Research Excellence Fund (REF) - Scholarship & Creativity Grants (SCG)

Scholarship and Creativity Grant

Budget Deadline: March 3, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.

Proposal Deadline: March 10, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.

PI Eligibility: SCG awards are available to faculty at any level, but proposals that help junior faculty (untenured tenure-track) launch their professional careers will receive priority.

PI Limitation: A PI may only submit one proposal per category (see FAQs)

Project Duration: Projects are 13 months long, July 1st to August 31st of the following year. In exceptional circumstances, awards may be made for longer periods of time. All projects that are expected to last longer than the 13 months must be clearly requested and justified within the original proposal. In those cases, annual reports shall be submitted to the Vice President for Research at the end of each academic year. These reports will be used to determine if satisfactory progress is being made and if continuation of support beyond the normal 13 month award period is justified.

Program Description

The REF Scholarship and Creativity Grant (SCG) provides support to encourage faculty to engage in scholarly research, learning, and creative activities to enhance professional development. The SCG program differs from other elements of the REF program in these ways:

    1. SCG awards primarily support scholarly projects undertaken by faculty in disciplines identified by NSF as “non-science and engineering fields.” These are primarily within the humanities, social sciences, arts, education, and business. (As with all REF awards, applicants are expected to explore all other opportunities for external funding prior to applying for an internal research award.)
    2. Support required to launch and complete scholarly projects in these areas is more often in the form of faculty time, travel to off-campus sites, and networking (activities typically less costly than laboratory research).
    3. Grants will range up to $15,000, with an expected average of less than $10,000.
    4. SCG awards are meant to stand alone; they are not supplements to or replacements for departmental general fund expenditures or other existing funding programs (like startup, grants and contract cost-shares, C2E2, student support, etc.)
    5. Proposers may be from any department, but applicants should consider if a Seed Grant is more appropriate for their project. The SCG review committee will determine whether a proposal meets this eligibility expectation.
    6. Proposals must clearly indicate anticipated outcomes and define the specific scholarly products expected. The completion of projects as promised in a proposal will be a factor used by the committee in evaluating subsequent requests for SCG support. Thus if proposers apply for subsequent awards, the results of previous SCG funding will need to be disclosed within the proposal.

All project participants with remaining balances in their startup accounts must include a detailed description of why additional REF funds are needed. Remaining startup funds must be entered as cost share in the budget. The expectation is that remaining startup funds will be dedicated to the REF project if it is funded. The supporting letter from the Department Chair must address the need for additional funds and that the faculty members is spending down his/her startup in a manner consistent with the agreed-upon startup plan.

SCG Proposal Guidelines

SCG awards allow faculty to undertake the following activities:

  1. Initiation of a new scholarly or creative activity, or completion of such a project, whether for individual investigator projects or collaborative teams. Research projects may involve writing books and research articles. Funds for such activities as archival data collection, site visits, interviews, and manuscript preparation will be given priority over editorial assistance and indexing, and scholarly monographs will have priority over textbook projects and preparation of articles for scholarly journals.
  2. Travel support for research related activities, educational workshops and training programs related to the scholarly interests of the proposing faculty (Normally, this support will not be for attendance at professional conferences/ meetings a PI normally would attend.).
  3. Acquisition of databases and other computer software and research equipment if justified for the specific project.
  4. Art performances, exhibits, or other creative and artistic activities within the applicant’s field of study.
  5. Efforts to initiate collaborative research teams. Such proposals must identify the specific actions to be supported in attempts to build working relationships in support of specific projects. It is expected that the outcome of such awards will include proposals to external sponsors; proposals must identify clear strategies for seeking future external funding. Collaborators cannot have worked together on previous grants or publications. The committee will give precedence to the creation of interdisciplinary teams. Budgets must be especially clear about activities to be supported, and must justify the activities that will advance development of successful research or creative collaborations.
  6. Grants will support other activities contributing to personal scholarly research and development, such as publication costs.
  7. Proposals need to identify how the research will support the goals of the University (see the Strategic Plan for more information) as well as the goals of the department.
  8. If there is non-departmental cost share, please include it in the budget and budget justification.

Evaluation of Proposals

The SCG committee will consider the following factors in evaluating proposals:

  1. Strength of the proposal, including likelihood of meeting the goals outlined, and the match between support requested and the scope of the project.
  2. Contribution to the achievement of the University and strategic plans.
  3. Previous results by the PI (disclosed on the Digital Measures profile—see REF required elements checklist).
  4. Applications for the Grant must clearly indicate the specific end products expected from the proposed projects and how they will contribute to the applicant's scholarly development. The committee will give precedence to junior faculty proposals and will give full weight to the results accomplished with earlier SCG support.
  5. Letters of support from the department chair or school dean and college dean.

Proposal Format

All proposal must include a completed Required Elements Checklist—SCG to ensure all necessary documents have been submitted. Please review this checklist prior to writing your proposal as it explains the requirements and page limits. With an expectation of a heavy volume of submission for this competition, please adhere to all guidelines, including the proposal format.

Budget Information

Budgets, budget justifications, quotes, and cost share forms (if cost share is used) must be submitted to the Sponsored Programs Office by the budget deadline. Budgets must be approved by the Sponsored Programs Office prior to the proposal deadline.

  • Budgets will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis. To ensure the deadlines is not missed, start working with the Sponsored Programs Office early.
  • Proposed budgets should be clear and detailed, and must fully justify all expenditures.
  • All proposers must identify and discuss sources of external funds for conducting research and creative activities in their field, even if access to such funds is limited or unusual.
  • If you are requested equipment that is more than $5,000, quotes must be provided.
  • If you are requested travel support over $1,500, quotes must be provided
  • Please use this provided budget spreadsheet to compete your budget.

Unallowable Expenditures

  • Faculty salary (including summer salary and academic release time).
  • Graduate student support (stipend, tuition, hourly, etc). Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowed during the summer semester.
  • Improvements in classroom instruction or efforts to improve skills to expand teaching capability, since these activities are supported by the Center for Teaching and Learning.
  • Organization of symposia.
  • Additions to personal professional libraries, office, computer purchases, research apparatus, or similar items.

Student Support Limitations

  • Undergraduate students may be hired as hourly research assistants in cases where such assistance is necessary and justified. The level of support must be proportional to the work required.
  • Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowable during the summer semester.
  • Hourly graduate students should not be doing work related to their thesis or dissertation.

Cost Share

All cost share is to be disclosed in the budget justification and shown on the budget worksheet. You must also submit a completed Cost Share Authorization form (which is located on the Banner Self Service Site).

Budget Submission

Please submit all of your budget materials and completed Cost Share/Matching Support Authorization Form to rsch@mtu.edu.

Letters of Support and Submission Requirements

Letters of support from the Department Chair(s) or School Dean(s) must be included and address the significance of the project, the sources of funds available to the project at this stage, and the prospect for future funding after the collaboration is in place. The letter must address the scholarly implications of the project and the significance of the proposal for the applicant’s professional development. This letter must discuss the University resources (incentive accounts, Tech Fund, etc.) available to support the project, and how the department/school might support the proposal. Proposals seeking to initiate research collaborations must clearly explain how the activities to be funded advance the development of the collaboration.

The supporting letter from the Department Chair must address the need for additional funds and that the faculty member is spending down his/her startup in a manner consistent with the agreed upon startup plan.

Institute/Center/School

  • Submit one copy of the final proposal to the appropriate Dean or Director for review—the Dean or Director will submit their letter of support directly to Natasha Chopp at nichopp@mtu.edu.

College

  • Obtain letter of support from the appropriate Chair(s) and include with the final proposal.
  • Submit one copy of the final proposal, including the letter of support from the Chair(s), to the appropriate Dean for review—the Dean will submit their letter of support directly to Natasha Chopp at nichopp@mtu.edu.

Proposal Submission Requirements

Please submit the required elements checklist, transmittal form, proposal, budget, cost share form (if cost share is used), quotes, and letter of support as one PDF file to ref-l@mtu.edu.

Dean Requirement

The Dean will send their letter of support directly to Natasha Chopp at nichopp@mtu.edu. Dean letters are due within seven calendar days of the proposal deadline. If faculty members from the same College/School submit multiple proposals, the Dean needs to prioritize the proposals from the College/School based on need and benefit.

Award Modifications

If you need to make a modification to your REF award end date or budget, please send a completed Request for Modification Form (see resources box on this page) to refmod-l@mtu.edu. The form should provide a justification for the requested change and be signed by the required individuals. Please send the document as a PDF file.