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Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

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So... Should You Write A Proposal For A Research Award?

(Adapted from HSR&D publication, Writing Effective Research Proposals by Lee Sechrest, PhD and Judi Babcock-Parziale, PhD)


This decision should not be taken lightly. Writing a competitive proposal involves a considerable commitment of energy, time, attention and resources. An investigator should first consider whether this investment of time could be spent in more productive ways?

For example:
• Are there research articles to be written that should take priority, or that could contribute to a more compelling proposal later?

• Is there pilot work that should be completed that would strengthen the proposal if submitted at a later date?

If you decide the timing is right, then make sure that you have the time and resources available to write the proposal. Putting together a good application requires more than just writing the research plan. This effort also includes:

• Establishing collaborative arrangements.
• Getting relevant local approvals, clearances and waivers.
• Obtaining commitments from co-investigators, personnel, and operations/clinical partners.
     ○ Letters of support
     ○ Biosketches
• Developing a budget and budget justification.
• Anticipating human subject and Institutional Review Board (IRB) concerns.
• Assessing data management needs and restrictions.
• Facilitating implementation and dissemination.

HSR&D prioritizes partnered research, another important consideration that strengthens a research application. Identifying VA stakeholders with agendas that intersect with your research provides an opportunity to establish powerful and enduring cross-agency collaborations. Relationships with local and national partners who express an interest in your findings reinforces the significance of your work, establishes a clear case for urgency and immediacy of impact, and may provide a ready outlet for dissemination and implementation.

CHERP is committed to providing our investigators with the support they need to be successful in the pursuit of VA research funding. However, the submission and review process can be grueling and it remains important to be prepared for failure in the beginning. For example, on the average, NIH proposals are submitted 2.2 times before they are ultimately funded.

In the end, perseverance pays off and resubmission is often the opportunity for success. VA HSR&D approval rates across submissions from 1998-2004 averaged 26%, 48%, and 50% for first, second, and third submissions respectively.

The Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion is here to help!
CHERP investigators can seek research development support and guidance regarding the above mentioned considerations by contacting:

Kelly Burkitt, PhD
Director of Research Development, CHERP
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
Email: kelly.burkitt@va.gov

Kimberly "Max" Brown, PhD
CHERP Grants Manager, Research Development,
Philadelphia VA Medical Center
Email: Kimberly.Brown6@va.gov

You can also visit the HSR&D Funding web page for more information about HSR&D opportunities and application instructions.