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Grant Writing Workshop for Early-Career Investigators


Grant Writing Workshop for Early-Career Investigators Allen Ruby, Ph.D. Associate Commissioner for Policy and ... National Center for Special Education Research ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Grant Writing Workshop for Early-Career Investigators

Grant Writing Workshop for Early-Career
  • Allen Ruby, Ph.D.
  • Associate Commissioner for Policy and Systems
  • National Center for Education Research
  • Amy Sussman, Ph.D.
  • Program Officer
  • National Center for Special Education Research

Todays Purpose
  • To provide advice to early career researchers on
    submitting funding applications to the Institute
    of Education Sciences
  • To review IES FY 2013 requests for applications
    and their requirements

The Big QuestionCan I be the PI on an IES
  • YES, if . . .
  • Your background supports your role as PI
  • A strong team can supplement your background
  • You write clearly and address the reviewers
  • You address the objectives and student outcomes
    of interest for IES grant funded research
  • You apply to the right grant program
  • Education Research Grants (84.305A) and Special
    Education Research Grants (84.324A)
  • Other research grant programs
  • You address the key requirements of the Research
  • You address the submission requirements

Your Challenge
  • Your challenge is to convince reviewers that you
    and your team have the knowledge, skills, and
    experience to implement well what you have

  • Receiving a grant is a process that begins before
    the submission of your application
  • Review your past experience as a researcher. Can
    you argue that you have the knowledge/skills to
    be a PI
  • Substantive
  • Methodological
  • Project management
  • Productivity
  • You will need to document this experience in your
    application more than an experienced researcher

Examples of a Strong Background
  • Built a record in a substantive topic and/or
    methodology as a graduate student, as a postdoc,
    and in your present position
  • Published on own or with well-regarded
    experienced researchers in substantive area you
    propose to do future work in well-regarded
  • Published from dissertation and other projects
  • Supports your future work in this topic
  • Held major responsibilities within a project
  • Provides experience in carrying out project
  • New projects can be based on finding of old ones
  • Extensive work with a secondary data set
  • Provides a foundation for future research using
    this data

Building Your Research Record
  • Run smaller projects (e.g., internal grants,
    small external grants)
  • Take on roles in larger external grants
  • Sometimes you have to do work not directly in
    your immediate interest
  • Sometimes you can carve out space under another
    PIs project to do your work of interest
  • Usually related to the projects goals
  • Make sure you get lead/sole authorship

Building Research Record (cont.)
  • In either case, take on roles that will provide
    you with the experience to lead a future project
  • Co-I
  • Co-PI
  • Project manager
  • Data manager
  • Build expertise, e.g. substantive area, specific
    design, analytical method, data set
  • Build links to school/district/state education
  • Publish from all these types of projects
  • Provide useful information to practitioners

Building a Good Team
  • Review the expertise needed to carry out your
    proposed project
  • Review your expertise
  • Recruit people with well-regarded specific
    expertise needed by project, e.g.
  • Statistician/econometrician or substantive expert
    for a secondary data analysis
  • Survey developer or implementor for a data
  • Curriculum developer or professional development
    expert for a project to develop an intervention
  • Experimental design for an evaluation of an
  • Psychometrician or substantive expert for a
    measurement project
  • Project manager

Building a Team Synthetic Reviewer Comment
  • Given that the PI has not run a large federal
    grant and does not appear to have formal training
    in reading I would recommend that senior
    researchers who have expertise in reading and
    have received funding in the past be added to the

Building a Team (cont.)
  • Be aware that the peer reviewers want to be
    assured that early career researchers have access
    to experienced researchers
  • Project management
  • Substantive and methodological areas
  • Including areas that the early career researcher
    has expertise in

Building a Team Synthetic Reviewer Comment
  • The lead investigator is junior and has not run a
    study of this scope before. However, this is only
    a moderate weakness given his prior experiences
    with data collection and the excellent
    supervision and support that he will receive.

Building a Team (cont.)
  • Including experienced researchers can be done in
    various ways
  • Co-PI
  • Co-I
  • Advisory Panel
  • Consultants
  • They should be on for enough time to be seen as
    able to make a contribution to project
  • They should have clear roles, duties, and
    periodic input
  • Especially true for advisory panels and

Building a Team Synthetic Reviewer Comment
  • The members of the advisory panel have been
    involved in the design and conduct of many
    experiments and will be of great help to the
    Project Director in the development of the
    interview protocol, in the analysis phase of the
    project, and in reviewing papers stemming from
    the analyses.

Write Clearly
  • Reviewers often complain about lack of clarity in
  • The significance of the project is written about
    in too general of terms
  • There is a lack of detail on a key aspect of the
    work, e.g., the factor or intervention being
    studied, the cycle for developing an
    intervention, or the description of the data
  • Reviewers have less information about you to
    judge your abilities and so may be less willing
    to give you the benefit of the doubt when writing
    is unclear or lacks detail

Write Clearly Synthetic Reviewer Comment
  • No information is given regarding the actual
    interventions to be used with the at-risk
    students in the control and experimental
    conditions. This makes it impossible to judge the
    potential impact of the intervention on the
    reading outcome of at-risk children.

Write Clearly Synthetic Reviewer Comment
  • The data analysis plan is unclear. What kind of
    scores from the measures will be used in what
    specific models to address which specific
    research questions. Many different analyses are
    mentioned but their tie-in with specific research
    questions is unclear.
  • In the regression discontinuity model that is
    provided how are variables centered to provide
    the interpretation of the coefficients as
    provided? What is the sample size that will be
    used? How will clustering be handled? Why are
    grade level and time both in the model? More
    information is needed to help understand the
    analysis plan.

Write Clearly (cont.)
  • Maintain consistency throughout application
  • Ensure that sections support one another
  • The research plan addresses the original research
    questions that were justified as significant
  • Write for both generalist and specialist
  • Avoid use of jargon and assumptions of knowledge
  • Have both an expert and non-expert do a read

Write Clearly Put the Punch Line Upfront
  • Opening paragraph sets the scene for the
  • Identifies the significance of the work to be
    done and what actually will be done
  • Reviewers use it to organize information from
    rest of application
  • You can lose your reviewers right off with an
    unclear opening

Address the Reviewers
  • Reviewers focus on the Research Narrative (more
    on this later)
  • Reviewers include both specialists in your area
    and generalists
  • Initial reviews are done by a substantive
    reviewers and a methodologist
  • Panel has expert in every component of your study
  • Show personnel can do the work
  • For resubmissions, address the previous reviews

Advice From an Early Career PI
  • Be a co-PI (or key personnel) on a previous
  • Highlight your management role from this project
  • Can be small internal grant, state or foundation
    grant, or federal grant
  • Have personnel with 'senior expertise' that you
    don't have
  • Add Co-PIs who have received federal grants and
    have expertise in critical elements for the
    project and/or
  • Have an advisory board with senior people, a
    clearly defined role, and access throughout the
    year not just at the formal meetings
  • Reviewer feedback suggested that although I was
    junior, I had built a strong team that could
    support me

Advice From an Early Career PI (cont.)
  •  Extend off of your prior research work
  • Built directly off of dissertation work that had
    been published in a good peer-reviewed journal
  • Continued this work with a small internal grant
    from own institution
  • IES Application was based on data and results
    from dissertation and the internal grant study
  • Try again
  • Most of the reviewer feedback was very helpful
    in strengthening the second application which was

Applying for an IES Grant
  • Address the objectives and student outcomes of
    interest for IES grant funded research
  • Apply to the right grant program
  • Education Research Grants (84.305A) and Special
    Education Research Grants (84.324A)
  • Other research grant programs
  • Address the key requirements of the Research
  • Address the submission requirements

IES Organizational Structure
Office of the Director
National Board for Education Sciences
Standards Review Office
National Center for Education Evaluation
National Center for Education Statistics
National Center for Education Research
National Center for Special Education Research
Overall Research Objectives For Grant-Funded
  • Develop or identify education interventions
    (practices, programs, policies, and approaches)
    that enhance academic achievement and that can be
    widely deployed
  • Identify what does not work and thereby encourage
    innovation and further research
  • Understand the processes that underlie the
    effectiveness of education interventions and the
    variation in their effectiveness

Final Outcomes of Interest are for Students
(Student Outcomes)
  • Birth through Preschool
  • School readiness for both Centers
  • Developmental outcomes for infants and toddlers
    with or at-risk for disabilities
  • Kindergarten through Grade 12
  • Academic outcomes in reading, writing, math and
  • Behaviors, interactions, and social skills that
    support learning in school
  • High school graduation
  • Functional outcomes that improve educational
    results, transitions to employment, independent
    living, and postsecondary education for students
    with disabilities

Student Outcomes (cont.)
  • Postsecondary
  • Enrollment, persistence, completion
  • Achievement in gateway math science courses
  • Achievement in introductory composition courses
  • Adult Education
  • Reading, writing, and math for adult basic and
    secondary education and English language learners

Applying for an IES Grant (cont.)
  • Apply to the right grant program
  • Education Research Grants (84.305A) and Special
    Education Research Grants (84.324A)
  • Other research grant programs
  • Address the key requirements of the Research
  • Address the submission requirements

Primary Research Grant Programs
  • Education Research Grant Programs (84.305A)
  • Special Education Research Grant Programs
  • These grant programs are organized by research
    topic and research goal

Education Research Topics (84.305A)
  • Cognition and Student Learning
  • Early Learning Programs and Policies
  • Education Technology
  • Effective Teachers Effective Teaching
  • English Learners
  • Improving Education Systems Policies,
    Organization, Management, and Leadership
  • Mathematics and Science Education
  • Postsecondary and Adult Education
  • Reading and Writing
  • Social and Behavioral Context for Academic

Special Education Research Topics (84.324A)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Cognition and Student Learning in Special
  • Early Intervention and Early Learning in Special
  • Families with Children with Disabilities
  • Mathematics and Science Education
  • Professional Development for Teachers and Related
    Service Providers
  • Reading, Writing, and Language Development
  • Social and Behavioral Outcomes to Support
  • Special Education Policy, Finance, and Systems
  • Technology for Special Education
  • Transition Outcomes for Secondary Students with

FY2013 Research Goals
  • Exploration
  • Development Innovation
  • Efficacy and Replication
  • Effectiveness
  • Measurement

Exploration Goal
  • Explore associations between education outcomes
    and malleable factors
  • Identify factors and conditions that may mediate
    or moderate the relations between malleable
    factors and student outcomes
  • Possible methodological approaches include
  • Analyze secondary data
  • Collect and analyze primary data
  • Complete a meta-analysis

Development Innovation Goal
  • Develop an innovative intervention (e.g.,
    curriculum, instructional approach, education
    practice, program, or policy)
  • OR improve an existing education intervention
  • AND collect data on its feasibility and usability
    in actual education settings
  • AND collect pilot data on student outcomes.

Efficacy Replication Goal
  • Evaluate whether or not a fully developed
    intervention is efficacious under limited or
    ideal conditions
  • OR
  • Gather follow-up data examining the longer term
    effects of an intervention with demonstrated
  • OR
  • Replicate an efficacious intervention varying the
    original conditions

Effectiveness Goal
  • Evaluate whether a fully developed intervention
    that has evidence of efficacy is effective when
    implemented under routine practice through an
    independent evaluation
  • Prior to submitting an effectiveness proposal, at
    least two efficacy studies of the intervention
    with beneficial and practical impacts on student
    outcomes must have been completed
  • Follow-up projects to determine longer-term
    impacts of intervention that has been found
    effective can also be proposed

Measurement Goal
  • Development of new assessments or refinement of
    existing assessments, and the validation of these
  • OR
  • Validation of existing assessments for specific
    purposes, contexts and populations

Award Maximums (84.305A 84.324A)
Goal Maximum (direct indirect)
Exploration Secondary data With primary data 2 years, 700,000 4 years, 1,600,000
Development Innovation 4 years, 1,500,000
Efficacy Replication Follow-up study 4 years, 3,500,000 3 years, 1,200,000
Effectiveness Follow-up study 5 years, 5,000,000 3 years, 1,500,000
Measurement 4 years, 1,600,000
Applying for an IES Grant (cont.)
  • Apply to the right grant program
  • Education Research Grants (84.305A) and Special
    Education Research Grants (84.324A)
  • Other research grant programs
  • Address the key requirements of the Research
  • Address the submission requirements

Early Career Program
  • Research Training Program in Special Education
    Early Career Development and Mentoring (CFDA
  • New competition for FY2013
  • Considered a research training grant
  • Requires research project

Early Career Program (cont.)
  • Eligibility for Principal Investigator
  • Focus of research on infants, toddlers, children,
    or youth with or at risk for disabilities
  • Need for additional research training
  • Completed doctoral degree or postdoctoral
    training within 3 years of the application due
  • Tenure-track position at IHE
  • No previous IES award as PI or co-PI

Early Career Program (cont.)
  • Components of Early Career Program
  • Research Plan
  • Plan of research that corresponds to NCSER topic
    and goal structure
  • Career Development Plan
  • Mentoring plan (primary mentor, possible
  • Additional training plan (e.g., workshops,
    courses, summer institutes)
  • Explicitly integrated with research plan

Statistical and Research Methodology in Education
  • Research projects intended to expand and improve
    the methodological and statistical tools
    available for education researchers
  • These tools will be used to improve the design of
    research studies, analysis of research data, and
    interpretation of research findings

Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs
and Policies (84.305E)
  • Support for rigorous evaluations of education
    programs or policies that are paid for and
    implemented by State or local education agencies
  • Evaluations are to determine both the overall
    impact of the programs/policies and the impact
    across a variety of conditions

Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education
Research (84.305H)
  • Intended to support the partnering of
    researchers with State and local education
    agencies in the development of joint research

Accelerating the Academic Achievement of Students
with Learning Disabilities Research Initiative
  • To develop and evaluate interventions (e.g.,
    instructional approaches, curricula, technology)
    to accelerate the reading and math achievement of
    students with or at risk for reading and math
    disabilities in grades 3 through 8
  • Will create a tightly linked network of
    researchers across a variety of disciplines who
    will work collaboratively to address the problem

Award Maximums (84.305B-H 84.324B-D)
Program Maximum Number of Years Maximum Award (direct indirect)
305B Postdoc Training 5 years 687,000
305B Researcher Policymaker Training 3 years 1,000,000
324B Early Career 4 years 400,000
324D A3 5 years 10,000,000
305D Stats/Methods 3 years 900,000
305E State/Local 305H Partnerships 5 years 2 years 5,000,000 400,000
Applying for an IES Grant (cont.)
  • Address the key requirements of the Research
  • Address the submission requirements

Research Narrative
  • Key portion of your application
  • Comprised of four sections
  • Significance
  • Research Plan
  • Personnel
  • Resources

Significance Section
  • Describe the overall project and the Research
    Questions you intend to answer
  • Provide a compelling rationale for the project
  • Varies by grant program
  • For 84.305A and 84.324A varies by research goal

Research Plan
  • Detail the design, activities, methods, and the
    analysis that you will use to answer the Research
    Questions described in the Significance section
  • Show familiarity with secondary data (e.g.,
    missing data and attrition, ability to identify
    subgroups, ability to merge data sets)
  • Varies by grant program
  • For 84.305A and 84.324A, varies by research goal

Personnel Section
  • Describe key personnel
  • Link each person and their expertise to their
    role in project - show that every aspect of
    project has person with expertise to do it
  • Methodologists show expertise in particular
    method to be used
  • Substantive person for all issues addressed
  • Do not propose to hire a key person with X
  • Project management skills
  • Give time contribution for each person show that
    every aspect of project has enough time from
  • Orient CVs same way specific to project
  • 4 pages plus 1 page for other sources of support

  • Show the institutions involved have the capacity
    to support the work
  • Do not use university boilerplate
  • Show that all organizations involved understand
    and agree to their roles
  • What will each institution, including schools,
    contribute to the project
  • Show strong commitment of schools and districts
    and alternatives in case of attrition
  • Detailed Letters of Support from research
    institutions, States, districts, schools placed
    in Appendix C
  • Detailed Letters of Support from data providers

  • Appendix A (15 page limit)
  • Figures, charts, and tables
  • Examples of measures
  • 3 pages to address past reviewer comments or to
    argue that a proposal is a new submission
  • Appendix B (10 page limit)
  • Examples of materials used in an intervention or
  • Appendix C (no page limit)
  • Letters of agreement (districts, schools, data
    providers, other partners, consultants)
  • Clearly state responsibilities of the writer

Budget and Budget Narrative
  • Provide a clear budget and budget narrative for
    overall project and each sub-award
  • IES Application Submission Guide
    describes budget categories
  • Check RFA for specific budget requirements for
    Research Goals and Grant Programs
  • Ensure agreement among Research Narrative,
    Budget, and Budget Narrative

Applying for an IES Grant (cont.)
  • Address the submission requirements

Important Dates and Deadlines
FY 2013 NCER (305) NCSER (324) Grant Programs Application Deadline Letter of Intent Due Date Application Posted Start Dates
305A Ed Research 324A Sp Ed Research 305D Stats/Methods 6/21/12 4/19/12 4/19/12 3/1/13 to 9/1/13
305A Ed Research 324A Sp Ed Research 305B Research Training 324B Sp Ed Research Training 324D A3 Initiative 305E State/Local 305H Researcher- Practitioner Partnerships 9/20/12 7/19/12 7/19/12 7/1/13 to 9/1/13
Review Application Requirements
  • Request for Applications
  • Currently available at http//
  • Application Submission Guide
  • Will be available 4/19/12 for June deadline at
  • Application Package
  • Will be available on on 4/19/12 for
    June deadline

Information Sources
  • Begin at the IES website (http//
  • Sign up for the IES Newsflash
  • Look at the IES funding webpage
  • Review current Requests for Applications
  • Look at the abstracts of projects funded under a
    research topic or program
  • Contact relevant program officer(s) for the grant
    program and topic of interest in the relevant

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Contact Relevant Program Officers
  • Program officers are associated with competitions
    and/or topics, and their contact information is
    included at the end of each RFA
  • Contact information is also available on each of
    the program pages on the IES website

Resources for Researchers
  • Visit links for faculty and researchers on IES
  • Review past webinars, and participate in future
    webinars for the FY 2013 competitions
  • Watch methodology videos

Submit a Letter of Intent
  • LOIs are submitted electronically using the
    instructions provided at https//
  • We encourage all researchers to submit Letters of
  • 4/19/12 for June applications (passed, email LOI
    directly to the program officer)
  • 7/19/12 for September applications

Grant Submission
  • Make sure your institution is registered on
  • Complete your online forms and upload PDFs
  • Authorized representative completes the process
  • Submit by 43000 eastern time on deadline
    earlier is safer
  • If problems uploading
  • Contact Help Line 1-800-518-4726 and get a case
  • You should receive three emails
  • will say they have received your email
    and assign you a number that starts with GRANT
  • will say your application is validated
    or rejected due to errors. If the latter,
    resubmit until validated.
  • Department of Education will assign you a grant
    number starting with R305 or R324

Application Review (Standards Review
  • Compliance screening for format requirements
  • Responsiveness screening to program/goal
  • Assigned to review panel
  • 2-3 reviewers (substantive and methodology)
  • If scored high enough, application is reviewed by
    full panel
  • Many panelists will be generalists to your topic
  • There will an expert in every procedure you use
  • Overall score plus scores on Significance,
    Research Plan, Personnel, and Resources
  • So far, all applications with overall score of
    Outstanding and Excellent have been funded
  • Resubmissions encouraged talk to program officer
    and address reviewer comments

Peer Review Process Information
  • http//

Notification Process
  • All applicants will receive email notification of
    the status of their application
  • All applicants receive copies of reviewer
    comments via email
  • If you are not granted an award the first time,
    plan on resubmitting, and talk to your program

For More Information
  • http//

Allen Ruby Amy
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