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Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Research Foundation News: RF Communicates with the Campus Community

From the Special Adviser to the Provost for Academic Research Initiatives
This edition of the Research Foundation communication series focuses on expertise available at the Research Foundation (RF) that supports pre-award and proposal development activity. Proposal development is not always linear. Sometimes you have a great idea to develop that prompts you to look for funding. Other times available funding presents opportunities to be developed. The RF staff enjoys a wealth of skill sets that provide flexibility to pursue proposal development in either track.

Pre-award and Contract Services: Carol Darstein, Peggy Bristol, and Laura Leone
The Pre-award and Contract Services office is instrumental in multiple aspects of pre-award activities. In broad terms, that includes linking campus individuals with potential funding opportunities (including enrollment in e-mail alert services [SMARTS]), interpreting requests for proposals, and overseeing all proposal submissions, as well as negotiating award and contract approvals. More specifically, the pre-award office provides proposal preparation support as the liaison for activities among groups of faculty and outside agencies and community representatives, and assists with budget preparation and proper completion of governmental forms. Periodically, presentations are offered to faculty, staff, and students on a variety of grant-writing topics, including new faculty orientation, hands-on training in electronic submission systems, and “Introduction to Grant Writing.”

Pre-award and Contract Services is responsible for the submission of formal applications to sponsors on behalf of Buffalo State applicants, providing expertise and guidance in electronic proposal submission. The office provides application review and endorsement before submission to a sponsor, ensuring that the proposed project activities are consistent and compliant with RF and sponsor policies.

When a sponsor is considering funding a proposal, Pre-award and Contract Services negotiates the award budget and terms, including preparation of contractual documents, acceptance of award conditions, and securing proper signatory approvals.

Project Development and Economic Advancement: Rick Johnson
Winning external funding in the twenty-first-century economy requires a focused, collaborative effort. These days, a great idea for a grant generally doesn’t succeed solely on the idea’s merit. A winning proposal is engaging, compelling, organized, and informative. In the competitive economic climate in which we now work, nothing should be left to chance, and every innovative developmental option should be explored before a proposal is submitted to a funding organization.

The Research Foundation’s Project Development and Economic Advancement (PDEA) was established to work with Buffalo State faculty and staff to help ensure that their great ideas are carefully cultivated into engaging and successful proposals. Working with colleagues as early as possible in the developmental stages, PDEA provides an opportunity for prospective PIs (principal investigators) and others to explore innovative options and create compelling narratives that can separate a winning proposal from an also-ran.

PDEA provides early-stage consultation, creative problem solving, grant writing, content editing, and related developmental supports that will help Buffalo State partners achieve the research and funding outcomes their great ideas deserve. The office also works internally and externally to build constructive economic advancement opportunities and partnerships that promote the interests and growth of the entire Buffalo State community.

Research and Evaluation: Bridget Zimmerman
Program evaluation is a systematic method for collecting, analyzing, and using information to answer questions about projects, policies, and programs, particularly about their effectiveness and efficiency. Equally important are questions such as how the program could be improved, whether the program is worthwhile, whether there are better alternatives, if there are unintended outcomes, and whether the program goals are appropriate and useful. Evaluators help to answer these questions, but the best way to answer the questions is for the evaluation to be a joint effort between the evaluator, the principal investigator (PI), and the project team.

It is important to incorporate an evaluation protocol in the early stages of project development. The RF area of Research and Evaluation assists faculty with proposal preparation (pre-grant) and the following evaluation services during the post-award project life cycle: needs assessments, formative and summative program evaluation, development of outcomes and indicators, development and deployment of assessment tools, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and reports and presentations.

A typical evaluation protocol is tailored to a project's needs, but generally the process is as follows: (1) work with the PI to fully understand the program or project to be evaluated, (2) design and plan the evaluation, (3) develop the instruments for gathering the data, (4) collect the data, (5) analyze and interpret the data, (6) write the evaluation report, and (7) disseminate the results. This process is repeated as frequently as needed by the reporting requirements of the project.

The units described above complement each other, providing collaborative efforts with campus individuals in the pre-award and proposal-development processes.

Coming in the series: Grants Administration, Accounts Payable, Purchasing and Travel, and more.


Mark W. Severson, Ph.D.
Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences