How to Write Successful Proposals and Grants by heatherrhunt


									How to Write Successful
 Proposals and Grants
How to Write Successful
 Proposals and Grants
    FH Health Research
    Intelligence Unit
                  Who we are:
    Dr. Peter Hill (604-587-4641), Vice-President,
 Academic, Research, and Clinical System Redesign.

     Susan Chunick (604-587-4681), Director, Research
Administration and Development (RAD).

     Rosa Haywood (604-587-4436), RAD
administrative assistant.

      Michael Wasdell (604-587-4637), Grant Facilitator-Writer.

      Rae Spiwak (604-587-4438), Epidemiologist.
                                    RESEARCH ETHICS BOARD
                            STATUS REPORT 01 December 2006
                                                            Total Studies 300
                                           (From 2005 September 01 to Date)
                           ACTIVE STUDIES =175                                 PENDING APPROVAL = 29

         Type of Ethics Review for                                              Funding for ACTIVE Studies
             ACTIVE Studies                                 70
                                           F ull B o a rd
                                           E xpe dit e d    20
                                   91                       10                                                          3
                                                                 Sponsor        Grant    Grant-Aid   Unfunded      FH Internal   Other

                                  Active Studies by Department Area
Anaesthesia                 3    Family Medicine             1    Nursing Obstetrics         1       Professional Practice       1

Audiology                   1    Family Practice             1    Nutrition                  1       Psychiatry                  17

Cardiology                  24   Health Services             2    Obstetrics                 7       Public Health Prevention    2
Communicable Diseases       1    ICU                         6    Occupational Therapy       2       Quality of Life             1

Community Site              1    Internal Medicine           2    Oncology                   3       Respiratory                 2

Critical Care               4    Medicine                    4    Orthopaedics               13      Social Work                 2

Decision Support Service    1    Mental Health               3    Palliative Care            2       Surgery                     1

Education Med Students      1    Multiple Sclerosis          6    Paediatrics                1       Systems                     1
Elder Research              2    Nephrology                  4    Pharmacy                   10      Thoracic surgery            1

Emergency                   11   Neurology                   3    Physiotherapy              1       Workplace Health            4

Epidemiology                2    Nursing                     2    Prevention/Promotion       1       Non FH Research             16
 FH Health Research Intelligence Unit
         How can we help?
Grant Faciliator-Writer                      Epidemiologist

      Funded by Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
        Health Services & Policy Research Support Network
                      Capacity Building Grant
   FH Health Research Intelligence Unit
           How can we help?
  Grant Facilitator-Writer                  Epidemiologist
Conducting a search for            Specifying the research goal,
funding opportunities              objectives and hypothesis
Automatic notification of new      Identifying measurable outcomes
funding sources and deadlines
                                   Specifying the variables for
Identifying a research team        analysis
Preparing letters of intent
                                   Identifying sources of data
Identifying resources required
for conducting research            Developing data collection tools
Formulating the research           for quantitative or qualitative
budget                             studies
Writing the grant application in   Developing the statistical analysis
collaboration with researchers     plan
Understanding FH and funding       Analyzing the data
agency requirements regarding      Understanding how to use
preparation of specific
documents                          statistical software, such as SPSS
               The Great Idea

Putting your ideas for research down on paper will allow
you to articulate clearly your ideas to others
Create a program proposal to help present your idea to
   Create a program outline that will enable people who are not
   involved in the study to understand exactly what you plan to do
Review the literature to ensure that your proposal is
Obtain feedback from experts, colleagues and
 Develop a Project Management Plan
Prepare an up to date resume/curriculum vitae
Identify appropriate sources of funding
Select funding source
Develop a timeline for development of research proposal and
submission of letter of intent and application for funding
Identify the research collaborators
Prepare the budget
Prepare the grant application package
Submit grant application to RAD office to obtain signature of
authorizing Executive
Submit for and obtain approval by FH Research Ethics Board
prior to or in tandem with application for funding.
    How we can help - HRIU
For assistance with any of the above steps,
contact the FH grant facilitator-writer, Michael
Wasdell, 604-587-4637 who can:
provide overall project management to ensure
that FH internal and agency requirements for
funding applications are met
co-ordinate the development of the research
proposal with the FH epidemiologist, Rae
Spiwak, 604-587-4438
Collaborate in the writing of the grant application
Planning for the Grant Application
Funding Cycles
  Unique, Annual, Semi-Annual, etc.
Application Process
  Announcement – Request for Applications (RFA)
  Letter of intent - LOI
   • Signals to the agency that you will be submitting an application
   • Some agencies may request a brief synopsis of the proposal to
     screen out inappropriate applicants
   • Time between RFA and LOI may only be 1 or 2 months
  Full application
   • Time between letter of intent and full application is usually 2-3
Award Announcement
  May be up to 6 months
 Planning for the Grant Application
  Having adequate time to prepare your
  application is essential
  It is best to have your research ideas developed,
  team identified and proposal written in advance
  of the RFA
    Unfortunately, this does not happen frequently
  Keep in mind that the time from RFA to funding
  decision can be up to one year
Tip – begin at least 6 months in advance of
Where to find funding
National and regional agencies for health
research (eg., CIHR, MSFHR, BCMSF)
Provincial branches and associations of
health agencies (eg., Canadian Lung
Association, Canadian Cancer Society,
Heart and Stroke Foundation)
Professional Associations
Health/Disease based Associations
               FH Funding Resources
   Community of Science
   Funding Opportunities
   • web based
   • 400,000 listings
           Contact Rosa Haywood

   News Now has monthly
   updates of new funding

  FH HRIU consultation request
  form contains a listing of
  funding agencies.
      Grant Matchmaking
Your research matches the objectives of
the funder
They have made previous awards in your
area of research
They make awards to your institution
You meet basic investigator eligibility
They have sufficient funds
The application deadline is achievable
   Request for Applications
Understanding the funding formats
  Operating grants
  Team grants
  Seed/development grants
  Randomized controlled trials
  Research synthesis
  Environmental scans
  Special initiatives and priority announcements
Consider all the funding formats with respect to your
Select several funding programs to increase your
Think of ways to build a program of research
   Apply for funding for an environmental scan. This helps you to
   identify a poorly researched area.
   With this knowledge, you apply for a team planning grant to bring
   together key stakeholders and researchers with similar interest
   to identify a program of research
   The team submits for a seed grant to obtain pilot data and
   demonstrate the feasibility of the research and the likelihood of
   With a solid team, rationale and foundational data, you apply for
   an operating grant
        Eligibility Requirements
Principal Investigator and/or Co-Investigators
   Role - academic, clinical or decision making position
   Degree and profession
    •   Previous awards
    •   Publications
    •   Evidence of completed research
    •   Years of research experience
    • For national funding agencies, partner with an experienced
    • Consider participating as a co-investigator to establish track record
    • Contact funding agency to review qualifications – exceptions may
      be made
     Eligibility Requirements
  Health services
  Government or government agency
  Community agency

Institutional role - Sponsor
  Administer and account for grant funds
  Research ethics review
  Academic oversight
  Facility and staff support
  Appropriate research environment
    Eligibility Requirements
Type of research
  Some agencies may request specific
  research formats and exclude others
   • Biomedical, Clinical, Health Services, Population
   • Conclusion Oriented, Decision Oriented
  Geographic location
  Country of citizenship
             General Tips
Review funding agency guidelines
Make sure your proposal fits within the
Look at funding allotment of past competitions to
ensure that your financial request is reasonable
Check with agency to obtain updates on
changes to guidelines and deadlines
Follow all the rules and requests specified in the
application guidelines
Is the proposal ethical?
Preparing the Proposal
Typical parts of a research proposal include

Introduction (including statement
of problem, goals, objectives and
significance of research)
Background or literature review
Knowledge Dissemination
List of References
Short paragraph that is a clear, logical
summary of your proposal
Usually does not exceed 250 words
Should begin with a capsule statement of what is being
proposed and then should proceed to introduce the subject
to a stranger.

Should not assume that your reader is familiar with your
Should be comprehensible to an informed lay reader. It
should give enough background to enable the reader to
place your particular research problem in a context of
common knowledge and should show how its solution will
advance the field or be important for some other work.
In introducing the research problem, it is sometimes helpful
to say what it is not, especially, if it could easily be confused
with related work.
You may also need to explain the underlying assumption of
your research or the hypotheses you will be using.
Literature reviews should be selective and critical.
Reviewers do not want to read through a voluminous
working bibliography; they want to know the especially
pertinent works and your evaluation of them.
Discussions of work done by others should therefore
lead the reader to a clear impression of how you will be
building upon what has already been done and how your
work differs from theirs.
It is important to establish what is original in your
approach, what circumstances have changed since
related work was done, or what is unique about the time
and place of the proposed research.
The heart of the proposal and is the primary concern of
the technical reviewers
Be as detailed as possible about the schedule of the
proposed work.
Objectives/Research Questions/Hypothesis
Methods, study design
Sample Selection/Sample Size
Data Measurement
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Be specific about the means of evaluating the data or the
Be certain that the connection between the research
objectives and the research method is evident.
Knowledge Dissemination Plan
   Knowledge Dissemination
Very important step
What will you do with your new found
How will you share this knowledge?
Who will benefit from this knowledge sharing?
“Applications must include a clear, explicit, and
manageable knowledge translation plan, which specifies
the intended audience(s), the means of involvement and
communication, and the intended post-grant follow-up”.
CIHR (2006)
Placed at the end of the text
Lists text and information included in
proposal from other authors/sources
The grant guidelines will specify the format
of in-text citations and reference list
This section usually consists of two parts: an
explanation of the proposed personnel
arrangements and the biographical information
for co-investigators.
The explanation should specify how many
persons at what percentage of time and in what
professional/academic categories will be
participating in the project. If the program is
complex and involves people from other
departments or institutions, the organization of
the staff and the lines of responsibility should be
made clear.
Description of activity    Timing                           Responsibility

                                                                                        2 nd coll

                                                                                                    3 rd coll

                           June   July   Aug   Sept   Oct                 No. of days

1) Research Program
   a) purchase equipment                                    2
   b) hire students                                         5
   c) visiting partners                                     4    4           4          2           2

2) Training Delivery
   6 x 5day workshops                                       10   10          5          5           5

3) Follow up reporting                                      5

4) Administration                                           5    15
Total Days                                                  31   29          9          7           7
Know your audience
   Review panels are often composed of content experts as well as
   Consider bias, myths and other unfounded opinions

Put your readers first
   Reviewers are usually volunteers so try to make reading your
   application pleasant
   Reviewers may have limited time to review your proposal – an easy
   read is very appreciated
   Your proposal may be one of 20 that the reviewer must evaluate –
   make it stand out
   Compare your proposal to the RFA to ensure that it contains all the
   required elements
   Bolding of relevant information can help the reviewer make
   connections to key evaluation categories
   Use tables and figures if they are informative and help to reduce text
                    Writing Tips
  Organize the content for logical flow of ideas
  Use ‘lead’ statements as an opening to any section
    state briefly the most important concept and then provide
  Check grammar and tense
  Cut wordiness
  Eliminate jargon
  Avoid or limit acronyms
  Obtain feedback from peers

This will prevent your proposal from looking like………
                         The Budget
  Prepare budget in consultation with:
  FH Human Resources if it is intended to hire grant staff and
  contractors before finalizing budgets. Note that benefits and
  future salary increases may have to be accounted for in the
  FH Departments/Areas, such as Decision Support, Health
  Records, Laboratory/Pathology, Medical Imaging, Operating
  Room, Patient Care and Pharmacy if any of these will be
  asked to provide research-related services. For information
  on the process for obtaining Departmental Agreement for
  Providing Research-related Services (DAR), see the DAR web
         Budget Planning
 Salaries and wages
  • Primary research staff
  • Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators not
    usually covered
 Estimated merit increases
 Anticipated increases in minimum wage
  • Excluded staff
  • Bargaining units
             Budget Planning
Facility Expenses
   • Phone, fax, internet
   • Installation expenses
  Maintenance and Cleaning
   • Utilities: gas, electricity, water

   *overhead not usually covered by Canadian agencies
         Budget Planning
Computers and other specialty equipment*
  Cost of equipment
  Installation expenses
  Lease, warranty and maintenance contracts

* In most cases, equipment purchased through
  a grant becomes the property of the sponsor
           Budget Planning
Office Supplies
  Storage – file cabinets
Medical Supplies
  Specimen vials
  Clinical assessment
         Budget Planning
Dues, memberships, subscriptions
Staff mileage and parking
Patient expenses
Training sessions
Travel, meeting and conference expenses
        Budget Justification
Explains how the money
will be spent and justifies
the need for the requested
Without a good budget
justification, a funder may
reduce the amount of the
award, potentially limiting
the feasibility of the project
                   Budget Tips
More detail is better than less
Prepare both a line-item budget as well as a budget narrative
describing each line-item cost in detail
Don’t round out.
Provide bids and estimates for consultants, equipment, supplies
Don’t pad or economize the budget – good reviewers know the
cost of goods and services
Include sources of in-kind contributions
  Volunteer time
  Donated space
  Borrowed equipment
  Donated supplies
       Budget Guidelines
Budget guidelines are usually found in the
application guide
List allowable costs
List excluded costs
Specify matching-funding if necessary
(eg., co-sponsored funding)
Provide instructions on how to justify the
Important Attachments
          Curriculum Vitae
  Academic preparation
Canadian Common CV
            Letters of Support
•Department and/or sponsor institution
•Collaborating institutions
•Community partners

•Statement of support
•Relevance of proposal to writer/department/institution
•Summary of involvement
•How the research results will be used
  Quotes to Support Budget
Include quotes for:

*Fee for service consultation for grant funded projects
  is provided by the Fraser Health Epidemiologist
    Research Ethics Board Approval
    Some funding
    agencies require
    notice of REB
    Some will request
    approval before
    funding is awarded
    Some will request
    approval before funds
    are released
                       All done?
Proof read all documents
Have someone else proof read
   Grant facilitator
   Lay person
Check that all components have been assembled
Obtain signatures
   Department Head
   Fraser Health Signatory – Dr. Peter Hill (3 days)
Make necessary number of copies
Courier or email application (retain routing slips/tracking
Now you can take a break……

          ….before the next grant deadline
The Review Process
              The Review
Review of the Proposal
 Significance and relevance to health
 Knowledge of the field (cited literature)
 Clear, testable hypothesis or central
 research problem, appropriate methods
 Originality and innovation in concept or
 Feasibility of work plan
              The Review
Review of the Applicants
 Qualifications and experience
 Track record
   Past grants
 Supportive environment
 Example – Reviewer Checklist

 Does the proposal explain why this project should be
 undertaken? (5 points)
 Does the preamble reflect an adequate review of the
 literature? (10 points)
 Is the project relevant to the funding program? (5 points)
 Is the proposed project original or unique in any respect
 (is it a new problem or question? Does the research
 apply a new or unique study method or evaluation
 technique?) (5 points)
    Example – Reviewer Checklist
(Select the one statement that you believe best describes the
significance of the proposed research) Please assign a score
between 1 and 10. (Examples below)

 a) A project scope of major tangible benefit to patient care (e.g.
 potential impact on patient morbidity, mortality, an innovative
 program that advances direct patient care) (10points)
 b) A project scope of perceptible tangible benefit to patient care
 (e.g. retrospective reviews, compatibility studies, surveys) (5
 c) A project scope of limited impact on patient care. (1 point)
     Example – Reviewer Checklist
  Are the objectives for the project clearly stated in terms of the
  end points or outcomes? (5 points)

  Does the proposal describe in sufficient clarity/detail the study
  method to be used (8 points)
  Is the described method valid for the stated objectives? (8
  Are the sample population, sampling technique and sample
  size valid and clearly described? (8 points)
  Is the proposed data analysis appropriate for the nature of the
  data collected (including statistical tests if appropriate) (8
  Is the study ethical, in so far as the potential risks and benefits
  to the patients and/or society?(8 points)
     Example – Reviewer Checklist
  Are the professional competencies and experiences of the
  principal investigator(s) appropriate to carry out the work
  required? (5 points)

  Are all the necessary budget inputs defined and costed (e.g.
  personnel, supplies,equipment)? (4 points)
  Do the amounts allocated to the various components of the
  budget appear to be appropriate? (4 points)
  Has a proposed work plan been established identifying
  activities, centres of responsibility and target completion dates?
  (4 points)
  Given the proposed work plan, does it appear reasonable that
  the project can be completed within the stated timeframe? (3
            CIHR Rating Scale
Range        Descriptors
4.5 - 4.9    outstanding
                                    usually funded
4.0 - 4.4    excellent
3.5 - 3.9    very good              may be funded
3.0 - 3.4    solid/significant      seldom funded
2.5 - 2.9    needs revision
2.0 - 2.4    needs major revision
1.0 - 1.9    seriously flawed        not fundable
0            not acceptable
                    CIHR Standards
ALL GRANTS ARE RATED on a scale from 0 to 4.9, within descriptive
categories ranging from "seriously flawed" to "outstanding." Only
applications rated 3.5 or higher are normally eligible for CIHR funding.
 Applications rated below 3.0 are flawed in some way, so that they do not
represent a good investment of public funds.
The range 3.0 to 3.5 is used for applications which, while technically and
conceptually acceptable, are not considered to be a high priority for CIHR
funding, perhaps because the topic is not considered relevant to an
important health issue, or because the work proposed seems unlikely to
yield major advances in knowledge, or because the approach is not
particularly innovative.
Nevertheless, a proposal rated less than 3.0 may ultimately be fundable,
may even be approved for funding in a resubmission, if the applicant(s)
adequately addresses the reviewers' concerns. Scientific Officers are asked
to encourage applicants to resubmit these proposals if this is the case.
Conversely, some proposals, though initially rated highly, may be limited in
their originality, potential impact, and so on, that their rating is unlikely to be
increased above the competition cut-off upon resubmission, even if the
applicant(s) address the reviewers' comments.
 Common reviewer complaints
Forms are not complete or completed
Text is small dense and difficult to read– does
not conform with formatting guidelines
Improper citations, pagination, table
references and other forms of poor
Too much narrative with unnecessary or
irrelevant information.
Too much jargon
  Why Proposals are Rejected



University of Michigan Proposal Writer's Guide by Don Thackrey
 Why Proposals are Rejected
A. Problem (58 percent)
The problem is not of sufficient importance or is unlikely to produce
any new or useful information. (33.1)
The proposed research is based on a hypothesis that rests on
insufficient evidence, is doubtful, or is unsound. (8.9)
The problem is more complex than the investigator appears to
realize. (8.1)
The problem has only local significance, or is one of production or
control, or otherwise fails to fall sufficiently clearly within the general
field of health-related research. (4.8)
The problem is scientifically premature and warrants, at most, only a
pilot study. (3.1)
The research as proposed is overly involved, with too many
elements under simultaneous investigation. (3.0)
The description of the nature of the research and of its significance
leaves the proposal nebulous and diffuse and without a clear
research aim. (2.6)
 Why Proposals are Rejected
B. Approach (73 percent)

The proposed tests, or methods, or scientific procedures are
unsuited to the stated objective. (34.7)
The description of the approach is too nebulous, diffuse, and lacking
in clarity to permit adequate evaluation. (28.8)
The overall design of the study has not been carefully thought out.
The statistical aspects of the approach have not been given
sufficient consideration. (8.1)
The approach lacks scientific imagination. (7.4)
Controls are either inadequately conceived or inadequately
described. (6.8)
The material the investigator proposes to use is unsuited to the
objective of the study or is difficult to obtain. (3.8)
The number of observations is unsuitable. (2.5)
The equipment contemplated is outmoded or otherwise unsuitable.
 Why Proposals are Rejected
C. Investigator (55 percent)

The investigator does not have adequate experience or training for
this research. (32.6)
The investigator appears to be unfamiliar with recent pertinent
literature or methods. (13.7)
The investigator's previously published work in this field does not
inspire confidence. (12.6)
The investigator proposes to rely too heavily on insufficiently
experienced associates. (5.0)
The investigator is spreading himself too thin; he will be more
productive if he concentrates on fewer projects. (3.8)
The investigator needs more liaison with colleagues in this field or in
collateral fields. (1.7)
 Why Proposals are Rejected
D. Other (16 percent)

The requirements for equipment or personnel are unrealistic. (10.1)
It appears that other responsibilities would prevent devotion of
sufficient time and attention to this research. (3.0)
The institutional setting is unfavorable. (2.3)
Research grants to the investigator, now in force, are adequate in
scope and amount to cover the proposed research. (1.5)
      The Rejected Proposal

Review comments
Identify areas for improvement
Make changes
Resubmit to the same or another funding

You might have a better chance of
obtaining an award with subsequent
submissions, but…..
……you have to be in the game to win!
Practical Exercise

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