Proposal Review

Presubmission Inquiries

Prospective applicants may contact the FRCAC administration for questions and suggestions.   Please direct all your inquiries by email (frcac@mtsu.edu).  Please refrain from calling the office unless you have a specific question that is not answered in our website.  For specific questions, you can call 615 494 7600.  Applicants are advised to contact the Office of Research Services (research@mtsu.edu) to discuss the possibility for external funding as well.  

 

Proposal Submission

Applicants are directed to send their proposal through designated templates listed in the forms link.  It is important to note that the new application is designed to facilitate the applicants to provide a detailed framework for addressing common review questions used to evaluate the merit of each study. Applicants must carefully check to ensure that all aspects of the application form are completed accurately as instructed.  Digital signatures must be provided as indicated on the form.  Ink signatures are not required. In addition to the application packet, support documents may be needed by the FRCAC to complete the review.  Final reports for all previous successful FRCAC grants may be sent as separate documents if the image upload fields within the packet are not enough.  Send completed applications and documents in a single email to frcac@mtsu.edu.  Applicants will be notified of receipt of the application packet within 3-4 days.  Submit applications as early as possible to allow for any issues to appropriately be addressed prior to the deadline.    

 

Administrative Review

Proposals will be administratively prescreened prior to being reviewed by the FRCAC.  If the application documents are received prior to the deadline, FRCAC will contact the applicants should there be issues with their submission and direct them to revise and resubmit.  However, no further changes will be allowed once the deadline has passed.  Only completed proposals will be forwarded to the FRCAC for review; incomplete proposals will be administratively removed.   A grant will be generated for each proposal using the following nomenclature:

  • The grant IDs will resemble the pattern XX-YY-A##- for example 16-17-203 or 17-17-111.
  • "YY" represents the academic year in which the proposal was originally submitted to FRCAC.  For instance, YY would be 17 for all of the proposals made in Fall of 2016 while it would be 16 for proposals first reviewed in Spring 2016.  
  • "XX" represents the academic year in the last request (successful as well as unsuccessful) was made.  For instance, 17-16-203 was originally submitted to FRCAC in 2015/16 academic year and it was later resubmitted in one of the 2016/17 sessions
  • "A" denotes the subcommittee to which the proposal is assigned: "1" for social sciences and "2" for physical sciences.  For instance, 17-17-111 was (will be) reviewed by the social sciences subcommittee.
  • "##" is a serial number assigned by the FRCAC administrator.  The proposals are randomly sorted and a serial number is assigned.  This number does not reflect the funding priority of a proposal

It is worth reiterating that incomplete proposals will be administratively withdrawn without a committee review.   The administrative prescreener will notify the applicants if multiple proposals have been entered in their name; each applicant may only submit one proposal as a principal investigator (PI). However, a PI from one proposal may serve as a co-investigator or a consultant in a different proposal.  An individual may not request for summer stipend and simultaneously request for other types of expenses through a different PI's proposal.  

 

"Two-step" Review Process

FRCAC adopts a two-step review process to enable individual review by a specialist as well as holistic review which is conducted by the committee as a whole.  This mechanism is expected to help the committee arrive at the top proposals from a pool of applications in a given funding session.  The final determination on which proposal gets funded is made using a two-step process: (1) individual review of each proposal by multiple members; and (2) an overall vote by the full committee-wide.  

 

Reviewer Assignment

The first full committee meeting will typically be held shortly after the commencement of the University's Fall semester to discuss the logistics, strategies, goals for the year, funding, and other committee matters.  After the grant deadline, the committee chair will meet with the sub-chairs to prepare a reviewer list.    Two reviewers, with no known conflicts of interests, will be assigned for each proposal.  FRCAC will appoint non-voting ad hoc reviewers if necessary.  Although the ad hoc reviewers may not vote in the final meeting, they will however be invited to all subsequent meetings and deliberations.  The committee will strongly consider their recommendations and concerns while making the final determination.  It is important that the award seekers complete their proposal well in advance so the FRCAC administration can seek specialized talent to review their research plan if needed.  It is also important to note that proper communication to an unknown pool of reviewers is essential for a successful proposal.  

 

Proposal Review

As mentioned earlier, each proposal will be assigned two reviewers r who will be chosen based on their proximity to the applicants discipline without posing any conflicts of interest.  Once assigned to a proposal, the members review them in accordance with various review criteria including the funding priorities issued in the beginning of the funding year.  Initially, the proposals will be scored based on their scientific merit along with its significance.   If the PI is an established researcher, such as tenured faculty or full professor, then the reviewers will also evaluate if the proposal offers a new direction in comparison to the applicant’s ongoing studies.  Subsequently, the reviewers will also evaluate the feasibility of the study's specific aims within the projected timeline and available resources. The qualification and expertise of the PI to lead and succeed will also be critically evaluated.  Most importantly, the reviewers will consider if the study has a long-term future to advance the investigators' career and will the research have a positive impact on the University's overall mission.  Applicants who revise and resubmit their previously unfunded study may receive bonus points based on how well they addressed all of the reviewers’ critiques.

 

Scoring Proposals

The review scores will be assigned only based on the merit of the proposal and will not use the applicant's rank or tenure status.  Once the sub-committee members have had enough time to review, the respective chairs will call for a sub-committee meeting to discuss the review scores.  Each sub-committee will rank the proposals after intense discussions.  Multiple meetings may be held by each sub-committee if necessary.  In addition to assigning a score, the sub-group will also determine an alphabet designation for each proposal:

  • "A" - Recommend for funding
  • "B" - Suitable for funding
  • "C" - Decline funding

Once this alphabet designation has been made, the proposal scores and the sub-committee ranking will be sent to the committee chair who will then call for a full committee meeting.

 

Committee Vote

The full committee meeting will be to deliberate and decide on a compiled ranking that intertwines the two groups (physical and social sciences) of proposals.  All of the proposals, irrespective of their alphabet designation, will be discussed at the full committee meeting.  The following are a few typically observed scenarios:

  1. If all of the proposals that received an "A" rating can be funded within the set forth budget for the session/cycle, then the chair will entertain a motion to recommend funds for those proposals.  
  2. If excess funds are available after funding the ones with "A" rating, then the members may either consider top "B" proposals for funding or they may table the funds for the subsequent session/cycle.  
  3. If the budget is less than what is required to fund all the proposals with "A" rating, then additional deliberation will be conducted at the convened meeting.

 Scenarios 2 and 3 listed above will open additional deliberations by the members.  To determine which of the proposals would receive approval for funding, the members will use comments provided by the proposal reviewers and other details from the application packet to further evaluate if the study fits the funding criteria. It is essential that the applicant conclusively demonstrates the value of the proposed study in every aspect.  The new application packet allows the investigators to directly communicate with all of the members irrespective of their fields of specialization.   Subsequent to the deliberation, a final priority list will be generated to determine the awardees.  If the competition is tight, the junior member gets to win a potential tie in scores.  In addition, the members will also finalize their recommendation through a committee-wide vote.  It is noteworthy that a proposal that received "A" rating from the reviewers may not be voted for funding recommendation if the applicant did not present a strong case for the entire committee to support the proposed study.  

 

Notification

The results and FRCAC's recommendations will be notified to the applicants via email.  An abbreviated message will be initially sent to inform the applicants on the status of their proposal.  Once all administrative steps, such as the creation of appropriate accounts and index numbers, have been completed, a detailed notification will be sent to the applicants.  The timeline for the abbreviated and full notification may vary depending on when the final determination is made Typically, the abbreviated message will be sent few days after the convened meeting and the full notification will be sent in the first weeks of December (Fall) and May (Spring). All notifications are sent on behalf of FRCAC by the Dean of College of Graduate Studies who is also the Vice Provost for Research.  The FRCAC administration will facilitate all of the interactions with the applicants.   

Approval letters - will disclose the funding amount along with important account numbers and instructions to the applicants.  The supplemental section of the letter will also contain unedited reviewer comments and other notes generated during the meeting.  

Conditional Award Letters - same as above, but the funds offered may be different from what was requested by the applicant.  The PI can either accept or decline depending on whether the recommended funds and the terms are conditions are acceptable.  

Denied proposal notifications will provide reviewer comments and possible reasons for the decision.  Additionally, the applicants will receive unedited-anonymous reviewer comments.   Grant seekers are advised to use FRCACF101 for resubmission.  Ensure you have addressed all of the reviewers' comments before you resubmit.  

 

Appeals

All FRCAC decisions are final and applicants may not appeal or request for additional review once a determination has been made.  However, the applicants are encouraged to revise and resubmit their proposal in one of the subsequent funding sessions

 

Post-approval Responsibilities

 

General Responsibilities: After FRCAC recommendations have been completed through the two-step review process, the Office of Research Services will create an account by which to manage the funds granted. The faculty member will be responsible for following all University procedures in connection with the proper and timely disbursement and accounting of such funds and the completion of the necessary paperwork. All funds must be expended by the last day of the project as identified in the project timeline submitted with the proposal. If additional time is necessary, the recipient of the award shall petition the ORS for additional time for the account to remain open, providing convincing justification. If the award recipient does not make the request or if the request for additional time is denied, the account will be closed and a notice to such effect shall be sent to the recipient.

Acceptance Letter: The PI must submit a complete acceptance letter within 30 days from the issuance of the full version of the award notification.  The PI must agree and adhere by all the conditions provided in the acceptance letter template. No exceptions will be allowed.  Funds will be withheld if an applicant does not agree to any of the terms in the acceptance letter template.  Visit the forms link to download a recent copy of the acceptance letter. 

Accounting: Accounts are set up in the PI's name and the faculty members may sign off on service payments, student worker payments, adjuncts, purchases, travel, etc. The FRCAC Office will do our best to guide the faculty with paperwork etc, but overall it is the AWARDEES responsibility to manage transactions and keep up with account balances. This helps in preparing those who will later apply for external funding.

Making Changes: Changes or revisions to your proposal that require budgetary changes must be submitted to FRCAC immediately.  The funds allocated for each activity listed in the budget must be followed as proposed.   All alterations or modification, no matter how unavoidable they are, must be approved by FRCAC before they may be implemented.  

Final Reports: Recipients must submit a final report within 30 days after  the project is completed.   This report should be submitted even if research results in publication. Recipients anticipating applying for FRCAC funding at any point in the future MUST complete this final report questionnaire to be eligible to re-apply. KEEP final report COPIES FOR YOUR RECORDS. They must be attached to future applications, even if the report has already been submitted to the VP's office when project was completed.

When appropriate, the committee granting funds for a project lasting more than one semester or summer may require interim progress reports before disbursing money for a second semester or summer. Failure to submit a final report will result in sanctions not only to the individual but the department.

  • Chair of the department will be notified of the faculty member's failure to submit a report and asked to remind the faculty member of his/her obligation.
  • Chair will be reminded that the failure to report reflects badly on the department as a whole and may influence decisions to grant funds to other faculty in the department.
  • If a department shows a pattern of not submitting final reports, proposals from that department may (in extreme cases) be rejected for a period of (at most) two years.
  • Faculty members who fail to submit a final report within the designated period will not be eligible to receive funds again for a four year period after the report is finally submitted.

FRCAC Acknowledgment:  Grant recipients are expected to acknowledge funding by the Faculty Research and Creative Activity Grant Program on articles submitted for publication and/or presentations of creative works. If possible, the MTSU Faculty Research and Creative Activity Grant Program should be credited on program announcements distributed at presentations.  You must clearly display the FRCAC grant ID with your acknowledgment script.  

Intellectual Property:  The Bayh-Dole Act imposes the duty of disclosure upon a researcher who makes an invention in the course of federally funded research. Also, under the Intellectual Property policy, faculty, staff, and students are all required to disclose all inventions as well as the creation of those copyrightable works which could be reasonably expected to have commercial value. Grant recipients are thus expected to disclose any intellectual property developed as a part of the project to the Office of Research (see MTSU's IP Policy).

Scholars' Week: Investigators who have received FRCAC funds are required to present their work during scholars' week in the form of an oral presentation.  Scholars' week typically takes place in March of every year.  Please see the university calendar for exact dates.

FRCAC
ING Building G014C
Phone: 615-494-7600
Fax: 615-898-5028
Email:frcac@mtsu.edu

QUICK LINKS:
Types of Grants
Eligibility
Proposal Guidelines
Budget
Review Criteria
Recipient's Responsibilities