- How is IRS different from Sponsored Programs?
- Who are the specialists that make up the IRS Unit?
- On what type of proposals does the IRS unit assist?
Services the Interdisciplinary Research Support unit provides
- What services can the IRS provide to a team of investigators?
Requesting Interdisciplinary Research Assistance
- I just decided to apply for a multi/interdisciplinary research program. How do I get assistance from IRS?
- At what stage in the proposal process should I request IRS assistance?
The Interdisciplinary Research Support (IRS) unit works in partnership with a Principal Investigator and his or her research team to provide support for the early stages of program and proposal development of interdisciplinary and team-based research. IRS can assist with strategic, catalytic, and capacity-building research development activities. The IRS unit helps coordinate the entire spectrum of proposal preparation activities – from analyzing a call for proposals and formulating a research plan to creating a budget and editing the proposal draft for content, coherence, clarity, and grammar.
Sponsored Programs is responsible for overall research administration and grants and contract management for the entire university, including reviewing and endorsing proposals, negotiating agreements, accepting and appropriating awards, interpreting guidelines and promoting compliance with sponsor and university policies. To best serve faculty, IRS works alongside Sponsored Programs as we prepare proposals to identify potential issues in advance, and ease these projects through the pre-submission review.
IRS is a four-person team, comprising a director/editorial coordinator, principal editor, financial analyst, and senior editor. In combination, our expertise provides the full complement of IRS services, from research and budget development, to creating and fine-tuning written and visual content. The four members of the IRS have worked together for several years, and have developed an integrated working style that provides a seamless experience for the Principal Investigator and proposal team.
The director and editorial coordinator, Sheryl Soucy-Lubell, has a PhD in Ecology and Evolution and is responsible for coordinating the activities of all team members – including faculty and staff – during proposal development. She edits technical writing or writing about specialized subjects and is able to critically review many scientific elements of the proposal.
The principal editor, Rainbow Vogt, has a PhD in Nutritional Biology and specializes in environmental health. She is responsible for coordinating the editorial activities of the grant-writing team during proposal development, focusing on scientific writing and editing.
The financial analyst, Alyssa Bunn, is a Certified Research Administrator with 10 years of university budget experience, knowledge of the requirements of the Sponsored Programs Office and most sponsoring agencies, and a keen understanding of an investigator’s need for budget flexibility.
The senior editor, Erin Houston, is an expert in copy editing, language usage, and flow of logic. She has an eye for building coherence and consistency throughout all pieces of the proposal, while allowing each author’s meaning to remain true.
In addition to our professional expertise, we have each worked at UC Davis for many years and have developed a deep understanding of the needs of investigators and the unique resources available at UC Davis that can enhance a proposal and, once funded, a research program.
The IRS works on grants and contracts that involve multiple schools, colleges, divisions, or institutions to support new research units, programs, or centers at UC Davis that are funded by major extramural research sponsors. Our services are available to every investigator from any department campus-wide. The funding amount of the grants we work on varies widely, although the majority are for a minimum of one or two million dollars per year.
Currently, we have the resources to assist with budget preparation and proposal development review, but we are not yet able to assist with the data gathering necessary for some of the required tables, especially those for NIH T32 proposals. We are working to add this capacity to the team and hope to offer this service by the spring of 2012. In the meantime, there are other resources available on campus; please contact us for more information.
Working with the Principal Investigator, the IRS can help coordinate the entire spectrum of proposal preparation activities – from analyzing a call for proposals, building a research team, identifying the required components, and developing an outline for the intellectual content of the application to creating conceptual diagrams, assembling contributions from participating investigators, creating a budget that gives the team maximum flexibility and meets the sponsor’s requirements, and reviewing iterations of the proposal draft for technical content and coherence, clarity, and grammar.
The IRS can also collect and prepare the forms required by Sponsored Programs (Form 800, effort certification), as well as those required by the funding agency (biographical sketch, current and pending, conflict of interest), create the proposal file in Grants.gov or FastLane (or assemble, print, and mail the entire application, depending on the specifications), and produce a bookmarked PDF of the entire proposal document on CD-ROM.
The range of services we provide to each team can vary depending upon the needs of the Principal Investigator, the number of proposals the IRS is coordinating concurrently, or the relative speed of the approaching deadline. In initial conversations between the IRS unit and the Principal Investigator, we discuss the level of assistance he or she desires, and agree upon a set of deadlines for completing the required proposal sections.
The precise level of service the IRS provides a proposal team can vary on a case-by-case basis; examples of limiting factors include:
Time to deadline (1 month? 10 months?): in general, the more time we have, the more service we can provide.
Size and scope of proposal (25 pages or 300 pages? One project or multiple projects?): Ideally, larger projects allow for more lead time to develop the research plan and ensure that each piece “speaks” to the others. For the full benefit of IRS services, please request IRS assistance as soon as the request for proposals issued – or even, in some cases, before the call is officially released.
Availability of administrative assistance (from PI’s home department): Some department administrators prefer to do some of the preparation and administrative tasks, such as writing the budget justification, reviewing/editing the final draft, building the Grants.gov or FastLane file, and collecting biographical sketches and internal documents. In these instances, the IRS works closely with the department administrator to develop a workflow and a clear delineation of tasks.
Ability of research team to meet the calendar of deadlines: In the first meetings between the research and IRS teams, we collectively decide upon a series of deadlines to monitor the progress of a proposal. Because IRS manages multiple deadlines concurrently, it is important that the project teams remain on schedule so that we may devote our full attention to each proposal. We are sympathetic to the busy schedules of the researchers we work with, and we try to be as flexible as possible with our deadlines; however, service to one proposal team may need to be limited if they are so late meeting their deadlines that they negatively impact the other proposals IRS is managing.
The IRS provides these services to UC Davis faculty and researchers free of charge, as part of the mission of the UC Davis Office of Research.
Requesting Interdisciplinary Research Support Assistance
Q: I just decided to apply for a multi/interdisciplinary research program. How do I get assistance from IRS?
Please fill out the request for IRS assistance (DOC | PDF), including the name of the program and solicitation number, if available, as well as any critical deadlines (letter of intent, preliminary proposal, full proposal), and email the completed form to Sheryl Soucy-Lubell, IRS director. Upon receipt, she will contact you to discuss the opportunity and the development and preparation services the IRS can provide your research team.
As soon as you have identified a funding mechanism (a sponsor’s Request for Applications), or are pretty certain that one will be released soon (e.g., if this is an annual call for proposals), you should request assistance from the IRS unit.
Typically, when a prospective Principal Investigator submits a request for services, the following information is already determined:
Funding agency/sponsor and Request for Applications (RFA) identified.
Research team assembled, though not necessarily finalized.
General outline/research plan/objectives identified. The level of progress on this section is variable, but we expect that teams with short deadlines (less than two or three months) will have a very clear picture of their proposed research, and who is responsible for what.
The Office for Research provides access to numerous online funding resources for UC Davis researchers. These resources house a tremendous number of funding opportunities and provide powerful ways to search them.
For consolidated, easily customized lists of opportunities, please sign up for alerts from Community of Science, Commerce Business Daily, GrantsNet, and more.
For sources of internal funding, please check our UC Davis Funding page.