NORDP 2017 Annual Research Development Conference

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Peering into the Future: How Research Development Professionals Can Proactively Advance Faculty Grantsmanship Skills Through a Better Understanding of the Peer Review Process

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(4 hours)

In January 2017, a NORDP member asked the age-old question: What do you do on campus to improve the grant quality of junior faculty? This workshop addresses an important set of internal programs, processes, and tricks that have been shown effective in a variety of institutional settings.

This workshop will focus on providing both scholarly and practical information as well as interactive tools that Research Development (RD) professionals can use to help faculty, particularly junior faculty, understand the critical importance of the peer review process in grant development success. The workshop will help build grantsmanship skills as well as the ability to teach those skills to faculty, and further participants’ understanding of the peer review process.

Participants will gain significant ‘insider’ knowledge of the peer review systems used for extramural research funding in the United States, including understanding the process and criteria used by various agencies. This understanding will give the RD professionals tools that they can use to proactively help faculty become more strategic in their approaches to considering peer review when developing grant proposals. 

The grant-writing process is just one step in the process necessary to help strategically prepare faculty for a long-term successful research career.  As the external federal funding landscape continues to become more competitive, it is important for investigators and scholars to consider multiple agencies to which they can submit grant proposals.  So much of the grantsmanship process is dependent upon the review process and criteria for different agencies. These criteria represent the funders’ desired impact of the research or scholarship.  If investigators and scholars perceive that they need to learn entirely new review system(s) before considering a grant proposal to a new funding agency, the task can seem overwhelming and they will be less likely to diversify their funding portfolio.    

The format for this workshop will include:

  • An overview of the peer review processes at the major federal agencies and a sample of private foundations and state agencies, including an examination of proposal review criteria from various funding agencies;
  • Discussion of experiences with the peer review process, building on the workshop leaders’ own broad experience both as members of peer review panels, and as program managers.
  • Presentation of practical tools to help faculty view the peer review process as a strategic tool to successfully obtain extramural research funding.
  • Attendee hands-on small-group participation in a mock peer review and a presentation and discussion as to how to incorporate mock peer reviews into RD grantsmanship activities for faculty at their institutions.

In addition, participants will gain skills in using a Mock Peer Review process to convey to faculty the importance of understanding the peer review process and ‘writing to it’ in strategic proposal development. The insights gained will help these participants to be more effective in helping faculty become increasingly competitive within the extramural funding landscape.   

The Workshop is geared to participants at all levels who want to better understand the peer review process that is at the foundation of grant-getting for most governmental and many private agencies in the United States.


Susan Carter

Susan Carter, J.D. is the Director of Research Development Services for the University of California Merced, a position she has held since starting that office at UC Merced in 2008. She currently oversees a staff of five RD professionals. Previously, she served as a Program Officer at the California HIV/AIDS Research program (CHRP) a statewide funding agency under the auspices of the University of California Office of the President, where she oversaw the peer review study section process and managed research funding portfolios in health policy, health services and the CHRP HIV/AIDS Center Programs. She has also served as a Program Officer for the UC Program on Access to Care, which provided research funding on health services and health access to investigators throughout California. Carter is a founding board member and the founding secretary of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP). She has served on review panels for several private foundations and has presented and consulted on issues related to research development and peer review at previous NORDP Conferences as well as at the Society for Research Administrators (SRA), National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA), The Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institution Educators (AHSIE), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the University of Puerto Rico, San Diego State University, AAAS, and numerous other institutions and organizations. Carter is currently a Senior Person and a member of the Management Team for the University of California and California State University wide Center for Research, Excellence and Diversity in Team Science, CREDITS, a project funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers and to promote gender equity in the STEM academic workforce.

John Crockett

John Crockett, PhD. is the Senior Director for Research Advancement at the San Diego State University where he developed the Grants and Research Enterprise Writing (GREW) Fellowship program that provides support for junior faculty to grow a successful and sustainable academic career. Crockett maintains an active role in education, research and is co-author on over 20 professional publications, including recent book chapters on facilitating innovation within the university environment, understanding the challenges involved in assessing the commercialization potential of new technologies, and the roles of research development professionals in cross-disciplinary team science. With Susan Carter, he developed the mock peer review materials to be used in this workshop; these materials and programming have also been used by NASA and other federal agencies as training material for new Principal Investigators. He has served as a reviewer for NASA, USDA, and the US GAO, as well as designing and implementing programmatic review processes for programs funded by the DOD, NSF and California Energy Commission.

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski

Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, Ph.D. is the Vice President for Strategic Alliances at Elsevier and a Senior Adjunct Instructor at Northwestern University, where she has been teaching grantsmanship courses for 10 years.  In her role as the founding Director of the Office of Research Development at Northwestern, she led a multitude of successful grant proposals to federal funding agencies (DOE, DoD, NASA, NIH, NSF, and HHS), foundations, and corporate entities.   She also launched NORDP in 2008, serving as the organization's founding president and board member and then chair of membership until 2013.  Moreover, through her leadership with the Annual International Science of Team Science Conference (SciTS), Dr. Falk-Krzesinski has been instrumental in developing a strong community of practice for team science and interdisciplinary research.  Dr. Falk-Krzesinski’s research paper on grant review criteria received the Rod Rose Award for most outstanding article in 2016.  She has served as a panel member for both the NIH and NSF; has presented on a wide-ranging number of topics at NORDP, NCURA, SRA, and SciTS conferences; and conducted previous NORDP Conference workshops.