The Researcher's Tool Kit

Resources for working smarter


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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.

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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.”

 

 

 

 


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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.

 


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Project Summary v. Project Narrative…samples included

Federal grant proposals require a Project Summary and a Project Narrative.  These two documents have very specific requirements; however, they are frequently confused and can introduce easily avoidable errors during the grant submission process.  Experienced grant writers know to give these short documents the time and consideration they deserve for inclusion in a quality proposal.

All information referenced in this post is available in the NIH SF424 Application Guide or from the NIH and NSF websites.cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

What is the Project Summary?

The Project Summary is also known as an abstract.  It should be informative to the technically literate reader and include the objectives of your proposed project as well as the top level methodology that you plan to follow.

What is the Project Narrative?

The Project Narrative was once known as the Public Health Statement or Relevance Statement.  It should be written in plain language and understandable to a general, lay audience.  This is your opportunity to explain the relevance of your project to public health.

Why should I pay attention to the Project Summary and Project Narrative?

The Project Summary is the first thing reviewers and federal agency staff members read.  Program Officers choose reviewers based on the content of your Project Summary.  Many times, decisions about initial proposal reviews are based on project summaries alone.

The Project Narrative is written for the general, lay audience.  It is made public for all awarded projects.  Potential funders often read Project Narratives to determine if a project fits with their mission and is worthy of their consideration for additional support.

Both NIH and NSF stress the importance of including a well-written and meaningful Project Summary and Project Narrative in a proposal.  To give you a sense of how important the federal agencies consider these documents, check out the following from the NSF website:

“The project summary (abstract) is the first thing that reviewers and NSF staff read. It should be written clearly and concisely. In the space allotted, it should outline the problem, the objectives and the expected outcomes, project activities, and the audience to be addressed. The project summary must also clearly address in separate statements the intellectual merit of the proposed activity and the broader impacts resulting from the proposed activity. Proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the project summary will be returned without review. Program Directors use the summary to choose reviewers for the proposal. It is also the reviewers’ introduction to the project. NSF publishes an abstract of the project should it be funded. Considerable effort and thought should be spent in preparing a well-written summary.”

Any suggestions for writing?

  • Use the third person point of view
  • Follow standard font and margins guidelines
  • Make suitable for publication
  • AVOID WRITING AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR  Deadline pressures prior to the submission of a proposal are often intense and make writing new content effectively difficult at best.  Draft the content after you have written your Specific Aims and then modify as needed.  Inexperienced grant writers frequently assume the Project Summary and Project Narrative are quick to write because they are brief; however, given their importance during review, take enough time to write them thoughtfully and concisely.  Remember that your full proposal may not even be read if the Project Summary does not adequately reflect your work or is poorly written.  

Do you have samples of a Project Summary and a Project Narrative?

NIAID has generously provided samples of grant applications for educational purposes:

Sample Project Summary

Sample Project Narrative

How do I remember these details?

See the table below as a quick reference including salient points:

Project Summary v. Project Narrative_Page_1

Project Summary v. Project Narrative_Page_2


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Updated deadline for the new NIH biosketch…biosketch samples included

NEW DEADLINE:  MAY 25, 2015

Updated Friday, December 5, 2014: NIH has provided an additional period of flexibility for using the new biosketch format.

NIH and AHRQ encourage applicants to use the newly 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. Applicants may submit using the new biosketch format for due dates before January 25, 2015, if they wish.  See the updated notice for details.

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There are three biosketch samples using the new format available:

Original post from 12/01/14:  NIH released another notice confirming that NIH and AHRQ will require use of a new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015. Between now and that time, applicants will have the choice of using the old or new biosketch format.

My original post (June, 2014) about the upcoming change to the biosketch format indicated:

  • Early 2015: NIH is scheduled to roll out the modified biosketch for all grant applications received for FY 2016 funding and beyond (this refers to applications submitted in early 2015).

What exactly is changing?

The new format (SF424R-R_pilot-biosketchsample_VerC) is described on the SF424 (R&R) Applications and Electronic Submission Page.  Changes include:

  • Page length: FIVE (in contrast to 2 or 4 in the traditional formats) pages for the entire biosketch
  • New section C: Contributions supplants Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications. The new section C. asks you to briefly describe up to five of your most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed your research. Investigators can outline the central findings of prior work and the influence of those findings on the investigator’s field.  The description of each contribution should be no longer than one half page including figures and citations. For each of these contributions, you will reference up to four relevant peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research products, including audio or video products; patents; data and research materials; databases; educational aids or curricula; instruments or equipment; models; protocols; and software or netware that are relevant to the described contribution.

You will also need to provide a URL to a full list of your published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as SciENcv or My Bibliography.

What should I do NOW?

Check out SciENcv.  Set up your profile and test it out NOW so the information you need will be readily available when it’s time to pull your biosketch together.  A YouTube video is available with instructions for using SciENcv.

Make sure your PubMed or My Bibliography listings are accurate and current.

Write a draft Section C. Contributions.   Consider the following:

  • What are my most significant contributions to science?
  • For each contribution, ask yourself:  What is the historical background that frames the scientific problem? What are the central finding(s); the influence of the finding(s) on the progress of science or the application of those finding(s) to health or technology? What was your specific role in the described work?

 


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A reminder to prepare for the new NIH biosketch…

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:  January 25, 2015 is the implementation deadline for required use of the new NIH biosketch format

NIH released another notice confirming that NIH and AHRQ will require use of a new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after January 25, 2015. Between now and that time, applicants will have the choice of using the old or new biosketch format.

My original post (June, 2014) about the upcoming change to the biosketch format indicated:

  • Early 2015: NIH is scheduled to roll out the modified biosketch for all grant applications received for FY 2016 funding and beyond (this refers to applications submitted in early 2015).

What exactly is changing?

The new format (SF424R-R_pilot-biosketchsample_VerC) is described on the SF424 (R&R) Applications and Electronic Submission Page.  Changes include:

  • Page length: FIVE (in contrast to 2 or 4 in the traditional formats) pages for the entire biosketch
  • New section C: Contributions supplants Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications. The new section C. asks you to briefly describe up to five of your most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed your research. Investigators can outline the central findings of prior work and the influence of those findings on the investigator’s field.  The description of each contribution should be no longer than one half page including figures and citations. For each of these contributions, you will reference up to four relevant peer-reviewed publications or other non-publication research products, including audio or video products; patents; data and research materials; databases; educational aids or curricula; instruments or equipment; models; protocols; and software or netware that are relevant to the described contribution.

You will also need to provide a URL to a full list of your published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as SciENcv or My Bibliography.

What should I do NOW?

Check out SciENcv.  Set up your profile and test it out NOW so the information you need will be readily available when it’s time to pull your biosketch together.  A YouTube video is available with instructions for using SciENcv.

Make sure your PubMed or My Bibliography listings are accurate and current.

Write a draft Section C. Contributions.   Consider the following:

  • What are my most significant contributions to science?
  • For each contribution, ask yourself:  What is the historical background that frames the scientific problem? What are the central finding(s); the influence of the finding(s) on the progress of science or the application of those finding(s) to health or technology? What was your specific role in the described work?

 


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How to write Data Sharing and Data Management Plans

Many federal funding agencies, including NIH and NSF, now require that grant applications contain data sharing plans as well as data management plans for projects involving data collection.

NIAID provides a sample data sharing plan from a PI with [brackets] in place of identifying information.  Use it to guide your writing and make sure to review NIH’s Key Elements to Consider in Preparing a Data Sharing Plan Under NIH Extramural Support.

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The Inter-university Consortium for
Political and Social Research (ICPSR) also provides guidance and examples of management plans to support researchers in meeting the data management requirement.  Check out the following information offered by ICPSR:


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Understanding Overlap and Sample Overlap statements for grant applications

Did you realize there are 3 areas of overlap you may need to address when submitting grant applications and before accepting an award?  Overlap may be scientific, budgetary, and/or related to commitment/effort.  Insight into these issues is important for any Principal Investigator (PI) when writing effective grant applications.

Funding agencies recognize that situations may occur when a PI has similar proposals pending with different agencies that, if all funded, will present overlap issues..  In order to monitor overlap, many federal sponsors require a listing of all current awards and pending proposals (frequently referred to as Current and Pending support) for the PI and key personnel (consultants are NOT included) listed on grant proposals either at the proposal submission stage or prior to issuing an award (e.g., Just-in-Time). For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF) requires a list of Current and Pending support for the PI and all Senior Personnel be provided at the time the proposal is submitted. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), however, requires the submission of “other support” for the PI and Key Personnel during Just-in-Time to ensure all compliance actions, including overlap issues,  are in order.  cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpg

The three overlap areas listed below are those that are monitored by Federal sponsors (Source:  NIH website):

Scientific Overlap: “Scientific overlap occurs when substantially the same research is proposed in more than one application; or is submitted to two or more different funding sources for review and funding consideration; or a specific research objective and the experimental design for accomplishing that objective are the same or closely related in two or more pending applications or awards, regardless of funding source.”

Budget Overlap: “Budgetary overlap occurs when duplicate or equivalent budgetary items (e.g., equipment, salary) are requested in an application but are already funded by another source.”

Commitment Overlap: “Commitment overlap occurs when any project-supported personnel has time commitments (i.e., percent effort) exceeding 100 percent (or 12 person months), regardless of how the effort/salary is being supported or funded.”

What should I do if there is overlap?

If an overlap occurs, it must be addressed with the agency before the new award can be accepted. If the overlap cannot be eliminated, the PI will not be able to accept the new award.  Addressing overlap may take place at the pre-award or post-award stage and often involves:

  • adjusting the scope of work,
  • revising the project budget, and/or
  • modifying time commitments

Keep in mind that changes in a PI’s funding portfolio can impact existing awards.  You will need to discuss any project changes as part of your annual progress reporting process.  Be transparent and comprehensive in your explanation.  Any concerns should be discussed with your Institution’s Grants Office or a trusted Research Administrator  before contacting a funding agency.

Resources

Principal Investigators may find the following resources useful when dealing with overlap issues:

NIH Center for Scientific Review: Evaluation of Unallowable Resubmission and Overlapping Applications

Nature (2013): Funding Agencies’ Position Statements on Duplicate Grants

Scientific Overlap Statement Example (Source:  NIH website)

There is significant scientific overlap between Aim 2 of NSF DCB 59909 and Aim 4 of this application under consideration.  If both are funded, the budgets will be adjusted appropriately in conjunction with agency staff.

Budgetary Overlap Statement Example

There is budgetary overlap between the support for Aim 1 of AHA SDA 4934 and the support for Aim 3 of this application.  If both are funded, Dr. Researcher agrees to revise her AHA Scientist Development Award budget in order to avoid budgetary overlap with the application under consideration.

Commitment Overlap Statement Examples: (Source:  Duke University website)

When role on the project to be reduced is Sponsor Key on U01-AR052186 in this example

OVERLAP
If the proposal under consideration is funded, Dr. Duke will request Sponsor approval to reduce his effort from 1.8 to 0.6 calendar months on U01-AR052186.

When role on the project to be reduced is Duke Key or non-key

OVERLAP
If the proposal under consideration is funded, Dr. Duke will reduce his effort from 2.4 to 1.2 calendar months on R01-NR010777.

When roles on projects expire before new effort on proposal in consideration will begin

OVERLAP
There will not be overlap since R01-AG020162 and R01-CA076016 will both end August 31, 2013 and the pending project would not begin until December 1, 2013.