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DU Research & Scholarship

Office of Research & Scholarship

Research Funding

Grant Development Services

FACULTY development program in grantsmanship

The University of Denver’s history is rooted in the Scholar-Teacher model, where the expectation is that every tenure-track faculty member is deeply and passionately engaged in both the learning and scholarship goals of the University.  At the institutional level, DU has already invested considerably in developing resources for faculty to assist them in developing into exceptional educators. The institutional program described here is focused on developing the skills required for successful grantsmanship. Grantsmanship requires six critical elements: identification of an aligned sponsor; a strong, compelling concept; a competitive proposal; a productive team; values inherent to research integrity; and measurement of impact.

Regardless if a project is funded or not, all faculty members can benefit from the contents of this program. We also encourage every faculty member to identify one or two focus areas each year to develop their professional growth in grantsmanship. The information below can then be utilized to identify existing resources available for the chosen area of development. These are lifelong learning activities which all faculty should engage in, not just junior faculty. Additionally, many of these resources are available to our post doctoral associates on campus.

This program provides educational resources around each of the elements and leverages the experiences of others in our community.


Several resources exist across campus to help find aligned sponsors:

  • The Associate Provost for Research has gathered a comprehensive list of funding opportunities
  • ORSP has a website dedicated to helping direct faculty in identifying funding opportunities
  • The library has created a resource on “How Do I Search for Grants” which gives access to key data bases such as Pivot
  • University Advancement's Foundation Relations can be a powerful ally for faculty to develop and maintain contact with philanthropic foundations. Their Foundations Directory is hosted by University Libraries
  • When larger corporate partners might be on the horizon, consider utilizing the skills of the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Partnerships.
  • Hannover Research webinars (Webinar links coming soon).

PIs and teams are encouraged to engage in an abstract-level review process with faculty members who have previously been funded by a certain agency or organization.  The outcome of this critical yet constructive review should be to modify and enhance the proposed activity (e.g. specific aims) for greatest competitiveness, as well as to eliminate ideas which are unlikely to succeed.

  • This critical review should be organized by the PI, department or division.
  • ORSP and the Associate Provost for Research can help identify individuals with funding from specific sponsors-,
  • In the near future, deans and divisions will be able to access this information from the Executive Dashboard.

The Associate Provost for Research is now providing access and funds to connect eligible faculty to copy editors and professional grant writers. Priority access and funds will be provided to junior faculty or multidisciplinary teams.

  • Eligibility to the grant writers and copy editors will be limited to PIs and teams who have already engaged in an abstract-level review process with faculty members previously funded by the agency or organization.
  • Access can be obtained by contacting the Associate Provost for Research through your dean or associate dean of research.
  • Resources are limited, so plan to request access at least 6 to 8 weeks in advance. Anticipate that the engagement will last up to 3 weeks.

Grant writing activities will span:

  • Research-based grants prospecting.
  • Grant proposal development (i.e. comprehensive proposal review and critique).
  • Onsite grantsmanship training open to all faculty, staff and post doctoral associates.

 Copy edit efforts will be limited to:

  • Technical edits (no rewriting).
  • Identification of organizational issues and areas in need of improvement for comprehension.
  • Interested faculty will need to email Corinne Lengsfeld Associate Provost for Research to gain approval to access copy edit staff. The requesting email must contain: Name, department/division, rank, proposal title, sponsor, proposal deadline and name of staff member (if known). Requests should be made approximately 6 to 8 weeks in advance of proposal submission deadline. Copy edit staff will need a maximum of 3 weeks to return edits. Once approved the copy edit staff will contact the requesting faculty for proposal narrative. This service is limited to proposals for external sponsors only. Priority will be given to junior faculty.

  • Budget development instructions and templates currently exist.  These are available from the ORSP Project Administrators and available online 
  • If any unit on campus has templates they would like to share, please send them to ORSP or the Associate Provost of Research.
  • Materials to provide information on best practices are under development.
  • Seek input from senior faculty in your division or a colleague at another university with a history of funding. Sharing methods within your discipline will likely be the most effective.

The University library has collected information on common tools and successful templates used around campus for data management plans.


Managing an effective research team is important in order to streamline efforts and provide return on investment to the sponsor. Unfortunately, faculty members are rarely provided formal training in this skill.  The Principle Investigators Association can provide help.

A well-defined set of guidelines have been adopted around the country for graduate student and advisor roles and responsibilities. Most of these, regardless of discipline, are derived from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Critical attributes for a successful team :

  • Review existing agreements governing ownership and disclosure of materials developed over the course of the project , including data, research tools, code, bio materials, authorship, etc.
  • Coordinate your team
    • Inform everyone at the outset of the goals, timetables and possible obstacles by making the grant application generally available and reviewing it annually.
    • Complete any annual safety training as a team.
    • Review confidentiality agreements each time a new team member arrives.
    • Design effective communication mechanisms, including project meetings, conference calls, and interim progress reports. While individual meetings are necessary, be sure to also have regular team meetings so everyone is  informed.
    • Clearly define each individual’s role and contribution:  who makes personnel decisions, who is authorized to make purchases, who manages or accesses data, who is responsible for IRB/IACUC/IBC/lab safety.
  • Plan for success
    • Make IP decisions according to University policies.
    • Recognize contributions based on accepted and transparent standards
    • Research strategies are always changing based on the latest data collected—recognize this, discuss it openly, and get collaborator consensus.
  • Contingency planning
    • Layout a plan for what happens when a team member leaves the project:
    • How materials and work will be handled – e.g. all data stays with grant PI, but the partner may receive photocopies with the understanding that they may be used for reference but not for publication, nor can they be disclosed without PI permission.
    • Should budget overruns occur, hold on to your discretionary funds to cover unforeseen needs.
  • Project Conclusion
    • Close all protocols and reporting obligations.
    • Decide where data will be stored based on data management plan compliance.
  • Best practices for recruiting students to the team:
    • Develop a funnel to your group from another institution where you have colleagues who understand your special attributes and unique opportunity for advancing the career of a student. They can watch for students and send them your way, when appropriate, to complete a full degree program under your guidance.
    • Given the price of the tuition, understand how your research focus and mentorship will develop the student’s career.
    • Seek financial support from sponsors for your research so you can offer students a stipend/tuition to work with you.
    • Adjust your expectations for student engagement in light of the declining enrollment nationwide in specific areas. Look for emerging areas or gain financial resources to support postdocs and staff to aid in your research efforts.
  • Breakout sessions at the annual Research Resource Fair will be created to provide case study information and connect individuals with similar needs and skills in order to develop ad hoc communities of learning around the campus where faculty can share and discuss these issues/activities.
  • Several units on campus have initiated training on student mentoring. Additional information is available from the Undergraduate Research Center.
  • Breakout sessions at the annual Research Resource Fair will be created to provide case study information and connect individuals with similar needs and skills in order to develop ad hoc communities of learning around the campus where faculty can share and discuss these issues/activities.
    • Next Fair scheduled for January 29, 2015 in Anderson Academic Commons
  • Training for responsible conduct of research is available through ORSP and, possibly, through your department.
  • The Associate Provost for Research will author a quarterly letter to students and faculty regarding a current topic of interest.

Measuring the impact of your work is important for successful promotion and tenure, but it is equally important in setting the stage for repeat funding from sponsors. Traditional measurements include citations, h-index, and impact factors, but alternative metrics are becoming more mainstream.