IFI Hom e 
SSFP 2013 Awardees


PI Eligibility | Expenses | Budget | Guidelines | Narrative | Review Criteria | CV |  DEO Endorsement | Upload Document | Notification | Progress Report



The objective of the Social Sciences Funding Program (SSFP) is to provide seed funding to develop pilot data and to conduct preliminary work that will enable UI researchers to submit competitive applications for external research grants.  Although the research to be performed may benefit students and lead to publications or dissertations, the primary outcome of the SSFP is to provide preliminary data for Principal Investigators (see below) to seek external grants. 

SSFP awards will be directed to all levels of investigators who are pursuing novel and highly innovative research.  Research proposed for SSFP funding that is currently being conducted by the investigator is not considered responsive to this call for proposals.

We expect the proposed pilot project to be a top research priority for the applicant.  Therefore, all proposed projects must be designed to be completed and expend all funds by June 30, 2014. Additionally, projects are to result in an application for an external grant within six months of the end of the grant period.

Principal Investigator (PI) Eligibility

All UI personnel who are (1) tenure-track or tenured faculty, clinical faculty, clinical track faculty, research faculty, research scientists, research engineers, associates, and other staff members for whom research and scholarship are assigned as one of their primary job responsibilities and have at least a 50% university appointment during the year of the project; and (2) have not received a Social Sciences Funding Program (SSFP), Mathematical & Physical Sciences Funding Program (MPSFP), Biological Sciences Funding Program (BSFP), Digital Studio for the Public Humanities (DSPH), or Arts & Humanities Initiative (AHI) award in the past 12 months, are eligible to apply for SSFP awards.  These individuals are designated as PI-eligible applicants.  The award is made to only one individual.  There are no Co-PIs for the SSFP internal funding initiative.

Visiting faculty, lecturers, postdoctoral associates, fellowship trainees, medical residents, graduate students, and undergraduate students are not eligible.

Applicants early in their academic careers are encouraged to apply.  All applicants are required to describe and clearly justify how the SSFP funds will substantively provide pilot data that cannot be obtained under any other mechanism including a new faculty start-up package, if one exists.

An applicant may appear as a PI on only one proposal but may be listed as a collaborator or consultant on other proposals.  Submissions by the PI to multiple programs (AHI, BSFP, DSPH, MPSFP and SSFP) is not permitted and, therefore, the applicant must choose one program best suited to his or her application.

Eligible Expenses

Eligible budget items may include: research assistant salary, postdoc salary, undergraduate stipends, and graduate student stipends (fringe benefits and graduate student tuition costs must be included in the budget), equipment, supplies, animal care costs, payment to subjects, computer services, and any other costs relevant to the research activity.  Domestic or international travel expenses are eligible only whenthe travel is required to conduct the research. 

The budget should be consistent with generating feasibility data for submission of external grant support.  Information and specific justification for each line item of the budget are required.

If questions arise as to eligibility of budget items, contact Cheryl Ridgeway (ifi-questions@uiowa.edu/ 384-3332) in the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) for guidance.

Ineligible Expenses

Salary for the PI and PI-eligible personnel is not allowed.  Travel to attend conferences or present findings is not eligible under SSFP.


An appropriate budget ($25,000 or less) should be designed to permit the completion of all grant related activities by June 30, 2014.  If project costs (e.g., $30,000) exceed the amount requested on the SSFP budget ($25,000 maximum), then other confirmed sources of funding (for the remaining $5,000) must be identified and shown on the budget.  The DEO must endorse the availability and projected use of any additional funds required.  Detailed justification must be included in the on-line form as to why each item of the budget is necessary for the research project.

Enter budget items, costs and justification in appropriate areas of the on-line form.  Do not submit a budget as part of the PDF document described below.

Budget categories are:

  • Salary:  Salary plus fringe for all eligible personnel on project (e.g., research staff, graduate students, undergraduate students).  Note:  graduate student tuition costs must also be included as a budget expense.  The PI or PI-eligible personnel (tenured faculty, tenure track faculty, clinical faculty, clinical track faculty, associates, research faculty, research scientists, and research engineers) may not receive salary support as part of the SSFP.
  • Equipment:  Specify each item.  General purpose equipment (mobile phones, laptops, etc.) are not eligible budget items.
  • Supplies:  Amount requested for research supplies, such as purchase of CDs, books, animals, animal care per diem costs, glassware, sera, etc.  Specify all major categories.
  • Related Services:  Amount requested for services performed by non-academic units.  Examples include costs to utilize the Small Animal Imaging Facility, DNA Facility, Central Microscopy Facility, etc.
  • Travel:  Amount requested for all travel-related costs (e.g., airfare, lodging, meals, long-term housing, etc.) Specify each trip.  Only travel directly related to the conduct of the proposed research will be considered.  Travel expenses to attend conferences and to report results are not eligible.
  • Other:  Amount for costs not covered in other budget categories.  If you believe an item does not fall within any of the categories listed, enter it under “other” and justify it in the text box provided.

It is expected that the 2013-2014 SSFP award will be spent by the PI by June 30, 2014. Funds not spent by June 30, 2014, will be returned to the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Proposal Guidelines

All internal funding proposals must be submitted electronically via the UIRIS website by Friday, October 12, 2012, 11:59 PM.  This is a secure site.  To gain access to it, you must use your HawkID and password.  The application site opened for submissions on Monday, August 27, 2012.

It is essential that applicants write their proposals so that the research is comprehensible to nonspecialists.  The PI is strongly advised to write in straightforward language that emphasizes why the area of investigation is important and how the team will conduct the research.  To that end, limit the amount of highly discipline-specific jargon used.  Minimize the number of abbreviations used.  Restrict description of overly technical components of your research.  Remember that most reviewers will not be experts in your field of study.  Your objective is to assist the reviewer in understanding the goals, merits and feasibility of your project. 

The application must contain the following sections in the order indicated, with each section being clearly identified and beginning on a new page. Type font must be 11-point Times, Times New Roman or Arial, and margins must be at least .75 inches.

Project Narrative

Update for 2013-2014:  The overall page limitations have been reduced from 18 double-spaced pages to 10 double-spaced pages.

  1. Summary (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  Provide a brief overview of the general purpose and main procedures of the project that is comprehensible to nonspecialists.  Define all abbreviations and acronyms and keep the number of abbreviations to a minimum.
  2. Project Description (maximum: five pages double-spaced; bibliographical references, figures, tables, and illustrations are included in the five-page limit).  This entire section may be as technical as the subject demands, but jargon should be kept to a minimum.  Clarity and comprehensibility should be maintained at the level of a nonspecialist:
    1. Describe the significance of the proposed research.
    2. Provide an explanation of the purpose of the research. 
    3. Provide convincing arguments concerning the impact of the proposed project to the specific discipline. 
    4. When appropriate, provide a statement of the hypothesis to be tested or generated.
    5. Provide methods and procedures (if data collection is involved, discuss analysis). 
    6. This portion of the application should comprise two pages of the write-up.  
    7. Provide bibliographical references relevant to the application (included in the five-page limit).
  3. Innovation (maximum: one page double-spaced):  Describe what is novel and/or new about the research proposed.  Provide convincing arguments about the originality and creativity of the project.  What differentiates your research from others?  How will the idea, approach, process, or outcome lead to a new way of thinking?  Applications with minimal innovation will not be considered responsive to this call for proposals.
  4. Resources and Environment (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  Describe available resources.  Characterize adequacy of resources to carry out proposed research.
  5. Feasibility of the Project (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  The aim(s) of the project should be well correlated with the time and funding limitations of the SSFP award.  Provide a candid assessment of the likelihood of completing the proposed research within the timeframe of the award. Describe how the project fits into the applicant’s career plans.
  6. Timeline (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  Provide a clear schedule for the research project with identified milestones related to hypotheses and/or aim(s).  Include the six-month post award timeline that describes continuing efforts related to data analysis, grant writing, grant submission deadlines, etc.
  7. Justification of why SSFP Support is Needed (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  Include statements explaining why the award money is essential despite any existing internal and/or external funding.  Provide specific information why SSFP funds are necessary if the PI has existing start-up funds available.  Lack of convincing arguments for the true need of the SSFP funding potentially disadvantages the review of the proposal.
  8. Describe Major Deliverables to be Provided at the End of the Project (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  Provide a clear list of what specifically will be accomplished by the end of the project period.
  9. Describe Potential Pitfalls and Alternative Approaches for the Proposed Research (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  List possible problems and difficulties that may arise with the methods and approach described in the proposal.  List possible ways to circumvent these pitfalls.
  10. Specify the External Funding Agency for your Proposal (maximum: one-half page double-spaced):  Identify the external funding agency to which you will target your proposal.  Indicate proposal submission deadlines.  Explain why there is a good fit between the agency and your research.  Describe how the SSFP data are to provide the feasibility information for the targeted external grant submission.  Applicants are asked to provide substantive information about the funding agency and their prospects for future funding and not merely list possible sources of support.

Review Criteria

All applications will be peer-reviewed by a committee composed of appropriate faculty and staff.  Recommendations will be made to the Vice President for Research, who will make the final determination of awards.

Funding decisions are based on the following five criteria:

  • Significance (Impact, influence and effect on research.  Who benefits?) 
  • Innovation (Novelty, originality, cutting edge, and creativity)
  • Methods and Approach (Soundness of approach, deliverables and pitfalls)
  • Feasibility (Consideration of candidate qualifications, other personnel, resources and environment, logical timeline, and appropriateness of project scope)
  • Need (Are SSFP funds necessary to obtain feasibility data for external grant?  If start-up funds remain, why is this award justified?  Well-funded PIs are not likely to receive SSFP awards.)
  • Fundability (Is there a good fit between the proposed research and the specified funding agency?)

The applicant is required to demonstrate that the project is feasible in the award period utilizing the requested budget. Prospects for subsequent external funding are a significant factor in considering all SSFP proposals. 

Applicants are encouraged to utilize the resources of the Division of Sponsored Programs for help in identifying probable sources for future funding.

Curriculum Vitae(s)

Submit a CV (maximum three pages) or an NIH-type biosketch.  CVs or biosketches must be included for PI and all collaborators and/or consultants (PI-eligible personnel).   The CV or biosketch is required to contain all active internal and external funding support, recently completed funding support, and any pending support.  All support from federal, state, foundation, departmental, and university sources, including all start-up funds must be included.  Citations of sources of support must contain dates of funding, PI, dollar amounts, and a brief but clear description of the work supported by the awards; if none, please so state. 

The following elements are required for each CV:

  • Education history;
  • Academic and corporate positions held; 
  • All peer reviewed publications; and
  • Funding support (defined above). 

DEO/Chair Endorsement

The applicant’s DEO/Chair will be sent an email message from the Office of the Vice President for Research requesting the endorsement of the proposal shortly after the proposal is submitted.  The endorsement must be received electronically from the DEO/Chair by the due date indicated in the email.  If the DEO is submitting a proposal, endorsement will be requested from the collegiate associate dean for research.

Upload Document

Combine all components of the Project Narrative with the PI's Curriculum Vitae or biosketch into one PDF document. Combine all UI consultant/collaborator CV(s) into one PDF document.  Using the appropriate commands as directed in the online application process, upload the PDF document(s).

If you encounter difficulties with the electronic submission, contact Cheryl Ridgeway (ifi-questions@uiowa.edu/ 384-3332) in the VP for Research Office.  It is strongly suggested to do so well in advance of the deadline to ensure submission of your proposal.


The following is the anticipated timeline for the SSFP program:

  • On line submission opens Monday, August 27, 2012
  • Submission deadline: Friday, October 12, 2012, 11:59 pm
  • Review meetings: November – December 2012
  • Award notifications sent: December 2012 or January 2013

Applicants will be notified if these dates change significantly.

Progress Report

During the grant period, awardees of SSFP grants will be sent a progress report form and asked to complete and submit it no later than 18 months from the date of the SSFP award.  The primary element of the report must be a copy of the proposal that the applicant actually submitted to an external federal funding agency (e.g., NSF, NIH, DOE, DOD) as a result of the SSFP grant.