Video Transcript: Graduate Research Fellowships, National Institute of Justice, Fiscal Year 2017
This webinar will provide details and guidance for potential applicants to NIJ's Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) Program. There are two tracks in the fellowship program: social and behavioral sciences (SBS); or science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The GRF program seeks to increase the pool of scholars engaged in research that addresses the challenges of crime and justice in the United States, particularly at the state and local levels, by supporting promising doctoral students. Fellowship funds may be used for student stipend support, tuition and fees, research-related travel, software/hardware purchases and conference registration.
Speaking in this video:
- Marie Garcia, Social Science Analyst
- Gregory Dutton, Physical Scientist
- Mary Jo Giovacchini, National Criminal Justice Reference Service
MARY JO GIOVACCHINI: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, National Institute of Justice's Graduate Research Fellowship Programs, which is hosted by the National Institute of Justice. At this time, I would like to introduce Dr. Marie Garcia, Social Science Analyst in the Justice Systems Research Division at NIJ, and Dr. Gregory Dutton, Physical Scientist in the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at NIJ.
MARIE GARCIA: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the webinar. I wanted to give you a bit of information about NIJ. So, we are the research development, and evaluation agency of the US Department of Justice. Our mission here at NIJ is to improve knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. Here at NIJ, we have two -- we have our longstanding Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The program goal is to support doctoral students engaged in research that addresses challenges of crime and justice in the US. With the GRF Program, we have two program tracks. We have the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, and the Social and Behavioral Sciences.
GREGORY DUTTON: Both program tracks' funding opportunities are open now through November 21st. These are the solicitations. So, the solicitations are the documents that give us specific details about requirements to apply. These are available on nij.gov, and we'll talk more later about where to find these and what to look for in them. Review these carefully for the specific program requirements.
First to talk about the GRF STEM Program. The STEM Program was established as a separate track about three years ago. The Social and Behavioral Sciences track was well-established for many decades, but STEM, we weren't getting a lot of applications in STEM. So, NIJ committed to expanding support for Ph.D. researchers in the STEM field. And we have established a separate program.
This program has two basic requirements for the student. Current enrollment in a Ph.D. program in physical life science, engineering, or math field, and that you propose a thesis project with the demonstrative relevance to criminal justice.
We -- for the STEM Program, we increased the terms of support for the fellowship to make it competitive with other federal fellowship programs. So, we have a $35,000 annual student stipend. So, that can be essentially student salary and can also include insurance. In addition to that, up to $15,000 annually for tuition fees and research expenses. And the research expenses can include things like lab supplies, software, conference travel, among other things. The -- this fellowship do not include indirect cost to the university. So, all of the support goes directly to the students. The STEM Program can give up to three years of support over a five-year period.
In the STEM track, the student can be at any stage in their graduate career when they apply as long as they're enrolled. This is different from the Social and Behavioral Sciences track as we'll hear later. But the fellowship will only support you after your thesis topic is approved, when you're in the active research phase. So, you can be awarded a fellowship before that point, but the fellowship will be inactive until your topic is approved.
NIJ has committed to supporting the STEM Program long-term. Last year, we awarded 22 fellows and we expect to award at least 20 new fellowships every year going forward.
Just to give you a sense of some of the fields that are included in the STEM Program and it's not limited to these. But you can see that, you know, we cover essentially all of the physical and life sciences, engineering, math, anything that could be construed STEM excluding the social sciences. And also, I should also note that you can also look and see a list of the current fellows to get a sense of the types of disciplines that they're coming from. But please don't consider the fields to be limited to those.
The GRF STEM Program, these fellowships can be renewed for up to three years over a five-year period unlike the SBS Program. So, you can take a hiatus of the fellowship during your graduate career if you have a need to. I should note here, very important, current fellows. So, if you've been awarded a GRF STEM Fellowship from NIJ, you do not need to reapply through this process. The fellowship renewal happens through the university and it's a separate process. So, current fellows, GRF STEM fellows, do not need to reapply to this funding opportunity. Annual renewal requires two things, verification of enrolment and, again, you can take a leave of absence if you have a reason, but for renewal, verification of enrolment and a letter from your committee chair confirming that you're making adequate progress on your approved thesis topic.
To make sure that your fellowship that your research is on track, we require annual progress reports. And at the end of the fellowship, we require a copy of the completed thesis to show the great research that we've supported.
Just to give you -- to highlight a couple of recent fellows, to give you a sense of what some of our fellows are doing. Here we have a couple. For example, Katherine Gettings, she was a 2011 fellow from George Washington University working in forensic DNA. Her project was Ancestry/Phenotype SNP Analysis and Integration with Established Forensic Markers. I believe she's now a staff scientist at NIST, so, a very successful former fellow. Also we have Christy Mancuso. She's a 2014 fellow from the University of Utah in Analytical Chemistry. Her project is Fingernails as Recorders of Region of Origin and Travel History. So, she's a current fellow who's still working on her project. And, again, these are just a couple. You can look at the GRF Program website to see bios of all of our current fellows or many of them.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. So, now, onto the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program. The fellowship amount is up to $32,000 to support the final phase of the dissertation research. Like STEM, we allow the funding amount to cover a variety of allowable cost. This can include conference fees, technology that you need to complete your research, and other allowable expenses.
So, the fellowship requirements are somewhat different here. We require a current enrolment in the Ph.D. program in an SBS discipline and the completion of required coursework, comprehensive exams, and advancement to candidacy. So to be clear, and as stated in the solicitation, these requirements must be completed at the time an award is made. You do not have to have this completed by November 21st.
So, we have several project deliverables for the Social and Behavioral Sciences. First, we require two annual progress reports so that you can let NIJ know about the research that you're engaged in and any issues that we can help you with and any of the exciting research findings that you have thus far. And upon completion, we'll need an official copy of your defended dissertation that has been signed off by your committee and your university.
And in FY16, we made seven awards up $222,000. In FY17, we hope to double this. We hope to award as many innovative proposals as possible.
And here are two examples of our recent GRF fellows. Both Lallen and Naomi are -- have completed their GRF Fellowship with NIJ. Lallen was in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University. And he is now an assistant professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Naomi was a 2013 fellow in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University. And she did her research on Offender Reintegration and the Using Smartphone Technology to Find Employment. And she is currently an assistant professor at the University of California-Irvine. And as Greg mentioned, you can go on to our webpage to see the diversity of our fellows through research and the disciplines that they come from.
So, with regard to the Social Behavioral Sciences, this is different from STEM. We do -- we do not allow first and second year students who've not completed all requirements. Students who are successful and received awards from the SBS must be in the final stages of their doctoral research. Additionally, the SBS fellowship supports only Ph.D. or other social and behavioral science doctoral students. Terminal degrees, such as a master's degree or a JD, would not be eligible for this program.
And unlike the STEM, our funds are one-time awards. Again, you can be awarded up to $32,000. We will not make additional funds available at a later date.
So, with regards to both of our programs, the academic institution is the official applicant. So, as a student, you should not apply on your own. The -- your university will apply on your behalf. One of the questions that received a lot of attention was the international students. Yes, you can apply for this program because the academic institution is applying on your behalf. So, your status is not particularly relevant for this program. Academic institutions outside the United States are not eligible to apply unless they are connected to an American university. For instance, if your university has a satellite campus in another country and they -- that would be eligible, but any other non-US institutions would not be eligible for STEM or SBS.
An IRB or human subject approval is not required at the time of application. Again, you do not have to have this documentation in your application unless you already have it completed. But if an award is made, you would need to submit this verification documentation to NIJ.
GREGORY DUTTON: A few more points to make that are common to both programs.
For both of the GRF tracks, you must be enrolled in a qualifying Ph.D. program at the time of application.
The thesis topic has to have a demonstrative relevance to criminal justice because this is NIJ's mission.
Further requirements beyond basic eligibility will need to be met before the award becomes active or funds are made available but not necessarily at the time of application. So, see the solicitation for specific details about what's required when you apply and what's necessary for funds being made available later.
So, what can you do now? First, get the solicitation at nij.gov and read it carefully for eligibility and for details of application requirements, what needs to be included in an application.
Very important. Get in touch with your university grants office. So, this might be called the office of sponsored programs or office of sponsored research, but every university has an office that works to help anyone associated with the university to get federal grant funding, and they will help you. They have a lot of experience in doing this. Remember, the university is the official applicant and they'll submit the application on your behalf, so you must work through them. Contact them early so that you can both get started.
Next, start assembling the application materials. So you're going to have to give your university office several pieces that are required for the application. First of all, write the program narrative. This is the proposal text. So, this is the most important piece of the application and of course you should get working on it early. See the solicitation for details about formatting and requirements for the proposal.
Ask for letters of support. Do this early. You'll never know how long it might take your adviser to actually give you a letter.
Get enrollment verification. This is, again, one of the basic requirements of the -- of the application.
Just to give you a sense of the timeline for this whole process of application review and awarding, NIJ this past year has shifted the timeline to match other federal fellowship programs. So you can see this is -- if you've followed the program before, it may be a little different, but currently the solicitations are open now through November 21st, so just before Thanksgiving, so make sure that you get everything to your university grants office ahead of time because they'll be busy heading into Thanksgiving. After the solicitations close, there's a period of review, so your application packages go to peer review by external panels composed mostly of academics just like your advisors. NIJ anticipates that awards will be announced by May 8th and that funds will be available by fall of 2017, but, again, if all of the award conditions have been satisfied.
So, where can you go to learn more? Go to nij.gov, click on the FUNDING & AWARDS tab and you can find the current funding for the solicitation documents that we were referring to with all of the details of how to apply. Awards made by NIJ shows past awards. So go to prior years for GRF Programs to see abstracts of fellows that were -- that were awarded just to get a -- if you want to get a sense of what's been awarded previously. There are FAQs for information also, and we'll show you some links later, but you can go to nij.gov/grf for the program page for all of this information together in one spot. Also you can sign up on this page for email updates to get updates about grants, solicitations, posts, and close.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Now, we're going to answer some of the questions that we received prior to the webinar today.
The most common question was, I'm an international student. Can I apply? And the answer is yes. Again, the university is the official applicant, so international citizens studying in here in the US at an accredited academic institution can apply to the GRF Program.
Another common question we received was, am I allowed to be part of the graduate research fellowship program while I have a fulltime job? And the answer is yes. NIJ does not have prohibitions on employment. However, you are encouraged to check in with your university and your department about whether they have employment restrictions for their students.
So another question that we received was, are there any previous successful applications that we can see on the website? And the answer is yes. We do have several applications on our webpage at nij.gov that you can review. But please note, none of these are GRF applications. They are the full 30-page proposal narratives from the larger request for proposals that we put out every year. So, you can get an idea about what we're looking for -- looking for with return -- with regard of the content and substance, but these are not specific to the GRF Program.
Again, another common question we received was about funding amount. As Greg and I specified, STEM and SBS have their -- have different funding amounts and the points at which funding can be made available. So, please make sure you check the solicitation that is specific to your discipline to see what those requirements are.
Another question that we received was, where can you -- where can I go for assistance with the application process? In a few minutes, we will show you the contact information for NCJRS. NIJ staff cannot personally respond to email inquiries. However, we do have great staff at NCJRS that are extremely helpful that can answer all of your questions.
Another question we've received was, can applications be submitted for projects that are currently in progress? And the answer is yes. If you are for instance an SBS student and you haven't -- your dissertation research that you're working on and you have a year or so left, you are encouraged to apply to the program. Again, you must have met all of the program requirement.
Let's see. We had another question about data archiving. Specifically, do I have to archive the data that I collect to my dissertation research? And the answer is, maybe. Data archiving is encouraged, but not required for GRF award. However, should you want to make your data available for the public, we're happy to work with you to archive your data.
Again, another question we received was about our requirement for the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program. As mentioned, your requirements must be met by the time an award is made, not at the time of application. So, please remember that. You do not have to complete everything by next month. Let's see.
GREGORY DUTTON: We had a couple of questions about GRF-STEM that I'd like to go to.
So, one of the questions was, if one was awarded a STEM fellowship and it's expected that renewal is necessary, what's the application process and what's the deadline? So, like I said earlier in the webinar, if you have already been awarded a STEM fellowship, don't reapply through this process. You've already been awarded. The renewal process is simpler and basically goes through your university. So, we -- we're working with your university to renew. You don't need to do anything on that account.
There was a question about start date, is there one specific start date for all awardees? For example, September 1st, October 1st, or will they differ based on the awardee or the grant program? So, I can't say about the STEM Program, the default start date is August 1st. We wanted to make sure that people would have funds available for fall semester if they -- if they needed it. So, that's the default start date, but if you have some reason to choose a later date, you can do that for STEM.
MARIE GARCIA: And the same is too for Social and Behavioral Sciences, we have a preferred start date that's listed in the solicitation. So, again, that is preferred. And we want -- we would want that to line up for the fall semester for you. However, if you need a later start date, just justify that in the timeline and be clear in your application document when you would need funding to start for you.
We have another question. How many people applied to GRF Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2016? And the answer is close to 70. We have close to 70 applications this year.
GREGORY DUTTON: I can say also for STEM, last year, we had about 40 applications. We made 22 awards. So, you can do the math and the funding rate is pretty favorable there.
We had another question specifically about STEM, I think. The question was, does Environmental Forensics fall into the scope of the NIJ-GRFP? And I'm sure that's referring to STEM. I can't specifically talk about specific disciplines, but what I did want to note is that, if you can demonstrate relevance to criminal justice in the United States, then you would be eligible. Remember, you just need to be enroll -- for STEM, enrolled in a science, technology, engineering, or math field and your topic has to show relevance to criminal justice in the United States. If you meet those, then you would be eligible.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. So, we had another question, what can be used as enrollment verification?
GREGORY DUTTON: Yeah. So, enrollment verification, you can use a transcript if it, you know, includes the current term. So, you could use a transcript. Unofficial transcripts are fine. You could use a letter from your registrar. So, there's no one specific document, but look in the solicitation for a little more guidance on that. But basically, we just want something from your university verifying that you're enrolled, so the registrar would be a good place to start.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. We have another question. I would like to know if there is a similar mission related to the Du Bois Program and if there are topics that are more funded over others in the SBS Fellowship? The SBS Fellowship like STEM is open to any and all questions related to criminal justice. So, we do not fund any particular topic like offender reentry over school safety for instance. We will fund any and all topics as long as the science is innovative and it addresses issues related to criminal justice.
GREGORY DUTTON: We had a question, I'm a current Computer Science and Technology graduate student. Am I currently eligible or will I have to wait until doctoral study? I'm not quite sure there, but you do need to be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in order to apply for both of the tracks.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay.
GREGORY DUTTON: Is your list of STEM the same as those used...
MARIE GARCIA: All right.
GREGORY DUTTON: I see. Yeah. So, the question is about the list of STEM fields, is it the same as those used for ICE for international students? I'm not -- I'm not sure exactly what that's referring to. But I just wanted to show that, you know, for STEM, we're quite inclusive for what falls under STEM. Any science, engineering, math, we don't have a specific list that we go by, but all I can say is that the social sciences are carved out for the other track.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Another question. Can the award for the Social and Behavioral Sciences be used for the stipend of the Ph.D. student? And yes, that would be an allowable cost. You could pay for your tuition fees, and registration fees, books, et cetera, insurance at the university should you need to with the -- with the funding amount.
Another question, how many Social and Behavioral Science awards are you anticipating to make this year? To be honest, we don't have a limit, and we don't have a minimum or a maximum, we will fund -- the director is committed to funding as many innovative projects as we receive. So, I would encourage all of you to put your best foot forward and submit your application.
GREGORY DUTTON: Oh, we have a question. If you have a letter from your dissertation chair, do you also need a letter from the department head or other administrative individual? No, you don't. You only need a single letter from your dissertation chair. At least, for STEM. Is it acceptable to submit a letter from a former employer or other recommender? No, that would -- that would not take the place of the letter from the dissertation chair or thesis advisor.
MARIE GARCIA: Another question for the Social and Behavioral Sciences. It appears that formal defense of the proposal is not necessary at the time of application so long as the idea itself is approved and that you are a Ph.D. candidate, is that correct? That is partially true. At -- again, at the time of application, you have to have met -- you have to at least be -- on your way to being qualified for the program. So, make sure that based on your timeline, you will have met the other three requirements, advancement to candidacy, completion of your comps and your coursework. The defense of the proposal is not necessary, however, you should be on your way to finishing your -- that defense piece and submitting that documentation to NIJ.
GREGORY DUTTON: A question asks, are healthcare fields considered STEM or SBS or does it depend upon the nature of the project? I didn't see any past projects. So, I think it depends -- it depends on, you know, the specific field. So, we certainly -- I think last year, we made an award to someone in the neuroscience program. So, there are some fields that, you know, could certainly be said to sort of span the hard sciences and the social sciences. But to some extent, it might depend on the nature of the project if you're using, you know, physical science, experimental techniques, or if you're using social science methods. But, like I -- like I said, you know, we do have at least one prior field that neuroscience that was rewarded under STEM.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Another question, is it possible to defer the award? And the answer is, it depends. So, again, if you need to start your project, your timeline later than August 1, that would be permissible. However, if you are thinking about deferring for a year, you might consider whether or not you would apply to GRF this year. This is an annual solicitation. So, please be sure to state in your timeline what you need in terms of deferment if you would need it. And then, we can work with you on that.
Another question about, I understand that GRF is not available for terminal degrees, but what about dual degree programs, (Ph.D. /J.D.). And the answer is, you would have to have met the requirement for the Social and Behavioral Sciences program. So, if you're on track with the Ph.D. to meet those requirements, you're encouraged to apply.
GREGORY DUTTON: I see that there was some clarification made as to the healthcare field question before. And nursing was the program that was quoted, you know, if you show that your -- that your program is, you know, using experimental methods that could qualify for STEM. But I can't -- I can't make a, you know, specific statement about if that would be eligible or not.
We have another question here, should we write the proposal to an expert or a layperson?
MARIE GARCIA: Yes, the proposal that you submit to our program will be reviewed by experts in the field, so individuals with both research and practitioner backgrounds. So, you should be -- you should essentially write this proposal like you would write it for your dissertation. It's essentially a small version of the proposal that you're writing for your research. So, you should absolutely write it to an academic audience.
Another question, I'm enrolled in a Criminal Justice program, but you're -- the analysis will require extensive use of GIS and programming, should you apply for Social Science since you are in a CJ program? And the answer is, it depends. Again, we accept many of our Social and Behavioral Sciences students to use our GIS and other geography based programming in their analysis. If you're using it as an analytical technique, that's completely appropriate, however, we have -- we do have both tracks. So, you need to make sure that when you apply, you are applying to the most appropriate program. So, I would encourage you to check in with your dissertation committee to make sure that you're submitting your proposal to the right place.
Another question, my dissertation is in the discipline of Social Welfare, is that eligible within SBS? Yes, that would be a discipline that would be eligible for the program.
GREGORY DUTTON: We have a question. Can you be the PI on a current NIJ grant? Not related to the school you're a student with and also pursue the fellowship as a Ph.D. student if the projects are separate. Both related to criminal justice field, but different projects. Yes, if you are a Ph.D. student currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program, you can apply.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Another question, will we apply on our behalf of the university or the grant office at our university apply for us? To be clear, GRF are -- we make awards to the university, so the university will apply on your behalf. Should students apply as individuals, they will be removed from competition. So, please make sure the university submits the proposal for you.
GREGORY DUTTON: A related question there. Are Ph.D. students supposed to get a DUNS number and a SAM number for their university in order to apply? So, these are numbers that entities need in order to apply for funding from the federal government. And again, the student is not applying, the university is applying. So, no, you don't need to get a DUNS or a SAM number. You need to work with your university Grants Office and they will already have those.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Another question. In the SBS solicitation, it indicates that part of the program narrative should include information about the academic institution's record of accomplishment, does this refer to the particular department or the institution? This is specific to the entire institution. What we want to see is a record of performance from your organization. So, we want to know how many awards that you've had from NIJ -- I mean, the organization has had from NIJ and whether or not there have been any issues with the project themselves. So, this is an issue for the institution. So, make sure it includes a comprehensive list of NIJ awards. And as a note, it should be included as appendix or another file. Using that as part of your narrative would take up a lot of space and we don't want to detract you from including all the important information that you need to in your narrative. So, make sure you upload that list as an appendix or a separate file.
GREGORY DUTTON: There's a question about, would additional letters of support from other committee members outside of the chair be helpful or will only the chair's letter be reviewed? So, the -- only the letter from the chair is required. And in terms of adding additional letters, I would encourage you to take the perspective of the reviewers. So, hitting them with a ton of extra letters probably isn't going to be terribly helpful. If you have one extra person that may -- that you think the reviewers should get the perspective of, you might want to include that.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Another question, looking under capabilities and competencies in the SBS solicitation, I wanted to clarify that we should include information about the institution in our narrative. Again, you want to include a list of awards that we've made to the institution as a separate file, but in the capabilities and competencies, this is really about the student and the dissertation chair and committee, and their abilities to help you get your research completed. You can speak about the university, but I would encourage you to be very brief, but if you want to talk about the awards that NIJ has made to the organization, that's completely fine, but you don't want to include that -- a long list of information about award-making in that particular section.
GREGORY DUTTON: We have a question. I'm STEM enrolled in the master's program, not yet Ph.D.. I'm guessing I'm not yet qualified. That's correct. You need to be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program to qualify. So if you're not enrolled now, apply to your university and get enrolled in a qualifying Ph.D. program and perhaps you could apply next year.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. We have a question about the methodology and the research narrative, and the lack of information that we include there. Do you need to include your variables and at what level of -- level of detail? Something important to remember is that the application you submit to NIJ will be reviewed internally and by external researchers and experts. What you want to make sure you do is be as clear as possible about your methodology and everything -- your analytic plan and everything that goes into completing your research. If the panel has questions, we will not go back to you and ask them. It needs to be as clear and comprehensive as possible, so you should include all the information that the experts will need to understand the research that you're engaged in.
GREGORY DUTTON: There's a question that asks, I understand that the applications must be related to the mission of NIJ, does this include NIJ's areas of interests and research goals? So these are things that are posted on the NIJ website. The question goes on to ask, I think it looks like it's written from the social and behavioral sciences perspective, but I wanted to answer for STEM, you can look at our website and find some of the research priorities that may be listed there just to get a sense of what we fund, but the GRF Program isn't limited to that. So we take the criminal justice in the US relevance requirement pretty broadly, for STEM at least. So look at the NIJ website for maybe a little more info about what's currently going on in criminal justice research. But for STEM, don't consider yourself bound by those.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. Will the reviewers look at the spreadsheet of dissertation committee members or do we need to detail each one of them and their background experience? You are encouraged to -- and required, I believe, for SBS, the student and the dissertation chair must submit their -- a biosketch, or a CV, or a resume. Should you want to include additional information about the committee members? That's fine, the reviewers may or may not look at it, they won't be required to. So I think -- I would encourage you to make sure you get in the required documents before you start adding additional information. But if it's in there, they will look at it.
Okay. So, we have a question about, I am about to defend my proposal, if I am awarded the fellowship but I complete my dissertation before the awards are given next fall. So if you defend your proposal today and you finish your dissertation in May of next year, then you would have to forfeit your award because you would no longer be a doctoral student. So again, make sure the timing of the program, again, works for you. Again, the preferred start date is August 1, so if you plan to finish up before then, then you may not want to spend time applying to the program.
GREGORY DUTTON: Okay. There is a question mentioning problems that you might have with opening the budget detail worksheet that's linked to in the -- in the announcement, who should I contact? Contact NCJRS and mention that problem, and they will find a way to get you a good link. I've noticed that problem as well.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. So we have some other questions that were sent to us before the webinar started. And again, we -- does the fellowship support grad students in master's programs or just Ph.D.s? And again, the answer is just Ph.D.s. We do not allow, student's with JD or master's programs would not be eligible.
We have a question about, I will reach candidacy and finish my comp paper this semester, can I still apply? And, yes, you are encouraged to apply. For the social and behavioral sciences, again, we want to capture you in the final stages of your dissertation research. So you would be a perfect candidate for funding for the program.
Let's see. We have a question about relocation. Does it matter in which state I live and are there relocation requirements? No, there are no relocation requirements for the program. Again, we make the award to the university, wherever that might be in the US. So we don't require you to come to D.C. or there are no other types of requirements.
Is it possible to be awarded a graduate research fellowship with NIJ while pursuing a Ph.D. remotely with an international institution? Again, only accredited academic institutions in the US are eligible for the program.
Let's see. Another question we received and Greg and I should both tackle this one. What is the most common mistake or reason a project is rejected? Something to consider is that the research has to be relevant for NIJ. So you want to be really cautious about what you propose to us. If we've already -- if the field is saturated and NIJ has spent a lot of money contributing to a specific area, you want to be clear that your research adds something unique to this particular discipline. One of the more common reasons that a proposal may not be well-received by our panel is that there are too many questions about the analytic plan, the methodology. And importantly, you want to make sure you talk to impact. So if we fund your research, how will your research matter for the field of criminal justice, and for the women -- the men and women who do this work every day? So you have to make sure that you connect your research and your possible findings with the day-to-day operations within the system.
GREGORY DUTTON: So I'd like to comment on the STEM point of view on that. So actually for STEM, we -- since the STEM program is just getting established, we're not as strictly looking at the strict impact on criminal justice. We're looking to fund excellent science and engineering projects that have some relevance to criminal justice. But the important thing at least for our reviewers is that you have a strong project design. So this speaks more to what in NSF is, you know, considered the criterion of intellectual merit, right? So, we have a lower standard for criminal justice impact for the STEM program currently, because we're standing up the program. On the social and behavioral sciences side, they have a longstanding program and they have the luxury of, I think, picking and choosing more than we do. So for STEM, focus on the quality of the experimental design, intellectual merit, and demonstrate some relevance to criminal justice. So we're not making funding decisions on the STEM end based on any one project having a greater or lesser potential for impact along criminal justice lines. But we do need to justify that there is some relevance to NIJ's mission.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. We have a question about, what if my dissertation is defended in the spring? If your dissertation is defended in spring of next year, you would not -- you probably would not want to spend time applying to the program given that we would not be making awards until May. However, if you're thinking about spring of 2018, you are encouraged to apply, because you could -- you would be eligible for the program given your timeline.
GREGORY DUTTON: We have a question that states, I applied to the STEM award last year and was not given the award. I'm reapplying and was wondering if I need new human subjects, protection and privacy certificates, if nothing about them has changed. You do need new human subjects and privacy, you may -- you may just have to get them updated with a new university signature and date. So you may not need to change any of the details about it if the project hasn't changed. But you do need to work with your universities to resign those.
MARY JO GIOVACCHINI: Are there any common pitfalls applicants may make that you could caution us against?
GREGORY DUTTON: So I wouldn't call this common, but it certainly happens occasionally that one of the required pieces of the application is missing. That's the one thing to be careful about. So look at the solicitation and see which of the documents are required and make sure that those aren't missing. Work with your OSP to make sure that they have all of those required pieces.
MARIE GARCIA: Yeah, to Greg's point. Applications that do not have all of the required materials will be removed from competition. Now, this may sound harsh, however, we want to -- this is an open and competitive competition. And in order to be transparent and fair, we have to let only those who are eligible compete. So please make sure that you get everything in that's required. You're also encouraged to submit as early as possible. After your submission, check the file to make sure that you submitted everything, because you can resubmit with additional documents up until the solicitation closes. So make sure you have everything that you need in your file.
GREGORY DUTTON: That's a good point that I want to also reiterate. Your university grants office, they're professionals who do this every day applying to federal grants. But you'll make it a lot easier for them and make sure that you avoid any problems by getting the materials to them as early as possible.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. We had another question about the anticipated awards for the social and behavioral sciences this year. As mentioned, we don't have a ceiling or a floor on this, but we would like to fund maybe up to 20 or more than that depending on funding availability and quality proposals. So please submit your applications as early as possible, so that you can be competitive.
GREGORY DUTTON: Again, with STEM, we anticipate making 20 awards. We made 22 last year. We anticipate at least 20 a year new awards going forward.
MARY JO GIOVACCHINI: At this time, it looks like all the questions have been answered. We will give you guys a few more minutes or a few seconds perhaps, if you have any other questions that you would like to submit before the end of the webinar. We are approaching 3:00, so we will be ending shortly. The slide that is viewable right now contains information about where to get more direction on the GRF Program as well as to get assistance with your application process by calling the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. As I mentioned earlier in the webinar, the slides and this webinar will be posted to the NIJ website in approximately 10 days. You will receive an email. That email will contain direct links to the webinar and the PowerPoint presentation, as well as an FAQ document.
MARIE GARCIA: Okay. We have another question that says, your last statement about applying early makes me think that this is competitive, but first come, first serve. What we mean by submitting early is you want to give your -- you want to give yourself enough time to look at your submission in case you've omitted required documents. If you have, you will have enough time to resubmit your proposal. This isn't first come, first serve because we only view those that are -- that make the competition and we move everyone forward in, basically, one big bucket.
GREGORY DUTTON: Yeah. Review doesn't begin until all of the applications have been received and the solicitations have closed at the deadline. So, yeah, just have to say that the rare times that pieces of required documentation are missing usually happened when the university is submitting on the last day and someone makes a mistake. So try to get the materials to them ahead of time.
MARIE GARCIA: And one thing to consider and I may have mentioned this already. If you submitted at the last minute, and you forgot something, and the solicitation has closed, we won't reopen the competition, and we won't allow any late submission. So if the deadline has passed, you've missed your opportunity. So we want to encourage you, start your application, get all your letters of recommendation, get all the information you need for a successful application. In case there are mistakes that you can fix them before the deadline is closed, so start early.
MARIE GARCIA: Can you apply more than once if you were denied the first time? So I believe what you're asking is if you were -- if you did not receive an award, for instance, in FY16, can you apply this year? And yes, absolutely, you can apply, and what you will likely receive are comments from the peer reviewers about your application that might help strengthen your proposal the second time around. So you can resubmit your proposal. We do have a resubmission memo that we appreciate that you submit with the application, so that we can see what areas you've strengthened and changed. So yes, you can reapply if you'd like to.
GREGORY DUTTON: So like Marie said, we ask you if you are reapplying to include a resubmit statement, and that's an opportunity for you to respond to the comments that you got from peer review the previous year to show the current reviewers what you may have changed about your project. But you're encouraged to reapply.
MARY JO GIOVACCHINI: At this time, we do not have any further questions. We do not have any further questions at this time and that will be the end of our webinar. Again, the last slide does list the information for the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. If you have questions after the end of this webinar, you may reach out to them and they will work along with Marie and Greg to answer your questions. Thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate your time and patience. Have a good day.
Date Created: October 21, 2016