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Graduate Research Fellowship Program at the National Institute of Justice - Transcript and Presentation

NIJ held a webinar on March 10, 2022, that offered an overview of NIJ’s annual Graduate Research Fellowship program to potential applicants. The program is open to Ph.D. students from all branches of science and engineering whose dissertation work is relevant to issues of crime and criminal justice. Presenters discussed program scope, eligibility, application elements, and frequently asked questions.

Transcript of the Webinar

DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar, Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) Program at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), hosted by the National Institute of Justice. At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce Greg Dutton, program manager with the National Institute of Justice, for some welcoming remarks. Greg?

GREGORY DUTTON: Hi. Thank you, Daryl. Welcome and thank you to everyone for attending. My name is Greg Dutton, I’m a program manager at NIJ, and I’m a chemist by training. I manage programs at NIJ and forensic science R&D, I’m also a part of the NIJ Graduate Research Fellowship Program team. I’ll be presenting today with my colleague, Joe Heaps. Also supporting the GRF Program and standing by today are Eric Martin and Linda Truitt. What we’d like to do today is welcome everyone not already familiar with the program with an overview of NIJ’s Graduate Research Fellowship, or GRF, Program. Then we’ll describe in a little more detail for newcomers how the fellowship works, and highlight some recent updates for those who are already familiar with the program. And finally, we’ll show you how to get started if you’d like to apply.

So, some of you may not already be familiar with NIJ. So who are we? NIJ is the research and development agency of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Our mission is to bring science to issues of crime and justice for the benefit of the nation. I encourage you to visit our website, NIJ.ojp.gov, to see the range of work that NIJ does. We’re primarily a science funding agency that funds external research, but we have a specific mission space of bringing applied science to issues of crime and justice. NIJ is under the Office of Justice Programs, or OJP, DOJ’s grant-making agency. So if you hear us refer to OJP, that’s what that means.

An important part of supporting any research community is developing the scientific workforce to carry the effort into the future. And NIJ has long supported the Graduate Research Fellowship Program; in fact, it’s one of NIJ’s longest-running programs. The goal of the GRF Program is to increase the pool of researchers who work on problems relevant to our mission. And we do this by supporting Ph.D. students whose research is relevant to crime and justice. So the GRF Program supports research at the student’s home institution. In recent years, the program has had two parallel program tracks: Social and Behavioral Sciences, and a separate STEM track for the hard science disciplines, because we weren’t getting many applications from those fields. We turned that around, and in 2020, we removed those program distinctions and returned to a single, comprehensive program. So now, students from all branches of science and engineering are invited to apply to a single program. The GRF Program was not offered in 2021 or 2022. So now, I’ll turn the webinar over to Joe to talk about recent program activity and recent fellows. Joe?

JOSEPH HEAPS: NIJ has funded 180 fellows from over 60 institutions since 2012. Historically, NIJ has funded on average 24 new fellows each year. Ph.D. candidates in engineering, as well as the life, physical, and social sciences, have been funded in recent years. The next four slides contain examples of recent and current fellows with their dissertation topics and what they’re doing today. [Shows slides.] And now, I’ll turn it back over to Greg.

GREGORY DUTTON: So the program is open to applications once annually through a funding opportunity. NIJ calls these solicitations. The solicitation text is where you’ll find all the specific details of the application requirements and terms, so I definitely encourage you to download that when it posts and read it carefully. The scale of the program is generally about 25 new fellows per year and the program terms have evolved with a few minor changes that we’ll discuss.

So here’s a look at the general timeline for the program. NIJ has a two-step application process, so that’s why you may see two deadlines listed, and we’ll go over how that works a little later in the webinar. After applications are received, they go through a review process, also more about that a little later. Awards are made. Awards have historically been announced by September 30. The earliest that a fellowship could start is January 1, so keep this timeline in mind as you contemplate whether to apply this year and when you might expect fellowship support to begin.

The program has just a couple of simple eligibility requirements. The student needs to be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in any science or engineering field. And the dissertation topic proposed must have demonstrated relevance to criminal or juvenile justice. Juvenile justice has been added recently, as it’s now part of NIJ’s mission scope. The student can be at any stage in their graduate career, as long as they’re currently enrolled in a program at the time of application. But the fellowship funding is meant to support a student during the research, writing, and defense phases of their graduate career. The university must be an accredited institution in the U.S. or its territories, and the university is the official applicant and applies on behalf of the student.

There are six critical application elements that are required as part of the application package. An application missing any of these won’t move forward for further review. So see the solicitation once it posts for specific requirements, and make sure to work with your university to assemble these documents by the deadline. There are some other application elements that are important but are not required at the time of application. Some of those are dissertation topic approval by your committee and IRB approval for human subjects. If you do have these when you apply, great. Submit them. They’re not required at the time of application, but if you do receive a fellowship, you must complete these before fellowship funds would become available.

Okay, the terms of the fellowship. So the fellowship provides up to $52,500 a year for up to three years of funding, with just a few simple budget categories. It includes 35 — $37,500 for student salary and fringe benefits; that’s been slightly increased recently. Up to $12,000 annually for cost of education allowance — tuition fees, university expenses. And up to $3,000 annually for research expenses. And we’ll discuss that in a little more detail shortly. The intent is to give the student the financial support to allow them to devote their full efforts to completing their dissertation. And we’ve tried to make our fellowship terms competitive with other federal funders. Next, we’ll discuss some of the specific allowable cost items under these budget categories. Because the award amounts are limited, we want to make sure that the budget makes the best use of funds to support the student and their research.

The first budget category is Salary and Fringe. This can support only the student fellow and can include fringe benefits or separate health insurance. We recommend that the full amount be requested.

The second budget allowance is Cost of Education. So this can include tuition, fees, and university administrative costs at the discretion of the university. Up to $12,000 a year is permitted. If the university elects not to use the entire $12,000 allowance, the remainder can be used under the Research Expenses category, but not Salary and Stipend.

And then finally, the third budget allowance is for up to $3,000 a year in Research Expenses. These are cost items that directly support the student’s research or scholarly professional activities. So this includes a number of allowable items, which you can read here. “Undergraduate research assistants” is bolded here because it’s been newly added this year. We recognize that this is a common expense in social science research, where often research assistants are employed to interact with study participants. This category is a unique allowance that other fellowship programs may not provide. This might give you the opportunity to purchase or acquire samples that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to, or to travel to present your work at conferences. Other allowable costs that aren’t listed here may be permitted if they support the goals of the program. So you will need to work with your university to help write this part of the budget, because this is going to be specific to your research needs.

A few other terms of these fellowship awards. These are one-time awards that cannot be supplemented with additional funds, so the total amount of support that you anticipate needing must be requested up front. If you’re certain that you’ll finish in 18 months, you might want to request just 18 months of funding. But if you’re not sure, then you might want to request the full three years. There’s no competitive advantage to lowballing. There are a few annual requirements to stay in good standing. Annual performance reports, where you report the progress of your project and publications and presentations that you’ve given. Also, verification of continued enrollment, and a letter from your committee chair confirming that you’re making adequate progress in your degree program. And finally, the program has final deliverables for this fellowship grant, it’s a copy of your defended pieces. We encourage but we don’t require public archiving of the full text online at NIJ’s literature archive, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, or NCJRS.

So, if you’re contemplating applying, these are the first steps that you can take. Review the solicitation itself — again, that’s the official document with the specific requirements — to verify that you’re eligible. Then contact your university Office of Sponsored Programs or similar office, to let them know that you intend to apply and ask for their help submitting. Every university will have an office dedicated to helping people affiliated with the university, including you, apply for federal grants. They might call it Office of Sponsored Programs, Sponsored Projects, Sponsored Research, or something similar. They might even have a dedicated Fellowships Office. So find yours at your university and get in touch early. Start putting together all the elements of the application. The biggest piece is the proposal narrative, so that’s the heart of the proposal. Secondly, ask for the letter of support from your chair or advisor early. They’re going to need to give it to the university. They won’t be able to submit this independently. So they’ll need to get it to the university office as well. And then get your enrollment verification and transcripts.

Now for the application submission process itself. The university must submit the application for you. Students cannot apply as individuals. So you’ll need to give them many of the application documents, but they will submit. NIJ has a new two-step submission process since last year. So this is really an issue for the university. But we wanted to clarify because there’s a lot of language in the solicitation about it. The first step is submission of the SF-424 at Grants.gov. This is a standard form declaring a request for federal assistance. Your university office will know what that is. The second step is submission of the complete application package at JustGrants, DOJ’s new grants system. That includes all the critical application elements that we mentioned earlier, as well as other items. In order to meet the deadlines, your university Office of Sponsored Projects will have their own internal deadlines for when they will need the documents from you, so get in touch with them early to find out what — when they will need that.

Okay. So let’s say you’ve assembled and submitted an application. What happens then? So the very first thing we do after all applications are received is an internal NIJ review for eligibility and for the critical application elements. All proposals that meet the basic minimum requirements and that are determined to be responsive to the solicitation will move forward to external peer review. Any application that is missing any critical elements will be rejected without further review. We always hate to see this happen. So again, work with your university Office of Sponsored Programs to make sure that they have everything needed to submit a complete application.

Next, we convene panels of external reviewers to review the proposals on their merits. These reviewers are academic faculty with experience mentoring grad students like you; your designation of your degree program on your application and the content of your proposal help us assign your application to the appropriate panel of reviewers. Knowing what the panels will focus on and what they’ll score your application on can help you in the development of your proposal. So next, we’re going to talk about the review criteria that are detailed in the solicitation that the reviewers will be using.

For GRF, there are three scored review criteria that are considered by the reviewers: Statement of the Problem and Its Significance, Project Design and Implementation, and Capabilities and Competencies. Note that fairly similar weight is given to each criterion. The biggest factor, 40%, is Project Design and Implementation or scientific merit. So make sure that this is the strongest part of your proposal. To facilitate reviewers’ assessment of experimental design, you should be very clear and detailed about your research hypotheses, proposed sampling methods, experiments, instrumentation, methodology, data analysis, et cetera. The solicitation gives more detail that can help you in writing your proposal to this criterion. Next, Statement of the Problem is important in that it encompasses the clarity of the research questions, the relevance to criminal justice, and the potential significance to the particular field of study. Capabilities and Competencies I think is particularly important for a Fellowship Program like GRF, since it considers you as a researcher, your preparation, qualifications, scholarly record, and honors. Reviewers will also consider the academic environment of your institution, your degree program, and advisor. Peer review scores are the primary factor in award decisions, so pay attention to these review criteria as you write your proposals and assemble your applications.

In 2022, the Office of Justice Programs announced priority consideration for applications that address issues relevant to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. This can happen in two ways. Part A, priority consideration may be given to applications proposing research related to racial equity and underserved communities. And part B, priority consideration may be given to applicant organizations identified as culturally specific organizations. So, for GRF, this could include minority-serving institutions like HBCUs, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. These priority areas are one factor among others that the NIJ director may consider in making funding decisions. See the solicitation for full details.

So how does all this come together to determining the outcome of an application? I’d like to emphasize that peer review is by far the most important factor. So when you write your proposal, make sure you think about the review criteria that the reviewers will be using when they do their assessments, so that you can present the strongest possible proposal. The NIJ director has the discretion to make award decisions. She’ll take the results of peer review and may take other factors, including the OJP priorities we just mentioned, into consideration. New fellows are typically notified by September 30 and unsuccessful applications — applicants shortly after, in October.

A few more helpful tips to help you put together a successful proposal: Take a look at past fellows’ abstracts on the website to get a sense of what’s been successful in the past. Preliminary results, if appropriate, can help make your case to the reviewers. Make sure that the relevance to criminal justice is clearly stated. If this is missing, the application risks being rejected without review. Ask others to read and review before you submit. Everyone can benefit from useful criticism and editing. The writing should be yours, but feedback can help improve the final product. And finally, visit the GRF Program FAQs to see if any new questions come up during the solicitation open period that might be relevant to you. Now, I will hand the slides back over to Joe. Joe?

JOSEPH HEAPS: Thank you, Greg. If you know of other students or groups of students who may be interested in the program, there is a printable flyer available on this one — on the web that we encourage you to distribute. This link will be included in the slides once they are posted. We encourage you to go to NIJ.ojp.gov to learn more about other NIJ programs and funding. You may sign up to receive automated notices of NIJ’s Funding Opportunities like GRF. Greg?

GREGORY DUTTON: Thanks, Joe. Here we show some more resources for information about the program. We also encourage you to look for these slides and the transcript of the webinar once it’s posted. For specific questions during the solicitation open period, contact the OJP Response Center at the phone, email, and chat contact here, and that are also listed in the solicitation. That concludes the presentation part. Now, we will turn it over to the Q&A portion to take your questions.

DARYL FOX: Okay. Thanks for that, Greg and Joe. So we could just start out, what’s considered science by NIJ? Is linguistics part of science considered by NIJ?

GREGORY DUTTON: That is an interesting question. We — so we often, in the past, have gone by the National Academies’ Taxonomy of Degree Program Fields. I couldn’t tell you linguistics off the top of my head, if that’s a science or not. It sounds like it could be, but that would be a question. Generally — so, because we’re a science-funding agency, we have to draw the line somewhere. So we typically say we can — you know, support all science, engineering, and math fields, but, say, humanities isn’t necessarily relevant to our mission. So if you have a question specifically, I would say, put that question in to the OJP Response Center and we can get you an answer.

DARYL FOX: To confirm, the dissertation topic must relate to criminal justice in the U.S., not abroad, is that correct?

GREGORY DUTTON: That’s correct. I think there are a lot of topics that could cross borders, but it needs to show relevance to criminal or juvenile justice in the U.S. Yes.

DARYL FOX: Kind of following that up, Greg. We get this a lot, is this opportunity available — can you just speak about the eligibility for national or just U.S.-based students?

GREGORY DUTTON: Sorry, Daryl, can you say that again?

DARYL FOX: Is this available to international students, this opportunity?

GREGORY DUTTON: So it’s available to students who are enrolled in U.S. institutions. So, since the university is the applicant, we don’t — we don’t have any requirements for the student, but they have to be enrolled at a U.S. institution.

DARYL FOX: If proposing work with a community partner such as a police department, is it necessary to have an “MOU” (Memorandum of Understanding)?

GREGORY DUTTON: I would say it is encouraged. It’s not necessarily required, but it could certainly make your proposal stronger. And I would say that in terms of how it looks to reviewers, if that relationship is core to your research project success, that the reviewers might want to see that — that it’s a reality and not just an aspiration that you have that relationship. So not required, but certainly could make your proposal stronger to reviewers.

DARYL FOX: Does the full dissertation need to center around the mission of NIJ in the fellowship program, or can it be part of a larger study?

GREGORY DUTTON: Yeah, so the NIJ fellowship project could be part of a larger one. I think this is — I’ve seen it often common in, say, engineering degree programs, where people don’t just have a single project for their dissertation, but it includes several projects. So — but — so it doesn’t need to be the only one, but the NIJ project does need to figure in your dissertation.

DARYL FOX: Regarding timing of everything, if there’s individuals proposing their dissertation in the spring of the following year, is it best to wait for next year for this opportunity?

GREGORY DUTTON: It depends. So if you wait, then, you know, you’ll have to consider the earliest that you could get it if you apply the next year, right? So you can be awarded a fellowship and not yet have a committee and an approved topic. And the fellowship can wait for you, basically. So the funding would be withheld until your topic was approved, and then the fellowship funding would become active. So it’s up to you and it depends on your, you know, the place you are and your degree program timeline, but it certainly is — it certainly happens that fellows are awarded fairly early in their degree program, and they don’t have an approved topic yet, and the fellowship waits for a little while for them to get it approved and then it activates. Otherwise, you may need to wait for an entire cycle. So think about those things.

DARYL FOX: Thanks, Greg. And similarly, since we do not need a confirmed dissertation topic when applying, one’s available or needed — necessary — when the funds are to be distributed, is that correct?

GREGORY DUTTON: Yes, so it doesn’t — it doesn’t have to be approved at the time of application, but the fellowship funds will be withheld until you submit the topic approval to NIJ. And it needs to be the same topic that you proposed in your fellowship proposal or substantially similar.

DARYL FOX: A couple questions related to peer review. If one’s never received notes from previous applications, are those available, and how does one ensure that mistakes or improvements are made in future applications? Is there any advice on that?

GREGORY DUTTON: So if you — yeah, if you’ve applied previously and you didn’t get your peer review comments back, please email us. And we can get those to you. So the comments are returned to the university because the university is the official applicant. And often there’s poor communication, and it never gets back to the PI or the student. So if that does happen, please email us and we can — we can get those back to you. You can use the [email protected] email.

DARYL FOX: Thanks for that. Would you be able to just go back to the slide 26 on the underrepresented field mentioned? Question is, is it for the actual applicant or is it the institution that’s being presented, or a combination of both? The question is wondering about the actual applicant and their status as underrepresented in the field, does that have any significance? So it’s just not the institution, but it actually refers to the actual doctoral student?

GREGORY DUTTON: That, I think, is a question that I can’t answer right now. So I would — I would ask you to submit that to [email protected]. And I know that that’s a question that’s going to come up more. So once there is an answer to that, I’m confident that it’ll also be posted on NIJ.ojp.gov in the FAQs. Excellent question, but I’m sorry, right now I don’t think I know the answer to that.

DARYL FOX: Is there any prioritization of quantitative research over qualitative, for this opportunity?

GREGORY DUTTON: I’m not sure if I’m the person to answer that. So my field is always quantitative. Maybe I can get someone else, another one of my colleagues to weigh in on that. Eric, Linda?

ERIC MARTIN: Good question. I would say there is not a prioritization or a favoring of quantitative methods over qualitative. What we always say is make sure that the methods are appropriate to answer the research question you’re studying, and that the data is available. As a way of just kind of a rule of thumb as you develop your proposal, think about, can an outside reader easily understand how the data I’m collecting and the methods I’m using are working to answer the questions I pose? So that, you know, that’s what we’re really looking for. As far as for the type of method, what seems to be appropriate for the study at hand. Thanks.

DARYL FOX: Getting back to the following year timing of things — if you are going to be defending a dissertation, say, in that timeframe, would you still request the full amount?

GREGORY DUTTON: I would say if you — if you have a good sense of when you expect to defend, and you don’t need the full amount, request what you — what you reasonably will need. If you’re not sure about your, you know, your own timeline, then you might consider requesting more. But if you really have a good idea — some people certainly do, others don’t — request what you need. I would say it certainly is up to you. That depends on, you know, everyone has sort of different circumstances with how their program timelines go. We get a range — and again, I should say we get a range of requests. So we have, you know, from the full three years down to certainly one year; I think we even saw a slightly under one year request. So we do get a range.

DARYL FOX: And are students allowed to hold teaching assistant positions or others with their university while being a fellow?

GREGORY DUTTON: Yes, you can. So if — and these specific terms will be in the solicitation, but the program doesn’t forbid other compensation or employment. We do intend for the fellowship to be enough to support you to put your efforts towards that dissertation project, but you can have other outside sources of compensation, depending on what your university allows. I would say, though, if there are other fellowship programs that you are applying to, or have been awarded, that you should disclose those to us. And we may need to work with the other fellowship funder to make sure that federal funding is not being duplicated. But there’s no strict prohibition about outside employment or other support.

DARYL FOX: Thanks for elaborating on that, Greg. Because there was a question that can — come up about combining with other funding streams such as award fellowship or things like that. So thanks for addressing that. Can you tell us on average how many applicants apply each year for this program?

GREGORY DUTTON: I think last time we got about 130 applicants. We made 26 awards, I think. So to give you a sense of the success rate, it’s around 20%. So it’s competitive, but I think that is actually pretty favorable compared to other federal fellowship programs like NSF GRFP.

DARYL FOX: There — it was discussed in one of the slides on the addition of a component. Are there any major changes from 2020 in terms of the requested written application components?

GREGORY DUTTON: No, no major changes. No, I believe the — so the description of what the proposal narrative should be and what the review criteria that the reviewers will be assessing are basically similar, very similar — if any changes at all, very, very minor. But again, look to the solicitation once it posts for the details.

DARYL FOX: Can you expand on what’s meant by “academic environment of your institution” under the Capabilities and Competencies criteria and application review process?

GREGORY DUTTON: So I think this is something that would be considered by the reviewer in terms of how they read that. I would think it could be something like how many students has your degree program graduated in the past? Is it an established program? Could be — for the physical sciences, it could have to do with instrumentation access, things like that. But I think that would be up to the reviewer to interpret. So maybe — I’m not sure if my interpretation is going to be exactly the same as theirs. I suspect it would be something similar.

DARYL FOX: Based upon past awards, is it fair to expect that approximately 40% to 50% of the fellows will be in the STEM fields?

GREGORY DUTTON: I think it’s probably likely. So Joe showed the distribution of awards across the fields. And we — we’ve been trying to bring some balance to that by outreach to applicants. So we’re not putting our thumbs on the scales at the end to make sure there are a certain number of awards in each category. We just make sure that we have a broad application base, and we’ve ended up with a distribution of fellows that matches the broad applicant pool. So I would expect that it is likely to be similar if we get a similar distribution of applications.

DARYL FOX: So related to budget, if research — if research expenses are anticipated to exceed the $3,000, can one budget to increase the research expense and reduce student salaries?

GREGORY DUTTON: Good question. We certainly allow the university to forego a portion of their cost of education allowance. I would say we don’t encourage them to take that out of the salary and fringe. I’m just making a quick look to see if we have specific guidance on that, whether we disallow it or not. I can say for sure that it could be taken from the cost of education allowance. Just a moment. So I don’t think that it’s explicitly prohibited. I would say if you’re contemplating that, you may consider submitting a question to the OJP response desk, and we can get a more definitive answer, but I believe it’s not explicitly prohibited. But I would say again, we do say that we encourage full use of the salary and fringe portion for the student.

DARYL FOX: Could you just discuss the peer review process a little bit, in more detail on how they’re chosen and selected?

GREGORY DUTTON: So, yeah. So the panels are made up of scientists, academics that cover the range of topic areas that we get for applications. So we compose panels with enough reviewers that can manage the subject areas for all the applications that we receive; we’ve got a really, really broad, diverse set of reviewers. And if we, at the outset, don’t have enough — if we happen to get more applications under one, you know, area, you know, biological anthropology, or, you know, whatever, and we need more reviewers — we will, we’ll get more reviewers to cover that. But these are basically academics, researchers, generally people who have acted as graduate advisors. So they know how to look at fellowship applications. So we call it peer review, but it’s—  you know, these are — these are senior researchers who are faculty. And they — so we put together these panels and they are asked to assess the applications strictly against the review criteria that you see in the solicitation. So they have these specific criteria that they’re asked to score and comment on for your applications. So I would say, you know, look to the solicitation to see exactly how they’re going to be assessing it. I hope that addresses the question.

JOSEPH HEAPS: Greg, it may be worthwhile to mention, if there are attendees on today’s call who are interested in being peer reviewers, please let us know.

GREGORY DUTTON: That’s a good point. So obviously, if you’re a student, or a potential applicant, then you couldn’t, but any faculty out there who are listening certainly could be a peer reviewer. If you have a student who is going to apply, then you would not be eligible. But we’re always looking to expand our pool of peer reviewers. And you can, if you’re interested, go to NIJ.ojp.gov and you’ll find some links to volunteer to be a reviewer.

DARYL FOX: Is there priority consideration for individuals collecting primary data versus using existing data?

GREGORY DUTTON: I think, again, this is maybe more of an issue in the social sciences. Linda or Eric, do you have any comment on that?

ERIC MARTIN: Again, the same answer applies as to the earlier question. The data used just has to be appropriate for the method you’re using and the question you want to answer. And I understand that not every dataset or collection is going to be perfect. So that I suggest you really are clear about the benefits of the data you’re using and any limitations that exist. But, yeah, there’s no set provision of requirements that you have to collect your own data as opposed to using a secondary data analysis.

DARYL FOX: You may have touched upon this earlier, Greg, but it’s been asked quite a few times: How many letters of support are required for submission?

GREGORY DUTTON: Only one letter of support. So if you have a committee already, it should be the committee chair. If you don’t yet have a committee, then it can be anybody similar, like an advisor; it could be, maybe, a director of graduate studies or someone, but only one letter is needed.

DARYL FOX: A couple more questions about the timeline but specifically on once you receive the award — actually, once the proposals are approved, how long does it take to actually receive them?

GREGORY DUTTON: Great question. So the earliest that you could receive funding, generally, if you’re awarded, is January 1. Now that’s the earliest, so there could be, could be things that can delay that. Human subjects, for example, if you — if your project includes human subjects, you may need IRB approval before the funds are available. Dissertation topic approval, too — if you didn’t submit that with the application, that can delay the availability of funding. So the earliest would be January 1, but depending on these other issues, there may be some delay beyond that.

DARYL FOX: And is that just a lump dispersion of the funding or is that distributed through, you know, stipend, or per month?

GREGORY DUTTON: Funds are dispersed periodically through the university. So it’s not — it’s not just given as a lump sum. You know, it goes through the university, so they know how to handle this. They have a lot of experience with handling federal grant funds. Yeah.

DARYL FOX: Then there’s no restrictions on multiple students applying from the same university?

GREGORY DUTTON: Nope, no restriction at all. But a separate application will have to be submitted for each one.

DARYL FOX: Can the preliminary data used in the proposal be published work or gray literature, such as a master’s thesis?

GREGORY DUTTON: Could be either. I mean, you know, it’s up to you to consider how the reviewers will take it. You know, they may be — they may look a little more positively on published work but, you know, as students, I don’t think it’s necessarily, you know, unexpected that you would have, say, thesis data to show them, so either.

DARYL FOX: And this may have been brought up earlier, too, but just confirming that if one was not awarded this in past years, they could apply, you know, this year and future years?

GREGORY DUTTON: Yes, absolutely. Resubmissions are welcome. We do ask for a resubmit response. So that’s like a brief statement at the beginning of the proposal stating that you had previously applied, and also giving you an opportunity to respond to the comments that the reviewers had had from the previous submission. And guidance for that is also given in the solicitation. But yes, resubmissions are welcome.

DARYL FOX: And if one’s working with a tribe, do you need to have a letter of support from them approving the project?

GREGORY DUTTON: I think I would say, again, it’s not required necessarily, but I think it would certainly strengthen your proposal to show that relationship in the application. Now, it’s possible that if it’s a key part of the project, that, by the time the funds are released, you would need to show specific partnership. So I would say at the time of the application, it’s not required, but it would probably strengthen your proposal to reviewers.

DARYL FOX: And then is there any guidance on how directly related to the criminal justice system projects should be? For example, would a dissertation that is evaluating a community-based gun violence program qualify?

GREGORY DUTTON: Yes. You just need to show some relevance to make the sort of initial eligibility cut, right, and we take that — we try to, you know, make sure that we are sort of casting a broad net. So, show some relevance. Now, it is a portion of the Statement of the Problem and Its Significance criterion that reviewers will look at, but it’s just a portion. So, as long — as long as you can demonstrate relevance, you would likely be determined to be eligible. And then it’s up to you to — how that may look to the reviewers.

I just want to thank everyone for their time in joining us today.

Date Published: April 28, 2022