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National Institute of Health (NIH) Rigorous Resources for Rigorous Research

NIH rolled out a policy around two years ago to enhance reproducibility of its supported research through rigor and transparency.  In a recent NIH blogpost, we were reminded that NIH offers a website of robust resources to support researchers, providing e-Learning modules, informative blog posts, reviewers guidance, and infographics.  In addition, the following institutes within NIH have provided trainings on rigor and reproducilbility:

Another area of focus within the new "reproducibility" mandates includes the emphasis on scientific premise.  

"Scientific premise refers to the rigor of the prior research being cited as key support for the research question(s). For instance, a proposal might note prior studies had inadequate sample sizes. To help both applicants and reviewers describe and assess the rigor of the prior research cited as key support for the proposal, we plan to revise application instructions and review criteria to clarify the language."

If you need assistance developing these sections within your NIH grant proposal, contact OPD for proposal development assistance or editing.  We're happy to help!

Want an excuse to visit San Francisco?  Attend the next NIH Regional Seminar Oct. 17-18.  Event Website and Registration. Check out our prior post on the benefits of attending a NIH Regional Seminar HERE.

National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD)

Are you having trouble with managing your time? 

Do you want to write a grant proposal, but don't seem to ever get around to it? 

Do teaching and service activities take up your days?  

Peggy Wright-Cleveland is the director of faculty development within the Office of Faculty Development and Advancement.  Along with OPD, Peggy Wright-Cleveland offers writing groups and retreats.  If you (or you and others in your department or related fields) are having trouble making time for writing or scholarship, contact OPD and/or Dr. Wright-Cleveland to get assistance!  We can help facilitate a writing or accountability group for you to fit your needs.

Also, check out the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD)!  As a FSU faculty member, you have access to the largest faculty development resource center.  You'll just need to sign-in with your FSU credentials.  NCFDD offers helpful training webinars to assist you with your writing and scholarship.

The Vice President for Faculty Development and Advancement and staff work closely with the Provost, the FSU Faculty Senate, the FSU Chapter of United Faculty of Florida, and the Office of Human Resources to ensure that university employment conditions and academic policies support faculty members' optimal development as teachers and scholars.

FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY IS A PROUD MEMBER OF NCFDD

The National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD) offers on-demand access to the mentoring, accountability, and support you need to thrive in the academy. Log-in to develop your best practices for strategic planning, productivity, work-life balance, and healthy professional relationships.

How You ~ a Humanitarian or Social Scientist ~ can Benefit from Grants!

Researchers in Humanities and Social Sciences may be hesitant about applying, or even looking, for grants, perhaps doubting the relevance and/or advantages. In Barbara L.E. Walker and Holly E. Unruh’s book Funding Your Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, however, they explain a lot of ways in which grants can support various areas of one’s work. From covering/supplementing travel and supplies to student and research assistance to workshops and conferences, grants can assist monetarily, while also increasing the visibility of one’s research program. Funded projects are often highlighted and circulated through the agency, which opens the door for a host of new opportunities. While writing proposals takes time and effort, it also forces the author to articulate his or her arguments, helping to strengthen and sharpen them. Reviewers will often provide comments regardless of whether or not the grant is awarded.

~Guest blogger, Monica Key

Check out the slides and recording of a recent OPD workshop for social scienes, presented by Dr. Bill Berry, Syde P. Deeb Eminent Scholar & Marian D. Irish Professor, here, and stay tuned for upcoming events!  If you have a suggestion for a future training event, please make a suggestion on the form at the bottom of our events page: https://www.research.fsu.edu/research-offices/opd/events/. 

We are here to assist in your humanities and social science proposal development efforts!

 

What You Need to Know When Writing Your NEH Proposal

Last month I had the opportunity to attend a regional NEH conference, including an overview of the NEH grant programs, question and comment periods, and a mock panel session offering strategies for application-writing.  I walked away with numerous valuable tips and tricks for crafting a competitive NEH proposal.  If you’re interested in writing a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, OPD along with the help of Dr. Peggy Wright-Cleveland in the Office of Faculty Development, are happy to assist you in your NEH proposal development!

Before writing, review the valuable slides provided by Dr. Daniel Sack, a NEH Senior Program Officer. The slides breakdown the desired activities and products for each NEH program!  (Conference Slides

Top Tips and Tricks

Daniel provided conference attendees with the behind-the-scenes information about what NEH reviewers and program officers find to be the most important for NEH proposals.

  • Daniel stated emphatically that one of the best ways to improve your proposal writing skills is to review other proposals. They are always looking for panelist. Contact Daniel if you are interested in serving on a review panel. They need niche experts.  If you would like to know who at FSU has already served on a NEH panel, contact me.
  • In panelist, NEH would like sympathetic readers, in different career stages, from diverse institutional types, from different parts of the country, with differences in subfields but also with more general humanities specialties; approximately half of the NEH panelist have NEH prior experience/funding.
  • NEH has an online tool to help you choose the appropriate NEH program (out of ~60 programs) for your application and work.
  • NEH’s tool for looking at prior grants or searching grants by area can help you to locate an example of a successful proposal…or ask OPD to do that for you! Previously funded grants can serve not as a template, but as an example for proposal structure or tone.
  • Sample budgets and templates are provided on their site, e.g., this one.
  • When to apply? When your project is far enough along to know the challenges & you have already done some research/article, but still need more work & more writing. You could also apply earlier to develop a NEH relationship & to get important feedback on your project.

Significance

One area of the proposal that requires the most attention is the way you present the significance of your work.  Make sure that after reading your proposal the reader can tell: who is the audience who needs this work and how will the information change what they do.

Making a case

When making your case, Daniel suggested that you consider the following:

  • Put your work into a larger context
  • Show how your project fits with other projects
  • Show how your project is building upon prior work and taking a new direction
  • Less known subjects need more contextual help
  • Intrigue the reviewers/readers; help them see your passion
  • The most common review comment: “unfocused or vague”
  • Make sure that your project description is realistic/feasible
  • Avoid jargon
  • Follow outline in guidelines—Make sure that in the first paragraph you grab attention & tell what you are going to do.
  • If updating dissertation, tell how you will expand on it or take it in a different direction
  • Try to find ways to connect non-discipline reviewers to the work with things most people know about. You want to most importantly be an authority on the topic, but adding just a dash of un-forced humor is great – in other words, make it interesting. Story telling can also be okay within the proposal…the proposal writing shows what the writing will be like in the actual work/end-product.

Letters of Support

  • The best letter writers for your letters of support are those individuals who are experts in the same field as the proposed work, and if there are two different fields, it’s helpful to have letter writers from each of the fields. The reviewers may not be in the specific field.  The letters can help them to believe that your project is indeed important for your field(s).
  • Discuss your application w/ your letter writers. The best letter writers are those who can express the significance of the project.

Project Timeline/Work Plan

  • Give a specific, detailed timeline & make it based on experience by how long similar projects took you
  • Let the reviewers know a timeline for the completion of the projects parts and outcomes, what has been completed, & what still needs to be completed
  • If you’ve been previously funded that looks good, but you should have a good timeline/work-plan section, for sure, if you’ve had funding to support prior work.

Communicating with the Program Manager

  • You cannot send draft to review by the PM beforehand but you can ask questions about appropriate programs
  • Check out OPD’s advice on how to effectively and professionally communicate with an agency program manager/coordinator HERE
  • For some programs (NOT for the summer stipends or fellowship!), you can send a draft at least 6 weeks prior to the grant deadline to the program manager to get feedback—not at all as part of the review process, but could still be very helpful. After the award notifications, PIs can request the evaluations. Can also ask PM to clarify reviewer’s comments.

 

Panel Review & NEH Proposal Evaluation Criteria for Fellowships & Summer Stipends

***Each program has different review criteria! So look on the site for your specific program’s review criteria

 

There are five review criteria to also consider while writing your proposal.

  1. Intellectual significance – you’ll need to back this up with context for the (most likely included) reviewers who do not know if it’s new & significant.
  2. Quality – as an interpreter of the humanities
  3. Quality of the concept—Are individual pieces interesting?
  4. Feasibility/dissemination— including descriptions of what kind of audience would benefit
  5. Likelihood to complete

Rating Scale: E: excellent, VG: very good, G: good, SM: Some merit, NC: not competitive

  • The program manager is the chair of the panel with the purpose of leading the discussion and not to promote or refute particular proposals.
  • Ratings are given by each reviewer prior to the review panel meeting & only the top candidate are discussed. During the meeting each competitive proposal is discussed, final comments are made, and the final grade is given. 
  • These best proposals and their final grades are organized by the program manager and then are sent to the National Council (i.e., 26 humanities professionals appointed by the president and approved by the senate). Roughly 1 out of 12 are funded, but this depends on the budget.

First, NEH creates a panel—based on discipline.  Proposals are evaluated by peers, e.g., faculty, librarians (who read & provide evaluations), NEH staff (program managers), the national council, and the NEH chairman, who makes the final decision.

Summer Stipend

If you’ve received a summer stipend and are applying for a fellowship, you’ll want to state that the summer stipend work helped you to get ready to complete the work for the fellowship application, and explain how.

Summer stipend reviewers post review comments online. The reviewers never meet.

Last summer 1000 proposals w/ 40 panels w/ 4 people each sorted roughly disciplinary, preliminary comments based on criteria & grade, meet/discuss, give final comments; PM takes the comments & chooses who they think should get funded; then choose across all on how many the PM can recommend based on the budget; send comments to the national council.

NEH Funding Stats

Fellowships: submitted 982; funded 79 (~8%)

Faculty Awards: submitted 125; funded 13 (~10%)

Summer stipend: Submitted 832; funded 66 (~8%)

 

Also, if interested in applying to NEH, Dr. Peggy Wright-Cleveland, Director of FSU Faculty Development, is our point person for NEH applications.  She has a network of scholars who will review proposals.  Dr. Wright-Cleveland also hosts faculty proposal writing sessions. 

If you have a promising proposal, but you need to first have a discussion with a NEH program officer, consider applying for a FSU Federal Agency Travel (FAT) grant to fund your trip.

Upcoming Event

Collaborative Collision: Mental Health & Well-being

Collaborative Collisions are interdisciplinary networking events for FSU researchers. These events allow researchers from all disciplines to come together to discuss possible collaborations. The goal of all Collaborative Collision events is to provide an atmosphere that promotes discussions about research expertise and individual/departmental contributions. This particular event is geared towards FSU faculty working on, or interested in, projects related to mental health and well-being. The event takes place on April 10th, 2018 from 10am to 12pm. Please register for the event on the event page. Registered participants are asked to fill out introductory slides using the template provided on the event webpage by April 5th at 5pm and email them to Mike Mitchell (mike.mitchell@fsu.edu).

Time to start thinking about the NSF CAREER program

It's NSF CAREER time again! 

As you may know, OPD assists faculty with all sorts of proposals.  While we are always happy to assist with any proposal, we provide particular focus on the NSF CAREER program during the spring semester, and up until its deadline in July.  We do this for several reasons.  First, it is a unique opportunity for new faculty. NSF CAREER awards provide five consecutive years of consistent and stable funding, and allows faculty member to focus on  research and its integration with teaching.  Secondly, the number of CAREER award recipients at the University is monitored in a number of national data bases. As such, these awards significantly enhance FSU’s reputational standing in the broader community thereby contributing to our Top 25 effort. 

If you are in a research area that is funded by the NSF, I hope you will consider applying.  Usually faculty apply in their second year, though there are exceptions on both sides.  You don't want to wait too long in your career because the CAREER program allows faculty three attempts which much be done prior to tenure.  Wait too late, and you lose an opportunity.  If you are undecided about applying, please note that FSU provides a $5,000 increase to the 9-month base salary of any faculty member who receives an NSF CAREER award. Another good reason to consider this program.

We have many ways we assist those applying, including a kickoff workshop which will be happening in March.  Additional details and registration can be found at https://www.research.fsu.edu/research-offices/opd/events/ .  Also, please check out our CAREER toolkit for additional information.  You can find that at https://www.research.fsu.edu/research-offices/opd/nsf-career-toolkit/ . 

Questions?  Reach out to OPD staff anytime.   

Upcoming Research Networking Event: Educational, Justice, and Health-Related Challenges facing Underserved Populations


This event will be held on Friday morning Feb. 23rd, 2018 at 8:30 – 11:00 AM at the Student Services Building, Room 203.  The purpose of this event is to provide faculty who have a research interest in educational, justice, and/or health-related challenges facing underserved populations the opportunity to share their research interests with one another, find potential research partners, and identify funding opportunities they may want to pursue collaboratively.  We are capping this event at 50, so if you are interested, be sure to register ASAP!  Go to our site to register.

 

 

NIH Regional Seminar 2017

If you haven't been to a NIH Regional Seminar before, you are missing out! 

The seminar held last week in Baltimore, MA was super informative and exciting!  Researchers and research administrators attending the event were able to ask their questions and learn from approximately 65 NIH and HHS staff.  These staff members consisted of NIH policy officials, grants management, program and review staff, and representatives from the HHS Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), and the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG). 

The goal of the NIH regional seminar is to 1) demystify the application and review process, 2) clarify federal regulations and policies, and  3) highlight current areas of special interest or concern.  Topics ranged from general grant writing tips to an in-depth peer review mock study section.  Critical information on NIH policy updates were provided for clinical trials, including the revised proposal section on scientific premise and goals to reduce sex bias in cell and animal research with changes to prior standards for rigor & reproducibility

The best part of the conference by far, other than the hotel providing coffee this year, was the option to meet one-on-one with NIH and HHS staff.  The conference provided an area with small tables with two chairs to allow a sort of speed dating environment between attendees and presenters.  Attendees had an opportunity to sign up to meet for 15 minutes with a long list of diverse and experienced NIH and HHS staff members.  These one-on-one conversations were invaluable to me, and would be highly beneficial for any junior faculty!

 The next regional seminar will be held in May of 2018 in Washington, DC.  I hope you will consider attending this event!  Also, don't forget to check out the FSU internal program (Funding Agency Travel Program) to assist Faculty with travel for meeting with program officers. 

Fall 2017 National Science Foundation Grants- Virtual Conference

Experience the Fall 2017 National Science Foundation (NSF) Grants Conference virtually.  The upcoming conference in Phoenix, AZ on Nov. 13-14 will be webcast live to the research community.

Topics will include NSF's purpose/mandate/organizational structure, funding opportunities, how and when to prepare a proposal, the merit review process, award management, policy updates, the roles and responsibilities of the Office of Inspector General, the CAREER program, and international research.  Don't miss out on this valuable opportunity!

Click here to register.  Check out the complete agenda here.

For successful virtual participation, verify the system requirements below prior the beginning of the conference.

    • Most recent version of Google Chrome, Firefox, MS Edge, or Safari
    • Operating system: Windows 7+, Mac OS X 10.7 +, or Ubuntu 10 +
    • Internet connection with 1 + Mbps
    • It can help to close other tabs, browsers, and programs while streaming the live webcast.  It also may help to hardwire your Internet connection, instead of using a wireless network connection.

On the Importance of Time Management

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since coming over to academia from government, it’s that faculty are “very busy” nearly all of the time. So much so that it’s almost become a running joke with me, and I routinely have to prepare myself for the answer of “I’d love to, but I’m very busy right now” when asking faculty if they are interested in a certain funding opportunity, or inviting them to workshops.

Of course that’s not to say that they aren’t actually busy. Between classes, committees, research, grant applications, publications, and that little thing called their own lives, it’s a wonder that faculty are able to accomplish anything at all. I believe that the secret to success lies in good time management skills. Without being able to effectively manage time, the life of a faculty member would be nearly impossible. Especially when trying to fit time for writing in with everything else.

Fortunately, there is a wealth of advice and resources out there for those of us who struggle with this. Perhaps as a graduate student you read one of the over 1,700 “dissertation writing” guides available on Amazon. Or maybe you’ve recently checked out one of OPD’s grant writing manuals. Or maybe you regularly follow the Chronicle of Higher Education and saw their recent article on “How to Make Time for Research and Writing”. Or maybe you just talk to colleagues and mentors.

No matter where you turn for time management help, the recurring theme you’re likely to run into is the distinct lack of a common theme. Everyone’s advice is different, and that’s because this is one of those things that is highly specific to individuals. What works for you is likely not going to be what works for me, and vice versa. The important thing is to discover what that routine or method is, and then stick with it. And of course, ask for help if needed.