February 15, 2018

Proposal Resubmissions and Addressing Reviewer Comments

SPA's director, Justin Miller, led one of our latest colloquiums on Friday, February 9, 2018 in Bracken Library.

Miller discussed proposal resubmissions and how to address reviewer comments, in his lecture titled "Not funded? Now what?!?!"

Should I Resubmit?

Stan Geidel welcomes the audience.
You didn't get funded, so now what? The answer is resubmit.

Your initial reaction will most likely be frustration causing you to think "no way!" But after taking a moment to process, you should definitely reconsider.

Proposal submissions work similarly to how journal submissions work. More often then not the project did not get funded because there was simply not enough money for everyone that round, not because your project wasn't great.

The National Institute states:
  • "For most investigators, achieving funding success usually comes from persistence and patience. The typical applicant who was successful in obtaining funding in the past few years
    from the NIH has submitted several applications prior to obtaining support for their research."
  • "13.1% of projects get funded on their first submission, while 33.5% get funded on a resubmission."

Here at Ball State we have a promising history of proposal success on the second and third submission, especially with federal funding agencies (NSF, DOJ, NEH).

"At the end of the day, this is a number’s game, and reviewers are often looking for reasons to not fund a project, because there are SO many good ideas" - Justin Miller.

Next Steps

The first step is to request reviewers' comments if they have not already been provided. If still not
provided, request a debriefing instead.

After you receive the comments or have the debriefing, share all of the comments and notes with SPA, your chair, and other important members.

In combination, all of these comments and conversations will help you revise your proposal.

Frequent Reviewer Comments and Tips

Justin Miller talks about his experience as
a proposal reviewer. 
  • Review the mission of the sponsor and their purpose for the program, even the legislation on federal or state opportunities, to be sure that your project supports both the mission of the sponsor and the specific program you are applying for.
  • Reviewers get distracted by typos, poor grammar, and unclear wordy narratives. Be sure to follow the guidelines and have your proposal reviewed by those inside and outside of your field. SPA can help you fund and find an external reviewer if requested.
  • Reviewers often state that there is not enough thought behind the research plan. They need to know the how, when, and by whom the work will be done, how the data will be analyzed, and if the necessary skills and resources are available to complete the research.
  • Include potential obstacles, contingency plans, and a realistic timeline.
  • Understand the review criteria: How are the points/percentages applied? What do the reviewers look for on each criterion?
  • Make sure your budget and narrative match. Your budget requests need to be justified in your narrative.

As a last piece of advice, consider becoming a reviewer. This opportunity will allow you to gain valuable experience about the review process and to see things from the reviewer prospective. You do not have to have been funded by a sponsor to be a reviewer.

Finally, you can revise and resubmit! 

If you have further questions or need help, please reach out to us at spadmin@bsu.edu.

February 09, 2018

Shining a Light on the Dark and Mysterious World of Grants and Contracts

SPA's very own Ted Kolodka led our latest colloquium on Friday, January 26, 2018 in Bracken Library.

Kolodka is SPA's Contract Compliance Analyst and his lecture focused on explaining award process, or the path grants and contracts take to get from us to you!

Stan Geidel introduces the "Ted" talk.

The Award Process

The first step is that the proposal gets funded. This simply means that the Sponsor offers Ball State the award, which is handled by the SPA pre-award operations. Ball State then has to accept the award through a signed award document. 

Award Documents:
  • Legally binding agreement 
  • Signed by both the sponsor and Ball State.
  • Usually generated by the sponsor
  • Usually a grant rather than a contract 

What do these documents do?
  • Provides funding for the project 
  • Defines the scope of work and the budget 
  • Defines ownership of the results

The second step is finalizing the award document. This is handled by the SPA compliance staff. This section of the process contains the following steps:
  1. Receive award document form sponsor 
  2. Review award document 
  3. Negotiate with sponsor 
  4. Sign award document, opening the grant
Ted Kolodka speaks about his experience in SPA compliance.
Receiving the award document from the sponsor can take longer than planned and is out of SPA's control. In the case that you have a time sensitive project, you can apply for an early account.

An early account allows for a grant to be opened (FOAP issued) and work to start before the award document is finalized. You can apply for an early account through SPA compliance

Compliance is very important in this process as they avoid audit findings and liability, ensure BSU’s eligibility for future funding, and provide favorable legal review by general counsel to allow signature of agreement. 

The final step is the FOAP (Fund Organization Account Program), which means your award is open and is now being handled by the SPA post-award operations. 

Take Aways

  • Grants & contracts are complex legal documents that take time, effort and accurate information to ensure proper document is generated.
  • Multiple BSU departments can be involved in ensuring the proper document is generated (pre-award, post award, General Counsel, PI, ORI, Business Affairs).
  • The main goal is to make sure that BSU faculty have the appropriate agreement that describes the project, ensures compliance and thus eligibility for future contracts.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to Ted Kolodka at tmkoloda@bsu.edu or SPA as a whole at spadmin@bsu.edu.