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Home > Funding Opportunities > RFA OD-13-009


Frequently Asked Question (RFA-OD-13-009)

Frequently Asked Questions for RFA-OD-13-009 Short Courses on Innovative Methodologies in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (R25):

  • THERE IS NO CHANGE IN THE DUE DATE following the government shutdown of October 1-16, 2013. The application receipt date remains November 14, 2013. Note, this is an RFA with a single receipt date. There are currently no plans to reissue this announcement.
  • Since the publication of the FAQ's, a question has arisen regarding the 12 week limit on the duration of the short course as stated in the RFA. Specifically, the announcement states "....the short course...duration can vary from one week or less to a maximum of 12 weeks." The project period of performance is up to five years, so we certainly do not mean to convey that all activities must be completed within a 12 week period. Instead, the time frame just means it would not really be a "short" course if the course itself spanned a time frame of longer than 12 weeks. However, the applicant can propose multiple activities that all relate to short course training over the five year project period. But they could not have a course in which participants had to stay in the course for longer than 12 weeks for the main content of a given "course". For example, an applicant could propose a face-to-face course that occurred once a week for 12 weeks, followed by a series of yearly "booster sessions" each lasting one day. Or optional webinars to enhance the training could be offered following the 12 week course. Another possibility could be course content offered in a 12 week face-to-face course, followed by similar or different content delivered via the web to a different group of participants (i.e., a second offering of the short course in a different format). Yet another possibility is to offer the same course multiple times over the five years to different cohorts. Under any of these configurations, there should be strong justification as to why any follow on activities to an initial “short course” are necessary or desirable.


1. Can you summarize what you are looking for in an application?

We are looking for projects that propose to develop short courses, outside of a traditional university curriculum, for behavioral and social scientists. The courses should teach cutting edge or innovative research methodologies that most investigators would not otherwise be exposed to in their training. Courses can be part of a "regular" university curriculum, but those that have a broad reach, i.e., beyond the applicant institution, and/or that can be more widely disseminated, are desirable, as the goal of this FOA is to make the training available to a wide range of investigators.


2. What kinds of topics would be considered non-responsive?

While we cannot provide and exhaustive list, *non-responsive* topics would include:

  • In general, short courses designed to be part of the regular graduate curriculum would not be responsive. This is because the target audience is narrower than that specified in the FOA, which includes mid- and late-career researchers. Courses that have a broad reach, i.e., beyond the applicant institution, and/or that can be more widely disseminated, are desirable, as the goal of this FOA is to make the training available to a wide range of investigators.
  • Short courses on a topic already routinely taught in graduate schools in behavioral and social sciences or public health would not be responsive. The topics of greatest interest are presented in a bulleted list in the FOA; innovative research methodologies that are not on the bulleted list will also be considered.
  • A project proposing to develop a new research methodology would not be responsive because it is not a short course;
  •  
  • Short courses designed to teach intervention strategies or scientific writing (i.e., the topic covered by the course would be non-responsive because they are outside the scope of the FOA [innovative research methods]).

3. When is the Letter of Intent Due?

October 14, 2013 is the due date for Letters of Intent. See announcement for details on the letter and where to send it.


4. When is the application due?

November 14, 2013.


5. What general advice do you have for applicants?

Be sure the methodology is innovative and/or corresponds to one or more topics on the bulleted list in the announcement. Provide a strong rationale for why the course is needed and how it will improve the ability of behavioral and social scientists to address important research questions. Talk to a program officer listed in the Agency Contacts Section of the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) well before the due date to get important feedback on your selected topic. Read the announcement, the FAQ's, and the application instructions carefully and thoroughly before you write your application and refer back to them often.


6. Is this the first time you have offered this funding announcement? Will it be offered again?

This is the first time this RFA has been offered. We currently do not have plans to reissue this announcement. However, these plans are subject to change.


6. Is this the first time you have offered this funding announcement? Will it be offered again?

This is the first time this RFA has been offered. We currently do not have plans to reissue this announcement. However, these plans are subject to change.

7. Why is the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research funding short courses?

We recognized that to do cutting edge research, the behavioral and social science investigator community needed to keep abreast of cutting edge research methods throughout their careers, long after their formal education had ended. Although OBSSR has offered many methodologically oriented courses for BSS investigators over the years, we cannot keep pace with the demand. We are looking to applicants to RFA-OD-13-009 to provide additional capacity to train BSS investigators in innovative research methodology.

8. Who else is funding this?

Other components of NIH are participating. See the full announcement for a list of participating NIH Institutes, Centers (ICs), and Offices. These organizations are our partners on this RFA. The participating ICs will provide administrative oversight for the eventual grants. None of the ICs is providing set-aside funding. However, ICs and Offices may choose to provide cofounding for specific grants under this RFA at a later date.

9. How many awards will be made?

The number of awards will depend on the size of the budget of the grants selected for awards. OBSSR has set aside $1.7 million per year for five years to fund grants under this RFA.

10. Will there be a special emphasis panel reviewing the applications?

Yes. Applications responding to this RFA will be reviewed by an ad hoc Special Emphasis Panel (SEP) which is convened expressly for this purpose. They will not be reviewed by a standing study section. The exception is AIDS related applications. AIDS related application will be reviewed by an AIDS-related review panel (see: http://public.csr.nih.gov/StudySections/IntegratedReviewGroups/AARRIRG/Pages/default.aspx).

11. Can the project budget include money to pay for travel/lodging/per diem for participants?

Yes. In particular, per diem costs must have strong justification. Participants in the short course may not receive coverage for such expenses if these costs are covered as part of the registration fee. For example, if the registration fee for the short course includes meals, the participant may not be paid for those same meals in the form of per diem.

12. Can the project budget include money to pay for travel/lodging/per diem and honorarium for faculty who teach the short course?

Yes.

13. We want to develop an online course, is this allowed?

When feasible, online courses are encouraged. It may make sense to develop both an in person and an online version of the course.

14. We want to develop one course per year on five different topics? Is this advisable?

It is allowable, but not advisable. It would be better to focus on one or even two related topics.

15. Who is the target audience for the short courses?

Target participants include those just starting their careers (e.g., graduate/medical students, medical residents, postdoctoral scholars, early-career investigators) as well as established investigators who are interested in learning new methods to apply them in their area of research (e.g., mid- and late-career researchers). Courses can be part of a “regular” university curriculum, but those that have a broad reach, i.e., beyond the applicant institution, and/or that can be more widely disseminated, are desirable, as the goal of this FOA is to make the training available to a wide range of investigators.
The NIH expects all programs to foster the participation of individuals from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral research, including individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds. Therefore all applications must include plans to recruit a diverse group of students and faculty.

16. Short courses are not the typical project at NIH, as such, what should I include in my application?

The contents of your application should be designed to persuade the reviewer that the topic of the short course is an important one and is in line with the goals of the RFA and that the investigative team developing the short course is qualified and well suited to developing the course. You should describe the process by which the course will be developed, refined and evaluated. You should identify and justify the target audience. A course syllabus should be included in the Appendix. You are strongly encouraged to refer to the comments on the Research Education Program Plan below.

17. The short courses that are responsive to RFA-OD-13-009 are on innovative research methodologies. How should we tailor our application to fit the mission of one or more of the participating Institutes and Centers (ICs) when our course is cross-cutting and does not address a specific disease?

You can include rationale and/or examples relating to the mission of a specific IC or ICs, even if the methodology is not disease-specific.

18. The application page limit is 25 pages (PHS 398). I don’t have enough material to fill 25 pages.

You are under no obligation to fill 25 pages. The reviewers may actually appreciate a succinct application.

19. The project period is up to five years. That seems like a long time to develop a short course. Why so much time?

The intent was not to spend five years developing a single short course. Rather, five years is allowed in order to provide time to develop and teach the class, and then to offer it repeatedly over the years, and also to evaluate it.

20. Can a portion of the tuition for the doctoral students who attend our proposed course be covered (reflective of the amount of time they would spend on the course)?

No. The award cannot be used to defray tuition for doctoral students enrolled in a graduate program. The award can be used to defray partial tuition for the short course, and other expenses directly related to the short course.

21. What is the page limit for the research/education plan?

The Research Education Program Plan can be no more than 25 pages. This is reflected in the Table of page limits applicable to this FOA: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms_page_limits.htm#train
The Research Strategy section of the SF424 must be used to upload the Research Education Program Plan, which must include the following components: Proposed Research Education Program, Institutional Environment and Commitment, Program Director/Principal Investigator, Program Faculty/Staff, Program Participants, Diversity Recruitment and Retention Plan, Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research, Evaluation Plan, Dissemination Plan.

22. What form should I use to upload my application?

All applications must be submitted electronically via the form SF424. It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/SF424_RR_Guide_General_Adobe_VerB.pdf except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

23. Can we propose to develop a multiyear plan with iterative improvement of the curriculum - and is a 4 year grant reasonable?

The project period can last up to five years, so yes a multi-year plan is allowed. Iterative improvement of the course is reasonable. Your project period should reflect the best estimate of the time you expect it will take to complete the work plan you have laid out.

24. Is it advisable that the class be approved for credit via the various schools (e.g. is that something we could work on in year 1 and 2?)

It is up to you whether or not you want to include plans for seeking continuing education credit or other accreditation for your course.

25. Can we propose to develop a short course for foreign investigators or investigators at foreign institutions?

Unless strongly justified on the basis of exceptional relevance to NIH, research education programs should be used primarily for the education of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Expenses for foreign travel must be exceptionally well justified.

26. How long should the course itself be?

The length and format of the course should be appropriate to convey the course content to the intended audience. Depending on the stated goals of the proposed short course, its duration can vary from one week or less to a maximum of 12 weeks. Frequency can range from a one-time meeting to repeated meetings over the duration of the course. For example, a course might consist of a one time, in-person meeting over a three-day or five-day period, where the meeting might last all day each day. Alternatively, a course might meet for 1-1/2 hrs, once per week for 12 weeks.



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