NSF Biographical Sketches: Change to Note
Instructions for the Biographical Sketch(es), Products section indicate that "acceptable products must be citable and accessible." Accessibility may be difficult to accomplish in the case of manuscripts submitted or accepted for publication and other documents and materials. Access may need to be provided through institutional or personal websites. Will that be sufficient to meet the proposal submission requirements?
The language was changed from "publications" to "products" in order to allow proposers to receive appropriate credit for research products that may not be traditional publications. The requirement that all products be "citable and accessible" is not a submission requirement, in the sense of blocking a proposal from consideration, but a definition of the standard to which proposers should adhere. It was introduced because of experience with citations that are not readily available, including web references that are inaccessible or out of date and is intended to indicate that such mistakes have demonstrably downgraded a proposal in the judgment of reviewers. References to websites, even private ones, are appropriate, provided that the site is available for a reasonable percentage of the time. Such material is often the best way to demonstrate the applicant's ability to carry out the project.
For Biographical Sketch(es), now that "Publications" has become "Products," are proposers still limited to the same number of Products as they were Publications?
Yes. The proposer may include up to five products most closely related to the proposed project and up to five other significant products, whether or not related to the proposed project.
Link to current Grant Proposal Guide's applicable section: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf13001/gpg_2.jsp#IIC2f
NSF News Item: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education: A Nation Advancing?
The National Research Council (NRC) recently released a report, "Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education." Building upon previous work, the report specifies three goals for U.S. K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education:
- Expand the number of students who ultimately pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields, and broaden the participation of women and minorities,
- Expand the STEM-capable workforce and broaden the participation of women and minorities, and
- Increase science literacy for all students
The report emphasizes that further research is required to better assist in how to move forward in improving STEM education. Furthermore, the report examines what data is currently available and provides information on areas that require additional focus.
For the full article: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126071&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click
Use Grant evaluation to Add Value in Proposals and Help Secure Additional Funding
Evaluation and assessment is essential at the planning stages of a project (during the proposal stage) and after you have won the award. Once a proposal has been funded, the grant evaluation should not be forgotten. The evaluation can be essential in helping a program to stay on track as well as serve to help secure additional funding in the future. According to Rena Beyer, grant specialist, Cooperative Educational Service Agency Grant Resources of Wisconsin, and owner of Grant Specialist USA, "When you are writing the grant, evaluation helps show the funder the outcomes that will be measured and tracked, and lets them know there will be some unbiased report at the end of the grant cycle that they can look at and use to see what they are giving money to is actually working or not."
Beyer offers the following advice on the grant evaluation process:
- Determining when to start
- Beyer emphasizes that, "You need to start planning for evaluation immediately when you begin looking at the funding. The evaluation has to hand in hand with the development of the program and the development of the budget." Evaluation should not be an afterthought. If the evaluator is involved from the beginning, they can help to ensure that the program’s goals are realistic and measurable. This input should be included in the grant proposal with specific and quantifiable metrics.
- Choosing a method
- Choosing an evaluation model is dependent on the grant itself, as well as the community and how the grant is going to be implemented.
- Knowing which model is appropriate
- During the evaluation process, Beyer continually ask three questions:
- Is the program positively making an impact?
- Has the program resulted in changes in behavior and habits as outlined in the goals indicated?
- Is the program operating on schedule, and is it fiscally sound?
- Selecting an evaluator
- Choosing an evaluator is important since you will be working with this person for the entire award term. This could span several years and the report they write should be a reflection of the effort and work you have put into the project. Important aspects to take into consideration when selecting an evaluator include compatibility, as you will have this relationship over a long period of time; the individual’s expertise in the program area; and his or her required background skills.
Logic models provide sketch for program layout
According to Dierdre McKee, director of Continuing Medical Education and Grants at National Comprehensive Cancer Network, "A logic model is a systematic, visual way to present a planned program with its underlying assumptions and theoretical framework." Furthermore, "Logic models are opportunities to think about plans, outcomes, and measurement, and they help everyone get on the same page before proceeding with a project." McKee offers the following advice on developing a logic model:
- Planning Tool
- Logic models can assist as a planning tool in the development of a grant proposal as all the components that go into a proposal is contained within the logic model.
- Logic models are comprised of inputs, outputs, and outcomes.
- Additional Elements
- Logic models help to identify assumptions, external factors, and evaluations.
- Logic models are not without their limitations. For instance, they do not demonstrate program outcomes.
- The following are illustrations of logic models:
- The University of Wisconsin: http://www.uwex.edu/ces/pdande/evaluation/evallogicmodel.html
- Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/eval/resources/index.htm#logicmodels
- The Kellogg Foundation: http://www.wkkf.org/knowledge-center/resources/2006/02/WK-Kellogg-Foundation-Logic-Model-Development-Guide.aspx
Reviewers are often swamped with a sea of text. Consider providing them with a graphical representation of the project in the form of a logic model. It’s a visually pleasing way to punctuate the work plan and lighten the reading load.
Good Evaluation Plans Are Critical to Solid Funding Proposals
Submitting an evaluation plan along with a proposal demonstrates to sponsors how their money will be spent as well as how the project's goals will be achieved. "An evaluation should determine the impact and effectiveness of a program. It demonstrates what worked and also what didn't work," said Nichole Albanese, MPA and grant writing consultant. "A thoughtful program evaluation should not only focus on proving that a program works, but also on improving a program's effectiveness." According to Albanese, "Evaluations can help the organization plan the program, create an objective report detailing the return on investment for a funder, and demonstrate the benefits to the community that the organization serves."
Albanese offers the following advice on how to construct an effective evaluation plan:
- What it does.
- How it works
- When and how to implement.
- "In designing an evaluation, the organization needs to clarify at the outset what they want to learn and how they are defining success."
Outcomes must be measurable. Metrics should be used to quantify outcomes. Especially for federal sponsors, the evaluation plan is a requirement and integral to the scoring of a funding proposal. Often guidelines will assign up to 20% of the score of a proposal on the evaluation and assessment measures employed in the project design. Federal sponsors demand accountability for expenditure of public funding and all sponsors are following suit. The federal government passed the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) which aims to improve the confidence of the American people in the capability of the Federal Government, by systematically holding Federal agencies accountable for achieving program results; in turn, federal sponsors have mandated efforts to improve program efficiency and effectiveness, because of insufficient articulation of program goals and inadequate information on program performance. See the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/mgmt-gpra/index-gpra) for more information.For a copy of the complete interview with Nichole Albanese, visit: http://getyourgranton.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/evaluationplans-are-you-demonstrating-your-programs-effectiveness/
Take away message: The program evaluation and assessment plan should NOT be an after-thought as you formulate your funding proposal. It should be central to the design of the project. You should carefully consider what resources you will need in terms of the budget to produce a compelling evaluation plan. Office of Sponsored Programs staff can help you with the adequate budgeting of resources, whether they be internal or external.