Office of Research Interdisciplinary Research FAQ - Office of Research

Interdisciplinary Research FAQ

The Interdisciplinary Research Support Unit

How is IRS different from Sponsored Programs?

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.

On what type of proposals does the IRS unit assist?

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.

Services the Interdisciplinary Research Support unit provides

What services can the IRS provide to a team of investigators?

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 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.

Under what circumstances might the full spectrum of services NOT be available?

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 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.

What do IRS services cost?

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 Assistance

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, including the name of the program and solicitation number, if available, as well as any critical deadlines (letter of intent, preliminary proposal, full proposal). Upon receipt, Sheryl Soucy-Lubell, IRS Director, will contact you to discuss the opportunity and the development and preparation services the IRS can provide your research team.

At what stage in the proposal process should I request IRS assistance?

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.

Finding Funding

How do I find funding opportunities to support my research?

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 a list of programs to which the campus may submit only a limited number of applications, please check with the Limited Submissions Program, or sign up for their Funding listserv.