IMPORTANT NEWS FOR THOSE INVOLVED IN THE RESEARCH PROCESS
Volume 1, Issue 2
 
Welcome to the second issue of the Office of Research and Economic Development's e-newsletter.  Since we think this is an important platform for sharing information, we will continue to use this forum to update you on changes in the funding landscape in terms of award administration, including compliance.  If at any time you want to opt out of receiving the updates, you may choose to unsubscribe from the newsletter using the link at the bottom.  For more information about the newsletter, please contact Amy Hill at amyhill@tntech.edu.  The previous version of the e-newsletter is available at the following link:  Archived Issues.
Proposal Development and Processes


Improving your grant writing. 

As promised, every issue of the e-newsletter will focus first on providing best practices for proposal writing.  Here is another tip for ensuring that your proposals have the best chances for getting funded.  

Tip #2:  Know Yourself
When you begin the grant-writing process, first consider how well you understand your research strengths and weaknesses.  Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Do I have a strategic plan for my research, and can I define and characterize the nature of my research interests within my disciplinary domain of interest to begin identifying potential funders?
  • Have I identified funding agencies aligned with my research interests and expertise?
  • Can I develop the research collaborations needed to be competitive?
  • Have I reviewed past funding solicitations, abstracts of recently funded proposals, and other aspects of the particular funding agency?
Finding funding. 

Attention all Early CAREER faculty, now is the time to begin working on your NSF CAREER proposal.

The NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) is designed to support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

In order to be eligible, the PI must:
  • Hold a doctoral degree in a field supported by NSF by the cognizant Directorate's deadline for submission of CAREER proposals;
  • Be engaged in research in an area of science, engineering, or education supported by NSF;
  • Be employed in a tenure-track (or tenure-track-equivalent) position as an assistant professor (or equivalent title) as of October 1 after the proposal submission;
  • Be untenured as of October 1 following the proposal submission; and
  • Have not previously received a CAREER award.
Proposals are due during the third week in July. Specific deadline and program information can be found on the CAREER program webpage. NSF will host a webinar on May 15, 2018, to answer participants' questions about development and submission of CAREER proposals. Participants should register in advance of the webinar.
 
Faculty interested in pursuing an IUSE:EHR should begin forming project teams now.

The NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: HER) program recognizes and respects the variety of discipline-specific challenges and opportunities facing STEM faculty as they strive to incorporate results from educational research into classroom practice and work with education research colleagues and social science scholars to advance our understanding of effective teaching and learning. Toward these ends, the program features two tracks: (1) Engaged Student Learning and (2) Institutional and Community Transformation. Two tiers of projects exist within each track: (i) Exploration and Design and (ii) Development and Implementation.
 
IUSE: EHR invites proposals that address immediate challenges and opportunities that are facing undergraduate STEM education, as well as those that anticipate new structures and new functions of the undergraduate learning and teaching enterprise. Principal Investigators are encouraged to consider the value of the project from the perspective of the end users, as well as the relationships, partners, and structures, which would eventually be needed to sustain the improvement on a wide scale.
 
Important program information including the program solicitation, webinar materials, and FAQs can be found on the IUSE:EHR program webpage.

 
Preparing a Proposal Endorsement Form (PEF). 
 
We are always working to make our processes more efficient and our forms and resources more informative and easier to use.  The latest project has been updating our proposal endorsement form to make it more comprehensive and streamlined.  You can find the new version under the Pre-Award section on our Forms page, under Proposal Development Resources.  The old version is still there too, just for reference, but please start using the "PEF Updated 3-27-2018" for future proposals.  
 
Reviewing your roles and responsibilities. 

We have also been making sure that the Roles and Responsibilities page we told you about in the last newsletter accurately represents the duties of all those involved in the grant process.  The latest information can be found on the Roles and Responsibilities page under the About Us section of our site.   
 
Quick Guide to Indirect Costs. 

Indirect costs can be a tricky subject in preparing a proposal budget.  So, we've come up with the following "Quick Guide to Indirect Costs."
  • Indirect Costs (also called “Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs” or “overhead”) are real costs of university operations that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, instructional activity or any other specific institutional project. Tennessee Tech’s negotiated indirect cost rate was determined by an agreement between Tennessee Tech and the Department of Health and Human Services. The full indirect cost rate agreement is provided on the Office of Research website along with other institutional information needed for proposals.
     
    Tennessee Tech’s on-campus indirect cost rate is 42% of Modified Total Direct Costs and the off-campus rate is 11.5% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs consist of all salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, services, travel, and subgrants and subcontracts up to the first $25,000 of each subgrant or subcontract (regardless of the period covered by the subgrant or subcontract). Modified Total Direct Costs exclude capital expenditures (buildings, individual items of equipment, and alterations and renovations), that portion of each subaward in excess of $25,000 and flow-through funds.

     
    When determining whether the on‐ or off‐campus rate is to be used, one should only consider Tennessee Tech’s portion of the project and not the project as a whole. If greater that 50% of Tennessee Tech’s part of the project utilizes Tennessee Tech’s facilities and resources, the full indirect cost rate of 42% should be charged for the project. If less than 50% of Tennessee Tech’s part of the project utilizes Tennessee Tech’s facilities and resources, the off-campus rate should be utilized. 
Registering and maintaining user profiles on NSF websites. 

For those of you submitting proposals to the National Science Foundation (or NSF), the way you register for and maintain accounts and user profile information in FastLane and Research.gov changed as of March 26, 2018.  The NSF introduced a "new centralized and streamlined account registration process in Research.gov for the research community that will provide each new user with a single profile and unique identifier (i.e., NSF ID) for signing in to FastLane and Research.gov for proposal and award activities."  For more information, see the full announcement link.  Also, proposers will soon have the option of using Research.gov or FastLane to submit proposals.    
 
Developing National Science Foundation I-Corps Team proposals. 
 
If you're interested in preparing a proposal for the NSF I-Corps Team program, please follow the link to see a list of Frequently Asked Questions for I-Corps Team solicitations.  
Compliance and Procedures
Knowing our procedures. 

Through routine website maintenance, we noticed that some of our procedures needed a little polishing and updating.  Visit the Policies and Award Management Regulations and Procedures page to see the latest procedures the Office of Research follows in award management.  The following are the ones we recently updated and/or added:
  • Certification:  Drug-Free Workplace
  • Certification:  Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters
  • Contract Approvals, Project Activation and Modifications
  • General and Group Travel Policies (TTU Policy 506)
  • Proposal Approvals
  • Research Incentive Guidelines
  • Travel Policies and Procedures
  • TTU Policy 856 on Data Security and Handling
Managing grants (specific information just for bookkeepers). 

If you're a bookkeeper on a grant, here is where we will provide you important information on managing the funds.  Please note the following updates and notifications:
  • Monthly Reconciliations and Cost Transfers:  Per a memo (dated March 19, 2018) from the Associate Vice President for Business and Fiscal Affairs, "it is imperative that bookkeepers of externally sponsored agreements reconcile requisitions and purchases to Banner expenditure reports on a monthly basis.  This should include reconciliation of any release time that is charged to the project.  If a discrepancy is found, a request to transfer the cost should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days of discovery."  The memo further states that it was noted several times at a National Council of University Research Administrators Annual Financial Research Administration Conference, that cost transfers were a "hot topic" of audits.  Please refer to Policy 516: Grants, Contracts and Cooperative Agreements for more detailed information.  
  • Procurement for Sponsored Projects:  Please see the link on the Purchasing Office's web page for the latest information and guidelines on procurement for sponsored projects.  And you can visit the link on our Policies and Award Management Regulations and Procedures page for a summary of the guidelines.  
Events and Recognition


Stimulating student research through another successful Research and Creative Inquiry Day. 

 
Thank you to everyone who helped make the 13th Annual Research and Creative Inquiry Day so successful.  From judges to students to staff, we couldn't have done it without the support of the entire Tech community.  This year's competition featured more than 200 posters--the most ever for this event--from six colleges, 16 departments, and five schools of study.  Also, new this year, was the Communicating Research and Creative Works via Video Showcase, featuring outcomes from research conducted by students in the Honors 4013 Colloquia:  Engineering and Social Justice class, led by Tania Datta, assistant professor of environmental engineering, and Sally Pardue, STEM Center director.  The English Department also hosted its paper presentation competition in coordination with the Research Day event.  We look forward to seeing the competition grow even more and include more exciting features in the future.  For a list of winners and a link to this year's proceedings, please visit www.tntech.edu/research/research-day/.  And follow the Research Day Photos and Research Day Video links to view the media communications from this year; don't forget to use #researchday2018 for your own social media posts about the event. 
 
Acknowledging our faculty through committee awards.
 
And the winner is...Spring is always an exciting time around campus as committees choose the winners of the prestigious awards offered through the Office of Research.  The following is a list, in no particular order, of the awards presented this year:  
  • The Faculty Research Committee awarded nine Track I and seven Track II research grants.  Track I grants are intended to support (a) research that would lead to publication(s) in refereed journal(s) or other nationally recognized form of dissemination appropriate to the discipline and (b) travel to conferences to present papers or other creative works.  Track II grants are intended to provide seed funding to initiate and develop research projects or programs that lead to external funding. Since there were so many winners, we couldn't include them all here, but you can visit the Faculty Research Committee Grant Awards link to see the entire list. 
  • The University Research Advisory Committee awarded Jesse Carrick, associate professor of Chemistry, and Mohamed Mahmoud, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, the Annual Scholastic Research Award for scholarship, based on externally sponsored research grants, works published, or innovative research performed or exhibited in the preceding calendar year.  Visit the committee's web page  for more information.  
  • The Caplenor Faculty Research Award Committee presented Joseph Biernacki, professor of chemical engineering, with the award named in honor of the late Charles Donald Caplenor, former Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Instructional Development. The award is given for outstanding research accomplished by a faculty while employed at the University.   Visit the Caplenor web page for more information.   
  • The Scholar-Mentor Award honors a faculty member who displays outstanding mentorship, integrating scholarship, research and teaching excellence.  This year's honor was given to Holly Stretz, professor of chemical engineering.  Visit the Scholar-Mentor Award page for more information. 
Giving Feedback
Letting us know how we can better serve you. 
 
In order to improve and enhance the services offered by the Office of Research, your feedback is needed!  Please take a few minutes to go to the link provided below and complete a short online survey by Friday, May 4.  This link was also provided in an email sent out via the faculty listserv on April 20.  Your feedback is very important! 

Link to survey:  https://tntech.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8rbIy9MY3Wk7cEZ 

Please contact Jamie Murdock (jlmurdock@tntech.edu) if you have any questions about the survey or difficulty accessing the survey link. 
Copyright © 2018 Tennessee Tech University Office of Research, All rights reserved.


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