Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards Program
Frequently Asked Questions
We recommend applicants review all FAQs posted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at My.RWJF.org and RWJF.org.
Eligibility and Application Submission Questions
Program Requirements and Deliverables Questions
Proposal Budget Questions
PHSSR Research Focus Questions
National Coordinating Center for PHSSR, University of Kentucky College of Public Health
Online Application Page: www.rwjf.org/cfp/phssrms2
Eligibility and Application Submission Questions
Is this award intended for young investigators, or do early-stage older (returning) investigators qualify?
Since there is a requirement for the applicant to have received their terminal doctoral degree within the last seven years, this opportunity is for those who are newly entering the research field.
If I am currently on an institutional K award (from AHRQ), am I eligible to apply assuming I would truncate my K award which is due to end in June 2014)?
No, applicants currently receiving K awards at the start of the project period would not be eligible for this award.
What is meant by the applicant having a "demonstrated commitment to PHSSR?" Does a commitment to health policy and services, and translational research projects and study qualify?
Applicants need to have a commitment to research on public health services and systems, and to contribute to building the Public Health Services and Systems Research evidence base over the longer term. It is not sufficient to be committed to health policy broadly, but rather more specifically as it relates to PHSSR. We are specifically interested in translational research in settings where public health population-based services are delivered.
What is the proposal deadline and late submission policy?
The deadline is 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on August 21, 2013. To be accepted for review, your proposal must be completed and submitted by the deadline. To be fair to all applicants, the National Coordinating Center for PHSSR and RWJF strictly enforce this submission deadline; late proposals will not be accepted.
How can I check the status of my proposal once it is submitted?
We expect to receive many proposals, all of which must go through the same review process. If you have a question about a specific proposal, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. Please be sure to include the name of the applicant organization, the Principal Investigator, and the applicant organization's contact information in your communication.
What types of organizations are eligible to apply for funding?
Preference is given to organizations that are universities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and other entities that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations as defined under Section 509(a). They must be based in the U.S. or its Territories.
What is the page limit for the proposal narrative?
The narrative section of the award proposals, including section headings must not exceed twelve pages, single-spaced using 11-point Arial font. Up to three additional pages may be added for references. A proposal narrative template is provided through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's online application system.
Will I receive specific comments on my proposal after a decision is made?
If you wish to receive specific feedback, please send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program Requirements and Deliverables Questions
Am I required to have a mentor?
The Principal Investigator applicant must have a PHSSR expert as their research mentor. The research mentor is preferred, but not required to be on-site, and should have:
- demonstrated research experience, including a record of serving as Principal Investigator on competitive extramural PHSSR and/or health services research, and
- served as a supervising mentor for junior researchers.
The applicant must also have a working relationship with a public health practice mentor. Letters of support from the research and practice mentors are required.
What qualifications should the public health practice mentor have, and can this person be at another institution, agency, or community based organization?
Yes, the practice mentor can be located at another organization such as a state or local health department. The practice mentor should have sufficient public health experience to provide practice insights for the proposed research and specific public health expertise appropriate to the proposed research.
Can the practice and research mentors be the same person?
The use of one mentor for both roles may be workable if the mentor can provide guidance in public health practice experience as well as the research design of the proposed project. For example, “pracademics” are one type of individual that would be able to provide both types of guidance. However, applicants should also consider whether a single person will have enough time available to provide mentoring in both areas.
How much coursework is expected to be included in the mentoring plan?
The coursework included in the mentoring plan depends greatly on the applicant’s current skills compared to the proposed research activities. If the applicant were well educated in the areas being studied, then coursework would not be a priority. The mentoring plan should address the development needs of the applicant to successfully complete the proposed project and to develop as an independent researcher.
Can the research project be part of a larger project conducted by a research team in which the junior researcher is a member?
Yes, this is acceptable if the proposed research is scientifically distinct from the larger project, and if the junior researcher has sufficient control to direct that portion of the project.
Do proposed research projects need to include both secondary and primary data analysis?
No, primary data collection and analysis is not required for a successful project. If primary data are collected, RWJF requires that a primary data set be made publically available and shared with other researchers at the end of the award.
Is survey instrument development, with the end result being a dataset from a pilot study that validates the instrument, appropriate for the proposed research?
No, proposed surveys should be used to gather information toward hypotheses that will build the PHSSR evidence base.
Would research on a program for public health professionals within a state that could be expanded for national use be within scope of this award?
Yes, if the program addresses the skills of the public health workforce and public health services delivery, and the research addressed dissemination of the program as a factor. Research on dissemination and implementation, and how it applies to public health services is of very high interest.
As an awardee, am I required to present at conferences or publish my research?
Sharing research methods and learning is an integral part of this project and as part of the award agreement. Applicants must provide detailed plans for the translation of research findings into practical applications and the tailored dissemination of these findings to inform public health practitioners and policy-makers, including:
- Presentations at the 2014 and 2015 PHSSR Keeneland Conferences;
- Policy summary and other innovative methods to rapidly disseminate findings to policymakers, practitioners and non-research audiences during the project period;
- Publishing in peer-reviewed publications, and
- A plan for evaluating the dissemination strategy.
Projects that propose peer-reviewed publications as the sole dissemination approach will not be considered for funding.
What is expected for the evaluation plan of the dissemination strategy?
A specific dissemination plan and assessment of its impact are required, and proposed activities should not be limited to academic paper presentations and peer-reviewed publications. The plan should describe specific activities to innovate, disseminate and communicate results to practitioners and policymakers. In addition, the key measures that will be used to evaluate activities should be described.
If the projects start in January 2014, what presentation would be required at the first Keeneland Conference in April 2014?
Notification of awards will occur in fall 2013, and project funding will start in January 2014. Presentations on the qualitative review and research plans are appropriate, including preliminary results if available, in April 2014.
Am I required to publish a manuscript based on the results of my research?
Yes, you must submit a manuscript of your research findings to a peer-reviewed journal within 12 months after the end of the award period.
What deliverables are associated with the award funding?
Applicants will be required to submit annual narrative and financial reports to RWJF. Applicants must also submit final narrative and financial reports within 30 days after the end of the award. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s grant reporting requirements and instructions can be found here.
How long is the award period?
The award period will be 24 months beginning on or after January 1, 2014.
Proposal Budget Questions
How much funding may I request?
You may request up to $100,000 over a two-year period.
Do I need to submit a budget?
Yes. You must submit a project budget and budget narrative. A budget narrative template and a budget worksheet are provided through RWJF's online application system.
Will the award funds be given directly to me?
No, the RWJF award funds will be provided to the applicant organization specified in your proposal, usually a university or educational organization. If funded, the Primary Investigator applicant and the applicant institution will execute a contract with the RWJF agreeing to terms and conditions regarding the distribution of funds.
How can the award funds be used?
Award funds should be used primarily for the Principal Investigator’s salary and fringe benefit costs. The Mentored Research Scientist Development Awards will be used to fund up to 25% of Principal Investigator’s full time professional effort, and the applicant organization must provide an equal match of funds up to an additional 25%.
This award requires the Principal Investigator to devote 50% of their full time professional effort to conducting PHSSR-related research. The the applicant organization’s in-kind support of up to 25 percent of the Principal Investigator’s full time professional effort must be described in the “In-Kind Support” Section at the end of the budget narrative. This in-kind support will be matched by an equal amount through the RWJF award. The source(s) of this funding support for the 24-month project period must be described in detail, as well as the contact information for a verification source for this matching support for the principal investigator.
Award funds may also be used for project-related data purchase and analysis, meetings, supplies, project-related travel and other direct project expenses.
For additional instructions on how to construct your budget, please review RWJF’s budget guidelines in the online application system.
Are the 25% salary and benefits to be included in the $100,000 award?
The 25% salary and benefits support for the primary investigator is to be included within the $100,000 award. The applicant institution needs to provide matching support for another 25% salary and benefits to enable the 50% protected research time.
Are there any specific budget requirements for travel expenses?
Under Travel, travel expenses of $1,475 each for three-day trips for the primary investigator and mentor to present research at the PHSSR Keeneland Conference in Lexington, Kentucky in April 2014 and 2015. In addition, travel expenses of $975 for a two-day trip during the last six months of the award should be included for the primary investigator to participate in a grantee technical assistance briefing on future funding and dissemination strategies.
For additional instructions on how to construct your budget, please review RWJF’s budget narrative instructions and budget guidelines.
Are matching funds, or research funds from other kinds of outside sources, required for this funding opportunity?
Yes, they are required. This award requires the Principal Investigator to devote 50% of their full time professional effort to conducting PHSSR-related research. The applicant organization’s in-kind support of up to 25 percent of the Principal Investigator’s full time professional effort must be described in the “In-Kind Support” Section at the end of the budget narrative. This in-kind support will be matched by an equal amount through the RWJF award. The source(s) of this funding support for the 24-month project period must be described in detail, as well as the contact information for a verification source for this matching support.
May I submit a proposal for which this award would serve as a matching grant?
No, applicants may not submit a proposal for which this award would serve as a matching grant.
What are survey costs?
Survey costs are those costs associated with conducting surveys that do not fall under Personnel or Purchased Services (see the Budget Preparation Guidelines provided in RWJF's online application system).
If surveys are a component of your project, in the budget narrative template, you should list an amount on the Surveys line item under Other Direct Costs for each non-Personnel and non-Purchased Services cost (e.g., fielding and administrative costs, design and development of survey instruments, mailing of questionnaires, expenses related to telephone surveys, printing and dissemination of findings) associated with your survey.
There may also be survey-related costs budgeted under Personnel (e.g., temporary help, interviewers, data coders) and/or Purchased Services (e.g., consultant or contract costs). RWJF is interested in capturing total survey costs for your project, Therefore, in addition to budgeting survey costs in their appropriate budget subcategories, also state total amount budgeted for survey costs from all budget subcategories in the narrative for the Surveys section.
PHSSR Research Focus Questions
What constitutes Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR)? What is NOT considered PHSSR?
A special supplement to the May 2012 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) outlines the research agenda for public health services and systems research (PHSSR), a multi-disciplinary field of study that examines the organization, financing, delivery and quality of public health services within communities and the impact of those services on public health.
The research agenda addresses issues surrounding public health workforce; system structure and performance; financing and economics; and information and technology. The supplement also includes several review articles on the research findings in these areas to date, as well as the detailed questions that comprise the agenda. For example, the agenda includes questions such as:
- What effect has the economic recession had on how public health services are funded – and whether they’re effective and efficient, despite the financial challenges and demand for services?
- How does the size and composition of the public health workforce affect how public health services are delivered?
- How does the organizational structure of public health systems – for example, county versus regional health departments – affect health outcomes?
The agenda will be used to track the ongoning PHSSR projects and evidence, resulting in a better means to guide the evolving research agenda. The supplement is the culmination of an effort by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Services and Systems Research, the Altarum Institute and various other research and practice organizations to formalize a research agenda for the developing field of PHSSR.
For investigators new to the field of PHSSR, a list of articles that describe public health services and system research, what improvements need to be made and opportunities for further research is provided here. PHSSR does not include research or evaluative studies related to primary clinical care delivered in public health or ‘safety-net provider’ settings.
Is research on health outcomes using national Medicare data within the scope of this award?
No, PHSSR is not the study of medical care service delivery and finance that is included in Medicare data. It might be relevant to PHSSR if the analysis focused on the impact of public health strategies and population-based activities on medical care utilization and spending.
Would research that considers how evidence informs policy and practice surrounding maternity care at the hospital level (specifically decisions about mode of delivery) be within the scope of this award?
No, hospital-based care is clearly medical care services, and does not address population-based services so would not be within scope. These relationships would only be relevant if public health services had some impact on the decisions about delivery of hospital maternity care.
Do public health services include occupational health services, generally and for the scope of this CFP (e.g. occupational health workforce, occupational health elements of public health system organization and structure)?
Yes, occupational health services would be within the scope of this CFP if services delivered to populations in public health settings are being studied.
Are health policy projects in scope that focus on public health systems policy, consider outcomes related to policymakers and practitioners, and address questions on public health and health equity?
Yes, proposed research that considers public health systems policy and outcomes are within the scope of this CFP. However, the research should address population health services delivery in the public health system, as well as the public health and health equity policy.
How can I find out more about RWJF and its other initiatives?
Visit the Foundation's Web site for more information about funding opportunities, interest areas, lessons learned from past grants, and other information related to the mission and work of RWJF.