Developing and submitting research grant proposals can be daunting, so it’s helpful to know that the university offers resources to ease the process for faculty members.
The Office of Research Development and Education (ORDE) helps faculty members on both campuses smooth out any bumps in their submissions for federal, state and private funding sources and promotes the overall growth of the university’s research enterprise.
A Research Forum was held this morning in the Lawrence Street Center to explain ORDE’s services and to answer research-related questions. Leading the session were Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Mary Coussons-Read, PhD, ORDE Director Lynette Michael and Senior Grants Development Administrator Stefan Reiss.
“Our goal is to support and facilitate faculty research and creative work,” Coussons-Read said.
The office addresses concerns about topics ranging from writing and applying for grants, to working with grants and contracts and the compliance office, to getting support for developing faculty research and scholarly work.
ORDE’s services related to funding include:
- Personalized fund searches.
- Targeted funding announcements based on a faculty member’s interests.
- Identifying funding opportunities targeted to new investigators.
- Strategizing with faculty members about potential funding agencies; contacting program officers; elements of proposal development and funding sustainability.
The office also provides a “Proposal Info Checklist” that expedites the grant proposal process. Ron Tzur, PhD, a professor in the School of Education and Human Development who has spent many years as a proposal reviewer and program officer for the National Science Foundation, said the checklist hits the mark on what’s needed in the process. For example, reviewers “don’t need to know everything about your project, but they need to know the gist and they need to know the budget,” Tzur said.
Getting feedback on proposals is necessary, Coussons-Read said. “Just ask us, and if I don’t have time to do it I will find someone who will. Get as many eyes on your proposal as you possibly can — it will really help.”
She emphasized that ORDE supplies “problem solvers” who assist on a range of issues, including helping faculty members to resubmit a grant proposal after an initial rejection. The office held seminars on “The Art and Science of Resubmissions” last spring and will continue to offer such informational sessions.
David Tracer, PhD, associate professor of anthropology and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said initial rejections are common, especially in the tight funding environment. “People don’t realize that getting funded on the second submission is pro-forma — it’s kind of the process,” he said. “It’s how you play the game.”
Tracer suggested that a library of successful grant proposals — showing strong approaches to budgets, “elevator pitches” and other aspects of applications — would be a helpful research resource.
A faculty member asked about seed-funding opportunities available through the university.
Coussons-Read suggested the Center for Faculty Development as a resource, where faculty members can apply for Faculty Development Grants of up to $10,000 for various research projects. Other resources include the Young Upwardly Mobile Professionals (YUMPS) fund, which provides matching funds primarily to cover travel expenses, and scholarship bridge funds. “If you need seed money, or pilot or matching funds, it’s always worth asking,” she said.
“It really does work,” Tzur said of the seed-money programs. “The university really is helping.”
He stressed the value of face-to-face contact with researchers, particularly shortly after they’ve learned of a grant proposal rejection. “It’s the face to face and human touch that really makes a difference,” he said. Informational forums, such as today’s event, help “move more professors toward research, which is crucial.”
Collaborative projects are especially attractive to funding agencies, Coussons-Read said. “Working together, particularly when there are limited resources, means we can do a lot more,” she said.
She said a new research website is in development, through the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research Richard J. Traystman, PhD. The site will allow anyone involved in research to find comprehensive information about opportunities, resources and events. The site will also have a section for graduate students, promoting research mentoring and ways they can work as part of a research team.
Other resources and programs offered through ORDE:
- Grant Advisor Plus Newsletter/Database
- New Investigator Resources program.
- Faculty Seminar Series.
- Get to Know Your Agency Series.