Research Support Program (RSP)

Note: The RSP for the fall semester 2021 is to be viewed as a second pilot program that provides the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPRED) a platform to test what works and what does not based on comments and revisions received from the first pilot program conducted during the spring of 2021.

The Research Support Program (RSP)  is intended to be an annual cycle funding program to foster the development and growth of innovative and transformational research activities. The RSP builds on faculty expertise, stimulates interdisciplinary collaborations and strengthens seed research activities.

The RSP is a strategically focused Auburn University investment strategy that promotes promising and impactful new lines of research as well as the growth of collaborative and/or interdisciplinary teams to build the foundations of science, to overcome scientific and societal challenges and to promote and enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of individuals, groups and communities. Research activities supported by the RSP will enhance the visibility and recognition of Auburn University as well as have a strong potential to attract extramural funding for sustained research efforts. Investing in the RSP supports the University’s strategic plan by elevating scholarly impact, investing in outstanding people who advance the university’s mission, and providing an elevated Auburn experience for our students.

Activity Date
RFP Opens 10-6-21
PIs email notification of intent to apply to ADR 12-1-21
ADRs email PSFS preliminary review team members 12-10-21
Proposals Due 1-10-22
Internal Proposal Review Period 1-13 - 2-14-22
Selected Applicants Proposal Revision Period 2-17 - 2-28-22
External Review Period 3-1 - 3-31-22
Final Internal Review Period 4-1 - 4-8-22
Funding Decisions Awarded April 2022

Notification of Intent to Apply

  • The PI will email a notice of intent to apply to their ADR no later than 4:45 pm on December 1, 2021
  • The notification should include the department, a short description of the proposed project, personnel, and a budget if available

The RSP funding opportunity includes the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines as well as the medical, life, health and social sciences. However, collaborative roles with creative work and social impact scholarship disciplines are also strongly encouraged.

The RSP is primarily designed to support the initiation and development of research efforts leading to extramural funding and the further establishment of Auburn University as an innovative and transformative research institution.

The primary ROI for projects under the RSP is the submission and award of extramurally funded research proposals. It is anticipated that the extramural funding ROI will be reasonably proportional to the RSP funding provided for projects. It is understood that the extramural funding ROI may not be fully realized within the performance period of funded projects.

Establishing Auburn University as a prominent research institution with researchers that are recognized leaders in various research fields is a significant ROI.

Other ROI elements might include, but are not limited to:

  • Publications and significant presentations
  • Technology transfer/patents
  • Publicity/visibility of Auburn University in the field of research
  • Awards and fellowships related to program of scholarship
  • Industry relationships, e.g., sponsored research agreements and collaborative proposals (SBIRs/STTRs)

The impact of the RSP will primarily be measured against key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to extramural funding activity, prominent outcomes (e.g., peer-review publications) and increased visibility and recognition of Auburn as a research institution.

Funded proposals have a performance period of no more than two years. It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to provide an annual report (form based), and a final project report.

It is understood that evidence of an ROI is likely to occur within the latter stages of the performance period of the RSP project; however, an ROI seen in the early stages of the performance period is a positive indicator to include in all project reporting. Awardees will be asked to submit ROI information (i.e., list of publications and extramural grants related to the RSP project) for 2 years after the final report is submitted, and any future RSP proposal submitted by past awardees will require ROI documentation. This information will help measure ROI and substantiate continued program support.

Eligibility follows the University's Statement of Principal Investigator Eligibility

Each eligible Auburn University faculty member may serve as a PI on only one grant (CWSIS or RSP) per year but can serve as a co-I on an unlimited number of grants. The submission of additional proposals from a PI is not allowed while they lead an ongoing CWSIS or RSP project (e.g., if a PI is leading a two-year RSP grant, they cannot apply for another CWSIS or RSP grant in the second year of the existing grant, even if all other requirements are met).

PI is eligible to apply for an RSP Grant during the upcoming funding cycle if:

  • The PI has not received a CWSIS or RSP grant within the last three years or
  • The PI has received a CWSIS or RSP grant within the last three years, but that project will be concluded by the start of the upcoming funding cycle, and they have submitted one or more grant proposals to an extramural source(s), developed valuable partnerships, and/or has clear evidence of other forms of ROI resulting from the most recent CWSIS or RSP funded project.

Exceptions or modifications to PI eligibility for a specific project will be determined by reviewing ADRs.

NOTE for the fall 2021 semester: The OVPRED will fund external reviews for up to five (5) proposals from each constituent school or college that participates in the intramural award programs (i.e., across RSP and CWSIS combined). In addition, the OVPRED will fund ten (10) proposals from both the RSP Program and the CWSIS Program in toto, not per program. This being a second pilot program, the five-proposal limit and the proposal funding cap will allow the OVPRED to evaluate the services availed during the proposal review process and focus resources for a larger program in the future.

Funding priorities:

  • To support efforts to strengthen unfunded extramural proposals receiving high review rankings
  • To support pilot and/or initiation research activities of new, small-scale, innovative lines of research for the advancement of proposals to extramural funding opportunities
  • To support and foster new inter-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary collaborative efforts to allow them to mature and acquire preliminary data prior to seeking extramural funding

While the primary intent of this element is to support new, innovative research, that currently has no extramural support, proposals for bridge or gap funding of established research projects will be considered with relevant justification.

Proposers may request up to $25,000 from the OVPRED with a 1:1 anticipated matching contribution between the OVPRED and the College(s)/School(s)/Department(s). For example, if $25,000 is requested from the OVPRED, a $25,000 match is required for a proposed total project cost of $50,000.

The requested period-of-performance may be for up to two years. (Limited no-cost extensions are approved on a case-by-case basis.)

Notification of Intent to Apply

  • The PI should email a notice of intent to apply to their ADR no later than 4:45 pm on December 1, 2021
  • The notification should include the department, a short description of the proposed project, personnel, and a budget if available

 

Application Process
To apply, go to the Auburn University Competition Space (InfoReady), scroll down and click on the RSP Application. In the top right column of the page click on “Apply”. You will be taken to the AU login screen. First-time users will need to click on “Register” in the lower right corner of the login screen using their Auburn University Login. Once you have set up your account, the application will open. Follow the instructions for completing your application. Using the Save as Draft feature at the bottom of the application allows you to save your application and return to complete it as needed. You must check the Applicant Acknowledgment box at the end of the application every time you save for future input and when you submit. When you are ready to submit, click on “Submit Application” and the routing process will begin. Please note that once you click submit, no further edits can be made.

Online Instructions
You will see that the following instructions are incorporated into the InfoReady System for each corresponding section. Applicants may complete their applications as time permits and save the information and data entered in draft form prior to completing their submission.

Format Requirements

  • All Margins – 1 inch
  • Font Size – 12 point, Times New Roman
  • Single-spaced, 8.5 x 11-inch pages
  • Pages must be numbered

Proposal Title
A descriptive project title, suitable for publication on our public web site - See  Auburn University Competition Space

Applicant Details
Name, position, and department of all key personnel – See Auburn University Competition Space

Compliance
Does your proposal require Compliance Approvals? You will select none or all that apply. (All research must be conducted in compliance with Federal and University Regulations.) Compliance letters and protocols are not needed at the time of proposal submission. However, funds will not be released for awarded projects until a notice of compliance approval is received from the Office of Research Compliance.

Previous Funding
Have you previously submitted this proposal (or any portion of this proposal) for Intramural Funding? In the case of an affirmative response to this question, please provide the PI name, year submitted, year awarded (if applicable), and competition name.

Project Abstract
A 250-word maximum description of the project for a sophisticated lay audience, suitable for publication on our web site. The abstract should describe the project’s broad significance, the proposed activities and the project’s intended outcomes. If selected for phase two of the competition, the initial abstract will be provided to the external company to initiate their expert reviewer search. External companies will be told that the initial abstract may change during the revision period.

File Upload Requirements
The following must be uploaded to the online system as a single pdf document with clearly labeled sections. Note: The file must be a flattened pdf, not a pdf portfolio (multi-layered) document since InfoReady cannot read that format.

  • Proposal Narrative: (6 pages maximum) A descriptive narrative that enables cognizant reviewers to judge the merits of the project using the review criteria listed under the Review Criteria tab. The project narrative page limitation does not include biosketches, budget worksheet, budget justification, current and pending proposals, and references/citations. While these additional items are included in the single pdf along with the project narrative, they may not be used to expand the project narrative page limitations. Proposals should avoid using weblinks or any other external references that expand the project narrative page limits.
  • References/Citations: (no page limit) include any relevant citations to published work. It is especially helpful to reference published works of key personnel as related to the proposed project.
  • The Budget: (use form provided) The intent of the program is to be as least restrictive on the budget options as possible within regulatory requirements so that options open to applicants to accomplish their work are not limited. Applicants are free to request funding, within the overall budget limits of the proposed research project/program, to support, for example, salary, personnel, travel, supplies/activities, equipment, publications, and participant costs. Funds cannot be used to pay the salary of a collaborator at another institution unless it is as a consultant, and that should be thoroughly justified; sub awards are not allowable. Items normally covered under indirect costs will be viewed as allowable for funding.
    • Budget Justification: (two-page limit) The budget  justification should address, as appropriate, elements such as personnel (inclusive of fringe costs), travel (clearly identifying domestic and/or international), supplies, equipment and/or other allowable costs. Proposals should clearly justify how requested funds will be used to best align the project for success and lead to identified ROIs.
    • Cost Share: Applicants who are advanced to the second phase of the competition (external review) will also need to complete the Cost Share FOP Table requiring ADR Signature(s) of each contributing unit. The form can be sent via email to collect the appropriate information and signatures.
  • Biosketches/CVs: (page limit – three pages per key personnel) Each key personnel member of a proposal should submit a three-page biosketch/CV. You may use the format prescribed by any federal agency or a listing, not to exceed three pages, of educational preparation, positions held, research activity and relevant publications, presentations, etc.
  • Current and Pending Grants/Contracts: (no page limit) List of all current and pending internal and external grants/contracts and other sources of major support of all key personnel involved in the project, including title, award amount, funding agency, period of performance, and effort allocation. Indicate any grants/contracts related to the proposed project and briefly describe the relationship.
  • Extramural Proposal Reviews: (as appropriate) (no page limit) Proposals requesting support of efforts to strengthen recently submitted, but unfunded, extramural proposals that have received high ranking should provide the official reviews and/or ranking from the extramural program to which it was submitted. The proposal narrative should clearly describe how the identified weaknesses of the unfunded extramural proposal will be addressed.
  • Conflict of Interest: (use form provided) Each PI (and Co-I) should provide a separate alphabetical list of Conflicts of Interest (internal and external).  This information is needed for proper review of your proposal. 

The intent of the program’s budget guidelines is to be as least restrictive on the budget options as possible within regulatory requirements so that options open to applicants to accomplish their work are not limited. Applicants are free to request funding, within the overall budget limits of the proposed research project/program, to support, for example, salary, personnel, travel, supplies/activities, equipment, publications, and participant costs. Proposals should clearly justify how requested funds will be used to best align the project for success and lead to identified ROIs.

Funds cannot be used to pay the salary of a collaborator at another institution unless it is as a consultant; sub awards are not allowable.  Items normally covered under indirect costs will be viewed as allowable for funding. 

A two-tiered review and selection mechanism will be used to advance proposals for competition in the RSP. It is envisioned that each college/school ADR will form a review and selection advisory group (recommended minimum of three members) that would only put forward those proposals that are most likely to be competitive and impactful. This would allow the ADRs to appropriately budget for matching contributions while also minimizing the reviewer burden at the upper (OVPRED) competition level.

A mix of internal and external cognizant reviewers will be utilized in the RSP proposal selection process. All reviews will be submitted via AU Competition Space (also known as InfoReady). External reviews will only be solicited for proposals down selected to advance to the upper competition level. Both internal and external reviewers will assess proposals using the Review Criteria (below).

If a collaborative/interdisciplinary proposal spans multiple colleges/schools, the primary college/school will be determined by the identified corresponding principal investigator of the proposal. The primary ADR may choose to involve ADRs from each represented college/school of a collaborative/interdisciplinary proposal in the initial review, down selection process and budgeting of matching contributions. Please note: Proposal reviews will be made available to proposers to aid in enhancing the quality of proposals that will undergo review(s) from an external reviewer(s), extramural proposal development or subsequent proposals to the RSP if not selected during a given program cycle.

Once a proposal is selected for funding, a single funding account will be established based on the project correspondent’s college/school. All matching funds and OVPRED funds will be loaded into this account for project activity. All compliance requirements must be met before any project activities may proceed.

Note for the fall semester 2021: The OVPRED will fund external reviews for up to five (5) proposals from each constituent school or college that participates in the intramural award programs (i.e., across RSP and CWSIS combined). In addition, the OVPRED will fund ten (10) proposals from both the RSP Program and the CWSIS Program in toto, not per program. This being a second pilot program, the five-proposal limit and the proposal funding cap will allow the OVPRED to evaluate the services availed during the proposal review process and focus resources for a larger program in the future.

The following review areas will be used by all review teams to evaluate proposals:

Reviewers are asked to keep the following program goals in mind when reviewing proposals for RSP:

  • The RSP is intended to be an annual cycle funding program to foster the development and growth of innovative and transformational research activities.
  • The RSP is a strategically focused Auburn University investment strategy that promotes promising and impactful new lines of research as well as the growth of collaborative and/or interdisciplinary teams that are built upon the foundations of science.
  • Research activities supported by the RSP will have a strong potential to attract extramural funding for sustained research efforts.
  • Investing in the RSP supports the University’s strategic plan by elevating research and scholarly impact to address society’s critical issues and promote economic development in Alabama and beyond.

 

Scoring system: A grading scale of 1-5 will be utilized where 1 is ‘poor’ or 'very weak' and 5 is ‘excellent’ or 'very strong'. In general, those with higher aggregate scores (based on the number of items rated) will make it farther in the process. Please reference the following table for additional guidance:


1 = poor
2 = fair
3 = good
4 = very good
5 = excellent

1. Scientific / Technical / Creative Merit and/or Social Impact Value of the Project

Are the project's goals, hypothesis(es), intellectual question(s) or problem the proposer is trying to solve clearly articulated? (i.e., does the proposal clearly describe what is intended by the PI, how the PI intends to reach objectives, and anticipated implications of the project's findings/contributions?) Does the proposed project logically lead to future expanded projects supported by external funding opportunities or valuable partnerships? Is it clear and specific who could benefit and what the impact will be if the project is successful? Is the audience for the proposal clearly identified? Does the audience include professional practitioners in relevant disciplines? Include specific comments on the strengths or weaknesses of the stated project goals.

2. Appropriateness of the Proposed Method or Approach

Does the project incorporate methods/an approach appropriate to the goals, objectives, or proposed contribution? Does the proposal suggest modified procedures in response to changing circumstances? Does the project effectively apply its stated methods/approach? Is the proposed analytic strategy appropriate for the aims of the project? Is the proposed solution relevant to/applicable in real-world situations? Will the project fill a potential need or function that is currently unfilled? Include any comments that could help the PI improve the proposal.

3. Competency of Applicant's Personnel and appropriateness of the budget

Is the budget realistic and commensurate with both the project needs and time frame? Are project team member(s) clearly identified, along with work experience, in the proposal? Does the project's team possess the skills uniquely qualifying them to complete the proposed scope of work?

4. Overall recommendation

Provide a brief summary of your overall impressions of this proposal. Please comment on the overall competitiveness/relevance of the work and how the work may contribute to the broader field of study.

5. Should this project be advanced to the next level of review?  Yes / No

Interdisciplinary Research Proposals that connect the Creative Work/Social Impact disciplines with STEM disciplines may fit with either the CWSIS or RSP program areas. Teams developing these types of submissions should determine whether the ROI fits more with CWSIS or with the RSP and submit to the best fitting program area. Interdisciplinary research proposals submitted to the RSP may have funding/resource needs outside of typical RSP proposals. Collaborative teams should consult with the ADRs associated with their colleges/schools for input and guidance. 

To provide flexibility, all RSP or CWSIS grants for the approved dollar amount (including cost share) will be fully funded when the account is established and are two years in duration. The PI has the flexibility within the two years to spend the approved funding as appropriate. No cost extensions will only be allowed under extenuating circumstances. It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to provide an annual report (form based), and a final project report.

It is understood that evidence of an ROI is likely to occur within the latter stages of the performance period of the RSP project; however, an ROI seen in the early stages of the performance period is a positive indicator to include in all project reporting. Awardees will be asked to submit ROI information (i.e., list of publications and extramural grants related to the RSP project) for 2 years after the final report is submitted, and any future RSP proposal submitted by past awardees will require ROI documentation. This information will help measure ROI and substantiate continued program support.

 

Robert Holm, Ph.D


Phone: (334)844-5877


Email: rzh0021@auburn.edu


Notification of Intent to Apply Deadline: 12-1-21

 

RSP RFP Document


Proposal preparation and submission:
 AU Competition Space