topic
  sentences.
• Discuss important items first.
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   113
          Create reviewer-friendly text
• Avoid the use of inflated language.
• Use declarative sentences.
• Define potentially unfamiliar terms.
• Spell out acronyms and abbreviations.
• Employ appropriate style and usage.
• Use correct grammar, punctuation, and
  spelling.
• Run a spell-check and proofread the
  application.

    PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   114
              Introductory writing tips
• The abstract, proposal summary, and
  introduction are key—that may be all many
  reviewers read– and it is here you must
  excite and grab the attention of the
  reviewers;
• Reviewers will assume errors in language
  and usage will translate into errors in the
  research;
• Don‘t be overly ambitious in what you
  propose, but convey credibility and capacity
  to perform;

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   115
               Introductory writing tips
• Sell your proposal to a good scientist but
  not an expert;
• Some review panels may not have an
  expert in your field, or panels may be
  blended for multidisciplinary initiatives;
• Agencies & reviewers fund compelling,
  exciting science, not just correct science;
• Proposals are not journal articles—
  proposals must be user friendly and offer
  a narrative that tells a story that is
  memorable to reviewers;
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   116
         The proposal introduction
• Serves as reviewers‘ ―road map‖ to the full
  text
• Opportunity to make most important points
  up front and organizes the conceptual
  framework of ideas
• States vision, concepts, goals, objectives,
  outcomes, and deliverables
• Briefly tells who you are; what you are
  going to do; how you are going to do it;
  who is going to do it; why you are going to
  do it; and demonstrates your capacity to
  perform
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   117
Beware of boiler plate; don‘t copy & paste
• Boiler plate refers only to the application
  forms required by the agency, not the
  narrative
• Thinking of the proposal narrative as ―boiler
  plate‖ will result in a mediocre proposal
• Begin each proposal as a new effort, not a
  copy & paste; be cautious integrating text
  inserts
• Strong proposals clearly reflect a coherent,
  sustained, and integrated argument
  grounded on good ideas
  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   118
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   119
             Checklist for writing proposals

• Preparing to write
• Developing the hypothesis &
  research plan
• Preliminary data & research
  readiness
• Writing the proposal
• Post review process
• Competitive resubmissions
PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   120
                         Preparing to write
• Understand the program guidelines in planning,
  developing, and writing the proposal.
• What should be your relationship with program
  officers?
• Develop a sound, testable hypothesis.
• Ask senior faculty to review & assess
  competitiveness of ideas and research, particularly
  appropriateness to agency research agenda.
• What do you need to know about funding agency
  culture, language, mission, strategic plan, & research
  investment priorities?
• What do you need to know about agency review
  criteria, review process, & review panels?

  PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   121
  Developing the hypothesis & research plan
• Who is your audience (agency, program officers,
  reviewers) & how do you best address them?
• What is a fundable idea and how is it best
  characterized?
• How are claims of research uniqueness and
  innovation best supported in the proposal text?
• Can research plans be overly ambitious?
• What are important distinctions to note between
  mission focused agencies and basic research agencies
  in proposing research plans?
• Differentiate between hypothesis driven research &
  application driven at basic research and mission
  agencies?
• How do you best communicate your passion,
  excitement, commitment, and capacity to perform
  your research to review panels?
   PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   122
 Preliminary data & research readiness
• What evidence needs to be presented to show
  the proposed work can be accomplished?
• What evidence of institutional support for the
  research, e.g., facilities, equipment &
  instrumentation, is important to demonstrate?
• What counts as preliminary data and how much
  is sufficient?
• How do you best map your research directions
  and interests to funding agency research
  priorities?
• What do you need to know about research
  currently funded by a particular agency within
  your research domain, e.g., through reports,
  publications, journals?
 PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   123
                       Writing the proposal
• Who do you need to impress with your research?
• How do you tell a good story grounded in good science that
  excites the reviewers and program officers?
• The successful proposal represents an accumulation of
  marginal advantage accrued at decision points over a period
  of weeks or months to ensure the proposal is competitive
  for funding—
  • What are key decision points in proposal development?
  • How do you best plan and schedule proposal writing?
  • How do you use program guidelines as a proposal template?
  • Importance of good writing, clear arguments, and reviewer
     friendly text, structure, and organization in proposals
  • What are other core competitive characteristics of a
     successful proposal needed to complement research merit?



   PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   124
                     Post review process
• Respecting views of peers
• Response to reviewer comments
• Discussion of reviews with program
  officers
• Discussion of reviews with senior faculty
• Reviewing the reviews
• How do you make an assessment of
  reviews as a reliable guide for the next
  funding cycle?


PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   125
                   Competitive resubmissions
• How do you best plan and position for a
  competitive resubmission?
• How do you conduct a reassessment of the
  intellectual merit and excellence of your
  research based on reviews?
• How to you assess if a research direction
  should be abandoned, or the research
  submitted to another agency?
• What are strategies for identifying more
  appropriate research directions and funding
  opportunities?

  PVAMU 3-28 '07    Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   126
                  Finally…Be confident




PVAMU 3-28 '07   Mike Cronan, Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M   127

				
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