Updates, Tips and Tricks for Successful Grant Submission & Management

Author: 
Rebecca Brouwer, Director, Office of Research Initiatives
Learn about new key resources and processes for researchers who seek research funding

The April 12th Research Townhall on “Updates, tips and tricks for successful grant submission & management” highlighted important new resources and processes that are key to researchers who seek external funding for their work. The speakers came from a variety of support offices, including the Office of Research Administration, the Office of Research support, the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity, and Duke Office of Research Initiatives and spoke to over 400 participants from our research community.

Many topics were covered, and a few highlights are below.

Intent to submit: Duke encourages researchers to give their department and the institution early notification of their “intent to submit” an application. This process is started in myRESEARCHhome, by accessing the “Start proposal” button, available in several areas of the portal.  Completion of this form triggers a series of notifications, all intended to support the development an efficient, feasible, and compliant application. 

Institutional review process: The pre-award offices are implementing changes to the institutional review process to allow ample time for a thorough review and institutional clearance of a full application (not just certain parts). Researchers are required to submit the entire application, including “near final science”, no later than 5 days before the sponsor due date. A short list of issues for which Duke will withhold submission of a proposal  can be found on a dedicated topic page in myRESEARCHpath.

Late fee/waivers: When funding applications are not received  by the institutional pre-award office at least 5 days prior to sponsor deadline, there will be an associated fee. The goal is that this will encourage on-time submission, which allows sufficient time for institutional review and clearance.  The fees will go into effect soon, and the amounts are not yet determined.

Overlap: The speakers talked about the importance of being aware of, and understanding the process for disclosing, potential overlap when submitting an application.  There are three realms to consider: scientific, budgetary, and commitment.   Go to myresearchpath.duke.edu (Disclose Activities) for more information on overlap statements and how to partner with your researcher support teams.

Overview of new and existing disclosure requirements: Duke is committed to ensuring sound research management practices and transparency of activities.  The presenters discussed many disclosure requirements, several of which were new or updated. This included a discussion on new disclosures associated with Biosketches and Other Support. These updates are required for all proposals/RPPRs submitted May 25, 2021 or later.  Researchers are strongly encouraged to begin using SciENcv to facilitate these new requirements. Key takeaways of this portion of the event were:

  • Always err on the side of disclosure
  • It is the responsibility of the investigator to review and approve all aspects of project, including biosketch and other support
  • Research administrators do not currently have access to all necessary information
  • There are ongoing discussion at federal level of harmonizing requirements
  • Soon, researchers should see tools in myRESEARCHhome to facilitate these disclosures

Acknowledging funding sources: It can be a challenge to know when to cite funders on publications.  The speakers emphasized that researchers should only acknowledge sponsors when the research is directly related to the specific aims and directly arises from the award.  If multiple awards are cited in a single publication, it could be an indication of overlap. More information can be found in myRESEARCHpath.

Residual balances: The town hall ended with a brief discussion of the importance of proactive management of fixed price awards throughout the life of your project. Significant residual balances on fixed-price awards may call into question the validity of the proposed budget, scope of work, effort committed and the proper allocation of project expenditures. Visit myRESEARCHpath for more information.

Researchers and administrators are encouraged to use the “Research Help” widget in myRESEARCHhome if there are questions about any of the topics presented at the town hall.