Stanford RDO is pleased to share our subscription to the Research Development & Grant Writing Subscription Newsletter with the Stanford community. The newsletter is produced by Academic Research Funding Strategies, LLC, and contains useful information for both new and seasoned grant writers across disciplines. Please see below for selected highlights from each issue. Click on the issue heading to go to that particular newsletter, or access the entire Stanford RDGWN library.
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Suggested read: "A New NEH Initiative: Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence"
Summary of a new NEH funding opportunity created in response to the National AI R&D Strategic Plan and President Biden's Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence.
Also useful: "The Value of Reading Abstracts of Funded Projects"
Advice to help make strategic use of publicly available abstracts for awarded projects.
Suggested read: NSF’s Research Infrastructure in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program
Details on the newly restructured NSF program. RISBS supports projects that create computational tools and data to enable basic research in the social and behavioral sciences that will enhance health, prosperity, and security.
Also useful: Overview: Defense Sciences Office 2024 BAA
Summary of The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Sciences Office (DSO)'s 34-page 2024 Office-wide Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), which was released on September 27, 2023.
Suggested read: Understanding NSF for NIH PIs
As NSF funds more health-related research, PIs who typically apply for NIH funding may be more interested in applying to NSF. This article contains tips and considerations to aid researchers accustomed to NIH proposals.
Also useful: Overview: Bioenergy Technologies Office at DOE
Includes perspective on budget, a list of USDA/NIFA partnerships, information on the five core Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO) program areas, and details on FY23 funding opportunities.
Suggested read: Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention Phase II
In addition to providing an overview of NSF's PIPP Phase II solicitation, this article discusses the more general insights into NSF's funding priorities and center success criteria that can be gained from it.
Also useful: Using ChatGPT When Writing Proposals: What it Can and Can't Do
ChatGPT provokes mixed feelings, but this article gives ideas for how it can be used as a tool for proposal writing, as well as some uses that are best avoided.
Suggested read: The Power of Faculty Writing Groups for Reviewing Proposals and Overall Writing Improvement
Explores what an ideal writing group would look like and achieve.
Also useful: Strategies for Proposal Resubmission
Advice on how to sift through reviewer feedback and best make use of it to inform proposal revision and resubmission. Recommends a coordinated, team-based review of reviews that includes participants with ample experience decoding reviewer feedback.
Suggested read: The Chips and Science Act: What is it Funding?
A discussion of how the funding authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act is slated to translate into specific funding opportunities across federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and Department of State.
Also useful: Planning to Write As a Team
Strategies for meaningfully integrating the contributions of individual team members into a cohesive proposal.
Suggested read: Tips for Pursuing Funding from Industry
Suggestions to facilitate identifying opportunities for and securing funding from industry. Ways to apply for federal funding that supports work with industrial partners are also discussed.
Also useful: Welcoming New Faculty
Advice and considerations for Research Development professionals to help them successfully connect with new faculty starting this fall.
Suggested read: How a Good Website Can Help Faculty Win Grants
A discussion of how a well done faculty website can indirectly support longer term funding goals, as well as tips for developing an effective web page.
Also useful: NEH Infrastructure/Capacity Building Challenge Grants
Details on complex NEH grant type that requires raising matching funds from private, state, or local supporters.
Suggested read: NSF Office Hours and the PRoSPCT Tool
Overview of two new tools to help PIs find and connect with the right NSF program: the new Program Suitability & Proposal Concept Tool (ProSPCT) and virtual office hours with Program Directors.
Also useful: Budget of the US Government FY23/Agency Allocations
The President's proposed budget and agency allocations can serve as a useful tool for predicting what federal funding agencies will emphasize in the near future. Article includes highlights and a discussion of their significance for research.
Suggested read: Too Much To Say? Strategies to Meet the Page Limit
Useful tips for keeping the length of your proposal within bounds. Includes advice for earlier in the proposal writing process as well as later stage edits.
Also useful: Who is Winning Humanities Funding and Why?
A valuable opportunity to read example abstracts for recently awarded NEH proposals.
Suggested read: Too Much "Why" and Not Enough "How"
Discussion of how to address a common proposal writing pitfall and more effectively speak to your reviewers' concerns.
Also useful: Seven Newly Posted DOE/SC Workforce FOAs
A list of new DOE funding opportunities aimed at providing undergraduate and graduate training opportunities for students and academic institutions not currently well represented in the U.S. science and technology ecosystem. High level proposal requirements and due dates are included for each of the seven FOAs.
Suggested read: Understanding the Role of Your PO
Following an October 2022 Newsletter article on Humanities Program Officers, this overview describes the different roles Program Officers can take in the review process across a variety of funding agencies, such as DoD, DARPA, NSF, NIH, NEH, and IES. Also includes strategies for interacting with different types of POs depending on their agency policies, their role in the review process, and their work styles.
Also useful: New/ongoing NEH Calls for Proposals Related to the "American Tapestry Initiative"
A discussion of new funding opportunities through a special NEH initiative designed to address some of the United States' biggest challenges, including: how to sustain our democratic institutions, how to build a more just and equitable society, and how to prepare for and protect our cultural inheritance from the effects of climate change.
Suggested read: The Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Statement of Purpose for a Humanities/Social Science Funding Application
Humanities Editor Katherine Kelly goes over the criteria for a successful Statement of Purpose, how to interpret these criteria, and how to apply them in writing a proposal.
Also useful: Telling Your Reviewers What they Need to Know
Breaks down how to effectively develop the type of discussion to be included in the "Background," "Innovation," "Significance," "State of the Art" and other similar proposal sections. Includes advice for anticipating your likely reviewers and how to address their probable needs and concerns.
Suggested read: What Is a Humanities Program Officer and When Should You Contact Them?
Practical and actionable advice on when and why to contact program officers at Humanities-funding organizations, with an explanation of the distinction between how foundation and federal program officers communicate with PIs.
Also useful: ARPA-H: A New Funding Agency is Born!
The Advanced Research Project Agency for Health is a new funding agency that will be housed in NIH and emulate DARPA’s high-risk, high-reward approach. This introduction explains what ARPA-H might look like and how it might operate given its mission, scientific focus, and DARPA-like model.
Suggested read: "New NSF Opportunities for Social Scientists"
For social scientists whose research is related to socio-technical topics (AI or renewable energy, for example) or addresses social facets of complex problems, NSF offers a variety of potential funding mechanisms. This article details specific programs and directorates, as well as large team or center grants, that fund social science proposals or proposals with social science components.
Also useful: "Getting the Writing Right -- Newly Funded NSF ERCs"
This article brings together the abstracts of the 2022 Engineering Research Center awardees, highlighting how each addresses core expectations laid out in the NSF ERC solicitation. Contains helpful examples of the level of specificity needed to be successful at this type of writing.
Suggested read: "Reading the Funding Tea Leaves: How to Anticipate New Funding Opportunities"
Valuable tips on how to ascertain and prepare for likely future funding opportunities. The ways that funding opportunities are signaled through NSF Dear Colleague letters, NIH Concepts and NOSIs, and Mission Agency activities and publications are discussed.
Also useful: The Role of the Project Evaluator on the Writing Team
In addition to evaluating an active or completed project, some project evaluators can be engaged to support the efforts of the proposal writing team. This article includes rationale and advice for meaningfully including the project evaluator in the proposal writing process.
Suggested read: "Tips for Effective Proposal Graphics"
Most people know that visuals are an important elements of successful proposals, but the execution can be challenging. This article is packed with useful reminders and best practices for effectively incorporating images, figures, and other graphic elements into your proposal.
"What does NSF Mean by Innovation Ecosystem?"
"Changes Coming to STEM Education Programs"
"Newly Titled National Science Foundation Program Offers Humanities/Social Science Researchers Opportunities to Collaborate"
Suggested read: "NSF Begins Using Broad Agency Announcements (BAA)"
NSF has recently started using Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) to engage new communities of scientists and engineers, including those working outside of Institutions of Higher Education. This article explains more about the reasons behind this new approach, as well as pointers for accessing and effectively responding to BAAs.
Also useful: "NSF's New Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate" and "Defining and Supporting Your Premise"
Learn more about the first new NSF Directorate to be established in 32 years, as well as the new funding opportunities TIP offers.
Suggested read: "Planning and Describing your CAREER Education Component"
Valuable advice for junior faculty applying to NSF's CAREER program on how to create an education plan that is integrated with and as rigorous as your research plan.
Also useful: "What Does a Successful ERC Proposal Look Like?"
A discussion of key traits of successful NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) proposals. This article also contains an outline to guide your ERC preliminary proposal project description as well as information on four recently funded ERCs (with sample research narrative text specific to their projects!).
Suggested read: "The Curse of Knowledge and Writing Your Proposal"
A short guide to understanding and overcoming one of the most common proposal-writing challenges, i.e., the background and work plan of the proposed research are completely obvious to the writer but are not yet conveyed in a way that is obvious to a reviewer. Hint: The solution involves understanding who likely reviewers are, and recruiting outside reviewers during the proposal writing process -- two things RDO can help you with!
Also useful: "NSF FY2023 Budget Request: Where the Money is Going"
Mike Cronan summarizes NSF's 674 page budget request to congress in terms of what it means for researchers. Although the budget numbers are not yet final, the request gives a sense of NSF's priorities for the near future, including new program focus areas and modifications to existing program budgets.
Suggested read: "How to Formulate Hypotheses for NSF & NIH"
This article tackles a perennially useful topic, breaking down how to formulate different types of hypotheses for different types of proposals as well as how to determine when a hypothesis is needed in the first place.
Also useful: "DOE's Plan to Strengthen Clean Energy Supply Chains & Bolster Domestic Manufacturing"
Provides a high level overview of reports delivered in response to the Executive Order on America's Supply Chains. These reports signal how U.S. foreign policy might change research and funding priorities across federal agencies into the future, given the renewed emphasis and urgency surrounding energy independence.
Suggested read: "Overview of the New Quantum Workforce Development Plan"
A helpful summary and contextualization of the National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC) Quantum Information Science and Technology Workforce Development National Strategic Plan released on February 1, 2022. The report itself provides a wealth of information to inform the language and framing of relevant proposals. The Newsletter lays out the main challenges and recommendations given in the Plan, and highlights the resources provided to support proposals with Quantum Information Science and Technology workforce training components.
Also useful: "The New Research Agenda for the National Endowment for the Arts, 2022-2026"
Humanities Editor Katherine E. Kelly spotlights the NEA's future funding preferences and the agency's signal that they will rely more heavily on their Research Grants in the Arts and Research Labs funding mechanisms moving forward. Includes an introduction to both of these funding programs and their review criteria.
Suggested read: "Is an NSF Center Proposal in Your Future?"
This article features an in-depth explanation of NSF's Growing Convergence Research program. Being selected for and participating the Growing Convergence Research program can provide a competitive advantage for later center proposals (e.g. STC, ERC), as it allows researchers to build a strong research core that incorporates NSF's vision of convergence research before applying for center funding.
Also useful: "Editing Proposals for Significance: What It Is and Why It Is Critical to Funding Success"
Suitable for proposers across disciplines, this article offers advice for considering both general and agency/solicitation-specific concepts of "significance," as well as common mistakes to avoid in writing your grant proposal.
Suggested read: "'Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive!"
If you've ever wondered where the boundary between appropriate and inappropriate use of source material in a proposal lies, or how familiar you need to be with new guidance on disclosures, this list of examples of research misconduct from the NSF Office of the Inspector General's semiannual report is both a useful source information and a collection of cautionary tales.
Also useful: "Describing the Methodology and Work Plan in an Individual Humanities/Humanities-Related Social Sciences Proposal" and "The Best Order of Research Narrative Edits"
Both of these articles are practical guides for PIs, grant writers, and anyone who would like to take a more considered approach to how they write and edit their proposals. As the title suggests, the former is most relevant to Humanities and Interpretive Social Sciences.
Suggested read: "The First Step to STC Success is to Learn the Language"
For those interested in the NSF Science and Technology Center programs, this article digs into what NSF means by language such as "an integrative partnership," "discover and innovation," and "vexing scientific challenges," and gives advice for mapping proposal narratives to cover what is meant by these terms.
Also useful: "Educational Grant Writing Resources"
More information on the U.S. Department of Energy Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) application cycle for FY2022.
Suggested read: "Humanities Scholars: Applying for ACLS's 'Sustaining Public Engagement Grants' (SPEG)"
Discusses what the Sustaining Public Engagement Grant program is, how to apply for funding, and resources that can assist you in preparing your application.
Also useful: "White Papers and Concept Papers Are Often the First Step to Funding Success"
Explains what white papers and concept papers are, and how they can be used to advance in the funding application process.
Suggested read: “Funding to Broaden Participation in STEM of Persons with Disabilities”
Co-publisher Lucy Deckard discusses funding opportunities and resources PIs can use to broaden participation of persons with disabilities in STEM through sponsored activities and projects. Specific funding opportunities are named and linked.
Also useful: “Why You Need a Communications Plan for Multidisciplinary Research Partnerships."
While communication plans are increasingly called for in center-level project proposals, the author explains why they can be beneficial in smaller proposals, even when not required.
Suggested read: “Does Your Research Narrative Require a Description of Stakeholder Engagement?”
This article gives an outline of what you can discuss in a required stakeholder engagement section (whether specifically named or implied by a request to name "societal benefits"), along with suggestions on taking the content beyond a perfunctory level.
Also useful: “Organizing Your Response to Reviewers’ Comments on Resubmittals”
Responding to reviewer feedback can be daunting, but this article gives some useful advice to get you started.
Suggested read: “Because a Management Plan Is Not Required Does Not Mean It Is Not Necessary”
Newsletter co-publisher Mike Cronan points out that while some solicitations do not explicitly require a management plan, leaving out this component could reduce your chances of receiving funding. He notes that a project timeline is not equal to the management plan. Management plans will give reviewers insights into the project’s rationale, how the work will be coordinated, and how the team will be integrated.