Researcher Training and Workforce Development in Methods and Standards for Conducting Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Studies (R25)

Frequently Asked Questions


 The following questions are derived from individual questions submitted to PCORMethodsFOA@ahrq.hhs.gov about the Request for Applications (RFA) HS-14-004: Researcher Training and Workforce Development in Methods and Standards for Conducting Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Studies (R25) and are shared here for all potential applicants. We encourage applicants to review all replies and to monitor this site for newly added questions and answers.


 Contents

A. Partnerships
B. Determining Suitability of the Theme, Projects, or Research Ideas for Submission
C. Formatting, Organization, and Page Limits of Submissions
D. Budget

A. Partnerships

Question A1: Is there precedence of approved grants for industry and academia collaborations?

Answer A1: For this funding opportunity, industry and academia collaborations are among the multiple types of partnerships that are permitted.  Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group as explained in Section V of the funding opportunity announcement.  Each funding announcement is distinct and therefore other funding announcements do not affect or have precedence over this funding announcement.

Question A2: In the statement "programs should plan to host a minimum of 3 fellows," does "program" refer to the applicant's institution or does it include partner organizations as well?

Answer A2: Yes, an education program includes partner organizations. Experiential training may occur at a partner's organization.

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B. Determining Suitability of the Theme, Projects, or Research Ideas for Submission

Question B1: How can applicants determine if their planned approach is a good fit for this FOA?

Answer B1: Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the FOA closely, including its explicitly stated objectives and review criteria; this is the best available guidance to potential applicants about the responsiveness of their planned research. Applicants should be aware that the determination of suitability and responsiveness of applications is within the purview and authority of the Special Emphasis Panel, not AHRQ.

Question B2: Is a focus on continuing faculty education appropriate for the "basic component" of the training and educational offerings requested by the FOA?

Answer B2: A researcher community may include researchers who have faculty appointments at colleges and universities.  Applicants may determine and provide a rationale for the appropriate prerequisite requirements for such researchers to participate in an education program's offerings.  Therefore, applicants may propose continuing education for faculty in the basic component of an education program.

Question B3: Based on this FOA's definition of CER/PCOR methods suitable to include in educational programs, are new methods for summarizing the existing evidence base, such as those based on multi-criteria decision analysis and similar procedures that have not been traditionally used for this purpose in the health care literature, suitable?

Answer B3: Applicants may propose and provide a rationale for education programs that include training on new research methods that have not been traditionally used for CER/PCOR studies. 

Question B4: Can a community-based medical school in which physicians, pharmacists, and other clinicians from several surrounding hospital systems act as part-time or voluntary faculty be affiliated with us and still participate as fellows in the program we design?

Answer B4: For the experiential or fellowship component, the FOA states, "In general, fellows should be researchers who are part of the targeted researcher community, but not directly affiliated with the applicant's institution" (emphasis added).  This statement does not disqualify proposals for experiential training to researchers who have some form of affiliation with the applicant.

Question B5: What is the rationale for selecting fellows without any affiliation with our university?

Answer B5: The rationale for the statement is related to the purpose of the FOA.  In the section entitled, "Purpose," it states: "…The purpose of this initiative is to build national capacity in the scientific workforce…particularly to expand capacity for conducting CER/PCOR studies into new fields, to address health disparities between patient populations, or in subject areas where knowledge about health outcomes lacks a strong evidence base…."  Access to experiential learning by CER/PCOR methodology experts at the applicant's institution or at a partner's organization supports this purpose.

Question B6: Under Section I. Funding Opportunity Description, the FOA states: "Under this FOA, programs should plan to host a minimum of three fellows, for one to three months, each year for four or five years." Does this refer to 3 different fellows every year for 5 years (i.e., 15 fellows total) or the same 3 fellows every year for 5 years?

Answer B6: Applicants should plan to host different fellows each year.

Question B7: Are applicants allowed to budget for a fellow's travel expenses (such as transportation, hotel, per diem) to come to our university for training?

Answer B7: No, applicants may not budget for the travel expenses of fellows. This determination is based on this statement found in Section I of the FOA: "Fellows may not receive financial support from the grant award and are generally expected to be supported by their employer or through other sources."

Question B8: Are educational interventions considered in the definition of CER/PCOR studies when the FOA refers to "health care interventions and services on patient outcomes"? 

Answer B8: Experiential training of researchers on methods for studying the effectiveness of educational interventions on patient outcomes is permitted by the FOA. An education program, however, must have multiple components and include basic, advanced, and experiential training opportunities, as stated in the FOA.

Question B9: For the Experiential or Fellowship Component, the FOA states that fellows should be researchers who are part of the targeted researcher community but not directly affiliated with the applicant's institution. The guidance for the Basic and Advanced Components is not specific about the trainee's affiliation. Are trainees from the applicant's institution eligible for the Basic and Advanced Components? If so, is there a preference for enrolling trainees from outside of the applicant's institution?

Answer B9: Yes, applicants may include trainees from their institution in the Basic and Advanced Components. For these components, the FOA does not state a preference for enrolling trainees from outside of the applicant's institution but it does state that applications should build capacity in the scientific workforce within the researcher community or communities defined by the applicant. In addition, an education program should include training opportunities for early-stage researchers, such as graduate students, as well as for veteran investigators who seek to develop new competencies in CER/PCOR studies.

Question B10: Is there a timeline for implementation of the educational programs? How much time will applicants have to recruit potential learners? How much time will there be to develop new curricular content?

Answer B10: Applicants should propose education programs that develop and implement basic courses to be offered each year and a learning collaborative on advanced CER/PCOR methods topics that is also offered each year. Basic courses should be updated annually or replaced with new courses based on program evaluations or new developments in the field of CER/PCOR methodology and standards. In addition, applicants should plan to host a minimum of three fellows for 1 to 3 months each year for 4 or 5 years. Applicants may request up to 5 years of funding.

Question B11: Is the curricular content to be delivered on demand or on a set schedule?

Answer B11: Applicants propose how the curricular content will be delivered.

Question B12: The FOA states that "experienced researches are mentored" but does not define "experienced." Would a student who had taken one or more basic courses be allowed to participate in the experiential component?

Answer B12: Applicants may determine and provide a rationale for the prerequisite requirements to participate in an education program's offerings, including the experiential component.

Question B13: The FOA states in the Training and Education section that educational programs are to develop and implement "an experiential or fellowship program for an individual to receive between approximately 1 and 12 months of direct CER/PCOR methods training." In the Experiential or Fellowship Component, it states that "programs should plan to host a minimum of 3 fellows for 1-3 months each year." How can the latter statement be reconciled with the former, since the time periods differ?

Answer B13: Applicants may determine and provide a rationale for the length of participation in the Experiential or Fellowship Component. However, individuals should receive training for a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 12 months.

Question B14: What does it mean to "host" a researcher under this program?

Answer B14: Hosting a researcher is providing direct experience and mentoring on using CER/PCOR methods and/or standards.

Question B15: Does "host" mean that fellows must always be physically present at the applicant's institution or at a partner's organization?

Answer B15: Individual training is to last a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 12 months, but it is not required that fellows be physically present at the applicant's institution or a partner organization for the entire time of the program.

Question B16: Does a fellow have to be 100 percent during the hosting period? For example, could a fellow come 1 day a week for a year, which would be equivalent to 2.5 months?

Answer B16: Applicants may propose an experiential or fellowship program in which the hosting period is spread out over several weeks but is equivalent to a minimum of 1 month of training.

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C. Formatting, Organization, and Page Limits of Submissions

Question C1: Should applications include a 1-page introduction?

Answer C1: Applications for this FOA are considered new applications, so applicants should not submit a 1-page introduction. Applicants will find that they do not have the ability to submit an introduction in the SF 424 form. The FOA includes text about an introduction page; however, this text was part of a template for revised or resubmitted applications and does not apply to this particular FOA.

Question C2: Does the 25-page limit for the Research Strategy section of the application include the Specific Aims?

Answer C2: No. The Specific Aims are limited to one page, and that page is separate from the Research Strategy.

Question C3: Are applications allowed to have appendixes?

Answer C3: Applications may include an appendix, but applicants should not use the appendix to circumvent the specific page limit for the Research Strategy component. Applicants should observe the page number limits specified in the FOA. Applications will be rejected if they do not comply with these requirements.

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D. Budget

Question D1: Are applicants allowed to budget for the salary of researchers who are university faculty to participate as learners in an education program?

Answer D1: No, applications may not include a budget request for researchers, including university faculty, to participate as learners in an education program.

Question D2: Are applicants allowed to budget for the salary of instructors, faculty, and mentors to provide training in an education program?

Answer D2: Yes, salary and fringe benefits are allowable costs for personnel involved with providing training in an education program. 

Question D3: Can part of the proposed budget be used for tuition costs for the fellows?

Answer D3: Tuition costs for fellows are not an allowable expense.

Question D4: What is the indirect cost rate (F&A) for this application?

Answer D4: Use the institution's appropriate federally negotiated indirect cost rate.

Question D5: Are expenses related to an annual program conference (such as facilities, meals, audio-visual equipment, printing, speaker fees) allowed? 

Answer D5: Yes, potential applicants can budget for conference costs but must include a detailed justification of how the conference will help meet the specified expectations of the objectives listed in the FOA. Meals not associated with a travel per diem are not allowed and will be removed if included in the budget. Those funds may not be rebudgeted.

Question D6: For an application that includes a consortium of sites, is it allowable to budget for travel between sites to implement training? 

Answer D6: Budget requests for travel by individuals who conduct training is permitted; however, budget requests for travel by individuals who receive training is not permitted. Hence, travel for faculty who are trainers, whether from the home institution or from the consortium sites, is permitted. Travel for investigators who are being trained is not permitted.

Question D7: Can the budget include payment for travel for instructors as well as payment for consulting services?

Answer D7: Yes, the budget request may include payment for travel for instructors to out-of-State learning centers as well as payment for consulting services through consultant arrangements for specific activities pertaining to the successful development and execution of the proposed training programs.

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Current as of August 2013
Internet Citation: Researcher Training and Workforce Development in Methods and Standards for Conducting Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Studies (R25): Frequently Asked Questions. August 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/funding/fund-opps/rfahs14004faq.html