Best Practices in Grantsmanship Series note: Welcome to the second installment of Best Practices in Grantsmanship. In this series we will periodically post advice and suggestions that reflect best practices in grantsmanship. In the first installment, we introduced the key partnerships in the application process. Below, we address how to determine whether you will need to work with institutional contacts and the best ways to work with the various offices involved in the application process
How do you know what the processing requirements will be for a specific application? The first step is to read the application guidelines carefully. Within the guidelines, the funder will describe the application process and requirements and will tell you if the application should be submitted directly to them, through the Graduate School or through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP).If you are unclear, ask. You can ask the program officer attached to the competition or ask a fellowship advisor at GradFund.
Once you know that the application needs to be processed through an administrative office, you want to talk with the administrator responsible for shepherding your application through review and submission. If you need to process your application through ORSP, contact the grant specialist assigned to your program and reach out to them well before the deadline. Let the grant specialist know that you are working on an application, the submission deadline and ask when they will need to have your application materials for review. ORSP has policies on when documents and materials need to be submitted. As a professional courtesy to the grant specialist, it is good to give as much advanced notice as possible about your submission plans so the grant specialist can plan their workload.
In addition to the application process, as a researcher, there may be a few regulatory processes that you will need to complete as you develop your project, before your submit your funding application, before you commence your research or before your accept research funds. Whether or not you will need to complete these steps will depend on the nature of your research and your funding source. The Rutgers office responsible for the oversight of these tasks is the Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED). Housed in ORED, the Office of Research Regulatory Affairs will be able to assist you with the IRB process if your research involves human subjects. ORED can assist you with animal care requirements if your research involves animals.
If you receive external funding that is processed through ORSP, you will want to be sure to submit your financial disclosures to the university’s eCOI system soon after your award offer is made. This step will need to be completed before your award can be set up in the university accounting system so you can access your research funds.
What is the best way to work with all of these different offices and individuals? First, it is important to keep in mind the importance of good communication. A research project and its accompanying funding applications have a lot of different pieces that need to be crafted, which will require input from a number of different individuals, who typically will have multiple responsibilities. Ultimately, you are responsible for your research and funding applications, which means that managing the application process and working collegially with the individuals and offices that contribute to the crafting of a competitive application is your responsibility. Reaching out in a timely fashion to the offices and individuals who can assist you is key. Likewise, effective and courteous communication can go a long way to building a successful relationship. Indeed, it is useful to consider working with the research support professionals on your campus as a part of your larger professional network.
Applying for research funds is a multi-step process and each application will have its own process, rarely is it a one-size-fits-all approach to applying for funding. As you begin to work on an application, it is good to take a moment to assess what you will need to write, assemble and who you will need to collaborate with in order to build, process and submit your application. As you work on your application, give yourself enough time to work through all of these processes. If you have questions, be sure to ask for assistance and clarification. There are many people here at Rutgers who can assist you and point you in the right direction.