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Proposal Development Writing a Compelling Grant Application

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Proposal Development Writing a Compelling Grant Application

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  1. Proposal DevelopmentWriting a Compelling Grant Application Trish Lowney, PhD 443-2882; plowney@syr.edu April 12, 2012

  2. Objectives • What’s a grant application and why would you want to write one? • Create a scaffold for your application • Common application components • How to “really” get started • Resources available for assistance

  3. Applications (aka proposals) Sell…. • Your idea, • Yourself, and • Your affiliation To the right sponsor at the right time!

  4. Proposals Communicate… • WHAT you want to do • WHY it is important • How you’re going to do it and WHYyour strategy is the best tack to take • WHY you are qualified and capable • The BANG for the buck (value)

  5. 1. WHAT do you want to do… The “Big Idea” • Hypothesis to be tested • Gap in knowledge to be filled • Need to be filled • Problem to be solved • Opportunity to be pursued • Clearly stated • Easily understood by someone *not* in your field

  6. 1. WHAT do you want to do… • Perhaps (!) the most important part of application… • Parts of “WHAT” can include: • … Context (where your idea fits) • … Goals (big picture – 35,000 feet) • … Objectives (10,000 feet) • … Outcomes … (on the ground)

  7. 2. WHY is it important … So what? Who cares? • Significance of idea and/or outcomes • Sponsors • Discipline/field • Communities/advocacy groups • Associations • Gov’t agencies • Society • State of knowledge, blue ribbon panels etc.. • Rationale…

  8. 3. How/Why approach is best… HOW are you going to do it? • Approach e.g., methods/experimental design • Rationale for methods • Feasibility • Can you do in time/with resources available? • Preliminary data  necessary expertise? • Experience with the “system”? • Barriers/challenges? • Alternatives

  9. Why your approach is best cont’d How do you know your approach has worked or when you are successful? (for each experiment, activity, intervention AND for the entire project) • Controls • Analysis (statistics) • Expected Results • Interpretation (!!) • Evaluation – formative, summative… • “Supported/refuted” the hypothesis • Addressed the need • Filled the gap etc..

  10. Why your approach is best cont’d HOW can you demonstrate your work plan is feasible? • Detailed timeline with activities, milestones • Work from preliminary results Don’t bite off more than you can chew..

  11. 4a. Why are you qualified… Are you uniquely suited for this activity? • Education and Training • Degrees, licenses, certifications • Professional experience • Publications/Grants • History of productivity (Track record) • Invited presentations, chapters etc.. • Preliminary data / results • Necessary expertise is available (“You” maybe be many people – from SU and elsewhere) • Increase likelihood of success

  12. 4b. Why you are capable… Can you do what you propose? • Resources/facilities • Equipment and support services • Mentors; letters of support / collaboration • Access to special resources • Specific populations • Research tools/reagents, archives • Partnerships • Institutional support

  13. 5. Good Bang for the Buck… • Value to the sponsor and/or society What will you do with the results? – Don’t keep your light under a barrel! • Dissemination plan • Progress reports • Local, regional, national meetings/presentations • Publications/reports/books/monographs • Web pages • Press releases • Seminars, community presentations

  14. Good Bang for the Buck… Is the cost reasonable & appropriate? • Budget • Translate work plan  dollars & cents • Good judgment • Request support for total project costs • vs Sharing of project costs required? • Sponsor requirements/constraints

  15. Proposals Convey… • WHAT you want to do • WHY it is important • How you’re going to do it and WHYyour strategy is the best tack to take • WHY you are qualified and capable • The BANG for the buck

  16. Objectives • What’s a grant application and why would you want to write one? • Create a scaffold for your application • Common application components • How to “really” get started • Resources available for assistance

  17. Exercise… In two / three sentences – • Describe the context for your idea • Describe WHAT your idea is…

  18. So….Proposals Convey • WHAT you want to do • WHY it is important • How you’re going to do it and WHY your strategy is the best tack to take • WHY you are qualified and capable • The BANG for the buck ….through common elements

  19. Objectives • What’s a grant application and why would you want to write one? • Create a scaffold for your application • Common application components • How to “really” get started • Resources available for assistance

  20. Common Elements • Cover sheet/Face Page • Title • Brief (~80 letters/spaces), informative • Principal investigator/project director • Contact information • Research Integrity • Authorizations (University signature) • Cost • Compliance needs • Human, animal participants, “certs & assurances”

  21. Common Elements cont’d • Abstract/Executive Summary • First thing reviewers read • First impressions count!!! • Get ‘em hooked! • Prepare last • Exciting! • Clear! • Complete! (What, when, how, why?)

  22. Common Elements cont’d • Project Narrative/Description • Statement of Work/Goal (IDEA) • Specific Aims/Objectives (So What?  drilling down) • Significance to Sponsor, discipline, society (Who cares? Rationale / Motivation) • Literature review (State of knowledge) • Taskforce reports • Mission/vision statements • Preliminary results (or in approach) (your capability)

  23. Common Elements cont’d • Project Narrative/Description cont’d • Work Plan/Experimental Design/Methods Why approach is best strategy to take • Activities for objective/aim • Controls, data, analysis, interpretation • Evaluation • Dissemination • Management Plan (managing people…) • Timeline Why approach is best strategy to take

  24. Proposal Narratives • Specifics vary; core components similar. • Go from big picture to details/specifics • If not specified in guidelines, organize by review criteria. • Respond to review criteria.

  25. Common Elements cont’d • Literature Cited/Bibliography • Comprehensive (You don’t know who your reviewers will be..) • Current, appropriately historical • Quality • Objective

  26. Common Elements cont’d • Biographical Sketch(2-pg) Your qualifications – FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS • Education & Training • Institution, degree • Licenses, credentials, certifications • Professional Activities • Publications • Honors • Personal statement or other requested info

  27. Common Elements cont’d • Facilities & Resources Your capabilities (What is needed for your project to succeed; put most important first unless format specified) • Laboratory (space & equipment) • Centers / institutes / nearby colleagues • Library, other unique resources • Machine shop, media, glassware, centers, animal facilities (AAALAC) • Access to other species resources/facilities • Partnerships, agreements • Office (space & equipment) • Unique secretarial support

  28. Common Elements cont’d • Budget(line item) – Use OSP budget template • Personnel Services • Other than Personnel Services

  29. Common Elements cont’d • Budget Narrative/Justification • Most important/expensive first • Personnel • Roles, responsibilities • Adequate and appropriate effort • Other major categories • Why essential for project? • Demonstrate costs “reasonable” (bid, prior experience) • Demonstrate your experience & judgment

  30. Common Elements cont’d • Appendices/Supplemental Docs. (if allowed) • Letters of Support • Collaboration • Provide access to resource/tool • Documentation • Submitted manuscripts/publications • Non-profit status • IDC rate • Surveys etc. • Certifications & assurances

  31. Common Elements cont’d • Cover sheet/Face Page • Title • Brief (~80 letters/spaces), informative • Principal investigator/project director • Contact information • Research Integrity • Authorizations (University signature) • Cost • Compliance needs • Human, animal participants, “certs & assurances”

  32. Common Elements cont’d • Abstract/Executive Summary • First thing reviewers read • First impressions count!!! • Get ‘em hooked! • Prepare last • Exciting! • Clear! • Complete! (What, when, how, why?)

  33. Objectives • What’s a grant application and why would you want to write one? • Creating the scaffold for your application • Common application components • How to “really” get started • Resources available for assistance

  34. Getting Started….. • Refine/clarify the idea • Discussions • Department meetings, lab group • Journal Club, etc. • Ongoing, iterative process…… • Answer the Big Questions • What, Why & How (who, where, when..)? ?

  35. Find a Potential Sponsor • Acknowledgements • Journal articles, meetings, etc.. • Who has been funding work like yours? • Databases • Funding opps: Pivot.COS, IRIS, Grant Advisor, Fnd Center • Historical awards: Sponsor websites / databases • Colleagues/Mentors

  36. Have a Potential Sponsor & Program … • Check out recent awards • Review similar, successful proposals • Contact PI for a copy (don’t FOIA).. Future colleague OR reviewer • Contact program manager ASAP • Explore interest & fit • Earlier the better

  37. If a “go” • Inform folks who need to know • Chair (cost – sharing) • Administrators • OSP • Read AND FOLLOW the instructions • Sponsor & OSP can help interpret/clarify • Review and reflect on review criteria

  38. Writing the proposal….. • What’s the sponsor’s agenda? • Prepare an outline • Announcement/agency guidelines • Insert (and address) review criteria • Insert answers • What, Why & How? • Expand your Outline…

  39. Writing the proposal…..cont’d • Write Text • Manageable units • 2 or more months in advance () • Have many others read and review • Write for Reviewers (known?) • Develop the budget & narrative • 1 month in advance • Does the budget make sense? • Support requested for all project costs? • Secure approval for cost-sharing

  40. Tip - Write for generalist reviewers But balance technical detail • Make reviewers your ally and advocate • Eliminate reasons not to fund you • Avoid jargon • Make no assumptions…. (you are evaluated on what you present not what you meant) • Summer beach reading.… • Legible font, effective use of headers

  41. Finalizing the proposal….. • Proof read after 2-3 day rest () • Spell check • Check figure numbers • Check/confirm all references

  42. Strong proposals… • Great idea, clear & compelling • Significant to sponsor • Great approach, well thought out • Qualified applicant • Resources available • Important impact • Cost effective

  43. Internal Review … OSP Checklist(under revision) • Accompanies proposal • Department/Admin/College Approval • Cost sharing • Allows OSP to transmit to sponsor • OSP review budget (RA) & proposal • OSP (RA) - authorized to submit • OSP assures compliance in event of award

  44. Choosing to not follow instructions.. • Return unreviewed • Alienate reviewers • Alienate program managers/staff  Decrease likelihood of award

  45. Objectives • What’s a grant application and why would you want to write one? • Creating the scaffold for your application • Common application components • How to “really” get started • Resources available for assistance

  46. Help is all around… • OSP – http://osp.syr.edu • Colleagues • Mentors • Department Chair • Program Managers

  47. Help is all around… • The sponsor • Check out prior awardees (get copies?) • Sample applications • Guidance to applicants

  48. If at first you don’t succeed… • Try, try again • Review written feedback • Talk to the program manager • Get objective input • Re-write • Process takes time…. • From idea to $$ >>1 yr