The Researcher's Tool Kit

Resources for working smarter

1 Comment

How to address Intellectual Property in a grant proposal

More and more funders now require or encourage a statement about your plan for sharing intellectual property (IP) associated with the project they may fund.  For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires specific plans for sharing data, materials, and software generated with NIH funds.

toolkit-24157707 copy

The NIH Technology Transfer Center provides general guidance for preparation of IP Management Plans and lists various sample plans that can be used by extramural funding applicants to prepare IP management plans when required by program announcements.  Sample plans provided by NIH include:

IP Plan #1 – Sample letter that shows how Universities including co-investigators, consultants, and collaborators can describe a data and research tool sharing plan and procedures for exercising intellectual property rights. The letter is to be used as part of the University’s application.

IP Plan #3 – Sample Research Resources and Intellectual Property Plan for use by an Institution and its Collaborators for intellectual property protection strategies covering pre-existing intellectual property, agreements with commercial sources, privacy, and licensing.

IP Plan #4 – Sample letter from Research Institutes and their principal investigator and consultants, describing a data and research tool sharing plan and procedures for sharing data, research materials, and patent and licensing of intellectual property. This letter is designed to be included as part of an application.

IP Plan #6 – A sample Intellectual Property Management Plan which covers the objectives of the plan and a summary of how the issues are addressed in the plan.

Some academic institutions also provide sample language to assist you in addressing this need for your use in external funding proposals.  As always, you should revise samples to address any requirements from your funder and to include specific information from your application.  Adapted language should reflect the tools that you expect to create if you receive funding or any research tools involved in your proposed project.  The level of detail often recommended is reflected in the sample below from the University of Chicago website for use in preparing applications to the NIH:

“The University of Chicago is committed to the open and timely dissemination of research outcomes. Investigators in the proposed activity recognize that promising new methods, technologies, strategies and computer software [revise as applicable to the nature of the research program] may arise during the course of the research. The Investigators are aware of and agreed to abide by the principles for sharing research resources as described by NIH in Principles and Guidelines for Recipients of NIH Research Grants and Contracts on Obtaining and Disseminating Biomedical Research Resources.

While the investigators expect that research tools will be freely shared with the research community, opportunities for technology transfer through commercialization will be explored as appropriate. Working with the University community, the University of Chicago’s Office of Technology and Intellectual Property (UChicagoTech), manages intellectual property at the University of Chicago. UChicagoTech serves faculty, staff and students by commercializing inventions, ideas and software developed at the University to ensure that new knowledge benefits society.

UChicagoTech works with researchers to assess the commercial potential of new ideas. UChicagoTech’s goals are to disseminate new ideas so the public can benefit from discoveries, and to generate revenues for research and education. When the best means of disseminating discoveries and new intellectual property is collaboration between the University and commercial entities, UChicagoTech has a special role to play. It protects the rights of the inventors and the University-and then typically works with industry, granting licenses so that a company will develop the discovery and bring it to the market. Revenues from licenses secured by UChicagoTech are shared with the inventor, the inventor’s laboratory, and the inventor’s academic division. Where opportunities arise for corporate sponsored research related to the NIH-funded research programs, the University expects any agreements to conform to the principles described by NIH in the 1994 policy Developing Sponsored Research Agreements: Consideration for Recipients of NIH Research Grants and Contracts.”






Leave a comment

Help is available to create your new biosketch

You’ve probably heard that NIH and AHRQ encourage applicants to use the recently published biosketch format for all grant and cooperative agreement applications submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015, and will require use of the new format for applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015.  Check out my post about the requirements and sample biosketches for details.  toolkit-24157707 copy

Have you created your biosketch in the new format yet?  If not, there are now some resources available to help you save time with that task:

Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv):   The SciENcv system allows you to enter or import your biographical data once, then convert it into a format that can be used when submitting NIH or NSF grant applications.

NIH National Library of Medicine:   Their technical bulletin details how to create a biosketch by (1) importing your information from an external source (for example, an ORCID account, or an eRA Commons account), (2) manually entering your information, or (3) using your existing SciENcv profile.

Download a sample new NIH biosketch for reference.


Leave a comment

Percent Effort_Person Months conversions made easy

Making a budget request in a grant proposal?  Submitting a progress report?  Confirming commitments for other support?

If so, you may need to calculate effort on a project in terms of a percentage and/or person months.  This seems like it should be a quick process until one realizes conversions are dependent upon appointment type (calendar year, academic year, summer months) AND not all persons included on your project may have the same type of appointment or are employed by the same institution.  What to do?  Many calculators and tables are available to assist you in this process.  I suggest using the PercentEffortConversionTable to make calculations quickly and accurately (thanks to Aparna Menon, Financial Specialist from the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago for sharing this resource).  Read below for more detailed information to support your use of the provided conversion tool.tool kit

What is the definition of person months?
Per NIH, “Person months is the metric for expressing the effort (amount of time) PI(s), faculty and other senior personnel devote to a specific project. The effort is based on the type of appointment of the individual with the organization; e.g., calendar year (CY), academic year (AY), and/or summer term (SM); and the organization’s definition of such. For instance, some institutions define the academic year as a 9-month appointment while others define it as a 10-month appointment.”

How do you calculate person months?  Use PercentEffortConversionTable; however, here’s the rationale for those calculations.
Per NIH, “Conversion of percentage of effort to person months is straight-forward. To calculate person months, multiply the percentage of your effort associated with the project times the number of months of your appointment. For example:

  • 25% of a 9 month academic year appointment equals 2.25 (AY) person months (9 x 0.25= 2.25)
  • 10% of a 12 month calendar appointment equals 1.2 (CY) person months (12 x 0.10 = 1.2)
  • 35% of a 3 month summer term appointment equals 1.05 (SM) person months (3 x 0.35= 1.05)
  • 10% of a 0.5 FTE 12 month appointment equals 0.6 (CY) person months (12 x .5 X .1 = 0.6)

Another example:  If the regular pay schedule of an institution is a 9 month academic year and the PI will devote 9 months at 30% time/effort and 3 months summer term at 30% time/effort to the project, then 2.7 academic months and .9 summer months should be listed in the academic and summer term blocks of the application (9 x 30% = 2.7 person months; 3 x 30%= .9)”

Why should I care about percent effort?

Funding agency staff review budget justifications and other support statements to determine if any personnel supported on a project exceed 12 person months of funding per year. Personnel with over 12 person months of support may indicate over- commitment of available effort for your project and risk continued financial support.

Leave a comment

Free resources for Nonprofits…

Need grant writing tips or resources for managing volunteers?  Check out the links below for free resources available to nonprofits…toolkit-24157707 copy

Nonprofit Good Practice Guide:

Nonprofit leaders can access hands-on tips, articles and profiled links. In 2010, the site was redesigned with interactive features. Visitors to come from all 50 states and over 140 countries.

The Nonprofit Guides:

The Nonprofit Guides are free web-based tools designed to assist established nonprofit organizations and entities through the grant writing process. The site hosts several grant proposal samples.

Points of Light Foundation:

Points of Light Foundation (POLF) has gained a national reputation as America’s Address for Volunteering. POLF is an excellent resource for the volunteer, nonprofit, or volunteer manager and will refer you to a helpful resource if it is not readily available on their website.


Leave a comment

FY 2015 NIH Salary Cap and Stipend Levels released

Updated information about the FY 2015 NIH salary limitation and stipend levels is now available…

Remember to incorporate these current levels in your grant proposal budgets.  Keep in mind that even though we often refer to the salary limitation and stipends as the “NIH levels”, other federal and non-federal funders use this information in their guidelines for drafting grant proposal budgets .  cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

For FY 2015, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Public Law 113-235), signed into law on December 16, 2014, restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Executive Level II salary is currently set at $181,500, increasing to $183,300 effective January 11, 2015.  See the complete Notice of Salary Limitations.

The stipend levels for fiscal year (FY) 2015 Kirschstein-NRSA awards for undergraduate, predoctoral, and postdoctoral trainees and fellows, are shown in the tables below.  See the complete Notice of NRSA Stipends, Tuition/Fees, and Other Budgetary Levels for FY 2015.

FY2015 Stipend Levels


Leave a comment

Need off-site storage to solve the nagging problem of where to keep your study records and maintain compliance with federal, sponsor, and institution regulations?  Jesberg Consulting Services now offers secure, climate-controlled records storage space in the Chicago Loop.  Contact for details including rates and terms.  Mention The Researcher’s Tool Kit in your inquiry email and receive a 10% discount (expires January 31, 2015).toolkit-24157707 copy

Why store data and other research materials once a study has concluded?

Specific regulations are in place addressing how long you are required to store records after the completion of research, and you must keep records for the longest applicable period of time.  Typically, you must keep your research records for at least 5 years and possibly longer, depending on the longest applicable standard.  It is also best practice to retain data until there is no reasonable possibility that you will be required to defend against an allegation of scientific misconduct.  

Keep in mind…

  • Federal regulations require research records to be retained for at least 3 years after the completion of the research (45 CFR 46).
  • Some institutions require that data are kept for at least 5 years.
  • Research that involves identifiable health information is subject to HIPAA regulations, which require records to be retained for at least 6 years after a participant has signed an authorization.
  • Research sponsors may require longer retention periods.  Always check a Notice of Award for specific regulations.