CNS Research and Proposal Development Services

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Sources of funding

Information on UMass funding activity, as well as opportunities for public, private, and internal funding.

Assistance with collaborative/team research 

The UMass Office of Research Development offers Investigator Initiated Workshops to support faculty-driven collaborative research projects. Kendra Brown can facilitate collaborations among researchers or between researchers and external partners.

Proposal writing and review

Research Review Council

The CNS Research Review Council (RRC) provides feedback to eligible CNS faculty investigators to help develop stronger funding proposals. The RRC is a select group of accomplished scientists with insight into federal funding mechanisms. Review is available for early-stage research ideas, for complete proposals prior to submission, and for proposal re-submission. 

CNS Research Review Council (RRC) members have significant experience with peer review, from serving on review panels or as program officers for federal funding agencies, and/or securing federal funding for their own research. The RRC members providing feedback to a particular investigator will not necessarily share the investigator’s discipline, but will have general familiarity with the research area. RRC feedback will complement, not replace, focused scientific feedback from an investigator’s research community.

Eligibility

All pre-tenure faculty, as well as post-tenure faculty who find themselves in a funding gap, are eligible for RRC services.

Services 

To request any of the following RRC services, contact Kendra Brown.

Early Stage Feedback on Research/Proposal Plan

The RRC can provide feedback in early stages of outlining a research plan.

Format (choose one): 

  • 1-2 page briefing or outline of a research or proposal idea, to be reviewed by 2 RRC members
  • Brief presentation or chalk talk to a committee including 2 RRC members, as well as additional members of the investigator’s choice

What to include in your paper/presentation:

  • Aims of the proposed research
  • Methods (experiments, simulations, etc.) in enough detail for the reviewer to assess whether they will address the aims
  • Novelty and/or importance of the study

Full proposal review

The RRC can review full proposals prior to submission. The closer the proposal is to its final state, the better the reviewers can provide helpful feedback. 

Steps and Timeline:

  1. Request a review at least 8 weeks prior to the sponsor deadline
  2. Send your proposal in for review at least 5 weeks prior to the sponsor deadline
  3. Receive feedback within 2 weeks

Minimum standards for a “full” proposal:

  • All sections completed (except for the budget)
  • The following aspects clearly addressed:
    • Aims of the proposed research
    • Methods (experiments, simulations, etc.) in enough detail for the reviewer to assess whether they will address the aims
    • Novelty and/or importance of the study

Review Process:

  • Review by 2 RRC members (investigators are welcome to suggest a particular RRC member)  
  • Reviewers will provide a critical evaluation of your proposal based on logical flow and overall grantsmanship. 
  • Feedback will be presented as an overall summary of reviewers’ comments and specific annotations on your draft. 

Proposal re-submission

If a proposal you have submitted does not receive funding, the RRC can help strengthen your proposal for re-submission. 

Steps:

  1. After you receive the reviewers’ summary statements, contact the relevant Program Officer to discuss.
  2. Request assistance from RRC to provide further guidance on interpreting the reviewer comments and charting a path forward.

Research writing groups

These groups offer peer support and accountability. Campus-wide writing retreats and seminars, as well as (inter)departmental groups, are available.

  • The Center for Research on Families (CRF) selects six faculty each year to participate in an intensive grant writing program which provides faculty with time, technical expertise, peer mentorship, and national expert consultation. Family research encompasses all disciplines and is broadly defined. CRF Application information
  • Writing Groups – Throughout the college, faculty within departments have organized small writing groups for specific funding calls or for the purpose of peer support, sharing research ideas, and reading proposal drafts. Inquire within your department for existing research writing group opportunities, or contact Wendy Varner
  • The Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development (TEFD) supports the professional development of faculty across all career stages and disciplines with a wide range of programs and resources including scholarly writing. For general inquiries email TEFD.

Building relationships with program officers

Contacting the relevant Program Officer at a federal funding agency, to better understand the agency's priorities and processes, is highly recommended. CNS funds travel for pre-tenure CNS faculty to help make this connection. 

General guidelines for contacting the Program Officer of a funding agency: 

CNS travel funding

  • Pre-tenure CNS faculty may apply for funds to cover up to $800 of travel costs to visit relevant program officers before submission of a research grant application. In advance of their visit, mentors will provide guidance on what to expect; a short report evaluating the sponsored travel is required. To apply please submit the Pre-tenure Travel Request Form to Mark Tuominen, Associate Dean, c/o Amanda Leigh-Hawkins.

Broader impacts

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal research agencies are increasingly emphasizing the need to demonstrate not only the “intellectual merit,” but also the “broader impacts” of proposed research. Resources on how to approach this section, as well as opportunities for partnerships, are available. Contact Kendra Brown for individual help.

  • UMass Office of Research Development has many resources and on-campus examples to help you develop your “broader impacts.”
  • Community Connections: CNS has many programs which encourage science engagement in order to advance discovery, promote teaching and learning, broaden participation of underrepresented groups, and disseminate findings widely.
  • Broader Impacts Tips is a great resource for understanding and addressing the NSF Broader Impacts section.

Statistical consultation

On-campus help is available to develop the statistical methods for your research project.

    Compliance policies and cost-sharing procedures

    Helpful proposal development templates

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