Internal Grants & Awards

Tips for Faculty Research Grant (FRG) Applicants

  1. Heed the following statement in the application guidelines: “In preparing proposals for this program, an applicant should remember that the review subcommittees cannot include specialists in every field. It is very important, therefore, that proposals communicate the significance of the work to scholars from other disciplines…”In addition, at least a basic description of the experimental approach(es) should also be understandable to scientists from other departments and disciplines within the umbrella of each program. Note that this is different from submissions to most external sources where panels are likely to include (or are entirely composed of) researchers close to the discipline. Taking this into consideration, a pared down version of even a strong external grant application may not be a strong FRG.
  2. In the overview or early in the proposed research section, include highlighted, numbered, or bulleted aims or goals specific to the FRG proposal. In general, this is good practice in grant writing and helps reviewers focus on key elements of the proposal. In the FRG program this practice is also useful for distinguishing discreet boundaries of the short-term FRG proposal from the larger scope of research in the lab. While it is good to place the proposed work in the context of exciting long-term goals that will grow from this FRG, it is also important for the committee to see the proposal as a defined, logical, and realistic seed project as opposed to simply a modest investment in an open-ended longterm project.
  3. Applications from non-tenure track assistant research scientists are unlikely to be highly recommended for funding if it is not clear to the review committee that the proposal reflects an independent project that the applicant is likely to develop into an independent research program. Both the letter of support and the plan for future funding are critical in this regard. Ideally the letter of support from a faculty mentor or department chair should describe how the applicant’s research proposal is distinct from ongoing research in the lab or department:
    • Is the applicant entirely independent? If they are affiliated with a lab, to what extent is the proposed line of research distinct?
    • To what extent have they already worked independently in planning or executing experiments, writing, and mentorship?
    • Does a faculty mentor of this research scientist have any grants, funded or pending, with significant overlap to the FRG proposal?
    • What, if any, role did this FRG applicant play in the development of those grants?

    Letters of support that merely attest to the applicant’s talents, experience, work ethic, and potential as a scientist are not particularly helpful. As with all applications, a compelling plan for future funding should include potential funding sources (e.g. agencies, program panels, etc.) and the scope/aims of such future proposals.

    For assistant research scientists it is also helpful if it is stated explicitly whether they will be sole PI, co-PI, or collaborating scientist on such proposals and what exactly their role will be in the preparation and execution of the work. Does the assistant research scientist bring a unique and indispensable skill to future collaborative research?