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.

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