Video Transcript: Violence Against Women Research Consortium Solicitation Webinar

Mr. Giovacchini: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to today's webinar on Violence Against Women Research Consortium. This webinar is hosted by the National Institute of Justice.

At this time I would like to introduce you to Dr. Bethany Backes, Social Scientist with the National Institute of Justice.

Dr. Backes: Thank you Mary Jo and thanks everyone for joining us today. As Mary Jo noted we will have time for questions and answers at the end but you can submit your questions at any time under the Q&A field of the webinar platform. This webinar today will discuss in detail the current open solicitation for establishing a Violence Against Women Research Consortium.

So I will be walking us through the following areas of the background and goals of the solicitation, application, expectations and requirements, recommendations and tips for your applications, the review process, and application checklist. There will be a few poll questions interspersed during this presentation. They will come up on your screen, we appreciate it if you can take the time to respond to the questions. The questions and results will be included as an additional slide once this presentation is made public next week.

As many of you know, the National Institute of Justice has a well-established program of research on violence against women. For more than four decades, NIJ has been involved in the study of various forms of responses to violence against women. In 1998 NIJ began receiving a set-aside of funds for the Violence Against Women Act, specifically to support research and evaluation activities. Since 1998 we have invested over 100 million dollars to support research and evaluation on domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, stalking and teen dating violence. This includes funding through the set-aside through NIJ base funds and their collaborative projects with other federal agencies. Our work is well-documented through the NIJ Compendium of Research on Violence Against Women but is updated on an annual basis to provide reference information on the various projects we have supported. There have been other publications describing NIJ’s work in more detail, including a 2013 special issue of the Violence Against Women Journal that highlighted major accomplishments and gaps in the primary areas of research. In addition to sponsoring empirical work, NIJ has hosted a number of working groups centered on violence against women topics to identify gaps and emerging issues for study.

As it stands, NIJ has a lot of breadth across topics but NIJ is interested in identifying areas to create more depth through ongoing funding opportunities and through the work that this consortium will undertake. This consortium is being viewed as an extension of NIJ’s ongoing work in the violence against women field. It will support and contribute to ongoing empirical work in the major areas under NIJ’s program of research, including intimate partner and domestic violence, sexual violence, teen dating violence and stalking.

You can see on this slide the goal of this solicitation. The consortium is research-focused and we are requesting an interdisciplinary team of researchers to lead this effort alongside NIJ.

By interdisciplinary I mean researchers that come from different disciplines, fields of study, use and understand different methods, and have complementary content and methodological expertise. Additionally, the consortium should be comprised of both senior and junior science staff. The core research team is expected to be able to seamlessly integrate their skill set and knowledge to support the activities of the consortium and bring on additional expertise as needed.

This award will be made as a cooperative agreement and NIJ will be very involved in all aspects of the Violence Against Women Research Consortium. The start date should be on or after January 1st, 2017, and span approximately 4 to 5 years. Depending on funding availability and NIJ priorities, it is possible that the consortium will be offered continuation funding. There is up to 5 million dollars available this year for this particular project.

Now I am going to walk through the expectations of the consortium in terms of proposed work for research, evaluation and dissemination. It is important that the consortium is set up in a way to manage both short-term and long-term projects. For example, we are often asked to conduct a research project within a 6-12 month timeframe, but are unable to do so as we are limited by our internal structure and funding cycle. These projects may be conducted to inform a larger opportunity or to provide immediate guidance about a policy, practice or a specific topic. In addition to short-term research projects, we also anticipate that the consortium will undertake one or more long-term projects. Some of these projects will be assigned by NIJ and others will be collaboratively developed over the course of the award.

At the start of the project, the core faculty and NIJ will work to develop a targeted research plan based on guidance provided by NIJ. It is not necessary or expected that the applicant propose research projects in their application. Applicants can certainly suggest areas of inquiry but research studies should not be proposed.

The consortium will also be used to provide support on a variety of program evaluation projects. NIJ is often called upon to consider the evaluation of large multi-site initiatives, or emerging programs or practices. The consortium may be called upon to conduct any number of evaluation activities that may relate to determining if something can be evaluated, conducting process and impact evaluations, developing evaluation options for a program, and/or developing applied evaluation materials for partner and practitioner agencies. The evaluation activities may vary greatly year-to-year, depending on fiscal priorities set out by the Administration and our federal partners, such as the Office on Violence Against Women Office and the Office for Victims of Crime. In the application, applicants should discuss their experience with program and policy evaluation and knowledge of program evaluation methods.

Regardless of ongoing projects, a major area for the consortium is to contribute to the extent literature. This is a key area of work for the consortium. As I stated before, NIJ is interested in establishing more depth within its program of research. One way to initially address this is to examine what has been done in specific areas. Therefore, the consortium will be tasked with conducting systematic reviews and meta-analysis on specific subjects. The consortium should also plan for any number of products for the research, practice and policy field. Some of these may be topical and content related to intimate partner, domestic violence, sexual violence, teen dating violence and stalking. Others may be methodological, such as discussing innovative methods or approaches to program evaluation in the violence against women field. At the start of the project and in an ongoing basis the consortium will be expected to propose a thorough dissemination plan to address these areas. In addition, the consortium may be asked and/or can propose to plan meetings or working groups on specific topics similar to meetings NIJ has hosted in the past. In the application, applicants should address their capacity to support a wide variety of dissemination vehicles and suggestions for outlets, both scholarly, practitioner and policy focused.

So in terms of expectations for the proposed research team, we do expect an interdisciplinary core team of research faculty as I described earlier. There should be a designated project director or co-directors that lead the consortium. Ideally these individuals should be members of the core faculty. Although the award must be from a single institution, co-directors can come from other institutions but one must represent the main institution.

As the type of work will vary and range from short-term and quick turnaround projects to longer-term efforts, there’s a need for the awardee to be able to increase and decrease capacity throughout the year. We are asking for signed letters of commitment for at least one year post start day, and longer commitments would be ideal from core faculty members. The reason for this is that we do not want any changes to core staff in the first year of the project unless absolutely necessary. The named faculty on the application and their skills and abilities will be highly weighted through our review process and we want to ensure that those individuals will remain on the project.

For the application process right now, an adjunct faculty list is not required. If you plan to submit an application with named adjunct faculty members then you must include their complete CV’s and their letters of support. However, all adjunct faculty will be subject to NIJ approval throughout the course of the project.

So as noted in the solicitation, the required content area and expertise include subject matter expertise on teen dating violence, sexual violence, intimate partner and domestic violence, stalking and the criminal justice system. Some areas of expertise needed for methods and evaluation skills include qualitative research methods, quantitative research methods, program evaluation, statistical programming, analyses both for qualitative and quantitative studies, instrumentation and survey design expertise. If there is someone named as a core faculty that has any additional areas of expertise listed on page 6 of the solicitation, please also note that in the application. Several of those areas deal with different types of research methods for underserved populations or specific topic areas falling under the Violence Against Women research program. There is not a minimum or maximum number of core faculty that can be on this award. Applicants should propose the team ensuring that all relevant knowledge and skills and represented among members of that team of core faculty.

I will also note that a faculty member does not necessarily need to be affiliated with an academic institution. It can be someone affiliated with the research organization or an academic institution.

So the solicitation has more guidance and details on each of the required items. Applications that are non-responsive to the scope of the solicitation or that are missing one or more the following, a program narrative, a budget detail worksheet, a budget narrative, or a CVs/resumes of key personnel, will not forward for review.

The program narrative should be 30 pages, double spaced in 12 point font with one inch margins. The narrative should attempt to cover the major selection criteria categories outlined in the solicitation and should include a detailed communications plan, information on infrastructure, and evidence of the applicant’s knowledge of violence against women, and NIJ’s prior work in this area. We encourage you to use the appendices to provide any additional supporting information.

So now I am going to walk through some recommendations for writing the narrative that’s going to cover the statement of the problem, project design and implementation, potential impact and capabilities and competencies. Although this opportunity differs from past solicitations that you might be familiar with, it will still follow a similar structure as to what should be included in the application.

So, in terms of the statement of the problem, you should outline the purpose, goals and the objectives of your application, and approach to the Research Consortium. There should be some semblance of a literature review highlighting major areas of inquiry as it pertains to violence against women and NIJ’s mission. In the statement of the problem, the applicant should attempt to identify overarching gaps in the research, with a focus on methods and emerging areas of inquiry. It is strongly suggested that you refer to existing materials that discuss NIJ programs, such as the special issue of the Violence Against Women Journal, meeting summaries, review articles, and related NIJ products.

The project design section should lay out how the consortium will be structured and its ability to implement and conduct short- and long-term research and evaluation tasks. The section should elaborate on the applicant’s ability to address the gaps or issues noted in the statement of the problem, and its ability to perform a wide variety of tasks, including dissemination and publication efforts. The impact section should discuss the consortium’s ability to enhance criminal justice policy and practice as it relates to violence against women. This section should also discuss the ability of the consortium to implement or develop innovative approaches to the study of violence against women and its ability to establish depth in specific areas of inquiry.

All sections of the proposal are important, but the section on capabilities and competencies holds the most weight in the application review process. This section should comprehensively discuss the expertise of the core faculty and support staff that are being proposed on the project. This section should not necessarily be a recap of someone’s CV or resume, but should go further to discuss the person's ability to contribute to the field, their expertise and how such expertise complements the rest of the team. This section should provide a communications structure for internal purposes and a communication structure for the consortium's contact with NIJ. Roles and responsibilities of core faculty and staff should be clearly delineated and the director/co-director of the consortium should be explicitly named.

The section should also provide additional detail on the applicant's ability to manage the consortium and its varied staffing needs at any given time. The ability to manage sub-contracts and consultant agreements, its ability to work collaboratively with the funding agency, and its ability to address any pitfalls or obstacles that may arise.

As I said, the solicitation follows the same format as prior NIJ solicitations, however, the selection criteria differs. The weight given to each section varies and you will see that capabilities and competencies contribute to the 50 percent of the application review. The budget and dissemination plan are not weighted, however, the peer reviewers will be asked to discuss them. Please be sure to consider this breakdown as you prepare your application.

Due to the number of conflicts anticipated by conducting an external review process, applications received under this solicitation will undergo an internal review process.

First, applications will be reviewed to ensure they meet basic minimum requirements. This means NIJ will check to see if the required items are included in the application, mainly the project narrative, the budget detail worksheet, the budget narrative and the CV's or resumes of key personnel. At this time NIJ will also check applications for responsiveness to the solicitation. Any applications not meeting these requirement will not move forward to peer review. Next, applications moving forward will be reviewed through an internal peer review process that engages of multiple federal agencies. There will be two to three technical research reviewers per application and two to three practitioner reviewers per application. After individual reviews are completed, NIJ will hold a peer review consensus meeting that will take place in person. Following the consensus review meeting, NIJ science staff will review applications based on the recommendations of the peer review panel. There will be internal reviews and discussion at two level of leadership within NIJ and the NIJ director will make the final decision. Award notices will go out at some point in September and non-award notices typically are sent out in October.

I know this application checklist might not be showing up great on the screen but it is on page 32 of the solicitation and this is a very helpful guide. All applications are due no later than May 2nd, 2016. It is highly advised and discussed in the solicitation that you submit applications in advance of the deadline. Seventy-two hours in advance is ideal so you can receive validation or rejection notices. It is rare that we can make exceptions for applications that encountered technical difficulties when submitted. Applications should be submitted through grants.gov and the solicitation has contact information for the grants.gov customer support hotline. Please familiarize yourself with information on uploading attachments and naming files on grants.gov on page 23 of the application. These lead to common mistakes that people make when they upload applications and often lead to their applications being removed from Peer Review. NIJ does not accept late materials. For example, if you have a letter of support that comes in after the May 2nd deadline we cannot accept it. The checklist on page 32 is a helpful reference guide to ensure your processing the application correctly. It also provides a list of items that should be included with the application.

Okay so now is time for you to submit a Q&A if you haven’t done so already. We’re going to look for them and we will give you a few minutes to look at that, and then we will move on to the questions and answers.

Dr. Mulford: We have our first question. Does NIJ have the maximum rate for compensating consultants, and can consultants be hired who are located internationally?

Dr. Backes: So we do have a maximum rate of $650 per consultant. Anything above that rate needs to go through approval process at NIJ. We’ll have to get back on the international, but I believe that if there is going to be an international consultant that has to go through an approval process at NIJ.

Dr. Mulford: We have someone asking if this is a new consortium or does someone currently have funding for this consortium already?

Dr. Backes: So this is a new consortium coming out of NIJ. We have not had one similar to this in any of our violence against women work before. So, this is a new initiative.

Dr. Mulford: The next question is because the tasks are not determined ahead of time, can the consortium annually subcontract with an agency for statistical services rather than budgeting for statistical personnel?

Dr. Backes: If that’s what works within your infrastructure—budgeting for statistical analysis services—then you can propose that. Just with any type of thing that might seem different than what you think should be proposed we want you to provide justification for why that is and that might relate to the infrastructure or your ability to meet certain tasks.

Dr. Mulford: I was just going to note. I think somebody is sending a question through the chat. Please put your questions through the Q&A, then I will address them to Bethany. Thank you

Dr. Mulford: And what do you hope to see in a budget if we can’t budget specific projects?

Dr. Backes: So the budget should be comprised of information on the kind of things, should include things like the communication infrastructure if there is going to be meetings or travel to different locations for meetings. It should also include time and effort for the key personnel and any subcontracts.

Dr. Mulford: Then someone asked co-project directors are allowed. Correct?

Dr. Backes: Yes. And what I stated before I will kind of elaborate on. That co-project directors are allowed and they can be from different institutions. You do need one of the project directors to be from the grantee, or the applicant organization, and other co-directors can be from subcontracted or other organizations.

Dr. Mulford: We have a related question about the budget. You said that the scope of work will vary from year to year, so how can someone budget for core as well as adjunct faculty? Can you comment further on the budget. It seems it’s going to be difficult to anticipate the needs ahead of time.

Dr. Backes: Yes and we totally understand that it will difficult to anticipate the needs ahead of time and in the initial budget review, we want you to budget for the core faculty, and potentially unnamed adjunct individuals and then when we sit down to have the meeting at the start of the project we will work on budget modifications within the first few months of the program to address specific key areas that we are going to be moving forward in.

Dr. Mulford: Someone is asking who at NIJ will be working with the consortium.

Dr. Backes: You will have the privilege of working with many different NIJ scientists. Myself, Bethany Backes, will most likely be the primary point of contact for the consortium, along with my colleagues Christine Crossland, Carrie Mulford, Dara Blachman-Demner and potentially any other staff that might be working on related topics.

Dr. Mulford: I think that answers the next question. Can you talk a little bit about the anticipated project at any given time, and the process timeline for identifying and assigning the new project over the course of the grant period?

Dr. Backes: Yes. So we are going to be establishing a more formal process for both the consortium to propose projects and for NIJ to kind of hand down or assign projects. We anticipate that at any given time there might be 5 to 6 ongoing projects happening, but again they are going to be dictated by some of the things that will be happening at the federal level, and some of the more long-term objectives. So one of the things that we are going to do at the very start of the award is to sit down with the research consortium and plan out the longer-term targeted research agenda to address, and then within that there might be room for other kind of ad hoc activities as they come up.

Dr. Mulford: Somebody wants to confirm that this does not need to be housed at a university, since you used the term faculty.

Dr. Backes: Yeah. And so we are using the term, that’s how we are using the term faculty within this consortium language. It does not have to be housed in the academic university, but we are asking for the core faculty to be research staff.

Dr. Mulford: Should the core faculty be organized around content?

Dr. Backes: That’s really up to you to propose how you want to organize the core faculty. There are several areas listed, both subject matter expertise and methods and program evaluation and statistical skills that are supposed to be met with the solicitation, so it depends on who you have on your team and how you would like to organize that content expertise.

So we will wait another minute or two if anyone wants to add another question in the Q&A section.

Dr. Mulford: Someone is asking if we have further questions who do we contact.

Dr. Backes: OK. So, NIJ has a new process this year in regards to how applicants can ask questions during our solicitation process. So on the screen now you have the contact information from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. You need to follow this guidance outlined in the solicitation on this slide. They are handling all queries related to this solicitation and this webinar will be made available to the public and you will receive a notice when that occurs and it will have an FAQ sheet attached to it based on the questions we receive. Any questions that the National Criminal Justice Reference Service receives, they will add to the FAQ sheet and put out to the public as well.

Dr. Mulford: Would it be possible to name core faculty and continue to build that core faculty once the research agenda is developed?

Dr. Backes: Yes and we expect that. We know there is a lot of an unanticipated things that could happen with this so we do expect that there might be some changeover of core faculty later in the project or as priorities change, or adding on additional faculty also as needed.

Dr. Mulford: Could you possibly fund two consortiums or will it only be one?

Dr. Backes: As of right now we are only planning to fund only one consortium and make one award out of this, from the solicitation.

Dr. Mulford: To clarify consortium you need to address all content areas and all areas of methodology expertise.

Dr. Backes: Yes, that is correct.

Dr. Mulford: So I think that Bethany already answered, someone already asked if you are going to receive the slides. You won’t receive the slides but the whole presentation will be made available and you will be notified when that is made available.

Dr. Mulford: Could individuals be listed as core faculty on multiple proposals?

Dr. Backes: Yes, that’s fine.

Dr. Mulford: Someone wants to know if it’s 1 million a year, is that a hard cap? Does this include overhead?

Dr. Backes: The hard cap is 5 million inclusive of everything over 4 to 5 years. Whether that budget might have to net some of the things in this area, you have to have the infrastructure to either staff up or staff down potentially on an annual basis, so some years you may be spending a little more or some years you might be spending a little less depending on it. As I have stated before, if there is any huge projects that need to be undertaken that can’t fit in the current budget, there is a possibility of providing continuation or supplemental funds.

Dr. Mulford: Related to the question about if folks can be on more than one proposal. If there on multiple proposals do they disclose that in the proposal?

Dr. Backes: No, they don’t need to disclose that in the proposal because we will see that during the review process.

Dr. Mulford: Okay. Clarification. I will just answer this. If we have questions, we are to submit a question to the web chat URL? No, you are to submit your questions the contact information that should be on your screen right now which is the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, and it’s also the same contact information that is in the solicitation.

One more. Ok, a couple more. Does the PI equal the center director equal the project director?

Dr. Backes: Yes I think this is also related to another question. So, essentially, I think, if I am reading this correctly, can the PI or project director also be a core faculty member? Yes, that is absolutely fine. Again, you still work within the infrastructure. It’s probably I would say expected that the directors would be core faculty members.

Dr. Mulford: Then there was also a question about the 5 million including overhead.

Dr. Backes: Yes, the 5 million is inclusive of everything, all direct and indirect costs.

Dr. Mulford: 10, 9, 8, 7 . . .

Dr. Backes: {laughter} Carrie is counting down to see if . . .

Dr. Mulford: [INAUDIBLE}

Dr. Backes: . . . there are any other questions.

Dr. Mulford: 3, 2, 1. See no further questions.

Dr. Backes: All right, so I just want to thank you all for joining the call today. Again, remember any additional questions please contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service about this opportunity and this information on today’s webinar and the transcript of the webinar, would be made public in one week or so—you will getting an email notification about that as well. Thank you, and good luck on your application.

 [Event Concluded]

Date Created: April 6, 2016