The University of Utah Grant Writing Coaching Groups Study

How is this Study Designed?

Study participants (Scholars) will engage in a writing-intensive, small group, coaching experience designed to refine their proposal writing skills and facilitate timely submission of their proposals, led by an experienced grant writing coach (senior investigator). The  intervention begins with a 1-day long in-person kickoff, followed by 4-6 months of bi-weekly virtual group coaching meetings, and concluding with a virtual mock study section. Participants  are asked to select a Scientific Advisor (mentor or experienced colleague), typically at their home institution, to provide them with field-specific feedback on the proposal’s content during the study. Each Scholar and Scientific Advisor pair will be randomized into one of four study arms designed to assess the impact of different coaching groups features on participants’ outcomes, including the submission and receipt of NIH grant awards. 

There are four intervention arms to which a participant and their Scientific Advisor might be randomly assigned.  In all arms, participants will experience the core 4-6 month grant writing coaching process. Depending on randomization, some Scientific Advisors will be asked to engage more directly and in a more structured fashion with the coaching group process, and some participants will have access to additional, individualized coaching options after the initial 4-6 month group coaching experience. 

Intervention arm 1: Each Participant and their Scientific Advisor will determine their own approach and the level of engagement needed to prepare a grant proposal;

Intervention arm 2: Scientific Advisors interact with both the Participant individually as well as the other members of the coaching group;

Intervention arm 3: Intervention 1 plus access to additional coaching after the completion of the 4-6 months of coaching group activity;

Intervention arm 4: Intervention 2 plus access to additional coaching after the completion of the 4-6 months of coaching group activity.

Who Can Participate in the Study?

  • Participants in this study are postdoctoral associates and research-intensive junior faculty who are seeking to develop a competitive NIH-style research grant proposal. Individuals who have already been awarded R01-level funding are not eligible.
  • The study is ideal for researchers who are preparing their first major NIH proposal or who have submitted a previous NIH proposal that was not selected for funding. Researchers who already have been awarded a K-series award are eligible to participate in this study, if they are now writing an R-series proposal. 
  • We are particularly interested in enrolling investigators who are preparing R-/SC-series proposals (e.g. R01, R21, R03, R15, SC1, SC2, SC3) or research career development K-series proposals (e.g. K99/R00, K01, K08, K23, etc.) in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences.

How do I apply?

  • Cohort 1 Application Deadline: Monday, November 11, 2019 at midnight MT

  • Application: To apply, complete the study application here.

    • In the application, you will be asked to provide a summary of your proposed research, similar to the content of a specific aims page required for a grant application.

Note the application will prompt you to upload additional documents:  

  1. Your NIH-style biosketch
  2. A signed “Scientific Advisor” Form (click here to download form), which both the applicant and Scientific Advisor must sign
  3. Your Scientific Advisor’s NIH-style biosketch

Applicants will be notified of their status at least 3 weeks prior to the in-person kickoff.

What will study participants be asked to do?

  • Participants will attend a 1 day kickoff event to be held January 23 or  24, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Participants will develop drafts of core sections of their own proposal, then meet as a small group every other week (approximately 7 two-hour virtual meetings) to receive critical feedback on their work-in-progress from skilled coaches (senior investigators) who understand reviewers’ expectations.  
  • At each session, participants will review and provide feedback on one of their peers’ drafts.
  • Participants are also expected to work with their identified Scientific Advisor to receive field-specific, scientific feedback and critique on the proposal’s content.
  • Participants will complete online pre-, post-, 12-month, 18-month, and 24-month assessments to update the program on their proposal submissions and other aspects of their career progression. They will also complete a semi-structured interview to assess their experiences in the coaching intervention. 
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