Obtaining and Managing Multiple Research Grants

By Pasha Antonenko

Obtaining Grants:

  1. Your project has to be truly innovative (solution, framework, context, participants). Your “beautiful” research design will not matter if the reviewers are not excited about the “idea.”
  2. Set up the problem and then explain your solution. Align objectives, methods, and outcomes. Start and finish with why this work is important and innovative.
  3. Use less text and more tables, diagrams, and images. Your text has to be easy to read.
  4. Team, team, team! If I have learned one thing, it’s the importance of a great team.
  5. Obtaining multiple grants in the same funding cycle is NOT a good idea … unless you can rely on the support of a research center and/or experienced project managers.

Managing Grants:

  1. Management is what eats up your time. Scheduling, IRB work, school visits, instrument development, data organization, reporting etc. Include a project manager in the budget! Once you identify a good manager, support and hold on to her/him.
  2. Explore and use project management software – Slack, Microsoft Project, Basecamp, Trello, Project Libre. If you like a specific tool, remember to budget it in your proposal. Among other things, these tools help you put together project reports to the agency.
  3. Managing collaborations:
    1. Discuss and set up a collaboration plan with clear expectations. Think of it as your “contract” with your co-PIs and research assistants.
    2. Educate your co-PIs and be prepared to learn about your co-PIs’ perspectives, definitions, and approaches to learning, teaching, collaboration, evaluation, dissemination, and rigor etc.
    3. Collaborators move to different institutions and need help moving their subaward. This is a lengthy, involved process at UF. Quickly identify all relevant people at the institutions and make sure everyone is included on all communications.
    4. Collaborators offload their work onto you, your RA, or another team member. No easy solution – talk with them, use the proposal narrative and budget justification, if needed.
    5. Engage your students. They want to learn more about your projects and participate.
    6. Standing meetings really help! You as the Pl will find them particularly helpful.
    7. As the Pl, you are ultimately responsible for the entire ecosystem of your project. Keep this in mind and be understanding and flexible when working with multiple stakeholders.
  4. Diligently collect data, evidence of your project’s progress. This includes not only “research data” but also photos, evidence of collaboration (shared docs, recordings of video conferences), press releases, and participant perceptions. Photos in particular are very powerful. You will need this for your annual and final reports to the agency. (It’s like collecting evidence for your tenure dossier.)
  5. Maintain contact and support your evaluator(s). They can be very helpful!
  6. Establish a good relationship with your financial support counterpart in the post-awards office! Be mindful of their time when setting up purchase orders, stipend disbursements, and travel arrangements, etc. They manage finances for other projects, not just yours!
  7. Be prepared to travel much more often. Pl meetings, data collection, and project evaluation, etc. Get as much travel $$, as your funding agency allows.
  8. Read and follow your agency’s guide for awardees! Communicate with your program officers but do not overwhelm them with questions or requests. Share the good news with them!