In Part 1 of our series, we introduced the idea of seeking out free online applicant resources from federal government agency websites. In this post, we turn our attention to resources published on university websites.
To be sure, your best bet is always to seek out resources from the federal agency that posted the grant for which you are applying. But helpful tips and guidance can also be found elsewhere.
Many universities – especially research institutions – offer a range of resources, in part, because their faculty and graduate students often apply for federal grant funding. The resources are developed as a service and may be published in one or more places on the university’s web network.
Offices of Sponsored Research
The first place to begin your search is on the website of the institution’s office of sponsored programs (or office of sponsored research).
On the website of Harvard University’s Office of Sponsored Programs, for example, prospective applicants can find information about the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Uniform Guidance. Harvard University also offers its applicant researchers an in-depth overview of the award lifecycle, from searching for funding to preparing proposals, managing awards and closing out grants.
The Office of Sponsored Programs at the Ohio State University, meanwhile, features a grants-related news feed on its homepage. Past articles relating to federal grants have highlighted changes to NASA grant applications and updates on a new research progress report that NIH grant recipients must complete as part of their award closeout.
The website of UCLA’s Office of Contract and Grant Administration devotes a section to policies and procedures covering research compliance, principal investigator eligibility, misconduct, and more.
Many of these policies relate directly to the UCLA community of grant applicants and recipients, but they can provide a good overview of the many responsibilities that federal grant recipients must shoulder throughout the award lifecycle.
The resources mentioned above by no means make up a comprehensive list; many other offices of sponsored research also strive to equip professors and students with assets that will help them develop award-winning grant applications and proposals.
The websites of university writing centers may also provide resources for federal grant applicants. These assets, naturally, focus on the writing process.
The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for example, has published a handout titled “Grant Proposals (or Give Me the Money)”.
“Although some scholars in the humanities and arts may not have thought about their projects in terms of research design, hypotheses, research questions, or results, reviewers and funding agencies expect you to frame your project in these terms,” reads the handout.
The extensive resource from the UNC Writing Center, among other things, illustrates the grant writing process with a diagram, provides sample project timelines and budgets, and advises on the framing of the applicant’s written answers.
Some university library websites may also provide helpful information for federal grant applicants.
The library website of Michigan State University, for example, has a page dedicated to information about government grants for nonprofit organizations.
Besides providing an extensive listing of links relating to federal grants, visitors to the library website can also find valuable tips, like: “Federal funders generally prefer projects that serve as prototypes of models that other organizations can replicate.” And: “Make sure you have the staff capacity and infrastructure in place to manage the grant and handle the reporting requirements.”
Resources likes these can be extremely valuable to first-time or otherwise inexperienced federal grant applicants.
Spend some time browsing these and other websites, and bookmark your favorite (tuition-free) resources for future reference.
You may also want to subscribe to our Sponsored Research Grants list on Twitter in order to follow and participate in the social network’s community of university offices of sponsored programs, projects and research.
Questions? Comments? Post your feedback below. We would love to hear about your favorite free online resources for federal grant applicants.