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

Proposal Information

Fall Proposal Deadline: October 1, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Award Period: January 1 - December 31

Spring Proposal Deadline: March 5, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Award Periord: July 1 - June 30

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's cannot have been awarded an REF-SCG in the previous REF round or have an active REF-SCG grant.

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

Project Duration: Projects are 12 months long. 

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 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. 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.

REF-SCG grants will not be approved for faculty with significant startup balances. 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(s) 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, center/institute director, and/or college dean.

Review Criteria and Procedures

The evaluation criteria are given for each REF category. The review panels consist of faculty from disciplines across the University. The members are specialists in their fields and general research and methodologies. The proposals therefore should be written to ensure the importance of the project is clear to those outside the writer's field and provide a rationale for each functional element of the project. Please take this into account when writing your submission to ensure your proposal can be understood by all reviewers. These committees review the proposals and make recommendations to the Associate Vice President for Research Development. All funding decisions are final.

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. When putting together your proposal package, follow the order on the Required Elements Checklist:

  • Abstract
  • Proposed Project
    • Description
    • Rationale
    • Impact
  • Budget and Budget Justification
    • A budget approved by Sponsored Programs is not needed during the proposal stage. State the requested budget total and a breakdown in the budget justification. 
    • If cost share is being used, a completed cost share form is not needed during the proposal stage. Provide an email or letter from the cost share provider stating the committed amount. 
    • Refer to "Budget Information" under the section "If Awarded an REF Grant" shown below for a list of unallowable expenditures.
  • Existing Resources
  • References
  • Two page vitae
  • Letter(s) of Support

The proposal must be formatted according to the following guidelines or it will be returned without review:

  • Times New Roman font at a font size of 12 point. A smaller font size may be used for mathematical formulas, equations, figures, tables, or diagram captions. This text must still be readable.
  • Margins in all directions must be at least one inch.
  • The proposal must be single spaced.
  • Page numbers should be placed at the bottom center of each page with the exception of attachments.

With an expectation of a heavy volume of submission for this competition, please adhere to all guidelines, including the proposal format.

Letters of Support

Letters of support from the Department Chair, College Dean, or Center/Institute Director must be included and address the significance of the project. 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/college 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(s) from the 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.


  • 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

Dean or Director Requirement - Letters are due within seven calendar days of the proposal deadline. If faculty members from the same Institute/Center submit multiple proposals, the Dean needs to prioritize the proposals from based on need and benefit.

Colleges With Departments

  • Obtain letter of support from the appropriate Chair(s) and include with the final proposal.

and then

  • 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

Dean Requirement - Letters are due within seven calendar days of the proposal deadline. If faculty members from the same College submit multiple proposals, the Dean needs to prioritize the proposals from the College based on need and benefit.

Colleges Without Departments

  • Submit one copy of the final proposal to the appropriate Dean for review—the Dean will submit their letter of support directly to Natasha Chopp at

Dean Requirement - Letters are due within seven calendar days of the proposal deadline. If faculty members from the same College submit multiple proposals, the Dean needs to prioritize the proposals from the College based on need and benefit.

Proposal Submission Requirements

Submit one pdf file of your complete proposal package, which follows the order on the Required Elements Checklist, to

If Awarded an REF Grant

If you are awarded an REF-SCG grant, you then must finalize your budget information with the Sponsored Programs Office and complete a transmittal form within seven days of the award notification.

Budget Information

Budgets, budget justifications, quotes, and a completed Cost Share/Matching Support Authorization Form (if applicable) must be submitted to the Sponsored Programs Office, at, within five days of the award notification. Budgets must be approved by the Sponsored Programs Office within seven days of them receiving the submitted materials.

  • 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.
  • The F&A rate on all REF budgets is 0%.
  • Please use this provided budget spreadsheet to compete your budget.

Unallowable Expenditures

  • External or sponsored research as cost share.
  • 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.

Cost Share

All cost share is to be disclosed in the budget justification and shown on the budget worksheet. External or sponsored research as cost share are not allowed. You must also submit a completed Cost Share Authorization form (which is located on the Banner Self Service Site).

Transmittal Form

Complete and obtain all of the necessary signatures on the Michigan Tech Transmittal Form.

Transmittal Form and Budget Submission

Once the transmittal is complete and the budget is finalized, submit as separate pdfs to Natasha Chopp at

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 to 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.