Tuesday, January 23, 2024

With each new year comes an opportunity to set intentions for the year ahead.

Explore the resources available through the Office of the Vice President for Research to help researchers, scholars, and creators across our campus achieve their research goals. These strategic tools and initiatives  assist in improving the competitiveness of funding applications, gathering insights on writing samples, creating opportunities to disseminate research to broad audiences, and getting started in the technology commercialization process.  


Research collage, University of Iowa


1.     Sign up to receive reviews of your grant proposal before submission

“The opportunity to receive personalized feedback on a grant proposal prior to submission can significantly improve the likelihood of funding,” said Aaron Kline, director of the Research Development Office (RDO).

 Through a program sponsored by RDO, researchers can receive an external reviewer’s written critique of their proposal’s strengths and weaknesses as well as its overall impact and significance to the field. In addition to a written critique, the PI, external reviewer, and RDO representative participate in a 30-60 minute Zoom call to discuss the critique. 

 Since the program began in FY18, proposals reviewed by external reviewers as a part of this program have had a 56%* success rate, which significantly higher than the national average.

 Researchers must notify the RDO 10 weeks in advance of their deadline so they can line up reviewers with relevant expertise. The draft proposal is due six weeks in advance. Learn how faculty member Anna Stanhewicz utilized the program to polish her $3 million NIH grant submission.

 *This number does not include proposals that are pending a funding decision.

2.    Take advantage of the UI’s license for the anti-plagiarism tool iThenticate

The easy-to-use anti-plagiarism tool iThenticate helps researchers proactively check their work for originality. It ienables researchers and scholars to check their original works for any instances of potential plagiarism before the submission of manuscripts, dissertations, journal articles, grant proposals, and other forms of research and scholarly work. With iThenticate, users can check their document against an expansive database of 140 million major periodicals and books, 89 million works from top publishers, 99 billion webpages, and 975,000 thesis and dissertations.

 “This allows authors to proactively remediate any potential plagiarism, including self-plagiarism,” said Mike Andrews, director of research integrity and security in the Office of the Vice President for Research. “Plagiarism of research and scholarly work, even if inadvertent, is a form of research misconduct and can potentially taint an individual’s reputation and undermine the credibility of research and scholarship with the general public.”

 “We routinely use iThenticate in my research group to check documents, manuscripts, and grants for potential overlap with published work,” said Ali Salem, associate vice president for research and Bighley Chair and professor in the College of Pharmacy. “We use this as a standard tool in our process of preparing documents before they are sent out for review.”

3.     Disseminate your work to new public audiences

Launched in July 2023, the OVPR-sponsored “Writing for the Public Good” initiative offers a variety of skills-based workshops to help position researchers and scholars to write essays, op-eds, and research-informed journalistic essays for broad audiences beyond the borders of academia.

These writing and communications workshops are offered throughout the year on various topics including general science communication, crafting a persuasive message through op-eds, and media training. Sign up to participate on the Writing for the Public Good website.

The University of Iowa also has a new institutional membership to The Conversation, which allows UI researchers and scholars to work directly with an editor to publish essays on the independent news organization’s website, which is dedicated to unlocking the knowledge of academic experts for the public good. The Conversation has a monthly readership of 20 million.

The project aligns with the UI strategic plan goal to leverage the institution’s areas of distinction and the talent of its people to have a transformative societal impact. “By extending the reach of the knowledge gleaned through academic research and scholarship, we are hoping to position the University of Iowa as the leading institute where faculty across the disciplines are known for writing strengths,” said Kristy Nabhan-Warren.

4.     Attend an agency-specific workshop to boost your proposal success

The RDO hosts a variety of programs throughout the academic year that are designed to improve proposal success rates for specific agencies and funding programs.

Their calendar of events for 2024 includes sessions that focused on the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER program, the Department of Defense, the William T. Grant Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Department of Energy, and much more.

Sign up for a workshop to glean insights from program officials and/or successful grantees about their current priorities, proposal tips, and much more.

5.     Amplify the impact of your research with the UI Research Foundation

The University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) works with researchers to obtain intellectual property protection—patents and copyrights—on their innovations. The UIRF team also works collaboratively with industry partners for the commercial development of new products and services.

“By pursuing commercial development, innovations that emerge from your research can have a positive impact on students, patients, other researchers, and communities worldwide,” said Marie Kerbeshian, assistant vice president and executive director of the UIRF. By working with the UIRF, UI researchers have translated their work into real-world applications, including: providing a COVID mouse model to fellow researchers around the world, helping a grandfather in England walk without pain with his new artificial ankle, and helping nursing students throughout the US study for their exams.

Not sure where to start? UIRF offers introductory courses for the UI community and are also available to present to faculty meetings and retreats, lab meetings, resident training programs, graduate and undergraduate classes, and faculty/staff orientations. Reach out to get started.