Crafting Your Research Proposal
Step 2: Choosing an Institute and Center (IC) and Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)
- Does your idea fit with IC-specific priorities?
- What’s the best FOA for you?
- Scientific focus and scope of FOA
- Career stage
- What ICs are signed on?
Step 3: Developing Specific Aims
- Must contain everything important and exciting about your project and be clear and concise
- Set up the problem and/or need and/or gap
- Describe a possible solution—may include “long-term goal” and “immediate objective”
- Provide a snapshot of your research strategy
- Develop theory and/or hypothesis-driven specific aims (approximately 2 to 3)
- Connect the potential impact of your research to IC-specific priorities
- For Career Development Awards: briefly describe training and your long-term potential to impact the field;
where does this project lead?
Step 4: Developing the Research Proposal
- Read the FOA carefully to ensure a complete application that addresses all review criteria!!
- Significance = Set up the problem and/or need and/or gap and the potential of your study to be impactful (but be fair with previous literature—no cherry-picking); set up the theoretical perspective of the application
- Innovation = How your proposed approach is novel
- Approach = What you plan to do in as much detail as possible
- Preliminary data and/or experience
- Describe participants, study design, measures
- Statistical analyses (connect to aims)
- Study timeline
- Potential problems and alternative strategies (justify choices)
- Potential impact (end on a high note)
Step 5: Develop Candidate Section (for Career Development [K] Awards)
- Candidate background = Your background and commitment to a research career
- Career goals = Logical progression to independence, but highlight need for additional training
- Career development plan = Specific training plan with timeline, courses and/or workshops, mentor meetings, etc.
Step 5: Refine Aims and Proposal!
- Review and get advice from mentors, colleagues, external reviewers, friends, family, etc.
- Plan time for many revisions
Step 6: Dealing With Revisions If Not Funded
- Talk over the summary statement with a program officer, mentors, and colleagues to identify major vs. minor critiques
- Identify major themes of critiques to address in one-page response
- Restart the proposal development process with critiques in mind!
Talking With Program Officers
- Contact us early!
- Provide the FOA you are considering
- Send the draft concept or draft aims
- Provide several times you are available for a call over the next 2 weeks
- Contact us more than once!
- You may want brief discussion on the overall fit of your topic with IC priorities, then a more in-depth discussion of developed aims later
- You may want to contact more than one IC to
- Gauge enthusiasm
- Ask for other potential program officers to contact if you get a “not interested”
- Topics to discuss pre-application
- Advice on which FOA to use—needed qualifications, fit with research focus
- Advice on specific aims—align with purpose and/or scope of the FOA and programmatic priorities
- Advice on the study section (if going to the Center for Scientific Review)
- Characteristics of applications that score well for that FOA
- Topics to discuss post-review (wait until the summary statement is released)
- Feedback on summary statement
- Score (in fundable range? Is resubmission appropriate?)
- Response to the summary statement (is there an opportunity to submit a response to the summary statement to the program officer?)
- Preparation for resubmission