On Contracts: We Hear You—How Applicant Feedback Will Improve Our New Funding Cycle
Our Fall 2014 Funding Cycle will open on August 6 with the posting of five broad PCORI Funding Announcements (PFAs). In preparing those PFAs, we used the feedback received from previous applicants to improve and simplify the application process and provide greater clarity on the topics we are most interested in funding. This should help you determine whether your proposed project is appropriate to a given PFA. All the changes will be highlighted in the PFAs and Application Guidelines. But we thought we’d give you a preview of some of the key revisions you’ll see when our online application system opens:
- All Letters of Intent (LOIs) will now be competitive. All LOIs will be reviewed for responsiveness to the announcement and fit to program goals, and only those researchers whose LOIs are selected will be invited to submit full applications. This will reduce the time and effort researchers spend preparing full applications and that we spend reviewing them.
- Our engagement template is no longer a separate file. We heard from many applicants (and reviewers) that having a separate template to discuss engagement was duplicative and disrupted the flow of the research strategy. So, applicants will now discuss their engagement plan as part of the research strategy. Our Patient and Family Engagement Rubric has been renamed the Engagement Rubric, updated with new guidance and examples, and the format modified for greater clarity. The revised rubric will be available August 6.
- The research strategy page limit has increased from 15 to 20. This lets applicants fully describe their engagement plan within the research strategy.
- A new biosketch template is available for patients and other stakeholder team members. We received feedback that the professional biosketch template we’d been using wasn’t ideal for providing information about patients and other stakeholder team members. You can read more about our thinking here in this blog post.
- The number of fields within the PCORI Online Application System has been reduced. We want to reduce applicant burden by eliminating redundant questions in the online application.
Some of the PFAs that will be posted August 6 differ from those of the last cycle in the specifics of funding:
- We will accept “Greater than” requests for applications responding to only two of the PFAs: Dissemination and Communication Research and Improving Methods for Conducting Patient-Centered Outcomes Research. These requests must be submitted with the LOIs. Research proposed in response to the other PFAs may not exceed the budget limits and/or periods of performance indicated.
- In the Improving Methods for Conducting Patient-Centered Outcomes Research PFA, the budget limit for direct costs has been increased from $750,000 to $1,000,000. This PFA no longer includes a special call for PROMIS-related studies.
Along with these changes, we are excited to announce that a new online Help Center will go live by August 6. Applicants will be able to track and access all of their helpdesk tickets and later refer back to them. While applicants are developing their proposals, the Help Center will continue to update the Frequently Asked Questions and provide links to useful information. We hope these and other changes in the application procedure will make it easier for researchers to apply for PCORI funding and result in strong applications. As always, we welcome your feedback so that we can continue to improve our process. After all, it’s that kind of feedback that has helped us get where we are.
Hulbert is PCORI’s Pre-Award Manger
Odom Walker is PCORI’s Deputy Chief Science Office
Tafari is PCORI’s Senior Program Officer for Merit Review