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Competitive Grants

Seed Grants for Transitional and Exploratory Projects (STEP)


Academic Year 2015-2016, Fiscal Year 2016

Download Power Point Slides from FY16 Competition Information Sessions

Quick Links:

Dates
Program Updates
Download Guidelines and Application Documents
Previous Awardees

*Note: Proposals with more than one faculty investigator should receive signed approval from all appropriate department chairs and deans on the Proposal Cover Sheet.

Important Dates

Program Deadline: 4:30 PM, Friday, October 3, 2014.  Proposals must be submitted electronically as a PDF to siueresearch@siue.eduPlease consult with your school/college deans regarding their internal deadlines.

STEP Grant Information Sessions: Thursday, September 4th, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., MUC Missouri Room or Friday, September 5th, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m., MUC Missouri Room. No R.S.V.P. required

STEP Mock Review Session: Thursday, September 11th, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.. or Friday, September 12th, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. R.S.V.P. required with pgraybi@siue.edu.

Award Announcement Date:  December 19, 2014

Summer Salary Contracts Due: March 15, 2015 and March 15, 2016

Project Period: July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016

Final Report Due Date: October 1, 2016

Program Updates This Year

  • More explicit language has been added to address the role of dissertation material for junior faculty in qualifying as a STEP project.
  • More specific language has been added to indicate what is expected of established faculty to successfully make the argument for a STEP project.
  • The merit review process has received an updated reviewer rubric to better standardize the scoring process during the disciplinary subpanel review. The rubric will be posted on the STEP grant website.
  • Budgets no longer receive scores by reviewers but rather comments that will serve as recommendations to the Dean in distributing awards.
  • The review criteria value percentages have been updated to reflect a stronger emphasis on project design.
  • Language has been incorporated to remind applicants to prepare an abstract for inclusion on the cover page.
  • The guidelines now state explicitly that the 2-page budget justification must be double-spaced.
  • Applicants are now asked to submit 2-page only curriculum vitae. COS Pivot profiles are no longer eligible as a substitute for the C.V.
  • The guidelines now specifically ask applicants to complete a “Previous Funding Form,” even when previous external grants or internal research grants from the Graduate School have not been received. Applicants with no previous funding are asked to submit the form with the statement, “No internal or external funding received.”

Purpose

Seed grants for Transitional and Exploratory Projects (STEP) provides seed funding on a competitive basis to SIUE faculty and staff to support research and creative activities. Seed funding is intended to encourage faculty to initiate new research directions or new research projects. Seed grant funding is not intended to sustain or supplement current research programs but rather to:

  • help junior faculty undertake pilot projects that will aid in establishing their careers as independent investigators and enable them to successfully apply for extramural funding
  • help established faculty perform transitional and exploratory research, particularly on novel or pioneering ideas, to determine project feasibility, and to develop preliminary data to support extramural applications.

Junior faculty in the pre-mid-term review stage of their career may submit proposals to revise dissertation material.  However, applicants must make a strong argument for how the STEP project may propel the applicant’s career in a significant and lasting research direction.

Faculty members beyond the early stages of their careers must demonstrate how the STEP project represents a significant transition in their research as opposed to previous activity. Successful proposals by established faculty will outline specific differences between the STEP project and previous scholarly activities, including publications and conference presentations, so an educated lay reader is able to discern the new direction of the proposed project. 

Eligibility

All full-time continuing members of the faculty may apply to the STEP program.  Research staff members on continuing appointments who have served as an investigator or co-investigator on an externally sponsored grant are also eligible for the STEP program.  The terminal degree must be completed by the time of submittal. All applicants must have submitted completed final reports and fulfilled the terms and conditions, including submission of an external grant proposal, of projects previously funded by the SIUE Graduate School at least 5 business days before this program deadline in order to be eligible for this program. This requirement applies to all PIs and Co-PIs of the previous internal award.

Definition of Research and Creative Activities

Research and creative activities are broadly defined as all creative, critical, scholarly, and/or empirical activity that expands, clarifies, reorganizes or develops knowledge or artistic perception. This definition includes the theorization, demonstration, implementation, and application of research.

Ineligible Activities Include:

  • Faculty Development – activities such as learning a new technique, language, methodology or completing a thesis or dissertation;
  • Institutional Research – studies related directly to the operation of the University that are not generalizable and have little application beyond SIUE;
  • Public Service and Consulting; and
  • Departmental Curriculum Development, such as the preparation of curriculum materials, curriculum modifications, and student interest surveys. Curriculum Development that includes empirical studies of the effectiveness of new program formats, or techniques and content that are generalizable and have application beyond SIUE may be considered research for this grant program.

Awards

Funding is for one fiscal year (July 1st – June 30th) and is awarded by budget line item.  All line items must be allowable costs.  Awards will not exceed $16,000; typical awards will range from $5,000 to $10,000.

Annette and Henry Baich Award

An additional $1,000 will be awarded to the best STEP application out of the pool of eligible proposals. Details will be provided in the electronic application materials. For further information about eligibility, please visit the Annette and Henry Baich Award website at http://www.siue.edu/orp/internalgrants/baich.shtml.

Terms and Conditions

As a condition of the award, recipients must submit a final report and a proposal for external funding through the Graduate School’s Office of Research and Projects before they are eligible for any additional funding from the Graduate School.  Failure by PIs and Co-PIs to submit either the final report or a proposal for external funding makes the recipient of a STEP ineligible for all other Graduate School sponsored support. Previous STEP awardees should consult eligibility guidelines above.

Deadlines and Submission

The Graduate School will hold this competition annually, the first week in October. Applications are not considered complete without signatures from department chairs and school/college deans. Complete applications including signed cover page should be scanned and emailed as a single PDF to siueresearch@siue.edu. Please refer to your department chair and unit dean for any internal deadlines that may affect collection of the appropriate signatures.

Evaluation Criteria

The primary evaluation criterion is the merit of the proposal. The R&D Committee will oversee the review process under the direction of the Associate Dean for Research using a disciplinary-based review system, as described below. Proposals will be evaluated and scored according to the following criteria:

  1. The alignment of the project with the STEP purpose (25%)
  2. The originality/creativity and significance of the proposed research or creative activity (20%)
  3. The clarity and appropriateness of the research design and procedure (30%)
  4. The research proposal’s potential for external funding (25%)
  5. The appropriateness of the budget and strength of the budget justification 

Review Process

Proposals will be assigned to one of four discipline-based review panels as indicated below. Applicants may request a specific review panel. Panelists may also suggest a specific area of expertise to be represented on the panel. The members of the R&D Committee will secure appropriate panelist commitments for each or the four panels, and will chair the panel reviews.

    Panel 1: Life Sciences/ Biomedical (includes Nursing, Pharmacy, and Dental Medicine)
    Panel 2: Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering
    Panel 3: Social Sciences, Business, and Education
    Panel 4: Arts and Humanities

Each panel will provide scores and comments, which will be entered into the Graduate School’s EPS system using the following scoring scale:

POOR: 1
FAIR:   2
GOOD: 3
VERY GOOD: 4
EXCELLENT: 5

The R&D Committee will oversee the panel review process, consider the scores and evaluations from the panels, and make funding recommendations to the Associate Provost for Research and Graduate School Dean. Applications are generally considered “fundable” when receiving overall scores in the "very good" to "excellent" scoring range. 

Click here to find a copy of the Scoring Rubric distributed to subpanel reviewers.

Application Procedures

Submit the following elements as a single PDF to the siueresearch@siue.edu by the deadline date and time. Applications that do not conform to these requirements will be returned without review.

1. Cover Page and Abstract: Download and complete the Cover Page. Include all appropriate contact information.  Include your project title along with an abstract of no more than 150 words in terms understandable to the non-specialist. Identify on the cover page the review panel that should consider your proposal. You may suggest a specific area of expertise to be represented on the panel. You may also identify any individual who has a conflict of interest or should otherwise not review the proposal.


2. Narrative (10 pages): The narrative is to be no longer than 10 double-spaced pages, with 1” margins and font sizes at minimum Times New Roman 11 or Arial 10. Pages are to be numbered. The page limitation does not include the cover page, endnotes, references, appendix, budget, budget justification, or vitae.  Please note that proposals might not be reviewed by specialists in your specific discipline. Care should be given to writing a proposal that can be understood by an educated general audience. Your narrative must include the following sections.  Use these section headings in your proposal.

  • Alignment with STEP purpose:  Explain in no more than 150 words how the proposed project aligns with the purpose of the program, as stated in the guidelines above.
  • Introduction and Background: Provide an overview of the research project or creative activity, including a clear statement of the problem and the objectives of the proposed project.  Describe the background to the project, including a review of the appropriate literature.  Clearly explain the significance of the research or creative activity and how the project contributes new knowledge or fills a gap in the research. Clearly explain how the proposed project differs from your current and past scholarly activities. 
  • Procedures or Project Plan: Provide a detailed description of the methodology used to conduct the research or creative activity.  The description should reflect the nature of the project.  Research projects that are experimental in nature should clearly describe the design of the experiment and the methods for acquiring and analyzing data.  Non-experimental projects, such as those in the humanities and fine arts, should describe the works to be examined, research sources (e.g. library and manuscript collections), and an appropriate plan for carrying out the work.   Include a description of any required compliance activities, such as the need to obtain human subject research approval.
  • Facilities: Address the facilities and equipment, either on SIUE’s campus or at other locations that are available and will aid in the completion of the project. Investigators are highly recommended to outline approved access to such facilities and/or plans for retaining permission to use external facilities. If the investigator plans to use only standard office space and computer equipment, the investigator may mention this in the proposal.
  • Timeline: Include a timetable that shows each project activity. Align the scope of work and the timeline.  Note that the project must be completed by June 30, 2016.   
  • Anticipated Results and External Funding: Include a description of the anticipated results and tangible outcomes, such as publications and grant proposals.  Describe how the results of the research fit into your broader, long-term research plan.

    Identify specific potential sources of external support for the continuation or extension of the project.  This information will include, for example, the sponsor, the specific program(s), and the expected submission deadline.  Include a description of how the STEP project fits with the sponsor and program’s goals/mission.


3. Budget: Provide a detailed budget using the cover page (download above). Applicants may request funding for academic year release time, summer salary, graduate assistantships, student wages, travel, commodities, contractual services, equipment, and telecommunications.    

Note the following when preparing your budget:

  • No funding is available for charges incurred outside the project period (July 1 – June 30).
  • Investigators may request academic year assigned time for research.  When requesting academic year assigned time for research, salary should be calculated at the call-staff rate. 
  • Investigators may request summer salary up to $9,000 or one month of summer salary, whichever amount is the lesser of the two.  Commitment overload is not permitted during the term of the grant.* Technical overloads may be permitted if the investigator is teaching during the portion of the summer when not committed to the STEP project.

*Therefore, 100% time/effort commitment is required while receiving summer salary from the STEP program.

  • When calculating summer salary dollars, applicants should consider the typical 3% annual cost of living increase and any anticipated promotions for the next fiscal year. Fringe benefits should not be included in the total calculation for summer salary.
  • Applicants wishing to hire SIUE faculty and staff as consultants in contractual services should calculate the total cost of services according to the consultant’s base salary. The total percentage of time and effort pledged by the consultant to the project should be included in the budget justification.  Fringe benefits need not be included.
  • Students working on any internal grant must be enrolled as a current student during each semester of the project in which the student is employed by the grant.
  • Travel funds are awarded for non-local travel for data collection only. Generally, no funds are available for consulting or for attending professional conferences. No funds are available for travel or related costs occurring outside the project period, July 1 – June 30. International travel must be completely justified.
  • Telecommunication costs are limited to the purposes of telephone surveys for research.
  • Funding for equipment is limited to items essential to the nature of the research. Those purchasing computers on STEP grants should remember that computers purchased through University funds are University property. Applicants are encouraged to outline a plan for what happens to the computer after completion of the project. Equipment maintenance or repair is not eligible for funding. 
  • Purchase of computer software and any copying services should be listed under the Contractual Services line.
  • Budget estimates for commodities and contractual services should be well-documented and justified.
  • General supplies and items that should normally be provided by a department are not considered as allowable costs.
  • Funding is available for incentive payments to study participants. However, guidelines apply. Please consult Patience Graybill Condellone (pgraybi@siue.edu) for more information.


4. Budget Justification (2 pages, double-spaced): Justify the funding request in narrative form. Each individual line item request on the Budget Request Form must be fully explained and carefully justified in an item-by-item narrative. Applicants are advised to keep in mind that the review committees rely heavily on the Narrative Budget Justification when making decisions about funding. If salary and/or assigned time for research are requested, the time requested must match the scope of work. If assigned time is requested, the current percent of assigned time for scholarship must be indicated and an explicit justification for the additional time must be made. Explanations that are cursory or justifications that are weak can result in a project either not being funded or having its requested funding reduced substantially. Stronger proposals explain the math and reasoning behind the subtotals.


5. Reference List (no limit) or Bibliography (max 1 page): Include a list of references showing your familiarity with the pertinent literature. No page limit applies to Reference Lists that address sources cited in the proposal. Bibliographies are limited to one page.

6. Appendix: Information may be included in an Appendix if it is necessary to the reviewers’ understanding of the research project and to provide evidence of access to needed resources and people. Such appendices may include but are not limited to: letters of commitment from consultants, sub-contractors and supporting facilities; letters of commitment from foreign contacts and institutions; letters of commitment from library or archive administrators; and sample surveys or protocols for human subjects research. Appendixes may not be used to provide data that belongs in the narrative.


7. C.V. (2 pages): Submit a two-page curriculum vita with a listing of activities relevant to the proposed project. This document should include those activities most relevant to the proposed project and demonstrate expertise to carry out the proposed work.


8.  Previous Funding Form(s): Complete and attach the Previous Funding Form. This form applies to funding previously received from both external sponsors and the SIUE Graduate School for the previous three years. Applicants may use one page per previous grant. Applicants who have not previously received external grants or research funds from the Graduate School should submit the form with the statement “No internal or external funding received.”

Final Reports

Final reports are due to the Office of Research and Projects by October 1 (90 days) following the completion of the research project. Both the Final Report and the submission of an external grant through the Office of Research and Projects are required to remain eligible to receive Graduate School funding.


Program Timeline

  • September: Submission deadlines to individual units.
  • October 3, 2014: All proposals must be submitted electronically by 4:30 PMto siueresearch@siue.edu
  • December 19, 2014 Award announcement date
  • March 15, 2015: Summer 2015 contracts due to Graduate School; March 14, 2016  (Summer 2016 contracts due to Graduate School)
  • July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016: Project Period
  • October 1, 2016: Final Report deadline
    (Reminder: in order to be eligible for other internal grant programs, applicants must have completed the final reports and met the terms & conditions of previous internal awards.) 

Downloads

Download items to your computer and open from your computer.

Program Contacts:

Patience Graybill Condellone
Internal Grants Program Coordinator
The Graduate School/Office of Research and Projects
pgraybi@siue.edu
618-650-5618

Previous Awardees

FY2015 STEP Grant Awardees List

FY2014 STEP Grant Awardees List

FY2013 STEP Grant Awardees List

FY2012 STEP Grant Awardees List

FY2011 STEP Grant Awardees List

FY2010 STEP Grant Awardees List


    

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