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November 2013  |  Volume 4, Issue 7

Don't Let Grant Budgets Scare You

If you're like many potential grantseekers, the idea of putting together a grant budget can seem daunting, particularly if you're new to the process. Figuring out what budget line items are allowable is enough to scare many away. One must learn how to calculate salaries and fringe benefits, gather estimates for supplies or equipment or other expenses, include cost sharing when required, and finally, add in overhead costs. Some projects involve subawards, making the process even more complex.

Help is available to meet budget challenges! Marie Slanger, budget and program officer in NDSU's Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) Office, and Amy Scott, assistant director of SPA, provide assistance on a daily basis to faculty and staff as they are developing grant budgets for their proposals. Marie is also the staff member who reviews and approves your grant budget before final submission to the grant agency, as part of NDSU's proposal approval process.

Here are some tips to make grant budget development run smoothly. Study your grant guidelines thoroughly to find out what expenses are allowable for your particular program. Visit with colleagues who have experience with the grant agency. Then do your best to put together a draft of a budget before contacting SPA for help. Allow plenty of time and email Marie your draft budget well in advance of your submission deadline. This approach provides time for advice and assistance before the rush of the final proposal deadline approaches.

The Sponsored Programs Administration website offers other helpful resources as well. The Institutional Information page provides fringe benefit rates, facilities and administrative (F&A) cost rates (for overhead or indirect costs), as well as frequently used numbers you may need when completing grant forms. Several MS Excel templates are available for automatically calculating different budget situations:

  • Budget form with automatic calculations for match requirements
  • Budget form with automatic calculations for multiple years [1-5 yrs], including the option of up to 4 subawards
  • Simple generic budget form

These templates provide assistance with budget calculations; then one can enter the figures into your grant agency budget forms. The templates could also be used if the agency does not have a standard budget form of its own.

Other helpful resources can be found online, such as a free YouTube video for those creating budgets for the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on grant proposal budget development at NDSU, contact Marie Slanger, budget and program officer.

Beware of Predatory Publishers

As researchers work to share results of their discoveries, a recent article in Science points out some concerns with open access. Visiting Harvard researcher John Bohannon distributed 304 versions of a bogus paper on a wonder drug discovery. The author and institution names were fictional.

“The goal was to create a credible but mundane scientific paper, one with such grave errors that a competent peer reviewer should easily identify it as flawed and unpublishable,” said Bohannon.

The author noted that 157 journals accepted the papers and 98 rejected them. He noted that only 36 of the 304 submissions generated comments on the paper’s scientific shortcomings.

Jeffrey Beall of the University of Colorado, Denver, defines predatory publishers as firms with questionable practices. Both Beall’s work and the Science article have created lively debate and discussion in the world of scientific publishing.

Learn More About the NIH Review Process

Here is an opportunity to learn more about the review process once your grant application is submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The September issue of NIH's Center for Scientific Review (CSR) Peer Review Notes provides tips on how to stay on top of important notifications about your application as it moves forward in the Commons. CSR and NIH's Electronic Research Administration (eRA) have also collaborated to produce a video tutorial to help you navigate the road to peer review. Read more and check out these two videos: NIH Peer Review Process Revealed and How Not to Miss Important Information About the Receipt and Referral of Your Grant Application.

Pivot Tip: Creating Funding Searches

Doing a grant funding search in Pivot can be as simple or as advanced as you'd like. From any NDSU desktop, a faculty member, staff member, or student can conduct a funding search in Pivot, even without a Pivot account. However, if you'd like to save your search results for future reference or run the same search again, you need to be registered and logged in to do so. View a short YouTube video to see more details on how to do quick or more advanced searches. Click on Support/Help at the lower left of your Pivot screen to find additional search instructions.

Start your grant search with a broad topic and refine your search one step at a time. Grant programs broadly define what they will fund to draw all the potential research projects that might fit. Even though you may conduct research of a very specific nature, searching for grants for that research must be broad enough to include all possible funding opportunities that may work for you.

Account users in Pivot can create and save as many funding searches as needed. If you choose to save a search you've created, you can opt to have new opportunities based on the search sent to you automatically by email each week. Consider setting up a separate funding search for each of your graduate students or your postdoc. Create a search for each of the research projects you plan to pursue in the near future, as well as additional searches for research you'd like to pursue someday. Perhaps you serve on a campus committee that needs funding - create a search for that purpose.

Once your searches are set up and saved, Pivot will do future grant searching work for you. If email alerts are coming to you, you may not need to log in to Pivot more than once per semester, unless there are updates needed for your searches or your profile. Contact Kay Sizer with Pivot questions. (

Researchers In the News

Interest continues in research underway at NDSU. Here’s just a sample of media coverage. Some links to these news outlets are available for a limited time.

Adult bullying—A Nasty Piece of Work on the Job

Valspar Funds Research Scholarships at NDSU

Germy Germs: What Clings to Your Bling

Climate Change May be Good News for ND Agriculture

Southern Fiction Writer Shirley Ann Grau

Workplace Bullies Hard to Stop

Bat Roosts Amplify Sound

The Incredible Powers of Nostalgia

Coatings Scholarships Awarded

If you’d like to suggest a story highlighting NDSU research, let us know. While we may not be able to use every suggestion, we would like to hear from you.

Upcoming Events

New Faculty Workshop Sponsored by the NDSU Provost's Office
January 17, 2014, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
NDSU Memorial Union - Arikara Room
As one of a series of new faculty workshops hosted by the Provost's Office, Dr. Kelly Rusch, vice president for research and creative activity, is hosting a one hour presentation focusing on sponsored programs and research at NDSU. New and junior faculty are encouraged to mark your calendars and plan to attend. Refreshments will be served. For more information, email Melissa Lamp.

Red River Valley Research Corridor
Precision Agriculture Action Summit
January 20-21, 2014
North Dakota Farmers Union Conference Center-Jamestown, ND
Co-hosted by ND Farmers Union, this annual summit covers the state of precision agriculture, emerging trends, technological applications and demonstrations for successful implementation. Attendees can expect hands-on demonstrations of precision agriculture technologies, applications, procedures and tools designed to reduce producer cost and to increase farm efficiency. Co-organizers for the summit are the Dakota Precision Ag Center at Lake Region State College and NDSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. For more information >>

Shale Oil Innovation Conference and Expo
Produced by BBI International and The Bakken Magazine
February 10-12, 2014
Alerus Center-Grand Forks, ND
“Our goal with this conference is to look at how the techniques, strategies and technological know-how being employed in the Williston Basin today are accelerating the retrieval and movement of remote Williston Basin crude oil from resource to refinement,” says Luke Geiver, editor of The Bakken Magazine. “We think what’s happening here in North Dakota will have significant and lasting effects on the way shale oil and gas plays around the globe are explored, developed and extracted.” The conference breakout sessions will showcase 120+ industry experts who are currently utilizing or developing new innovations and approaches to yielding greater efficiencies in the Bakken-Three Forks shale formations. Attendees will learn upstream and downstream advancements in the Williston Basin that are impacting shale oil E&P and logistics globally. The show will also have an exhibit hall and numerous networking events. For more information >>

North Dakota State University does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender expression/identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, public assistance status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a U.S. veteran. Direct inquiries to the Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Global Outreach, 102 Putnam, 701.231.7708.

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Last Updated: Thursday, November 19, 2015 4:01:27 PM
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