Penn State Harrisburg "Seed" Funding

Penn State Harrisburg "Seed" Funding

Guidelines and Application Forms - Spring 2016

I. Guidelines

A. Types of Seed Grants

The Office of Research and Outreach at Penn State Harrisburg provides seed funding to support research activities in a variety of ways for 1 year. These grants are intended to serve as “seed funding” for new projects. The intent is to provide limited funding to explore a new research project and assess whether that new project has potential for full development into an application for external funding.  They are expected to help provide preliminary data or archival work to assess the value of the project in preparation for applications for external funding.  Since one purpose of the seed grant program is to stimulate the formation of new projects or collaborative teams addressing new research on the way to external funding, established collaborative teams who already have funding on related projects will not likely be funded under this solicitation. It is expected that most successful seed grants will result in presentations and peer-reviewed publications, as well as subsequent competitive grant applications to outside agencies. These presentations and publications should acknowledge the support of the Office of Research and Outreach by including the following: 

“This project was funded in part by a grant from the Office of Research and Outreach at Penn State Harrisburg.”

There are 4 different “seed” grant programs:

  • RCG- for new faculty

  • INT- for new collaborative research

  • PLA- travel for planning new grant activities

  • FCI- for new collaborations with ISRA

The Research Council Grants (RCGs) are intended for all full-time faculty hired within the last 5 years and are expected to be given only once to a faculty member. The award will be limited to a maximum of $7500.

The Interdisciplinary grants (INTs) are intended to support research that crosses disciplinary boundaries and involve two or more Penn State Harrisburg faculty and incorporate investigative approaches from at least two different disciplines. In most cases, the projects will involve faculty from TWO DIFFERENT SCHOOLS at Penn State Harrisburg or other campuses.  If the faculty investigators are within the same School or the same program, strong justification of the separate disciplines will be required. The award will be limited to a maximum of $10,000.

The Planning grants (PLAs) are intended as short-term travel grants to bring potential research collaborators together so that research and funding applications could be discussed more easily.  The award will be limited to a maximum of $2000 and supports either Penn State Harrisburg faculty to go to another site or the costs of bringing potential collaborating faculty to Penn State Harrisburg.   Funds to support travel to conferences will not be considered, though these funds could be used to extend a stay at a conference site for the meeting with the collaborator(s).

The Faculty research grants to collaborate with ISRA (FCIs) is a partnership between the Office of Research and Outreach and the Institute of State and Regional Affairs (ISRA) to offer ISRA services to faculty piloting research projects with an eye to the development of larger project proposals for external support.  A limited number of FCI grants up to $1,000 are available for ISRA research services, such as survey research support, data acquisition, data analysis or computer mapping/spatial analysis. The Institute is comprised of five Centers that provide a variety of research services and expertise: The Pennsylvania State Data Center, The Center for Survey Research, The Economic Development Research and Training Center, The Center for Geographic Information Services, and The Information Technology Center. Faculty interested in considering an FCI should discuss their project ideas with the appropriate Center contact prior to seeking funding support.  Centers expect to be included in external grant proposals for larger projects on supported projects and to be acknowledged in releases/presentations/publications on the research. 

B. Eligibility

All Penn State Harrisburg full-time faculty are eligible to apply for these seed grants.  However, the RCGs will be limited to pre-tenure junior faculty.  For the INT, PLA and FCI applications, when there is not sufficient funding available to fund all proposals that receive a “fundable” score (see below), the priority for funding will be: pre-tenure faculty, then tenured faculty, then fixed-term faculty.  

In most cases, faculty who receive seed grants will not be eligible for funding again for 3 years.  In particular, a faculty member may not be Principle Investigator (PI) or Co-PI on more than one active seed grant at any time; if an overlapping application receives a fundable score, funding must then usually be delayed at least until completion of the prior project (including Office of Research and Outreach receipt of the final report). 

Only one type of seed funding application per faculty will be considered in a particular round.  Faculty may not receive more than one RCG or INT award for any specific research project, though the project could be funded using the FCI or PLA mechanism.  

C. Review of seed grant proposals

In addition to providing a mechanism to provide seed grant funds, the seed grant process also provides training in grantsmanship (grant application and funding processes) since the application and review process are similar to those used by many national sponsors to determine the projects that will be funded. The grant writers are encouraged to keep in mind the need to present the project ideas in lay language and include a broad view of the significance of the project as reviewers are not necessarily in the author’s area of expertise.  The use of students on the proposed research project is encouraged with the expectation that their involvement will provide appropriate creative and educational experiences.  Each seed proposal will be reviewed at three levels- by members of Research Grant Review Committee, by the School Director and by the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach. The reviewers from the Research Grant Review Committee will be selected by the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach using the best judgment to allow a fair review while distributing the review load across all committee members. Each reviewer reports their independent review as a review score from a scale of 1-5, where 1 is excellent in three categories: quality of approach or methods, feasibility including the budget, and significance of the work.  The reviews will also prepare a 1-3 paragraph “critique” that explains the assigned scores and indicates areas for project/proposal improvement. All reviews are “blind”, i.e. the identities of the reviewers are not available to the applicant.

The single determinant of whether a proposal is funded is the average of the reviewers’ scores, with one exception: if a single poor score from one reviewer results in an unfundable score, the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach will carefully evaluate whether that poor score should “stand”, based on evaluation of whether the critiques from that reviewer match the score and whether the comments include reasonable issues for revision. This process is intended to ensure that in no circumstance would a score/review that appears to be inappropriate or prejudiced in some way be allowed to prevent/delay a proposal’s funding.

The reviewer critiques will be conveyed to the PI for any seed grant proposal that does not receive a “fundable” score, and the PI will be invited to revise accordingly and resubmit at a later date. Since this process of proposal revision is a normal part of the grantsmanship process, and the intent is to assist faculty in learning/navigating that process, the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach is always available to coach faculty in dealing with critiques of their grant proposals in order to provide the most effective revision for re-consideration in a subsequent competition. Moreover, when a reasonable effort is made to submit a revision in accordance with the prior critiques, the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach will use that as part of the consideration for funding the resubmitted proposal. In most cases, this process has resulted in proposals being funded by the second submission.

D. Proposal Submission Deadlines and School Director’s Role

The Spring 2016 competition for the PSH Research Council Grants and Interdisciplinary Grants has TWO DEADLINES

  1. Friday, February 12, 2016 (Submission to the School Director)

  2. Friday, February 26, 2016 (Submission to Office of Research and Outreach

This process reflects the dual roles the School Directors play in the grant submission process. The first deadline provides for a mentoring stage of the proposal process (earlier submission here will enhance their ability to give constructive input).  After the proposal is submitted to the Office of Research and Outreach for review, the School Directors will then provide their evaluation as in the past, but they will do this by functioning as 4th reviewer for proposals from their faculty.

II. Forms and Required Documents