Key Policy Updates
- January 2018: Revised version of NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) and Grants.gov Application Guide (Effective Jan 29, 2018)
- January 2018: Revised version of NIH Application package (Forms E), Human Subjects, and Clinical Trials (Effective Jan 25, 2018)
- January 2018: Changes in NIH graduate training and career preparation.
- April 2017: Phoebe Search tool for PIs to find information on their proposals and awards
- March 2016: UC Berkeley Five Day Rule for SPO submission - Additional Internal Deadlines and Consequences
- October 2015: Funding agencies strict about application requirements
- May 2015: New NIH Biosketch format
- March 2015: Proposal Tips and Tricks from "Research Development & Grant Writing News"
NSF has updated its Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) to PAPPG 18-1 and has released an aligned edition of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide. Noteworthy changes include: a new requirement for a separate section titled "Intellectual Merit" within the Project Description; an increase of the Budget Justification to 5 pages; mandatory use of the excel template for Collaborators and Other Affiliations; clarification that Results of Prior NSF Support applies to awards with end dates in the last 5 years; and other editorial changes and clarifications.
[Posted Dec 20, 2017]
NIH has released its updated Application Package for FORMS-E, as reflected in its SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. Proposals with due dates on or after January 25, 2018 must use FORMS-E. A list of significant changes can be found here. Major changes include the move of human subjects-related information out of the PHS 398 Research Plan Form/section into its own PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information Form/section. While some changes may appear minor or administrative in nature, proposals submitted using the wrong application package may be withdrawn without review and removed from funding consideration.
In addition to using the new form, proposals with due dates on or after Jan 25, 2018 which involve human subjects should take into account the Single IRB Rule (NOT-OD-18-004), and the expanded definition of Clinical Trials (NOT-OD-17-043). The new NIH definition of clinical trials now covers many social and behavioral experiments that were not previously classified as clinical research. Carefully review the 4 questions as well as all resources (case studies, FAQs) provided by NIH at the link above to determine whether your project meets the expanded definition. Failure to address the applicable requirements appropriately can lead to a non-compliant submission.
Since 2016, NIH has made changes to its instructions for research rigor and transparency, which are important for the Research Strategy section of the proposal. (See http://www.nih.gov/research-training/rigor-reproducibility). Other changes during this period include a new definition of "child" and new instructions for Vertebrate Animals, Research Training, Appendices, Biosketches, and acceptable fonts. These changes have been in effect since May 26, 2016.
[Posted Dec 20, 2017]
Catalyzing the Modernization of Graduate Biomedical Training, a presentation by Alison Gammie (NIH, Oct 2017), makes the case that the rapid evolution of biomedical research calls for fundamental changes in graduate education and training. Gammie, Director of the NIGMS Division of Training, Workforce Development & Diversity, details changes in the science career landscape, major issues in training that must be addressed, and specific steps being undertaken by NIH to catalyze change. Of particular interest, she outlines major changes that were implemented with the recently released NIGMS-specific funding announcement, PAR-17-341, NRSA Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant Program (T32).
[Posted Jan 8, 2018]
The Sponsored Projects Office at UC Berkeley now offers an important tool to help PIs locate information on their past, current, pending and ongoing awards or proposals: Phoebe Search. This database includes proposal status updates, contact information on research administrators and SPO analysts, and an easy option for generating Current & Pending information. A quick start guide on how to use Phoebe Search can be found here: http://rac.berkeley.edu/phoebe/search_pi.html
[Posted Apr 26, 2017]
In 2016, campus revised its internal deadlines for proposal submission, adding a deadline for the final proposal and implementing a priority system for proposal review/submission. Failure to adhere to these rules will impact the level of review your proposal receives, as well as its chances for successful submission. Please review the complete set of updated rules and FAQs here: http://www.spo.berkeley.edu/procedures/submission.html
Some key take aways:
- To avoid Priority 3 or “late" status (see below), proposals must be received by SPO in a complete form (with a final administrative section and a final or draft technical section) at least five business days before the sponsor’s deadline AND in their final form at least 8 business hours before the sponsor's deadline.
- After meeting the five day rule, final proposals received at least 16 hours before the deadline are Priority 1, 8-16 hours before the deadline are Priority 2, and proposals received less than 8 hours before the deadline are Priority 3.
- Priority 3 proposals will require "late submission approval" from VCRO in order to be submitted. Requests for late submission must come from your chair and be received at VCRO by 5pm on the day before the sponsor’s due date.
- Priority 3 proposals will receive limited SPO review for institutional issues, will not be reviewed for submission errors, and will be submitted only after Priority 1 and 2 proposals.
- The VCR limits each PI to three late submission approvals per fiscal year.
- Incomplete proposals (including those with blank sections in the draft technical sections) will be returned by SPO without review and will be issued a new time stamp when you provide SPO with the complete proposal.
[Posted Feb 23, 2016]
"To tame a rising tide of grant proposals, federal agencies are becoming sticklers about enforcing their application requirements — stating deadlines in hundredths of seconds and using software to prevent the submission of error riddled applications. The wrong font size on a proposal could lead to its rejection, forcing the applicant to wait months until the next grant cycle to resubmit. The delay can prove damaging with the tenure and promotion clock ticking." K. Marking, "Grant Programs Get Persnickety," Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/21/15. Read the full article-->
[Posted Oct 22, 2015]
Proposals with due dates on or after May 25, 2015 will require the use of NIH’s new biosketch format, a major departure from the previous format. The biggest change: Instead of simply listing your publications in Section C, you now are asked to describe your five most significant contributions to science in their historical context; each of these contributions may be supported by a list of up to 4 of your publications or other products. Additional changes include the option to include a url to a complete list of your publications (via, e.g. SciENcv, My Bibliography, My NCBI Collection) in Section C, and the option to list up to 4 of your publications/products to support your personal statement in Section A. To accommodate these changes, the allowable biosketch length has been increased from 4 to 5 pages. Instructions and a sample from NIH can be found here. Answers to frequently asked questions are here.
This new descriptive format requires significant sections to be written by the investigator; it cannot easily be compiled by an administrator. Please make sure that all collaborators on your proposal are aware of the new requirements, as these will be more time consuming to address than they were in the past.
NIH also points towards the use of Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv), NCBI's optional tool to create biosketches for multiple federal agencies. While it will allow for easy transformation among biosketch formats (NIH old, NIH new, NSF, and more to come), it still requires you to complete all fields at least once.
[Posted Mar 25, 2015]
Berkeley faculty and research personnel now have access to Research Development & Grant Writing News, a monthly publication with articles on opportunities and strategies for successful grant seeking. Members of the campus community may use this resource free of charge through BRDO's institutional subscription. An archive of past issues from Feb 2015 to the present is available here (CalNet ID required).
[Posted Mar 1, 2015]