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					      Starting your career as a researcher
       How to write research proposals




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   1
  How to Write Competitive Proposals for
 Research Funding: Strategies for Starting
       your Career as a Researcher
             Thursday, November 17, 2005, 1-5 PM, 601 Rudder

      A seminar for graduate students and post-docs
    planning to enter research-related careers requiring
        the writing of proposals to federal agencies,
   foundations, and other granting agencies, presented
                           by the

               Office of Proposal Development
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005           Office of Proposal Development     2
Presentation topics
     Overview of Office of Proposal Development
     Generic competitive proposal writing strategies:
      Identifying Funding; Analyzing the funding agency;
      Reading the proposal solicitation; Understanding the
      review process; Craft of Proposal Writing
     Breakout topics: NSF & Defense Agencies; National
      Institutes of Health; Earth and Environmental Sciences;
      Social & Behavioral Science and Education; Funding
      Opportunities in the Humanities
     Craft of Proposal Writing
       3-5 PM, 601 Rudder




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development         3
Breakout session rooms
                       Simultaneous Breakout Sessions
                       2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
     Simultaneous breakout sessions focused on specific funding
                       agencies and topics

 NSF & Defense Agencies                                         601 Rudder

 NIH                                                            504 Rudder

 Earth and Environmental Sciences                               410 Rudder

 Social Behavioral Science and Education                        707 Rudder

 Funding Opportunities in the Humanities                        402 Rudder

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005              Office of Proposal Development                4
Office of proposal development

    A unit of the Office of Vice President for
     Research at Texas A&M University,
     partnered with:
        Office of Vice Chancellor for Research and
         Federal Relations,
        Office of Vice Chancellor for Academic and
         Student Affairs, and the
        Health Science Center


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005       Office of Proposal Development   5
Office of proposal development
    Supports faculty in the development and writing of
     large and small research grants to federal agencies
     and foundations.
    Focuses on support of center-level initiatives,
     multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research
     teams, research affinity groups, new and junior
     faculty research, diversity in the research enterprise,
     and long-term proposal planning.
    Helps develop partnership initiatives at Texas A&M,
     across the A&M System universities, and HSC.
    Supports proposal development activities and
     training programs to help new faculty write more
     competitive proposals.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005       Office of Proposal Development     6
Office of proposal development
    Jean Ann Bowman, Research Scientist (jbowman@tamu.edu)
      B.S., Journalism; M.S., Ph.D., Hydrology and Physical Geography

      Focuses on proposals dealing with earth, ecological, and
        environmental sciences, as well as those dealing with agriculture.
    Libby Childress, Administrative Assistant (libbyc@tamu.edu)
      Scheduling, resources, and project coordination.

    Mike Cronan, Director (mikecronan@tamu.edu)
      B.S., Civil Engineering (Structures); B.A., Political Science;
        M.F.A., English
      Registered Professional Engineer, Texas (063512)

    Lucy Deckard, Associate Director (l-deckard@tamu.edu)
      B.S. and M.S., Materials Science and Engineering

      Leads the new faculty initiatives. Focuses on proposals dealing
        with the physical sciences, interdisciplinary materials group, and
        equipment and instrumentation. Leads training seminars on
        graduate and postdoctoral fellowships, undergraduate research,
        and CAREER awards.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005           Office of Proposal Development              7
Office of proposal development
    Susan Maier, Research Development Officer
      B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., Psychology (SMaier@vprmail.tamu.edu)

      Focuses on the Health Science Center‘s NIH biomedical science
       initiatives, as well as on the HSC‘s University partnership initiatives.
       Leads training seminars on NIH.
    Phyllis McBride, Assistant Director (p-mcbride@tamu.edu)
      B.A., Journalism and English; M.A. and Ph.D., English

      Leads the one-day Craft of Grant Writing Seminars and the fifteen-
       week Craft of Grant Writing Workshops. Focuses on DHS and NIH
       initiatives, and provides editing and rewriting.
    Robyn Pearson, Research Development Officer
      B.A. and M.A., Anthropology (rlpearson@tamu.edu)

      Focuses on proposals dealing with the humanities, liberal arts, and
       social and behavioral sciences, and education. Provides support
       for the development of interdisciplinary research groups and
       provides editing and rewriting.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005             Office of Proposal Development                8
Presentation topics

    Generic competitive proposal writing
     strategies
        Identifying external funding
        Analyzing the funding agency
        Reading the proposal solicitation
        Understanding the review process
        Craft of Proposal Writing



Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005       Office of Proposal Development   9
Six major funders for TAMU-System
       Funding Agency              URL Hotlink to Funding Opportunities
 National Science Foundation   http://www.nsf.gov/funding/
 Health & Human Services &     http://www.dhhs.gov/grants/index.shtml
 NIH Grants & Funding          http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/index.cfm

 NASA Research Opportunities   http://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/
 Environmental Protection      http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/open_awards.htm
 Agency
 Department of Defense
 DARPA                        http://www.darpa.mil/baa/
 Army Research Office         http://www.aro.ncren.net/research/index.htm
 Naval Research Office        http://www.onr.navy.mil/default.asp
 Air Force Research Office    http://www.afosr.af.mil/oppts/afrfund.htm#Research

 USDA/CSREES                   http://www.csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/research.html


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005               Office of Proposal Development                      10
Grants.gov
    Home page: http://www.grants.gov
    To receive automated funding alerts tailored to your
     research interests, visit
     http://www.grants.gov/Find#receive.
    Select one of four automated funding alert options:
     ―Selected Notices Based on Funding Opportunity
     Number,‖ ―Selected Agencies and Categories of
     Funding Activities,‖ ―Selected Interest and Eligibility
     Groups,‖ or ―All Grants Notices.‖
    Click on the link for the option that best suits your
     needs, enter the required information, and click on
     the ―Submit to Mailing List‖ button.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005       Office of Proposal Development         11
Grants.gov




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   12
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   13
Fedgrants.gov
    One of the best portals to funding opportunities
    Tabular listing current funding opportunities and
     URLs for 45 research funding agencies (see
     following slide)
    FedGrants
        http://www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/index.html
    FedGrants Grants Synopsis Search
        http://www.fedgrants.gov/grants/servlet/SearchServlet/
    FedGrants Notification Service
        http://www.fedgrants.gov/ApplicantRegistration.html
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005         Office of Proposal Development       14
FedGrants




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   15
Federal Grants Notification Service




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   16
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   17
Electronic Funding Alert Services/ Email

    NSF, National Science Foundation
        http://www.nsf.gov/mynsf/
        MyNSF, formerly the Custom News Service,
         allows you to receive notifications about new
         content posted on the NSF website.
        Notification can be received via email or RSS.




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development   18
MyNSF




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   19
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   20
Electronic Funding Alert Services/ Email

    NIH National Institutes of Health Listserv
        http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/listserv.htm
        Each week (usually on Friday afternoon), the NIH
         transmits an e-mail with Table of Contents (TOC)
         information for that week's issue of the NIH Guide,
         via the NIH LISTSERV.
        The TOC includes a link to the Current NIH Guide
         Weekly Publication as well as links to each NIH
         Guide RFA, PA and Notice published for that
         week.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development    21
NIH Guide LISTSERV




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   22
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   23
Electronic Funding Alert Services/ Email
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration
        http://research.hq.nasa.gov/subs.cfm
        Once you are registered for this service you can receive
         email notification of the release of research
         announcements pertaining to any or all of NASA offices.
    National Center for Environmental Research,
     Environmental Protection Agency
        http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_list/elists/
        Use this page to subscribe or unsubscribe to the NCER e-
         mail mailing list. NCER periodically sends out emails to our
         subscribers announcing new grant and/or funding
         opportunities or highlight new documents in specific subject
         areas.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005           Office of Proposal Development          24
National Aeronautics and Space Administration




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   25
NCER E-mail Lists




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   26
Electronic Funding Alert Services/ Email

    U.S. Dept. of Education, EDINFO
        http://listserv.ed.gov/cgi-bin/wa?A1=ind05&L=edinfo
        Information from & about the U.S. Department of Education
         publications, funding opportunities & more.
    NEH Connect, National Endowment for the
     Humanities
        http://www.neh.gov/news/nehconnect.html
        Stay connected to the humanities with NEH Connect! Each
         month NEH Connect! delivers the latest news, projects,
         upcoming events, and grant deadlines from NEH.


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005          Office of Proposal Development        27
EDInfo: Archives




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   28
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   29
NEH Connect!




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   30
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

    The Centers for Disease Control and
     Prevention (CDC) allows users to subscribe
     to several mailing lists via the CDC World
     Wide Web site.
    To subscribe, go to
     http://www.cdc.gov/subscribe.html and fill out
     the on-line form.



Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   31
Subscribe to a CDC Mailing List




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   32
DOE Pulse & JUST INFO
    Department of Energy. DOE Pulse, a bimonthy newsletter,
     highlights work being done at the Department of Energy's
     national laboratories. Each issue will include research highlights,
     updates on collaborations among laboratories, and profiles of
     individual researchers. To subscribe, go to
     http://www.ornl.gov/news/pulse/pulse_home.htm.

    Department of Justice. JUST INFO, sponsored by the U.S.
     Department of Justice National Criminal Justice Reference
     Service (NCJRS), is a biweekly e-mail newsletter that reports on
     a wide variety of criminal justice topics. To subscribe, send a
     message to listproc@aspensys.com . In the body of the
     message, type: subscribe JUSTINFO <your full name>.


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005           Office of Proposal Development             33
Here's What's New at the National Labs




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   34
National Institute for Standards and
Technology
    NIST Update is a bimonthly report that
     highlights research, activities and services at
     National Institute for Standards and
     Technology.
    To begin receiving e-mail copies, sign up at
     http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/mailform.ht
     m



Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   35
National Institute of Standards &
Technology




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   36
NCHRP

    Transit Cooperative Research Program and
     the National Cooperative Highway Research
     Program
    To register to receive e-mail notification that
     Requests for Proposals have been published
     on the NCHRP and TCRP Homepage, just
     complete the form on web at
     http://www4.nas.edu/trb/crpmail.nsf/registrati
     on.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   37
National Cooperative Highway Research
Program




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   38
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   39
Leveraging the internet in funding search

    Office of Proposal Development, Texas A&M
        OPD Funding Opportunities Table
        http://anthropology.tamu.edu/downloads/ResearchFunding.pdf

    Monthly compilation of upcoming funding
     opportunities in all academic disciplines
     distributed System-wide by email
    Subscribe: mikecronan@tamu.edu



Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005            Office of Proposal Development           40
Analyzing the funding agency
    Analyzing the mission, strategic plan,
     investment priorities, and culture of a funding
     agency provides information key to
     enhancing proposal competitiveness.
    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.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   41
Analyzing the funding agency mission
    Funding agencies have a clearly defined agenda
     and mission.
    Funded grants are those that best meet that agenda
     and advance the mission of the funding agency. If a
     proposal does not meet an agency's mission, it will
     not be funded. This is perhaps the most difficult
     adjustment to be made in proposal development
     and writing.
    Having a "good idea" by itself is not enough. Good
     ideas have to be clearly connected and integrated
     with a funding agency‘s mission and agenda.
    The proposal must fit the mission and strategic
     plans of the funding agency.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   42
Analyzing the funding agency mission

    Funding agencies are not passive funders of
     programs, but see themselves as leaders in a
     national dialogue on scientific issues, and as part of
     the community defining the national agenda.
    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.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005       Office of Proposal Development     43
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.


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   44
Analyzing the funding agency

    Who is the audience (e.g., agency, program officers,
     and 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
     research investment priorities?
    How are claims of research uniqueness and
     innovation best supported in the proposal text and
     reflective of agency strategic research plans?
    How does the applicant best communicate his or her
     passion, excitement, commitment, and capacity to
     perform the proposed research to review panels?

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   45
Analyzing the funding agency
    Mission                                Leadership speeches
    Culture                                Public testimony
    Language                               Review criteria
    Investment priorities                  Review process
    Strategic plan                         Review panels
    Organizational chart                   Project abstracts
    Management                             Current funded projects
    Program officers                       Funded researchers
    Reports, publications

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development              46
Analyzing the funding agency

    It is important to differentiate between and among
     various funding agencies by mission, strategic plan,
     investment priorities, culture, etc.
    For example, researchers in the social and
     behavioral sciences and the physical,
     computational, and biological sciences may have
     relevant research opportunities at two or more
     agencies, e.g., NIH, NSF, DOD, EPA, but these
     agencies are very dissimilar in many ways—see
     following slide:

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development       47
Analyzing the funding agency

    Research focus within                    Multidisciplinary or
     disciplines                               interdisciplinary
    Research that is basic,                  Classified, non-classified
     applied, or applications                 Proprietary, non-proprietary
     driven                                   Independent research, or
    Research scope and                        dependent linkages to the
     performance time horizon                  agency mission, e.g., health
    Exploratory, open-ended                   care, education, economic
     research, or targeted to                  development, defense
     technology development



Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development                   48
Analyzing the funding agency
    It is important for the applicant to differentiate
     between basic research agencies (e.g., NSF,
     NIH) and mission-focused agencies (e.g.
     DOD, NASA, USDA), as well as to
     differentiate between hypothesis-driven
     research and need- or applications driven
     research at the agencies.
    Agencies funding basic research would likely
     share the following characteristics:

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   49
Analyzing the funding agency

    Independent agency                     Focus on fundamental
     and management                          or basic research at the
    Independent research                    ―frontiers of science,‖
     vision, mission, and                    innovation, and
     objectives                              creation of new
    Award criteria based on                 knowledge
     intellectual and                       Open ended,
     scientific excellence                   exploratory, long
    Peer panel reviewed,                    investment horizon
     ranked, and awarded                    Non-classified, non-
     by merit                                proprietary

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development               50
Analyzing the funding agency

    Alternatively, an analysis of mission-oriented
     agencies (e.g., DOD, DOE, ED, USDA)
     would show characteristics related to
     research and development that will serve the
     agency‘s immediate goals and objectives, as
     seen on following slide:




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   51
Analyzing the funding agency
    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 merit, but also on geographic
     distribution, political distribution, long term
     relationship with agency, Legislative, and Executive
     branch policies
    Classified and non-classified research

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development       52
Analyzing the funding agency
    Learn to echo the language and usage of the funding
     agency is another factor that may enhance the overall
     competitiveness of a proposal.
    Funding agencies, like most institutions, often develop a
     unique phraseology to define and describe common,
     recurrent components of their mission and research
     agenda, e.g., ―broader impacts‖ or ―research and
     education integration‖ at NSF.
    Learning the language of the funding agency is important
     for writing the narrative section of a proposal, and helps
     in framing arguments more clearly and in better
     communicating them to program managers and
     reviewers.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development      53
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.
    Other starting points to the proposal process
     include investigator-initiated (unsolicited)
     proposals, or white papers and quad charts
     common to the defense agencies.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   54
Reading the proposal solicitation
    The generic program solicitation or RFP
     represents an invitation by a funding agency
     for applicants to submit requests for funding
     in research areas of interest to the agency.
    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 review criteria listed in the
     document.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   55
Reading the proposal solicitation
    The RFP contains most of the essential information
     the researcher needs in order to develop and write a
     competitive proposal that is fully responsive to the
     agency‘s funding objectives and review criteria.
    The RFP is not a menu or smorgasbord offering the
     applicant a choice of addressing some research
     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.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development    56
Identifying the 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
    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.


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development           57
Reviewing the RFP
    The RFP is not a document to skim quickly, read
     lightly, or read only once.
    The RFP 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.
    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.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   58
Reviewing the RFP
    Clarify any ambiguity by repeated readings of
     the RFP.
    If these ambiguities cannot be resolved, call
     the funding agency and ask for clarification
     from a program officer.
    As much as possible, all ambiguity needs to
     be resolved prior to the proposal writing
     process so that ideas and arguments are
     clearly and tightly aligned with the scope and
     intent of the funding agency.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   59
Reviewing the RFP
    A well-written RFP clearly states the funding agency‘s
     research objectives in a concise and comprehensive
     fashion, devoid of wordiness, repetition, and vaguely
     contradictory re-phasing of program requirements.
    However, not all RFPs are clearly written. In some
     cases, the funding agency itself is unclear about specific
     research objectives, particularly in more cutting-edge or
     exploratory research areas.
    Therefore, never be timid about calling a program officer
     for clarification. Timidity is never rewarded in the
     competitive grant process.
    Where there is ambiguity, keep asking questions in order
     to converge on clarity.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development       60
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization
    In addition to presenting information about an
     agency‘s research agenda and culture, the RFP
     provides key instructions regarding the presentation
     and organizational structure of a proposal.
    The RFP can be used to develop the structure of the
     proposal narrative and as a template for developing
     the sequence and required detail of each section.
    Using the RFP as a proposal template during initial
     proposal outlining helps ensure that every RFP item
     is fully addressed.


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   61
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization
    Major section headings within an RFP often have very
     detailed descriptive text defining the objectives of the
     program (goals, objectives, performance timeline,
     outcomes, research management, evaluation, etc.)
     that must be addressed in the proposal narrative.
    The detail in each section of the RFP, including the
     review criteria, can be selectively copied and pasted
     into the first draft of the proposal itself.
    This process provides initial section and subsection
     headings under which the applicant drafts out
     preliminary written responses to every requested item
     in the guidelines, thereby ensuring that the first draft of
     the proposal fully mirrors the program solicitation
     requirements in every way.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development        62
Role of the RFP in Proposal Organization

    Reviewers will expect to see the text in the same
     general order as the RFP and the review criteria
     since that ordering conforms to instructions given to
     reviewers by the program officers.
    Using the RFP as a guide to create a proposal
     outline also has the advantage of making it easier
     for reviewers to compare the proposal to the
     program guidelines and review criteria, without
     having to search around in a long narrative to find
     out if each required topic has been addressed.


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development        63
Addressing the Review Criteria in the RFP
    The description of review criteria is an
     especially important part of the RFP.
    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.
    Subject headings, graphics, bullets, and
     bolded statements using language similar to
     that used in the RFP can all be used to make
     the reviewers‘ jobs easier as they assess
     how well the proposal meets review criteria.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   64
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 that the
     applicant has read and absorbed the ideas
     behind those publications.


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   65
A stepwise process for developing a
competitive research proposal
    Preparing to write
    Developing the hypothesis & research plan
    Preliminary data & research readiness
    Writing the proposal
    Post review process
    Competitive resubmissions
    Multidisciplinary research & collaborations
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   66
Preparing to write the competitive proposal
    Understanding the program guidelines in planning,
     developing, and writing a competitive proposal.
    What should be your relationship with program officers?
    Developing a sound, testable hypothesis.
    Asking senior faculty to review, advise & assess
     competitiveness of ideas and research, particularly
     appropriateness to agency research agenda.
    What do you need to know about funding agency culture
     (& sub-cultures), language, mission, strategic plan, &
     research investment priorities?
    What do you need to know about agency review criteria,
     review process, & review panels?
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005       Office of Proposal Development         67
Developing the hypothesis & research plan
    Who is your audience (e.g., agency, program officers and
     reviewers) and 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 (NASA, USDA) and basic research
     agencies (NSF, NIH) in proposing research plans?
    Differentiating 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?
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development           68
Preliminary data & research readiness
    What evidence needs to be presented to show that the
     proposed work can be accomplished?
    What evidence of institutional support for the research,
     e.g., facilities, equipment & instrumentation, etc., is
     important to demonstrate and address in the proposal?
    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?
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development         69
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 decisions 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?


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005           Office of Proposal Development                70
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?


Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   71
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?



Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005       Office of Proposal Development         72
Multidisciplinary & Collaborative Research
Initiatives & Faculty Interdisciplinary Groups
    Role of centers and institutes in advancing faculty
     research careers and proposal success;
    Role of interdisciplinary faculty research groups
     in advancing faculty research careers and
     proposal success;
    How do you identify your best opportunities for
     research advancement along the continuum from
     single PI, multiple PI, multidisciplinary
     collaboratives, and center level research funding
     initiatives?
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   73
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.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development        74
Identify the review criteria

    Most agencies publish their standard review
     criteria on their web pages and/or in their
     proposal preparation guides.
    Some agency programs will have additional
     review criteria that the program will delineate
     in the proposal solicitation; therefore, it is
     important to read the list of review criteria
     presented in this document, as well.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   75
Agency review criteria and review process
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
NASA review process, criteria    App. C       http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/procurement/nraguidebook/proposer2005.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




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005                            Office of Proposal Development                                             76
Understand the review process
    The review process varies – sometimes significantly
     – from one agency to the next (following slide).
    The review process may include a peer review,
     where outside experts from related fields are invited
     to review the proposal; an internal review, where
     agency personnel evaluate the proposal; or a
     combination of both.
    However, 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.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development    77
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 however, 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




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November 17, 2005                     Office of Proposal Development                          78
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
     "higherrated― research proposals because their overall
     assessment by the program officer is more favorable.
    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




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November 17, 2005                      Office of Proposal Development                         79
NSF proposal process and timelines




Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   80
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?
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development       81
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?
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   82
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;
    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, finally, between the expected outcomes and the
     significance and broader impacts of the project.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005                      Office of Proposal Development                                 83
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.
    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.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005           Office of Proposal Development             84
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/start.cfm

    USDA Awards Search:
http://cris.csrees.usda.gov/

    NEH Awards Search:
http://www.neh.gov/news/recentawards.html
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development        85
                       Craft of writing

    Good writing lies at the core of the
     competitive proposal.
    It is the framework upon which the
     competitive applicant crafts and structures
     the arguments, ideas, concepts, goals,
     performance commitments, and the logical,
     internal connectedness and balance of the
     proposal.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005         Office of Proposal Development   86
The proposal is the only reality
    In its final form, 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.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   87
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)
    Descriptive clarity (who, what, how, when, why, &
     results)
    Clear, consistent vision sustained throughout text
    Comprehensive problem definition; corresponding
     innovative solutions
    Confidence in performance must and excitement for your
     ideas must be instilled in reviewers
    Capacity for synthesis
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005        Office of Proposal Development        88
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.
    Synthesis represents the relational framework and
     conceptual balance of the proposal. It is the
     synaptic connections among concepts, ideas,
     arguments, goals, objectives, and performance.

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   89
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.
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   90
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
     science;
    Don‘t be overly ambitious in what you
     propose, but convey credibility and capacity
     to perform;
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   91
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;

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development    92
     The proposal introduction

   Serves as reviewers‘ ―road map‖ to the full
    text
   Opportunity to make most important points up
    front
   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
Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   93
Beware of boiler plate; don’t copy & paste

    Boiler plate refers only to the grant application forms
     required by the funding agency
    Thinking of proposal narrative as ―boiler plate‖ will
     result in a mediocre, disjoint proposal
    Begin each proposal as a new effort, not a copy &
     paste
    Be very cautious integrating text inserts
    Strong proposals clearly reflect a coherent, sustained,
     and integrated argument grounded on good ideas


    Texas A&M University
    November 17, 2005      Office of Proposal Development   94
Craft of grant writing web sites
    http://cpmcnet.columbia.edu/research/writing.htm
    http://nextwave.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1999/08/
     27/1
    http://grants.library.wisc.edu/index.html
    http://www.research.umich.edu/proposals/PWG/pwgcom
     plete.html
    http://www.asru.ilstu.edu/grantwritingseries.htm
    http://grants.nih.gov/grants/grant_tips.htm
    http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2004/nsf04016/start.htm
    http://www.aecom.yu.edu/ogs/Guide/Guide.htm
    http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/2
     3947?fulltext=true&print=yes&print=yes
    http://www.pitt.edu/~offres/proposal/propwriting/websites.html

Texas A&M University
November 17, 2005          Office of Proposal Development         95

				
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