Grant & Contract Proposal AssistanceThe following information is provided to assist COM researchers in the preparation of grant and contract applications for research funding. It is designed to help clarify the submission process and make it easier for faculty to write and submit "winning" research applications. Following these guidelines can make the difference between succeeding or failing in obtaining funding.
For assistance at any stage in the process of the pre-award process or post-award, please contact:
- J. Justin McCormick, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies
- Suzanne Kohler, Research Administrator
Researcher ResponsibilitiesDevelop your research ideas with the help of your faculty colleagues and/or mentor(s), and the Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies. The Office of Research can assist in establishing a program of research that will lead to the development of national level research funding of competitive applications.
Literature searches are available from your computer via the MSU Library online databases including Pub Med. As you develop your ideas, it may be helpful to refer to the Proposal Planning Tool. Also see the MSU Researcher's Guide.
There is some funding available from the University for pilot research in support of applications for future external funding. See the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies web page for more information concerning intramural funding and other funding information.
Writing the grant or contract application and obtaining feedback on written workThe researcher is responsible for writing the grant or contract application. Assistance with editing, formatting tables, charts, graphs, and other support as needed can be obtained from the MSUCOM Office of Research. The content of the grant or contract should be critiqued and revised several times before it is submitted. Contact the Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies for assistance in identifying appropriate reviewers.
MSUCOM Assistance with Pre-Award DocumentsThe Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies and the staff for the MSUCOM Office of Research are available to assist with the following:
- Project Guidelines
- Funding Opportunity Guidelines
- eforms & eTransmittal forms
- Research Project Proposal Narrative
- Budget & Budget Justification
- Negotiating Credit & Facility & Administrative (F&A indirect) Costs
Assistance with NIH Grants
- How to Apply
- Submitting your Application
- NIH Forms & Applications
- Receipt Dates & Deadlines
- Grant Process Overview
- Tracking your Application
- eRA Submission of Grants Application
Ten Steps to a Winning R01 ApplicationFor your R01 application to succeed, it must meld a highly significant topic with iron-clad feasibility. NIH calls that combination "impact"-which is reflected in an application's peer review results: its overall impact score.
Strategy for NIH Funding
To secure funding for an NIH grant, you'll need sound guidance and a solid strategy. The strategy takes you through all the steps from qualifying for NIH support to staying funded. Even more, it gives you specific "to do's" so you're prepared at every stage.
Award ManagementManagement of the award is also critical. Visit the Award Management page of the NIH website for some helpful information to assist in managing both pre-award and post-award aspects of the application.
Electronic Research Administration (eRA)eRA systems provide applicants, grantees and federal staff the tools necessary for electronic processing of grants. Used by NIH, AHRQ, CDC, FDA, SAMHSA, and the VA, the eRA Commons and IMPAC II systems support the full grants life cycle from receipt to award to closeout.
NIH Public Access PolicyThe NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit journal articles, which result from NIH funds, to the digital archive PubMed Central.
Faculty ResponsibilitiesFaculty are responsible for negotiating allocation of credit and assignment of Facilities & Administrative funds (F&A costs; also referred to as "indirect costs" or "overhead") with the various departments involved in the project.
The Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies can provide advice in this process as needed. COM faculty participating in a grant proposal with another college should notify the Associate Dean for Research in that college in advance since that College's approval and signatures will be required.
Allocation of faculty percent time, percent of F&A costs allocated to the College of Osteopathic Medicine, should be negotiated by the faculty member early in the process and discussed with the Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies before a signature is requested. A budget and abstract narrative are required for College approval.
Faculty are responsible for obtaining, compiling and submitting grant and contract applications, including the following materials:
Biosketches for all PIs, Co-PIs, Co-Investigators, and Consultants, as appropriate; Letters of support from individuals and supporting agencies or departments. It is useful to prepare a draft letter/template when asking for letters of support. The draft can then be adapted by the person or agency providing the support letter. The template helps to assure that all the required information is included.
References Typed in the Form Outlined by the Funding GuidelinesFaculty are strongly encouraged to use a bibliography program software such as Endnote (supported by MSU Libraries). This type of inexpensive computer software organizes references into electronic "libraries" which can interface with word processing software. The bibliography program software allows the researcher to automatically insert references while typing the grant or contract application, and also automatically formats references to a specific format selected by the researcher. This eliminates the need to manually type a reference list in a particular format, and also makes changes to references much more efficient - the software automatically updates the reference list for any changes made to the references as subsequent drafts of the application as prepared. Research Office staff is available to assist with the use of Endnote.
Listing of Funded Research ProjectsFunding agencies such as NIH often require that researchers describe their current and pending research projects/funding. The investigator is responsible for obtaining this information for individuals who are not employed at MSU.
Space RequirementsSpace requirements for your research project need to be negotiated early in the planning process. Notify the Associate Dean for Research at the planning meeting of any space needs that will be required if the application is funded.
Questions to Consider
- Do the guidelines have any special requirements or unusual expectations that are not consistent with MSUCOM goals?
- Is there a limit on the overhead rate that can be charged?
- Does the project imply special space needs?
- Is cost share required?
- How much effort is being promised for each researcher involved in the project?
BudgetAssistance with Application Budgets
The COM Office of Research will assist with budget development. There are many models available to help in the preparation of a project budget. Check the grant submission package for the specific budget requirements of the sponsor. The major categories in a typical project budget include:
- Personnel (salaries, fringes)
- Undergraduate/Graduate Students
- Direct Cost Calculation
- Modified Direct Cost Calculation
- Indirect Cost Calculation
For specific information about salary and fringe benefit calculations, the CGA Salary Budget Builder is useful. This can be accessed through the CGA website. If you find that you do not have access authority, or have problems accessing this tool, contact Contract and Grants Administration at 355-5040.
Other useful information for budget preparation that is available through the CGA website includes:
- Fringe and Salary Budget Guidelines
- Specific Identification (SI) of fringe benefits
- Grant.gov Budget Worksheet 2011
- Graduate Assistant Stipend Ranges-Graduate Assistant Tuition & Health Fringe Rate
- Cost Sharing Policy
- Travel Information
- Current Facilities & Administrative Cost Rates
Common Budget MistakesNo PI effort listed - The most important element in a proposal is the ideas of the PI. Therefore, PI effort should be included even if you are not requesting agency reimbursement. Most agencies require effort to be listed in person months (not % or hours).
Indirect Cost must be included - All proposals must contain indirect cost (see the CGA web for current rates), or a copy of agency policy which restricts indirect costs for all grantees, or an indirect cost waiver.
Use the correct fringe rates for faculty and grads - This information is available from the CGA website.
Don't show pennies - The inclusion of pennies implies a degree of precision that doesn't exist when doing research. Budgets are best guesses of project cost if everything goes according to the original plan.
Make sure the budget adds correctly - Also check for rounding errors.
Put commas in numbers - Numbers with commas are much easier to read.
Use the columnar format for budgets - Numbers should align on the right. They should be easy to follow.
Equipment items must cost at least $5,000 - Don't list items in the equipment category unless they meet the definition.
Start your budget with the most important item - Begin with salaries.
Don't overcommit PI time to the project - Be realistic about the time you can devote to the project. What would happen if you submitted 3 proposals each showing 50% effort and they all got funded?
Don't measure PI time with hours - There is no such thing as a standard 40-hour work week for faculty.
Use agency electronic forms when available.
More Questions to Consider
- Do faculty salaries exceed the salary cap that has been established by NIH? If so, is the excess included as cost share to be covered by the department?
- How are the faculty salaries/fringe benefits calculated? (e.g. using the CGA Budget Builder)
- Is faculty time being allocated during the academic year, the summer months, or both?
- Is there enough detail provided in the budget to determine the direct costs, overhead costs, cost share, salaries, fringe benefits, and specific areas of spending such as equipment, travel, supplies, etc.?
- Are any verbal promises being made that include costs not included in the actual budget? If so, are these promised expenditures indicated as cost share on the Transmittal form and have all Department Chairs indicated their agreement to absorb these costs?
- Is the narrative in the Budget Justification consistent with the actual entries in the project budget?
MSU Approval and Submission of the Grant or Contract Application - The eTransmittalAt MSU, the approval and submission process for grants or contracts is processed with an electronic document entitled the MSU eTransmittal Form. Once the eTransmittal Form is completed, it is electronically circulated. Approval must be obtained from: (1) the Principal Investigator (2) Co-Principal Investigators (3) ALL Department Chairs/Unit Administrators of the researchers involved in the project (4) the Dean's Office from each college and (5) Contract and Grants Administration (CGA) office for final review and submission. Each of these offices will need time to review the project proposal, budget, and justification, and any addition information prior to approval and electronic signature.
eTransmittal Questions to Consider
- Are all faculty included in the project listed on the eTransmittal Form?
- Do the effort and overhead totals equal 100%?
- Is all cost share implied in the budget included and explained on the eTransmittal Form?
- Are all subcontracting costs included on the eTransmittal Form?
- Have all Department Chairs of the researchers involved in the project signed off on the eTransmittal Form, thereby indicating their approval of the project and, especially, their support of any cost share promised to support the project?
- Do the totals listed on the eTransmittal Form match those included on the project budget?
MSU Contracts and Grants Administration approves the grant or contract application based on established policies and procedures that include:Compliance guidelines for spending federal/state/local private research funds
Protecting the rights of human/animal subjects involved in research activity
Controlling conflicts of interest that may occur when conducting research
Preventing misconduct in research
Overseeing isues related to Intellectual Property
Specific information related to each of these issues (as well as many others related to conducting research) is available on the Office of Regulatory Affairs website.
Assistance with Compliance IssuesAccording to Carnegie Classification, MSU is a "Research University with Very High Research Activity." There is a well-established infrastructure in place to ensure that the research complies with all federal rules and regulations.
The following links offer information to assist in your research activities:
Office of the Vice President for Research & Graduate Studies
Office of Regulatory Affairs
Contract & Grant Administration
Human Research Protection Program
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) (Animal Subjects in Research)
Human Research Protection ProgramFilling out the appropriate forms to obtain human subject (Institutional Review Board - IRB) approval is the responsibility of the faculty member. The specific guidelines for the funding agency should be followed regarding when and how to submit evidence of human subjects ethics training and IRB review.
The application must be approved for human subjects protection before the University will accept funding and before NIH will issue an award announcement to MSU Contract & Grant Administration. NIH application forms require the researcher to provide the same details as submitted inthe University IRB application, as well as the inclusion of a Data Safety and Monitoring Plan (DSMP).
HIPAA Compliance - It is the responsibility of the faculty member to negotiate access to research participants and to adhere to HIPAA guidelines for federally required health information privacy safeguards. Health care agencies often differ in their specific interpretations of these federal guidelines. Faculty are advised to determine any requirements affecting project timelines so that an appropriate start up time is incorporated into the application and for the consent form to be consistent with the expectations of health care agencies providing access to study participants.
PostAwardPerhaps the most important published information for Research Administration are two Federal Circulars that lay out the specifics of how federal grant funds must be managed:
Federal Cost Policy
Federal CIRCULAR A-21-Revised 05/10/04-Cost Principles for Education Institutions
CIRCULAR A-110-Revised 11/19/93-As Further Amended 9/30/00-Financial Management, Property and Procurement Standards. Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations