The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Research

The Pre-Award Process

Please inform the Office of Research once you have identified a grant that you would like to apply for, whether the submission is a full proposal or a Letter of Intent (LOI). Please also make an appointment with Dr. Jacelon to discuss your intentions.

We can then let you know whether this needs to be entered into Kuali (the University's software tool that facilitates sponsored activities workflow) and approved by the University's Office of Pre-Award Services (OPAS). If the LOI or proposal has to go through OPAS, the Office of Research requires a minimum of three weeks notice (four weeks if subcontracts are required or the UMass Foundation needs to be involved). If we receive less notice, then we cannot guarantee that your proposal will be submitted.

The earlier that you are able to inform the Office of Research of your intentions, the more assistance that we will be able to provide. The Office of Research can offer guidance on application requirements to ensure proposal compliance, establish a timetable for submission, assist with the development of a budget and detailed budget justification, provide necessary forms, and review your submission.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions to assist you in your efforts:

1. Who can be a Principal Investigator (PI)?

2. Where can I look for grant opportunities?

3. What resources does UMass provide?

4. How do I submit a grant?

5. How much effort should I put on my grant?

6. What are the key components of an NIH submission?

7. Does my research meet the NIH definition of a Clinical Trial?

8. How is a Consultant defined?

9. What is a Subcontract/Subaward?

10. How do I arrange a Statistical Consultation?

11. What is the UMass Foundation?

12. What are the regulations around Financial Conflict of Interest?

13. What is Just-In-Time Information?

 

1. Who can be a Principal Investigator (PI)?

  • Tenured and tenure-track Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors and Librarians.
  • Research Assistant Professor, Research Associate Professor and Research Professor, Extension Specialists, and Clinical Professors.
  • Adjunct, Visiting, Emeritus or other faculty positions at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst who have the signed approval of the College of Nursing Dean. PIs in one of these categories should also include a Co-Principal Investigator from appointment types included in 1 and 2 above. 
  • All Post-Doctoral Fellows who have the signed approval of the College of Nursing Dean. The Post-Doctoral Fellow’s mentor must be listed as a co-principal investigator.
  • All Professional Staff who are not also students, provided they have the signed approval of the College of Nursing Dean.

Further details can be found here.

 

2. Where can I look for grant opportunities?

Grants.gov is a centralized location for grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. In addition to searching for grants in the database, you can subscribe to receive an email notification whenever an opportunity is posted that matches your search criteria

More specifically, NIH application announcements can be found here. NIH has three application cycles throughout the year and the due dates for each of these can be accessed here. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funding opportunities can be found here. This is the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable. Grant announcements for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be found here.

Sigma Nursing Research Grants can be found here.

UMass Amherst Research Administration and Compliance also provides several resources for researchers, which can be accessed here. These include

- internal UMass funding opportunites (https://www.umass.edu/research/proposals/find-funding/internal-funding-opportunities). In particular, Nursing faculty may find the Faculty Research Grants, the Public Service Endowment Grants, and the Armstrong Fund for Science of interest.

- limited submission awards and grants (https://www.umass.edu/research/proposals/find-funding/limited-submission-awards-and-grants) which may require an internal selection process to determine which application(s) will be submitted to the sponsor for funding consideration.

- access to Grant Forward and the Foundation Directory Online where researchers can search for funding opportunities from federal agencies and private foundations.

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations can also assist faculty in acquiring funding from private sources.

 

3. What resources does UMass provide?

The Office of Research Development provides several on-demand workshops, covering topics such as 'Writing Specifc Aims and Research Objectives.' You can access the full list here.

 

4. How do I submit a grant?

The Office of Research needs to receive all the components of your proposal or LOI at least eight business days prior to the sponsor's deadline. At this stage, the scientific/technical sections of your proposal need to be at least 90% complete. Once the Office of Research has received all the relevant information it will then initiate the routing process in Kuali. In this process, approvals are gained from all investigators, departments, and college heads. Once these people have approved the proposal, it is then sent to OPAS. The proposal is due at OPAS by 9 a.m. five business days prior to the sponsor's deadline. The final versions of the scientific/technical sections must be received by OPAS two full business days (9 a.m.) prior to the sponsor's deadline. Details of what happens next can be found here.

 

5. How much effort should I put on my grant?

Proposals should accurately represent the amount of direct research effort that key personnel are committing to the project. The amount of effort committed to a sponsored project is based on a best estimate of the actual effort required to meet the goals and outcomes of the proposed project.

For federally funded projects, effort for all key personnel and in particular for faculty must be budgeted minimally at 1% or greater. This correlates to 0.09 months for academic year appointments and 0.12 for calendar year appointments. Effort should typically be budgeted substantially greater than 1% since budgeted effort should reflect the actual effort needs of the project.

In order to be eligible for a course buyout, we suggest that you budget a minimum of 15% effort.

Faculty may charge up to 2.5 summer months across their sponsored projects portfolio in any given year.

Be aware that personnel effort on all ACTIVE awards plus teaching load cannot exceed 100%.

As part of the award process, the Office of Research will work with you to complete an effort form detailing your plan for salary compensation.

 

6. What are the key components of an NIH submission?

For most NIH proposals the following are required:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Project Narrative
  • Specific Aims
  • Research Strategy
  • Bibilography and References
  • Biosketches for key personnel. The Biosketch template, and a Biosketch sample are available in the download section. Click here for details on Biosketch requirements.
  • Facilities and Resources Statement
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Letters of Support
  • Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information. This form is avaialbe in the download section.

 

7. Does my research meet the NIH definition of a Clinical Trial?

Use the following four questions to determine the difference between a clinical study and a clinical trial:

  • Does the study involve human participants?
  • Are the participants prospectively assigned to an intervention?
  • Is the study designed to evaluate the effect of the intervention on the participants?
  • Is the effect being evaluated a health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome?

If you answer yes to all the four questions above, your study meets the NIH definition of a clinical trial.

Further information can be found here.

 

8. How is a Consultant defined?

Special consideration must be taken in the appointment of consultants.

  • A consultant lends their expertise and advice in their given field without actually "working" on the project.
  • A consultant does not conduct independent research.
  • A consultant is neither affiliated with UMass nor using its facilities.
  • A consultant does not use their home institution’s facilities to conduct any portion of their consultancy.  For example, a consultant who is also employed by another University must not use their employer’s facilities to carry out their consulting agreement.
  • A consultant must provide UMass with a letter that describes their role and indicates the number of days/weeks charged to the grant and provide daily or weekly rate.  If the letter is on their home institution’s letterhead, the consultant should email the PI or OGCA confirming that they will not be using their home institution’s facilities for any part of their proposed consultancy.
  • Intellectual property or publishing rights are not anticipated.
  • UMass and other Commonwealth of Massachusetts employees cannot be paid as consultants on UMass-sponsored projects.
  • UMass may be subjected to significant institutional tax penalties should the individual be incorrectly classified as a consultant when they are actually working on the project in a manner consistent with employer/employee relationships, or where the individual is carrying out a role that would be more consistent with a subcontractor/sub-recipient role.

 

9. What is a Subcontract/Subaward?

Generally, a subcontract (or subrecipient) is defined as an entity, often another university, who helps the grantee carry out the activities of the award by performing a portion of the research using their own institution's facilities. Documentation required by OPAS includes:

  • UMass Subrecipient Form
  • Letter of Intent signed by the subcontractor's business official (OPAS equivalent) endorsing the work referenced in an attached statement of work and budget
  • Statement of work
  • Subcontractor budget and budget justification
  • Biosketches for key personnel
  • Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (if applicable)
  • Facilities and Resources statement

The Office of Research will work with you and the subcontractor to gather this information.

 

10. How do I arrange a Statistical Consultation?

- The Department of Mathematics and Statistics offers fee-based Statistical Consultation and Collaboration services provided by faculty and students.

- CRF's Methodology Department provides free statistical consulting for your research project. Expertise includes: Hierarchical Linear Models; Structural Equation Models; (Missing) Data; Longitudinal Analysis and more. 

 

11. What is the UMass Foundation?

Many foundations only grant funds to an organization with 501(c)(3) (non-profit) tax status. As UMass Amherst is not a 501(c)(3) entity, any such grants need to submitted by the University Massachusetts Foundation, Inc. If you wish to apply for such a grant, you will need to allow for an additional five business days so that the UMass Foundation can also review your proposal.

 

12. What are the regulations around Financial Conflict of Interest?

The U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) amended its Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Regulations effective August 24, 2012. These regulations have unique reporting and conflict management requirements and require an initial disclosure of all financial interest related to the institutional responsibilities of the investigator to the UMass Amherst Office of Research Compliance. Faculty investigators who are supported by U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) funding, including, but not limited to, NIH, CDC, HRSA, SAMHSA, FDA, and AHRQ, are required to submit a PHS Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form to the UMass Office of Research Compliance at the point of each proposal submission and receive training on the regulations. More information, including policies, resources, forms, and training schedule, can be found at Conflict of Interest for PHS Funded Researchers.

 

13. What is Just-In-Time Information?

If your NIH grant application receives an impact score of 30 or less (regardless of the specific Institute or Center’s payline) you will receive a request for Just-In-Time Information. This must be submitted electronically using the Just-In-Time feature of the eRA Commons found in the Commons Status section. For information on the Commons see: https://commons.era.nih.gov/commons/index.jsp.

Be aware that this request is not a notice of grant award nor should it be construed as an indicator of possible award; NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) have varying pay lines and funding strategies that determine which grants will be funded. If a decision is made to fund your application, the assigned IC will need the following information PRIOR to making an award:

  • Current Other Support (a template and sample are available in the download section).
  • Certifications
    • If your proposed project involves human subjects research, the following will be required:
      • IRB Approval (more details can be found here)
      • Human Subjects Education
        • You will need to submit certification that any person identified as senior/key personnel involved in human subjects research has completed an education program in the protection of human subjects, such as the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program (see here for further information on this program).
  • Other Information
    • NIH ICs may also request additional Just-in-Time information on a case-by-case basis, such as revised budgets or changes to the human subjects sections of the application. These changes should be submitted as an "Other Upload" file in the eRA Commons Just-In-Time module.

Applicants must submit their information at least 60 days before the proposed project period start date. However, you should contact the IC for specific guidance. It is understood that obtaining IRB approval may take more than two weeks. Therefore, you may submit these approvals at the earliest date they are available. Timely submission of the requested information will enable NIH staff to expedite an award should an application be identified for funding. Institute staff will contact you if they have not received the requested information or if additional information is required. If you have any additional questions, please contact the assigned Grants Management Specialist. Contact information for these individuals can be found in Commons Status.