Pilot Research Grants

Pilot Research Grants (PRG) provide seed funds to develop new proposals deemed likely to attract external funding. They primarily support recently appointed faculty; those entering a new research area in which they do not have significant external funding; and scholarly work in disciplines in which external support is limited. In all cases, the goal is to submit a proposal for external funding.

Funds up to $10K can be requested for research supplies, maintenance of essential equipment, travel, or technical personnel. Applicants must demonstrate that travel, if budgeted, is essential to the project, and a departmental matching contribution or cost sharing to cover some of the travel costs is encouraged. Defrayal of professional society dues is not allowed.

All PRGs are subject to the Terms and Conditions for Internal Awards (DOC). The project period is 1 year, with the possibility of a 1-year, no-cost extension. When awarded, the grants manager will establish an account and disburse the funds on the written authority of the investigator or a designated representative. Any balance unexpended at the grant’s expiration will be returned to ORSP, unless an extension (without additional funds) is requested in writing 10 days prior to the grant’s end date.

Projects awarded during the fall competition will begin no earlier than January 1 and no later than February 1. Projects awarded during the spring competition will begin no earlier than June 1 and no later than July 1.

Final Report: The abstract from a submitted external proposal that resulted from the PRG must be submitted to ORSP as a final report.

Eligibility: Full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty and research support staff with adjunct faculty appointments on the Reynolda campus may apply. Nontenure-track faculty may be considered, if their appointments continue through the award year. Preference will be given to those who have not previously received an award. The same project, regardless of PI, may not receive more than 2 awards.

Bridge Funding: Experienced researchers whose renewal applications to external sponsors are declined may request one-time bridge funding at any time of the year. To apply, submit the declined renewal proposal’s reviewer comments, a 2-page plan addressing them, an Application for Internal Funds form, an abstract, and a 1-page budget.

Proposal Preparation: The Application for Internal Funds form must be completed and signed by the applicant and the appropriate department chair or equivalent. Forms are available here. See p. 2 for application instructions and a proposal checklist.
Either of the following formats may be used for an application (in 11 pt or larger font):

Format I: (up to 5 pages)

1. Abstract: A 1-paragraph summary of the proposed activity suitable for publication. Clearly address in separate statements intellectual merit and broader impacts.

2. Objectives: State precisely what the research will accomplish, what hypothesis it will test, and the rationale for undertaking it.

3. Background and Significance: Summarize the most pertinent previous work and the current state of the field, including your own preliminary data. Identify the gaps that the proposed project is intended to fill.

4. Methods: Discuss the experimental design and methods proposed to accomplish project objectives in sufficient detail to allow assessment of their feasibility and applicability. How, specifically, will they test each of the hypotheses? If proposing new methods, describe their advantages. If several experiments are proposed, indicate their priority. Indicate the type of data to be generated, and how they will be analyzed (e.g., proposed statistical design and analysis). Briefly identify any potential pitfalls or limitations in procedures and suggest remedies. Provide plans for future efforts, including submission to external sponsors. Include a timeline.

5. References: Include only the most pertinent.

6. Other Sources: Other sources of funding sought or recieved (if applicable).

Format II:  (up to 5 pages)

1. Question or Problem:  Describe the question or problem under study and its significance to the field.

2. Research Methods: Describe the design, protocols, ability to carry them out.

3. Timetable: A timetable for completing and publishing or presenting results, including interest from a publisher if requesting funds to write a book.

4. References: Include only the most pertinent.

5. Other Sources: Other sources of funding sought or received (if applicable).

All applications in either format must include:

1. Budget: ($10,000 maximum). Include a brief budget justification. If the requested funds are in adequate to complete the project, indicate the source and amount of additional funds.

  1. Equipment. Justify why the equipment is necessary for the proposed study.
  2. Supplies (list major categories)
  3. Personnel. Funds for faculty salary and secretarial support will not be considered. Funds for graduate and undergraduate student support are rarely granted, since they can usually be obtained through the Graduate School or WFU Undergraduate Research Fellowships. Funds for technical support staff have been granted occasionally since no other campus source supports these costs. If requesting such funds, include appropriate fringe benefits.
  4. Other (necessary travel, computer charges, audiovisual costs, hazardous waste disposal costs)

2. CV: up to 2 pages.

3. Description and Outcome of Previous Internal awards: Briefly describe internal awards received within the past 3 years and their outcomes.

4. Plan for External Submission: Indicate the agency name, program, and/or funding opportunity number to which you will submit the external proposal resulting from the PRG. Include the deadline, if known. If you need assistance in identifying a sponsor, please contact Stephen Williams, williasl@nullwfu.edu.

5. Resubmissions: If this application is a revision of a previously submitted proposal, please include a 1-page response to the reviewers’ comments.

6. WFU Collaborators: List any WFU collaborators who may have a Conflict of Interest reviewing your proposal.

Appendices are discouraged, and reviewers are not required to read them.

Projects involving compliance requirements (i.e., human subjects, animals, toxins, etc.) must seek appropriate committee approval prior to project initiation.

Incomplete or late applications will not be reviewed.

Please send the complete Application for Internal Funds form and proposal in one PDF file as an attachment to Elisa Burton (burtoneg@wfu.edu) by 5 p.m. on the deadline date. Hard copies will also be accepted in addition to the electronic application, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 306 Reynolda Hall.  Please allow several weeks for the review process.

Awards for projects in the natural and physical sciences will be partially supported by a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

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