Insights from the AHRQ Peer Review Process (Text Version)
AHRQ 2011 Annual Conference: Insights from the AHRQ Peer Review Process
Training Grant Review Perspective
Denise G. Tate Ph.D., Professor,
Chair HCRT Study Section
University of Michigan Medical School
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Planning Your Application
- Get to know yourself well—your career pathway, interests, qualifications, experience and resources:
- Talk to others, mentors, advisers about your interests and career options.
- Write a brief 2 page research training statement.
- Research your options using the AHRQ Web site.
- Talk to AHRQ experts about the right mechanism for you.
- Allow sufficient time for planning, organize and write your research training applications.
Planning Your Application
- Take a look at the funding opportunity mechanisms (AHRQ priorities, Special Emphasis notices)and align these with your application.
- Examine the AHRQ's scientific mission and goals and carefully consider whether your application fits within the AHRQ's mission.
- Contact a program official by phone or E-mail to clarify any questions.
- Develop a strategy:
- Determine what type of application will work best to fit your needs.
- Review what you plan to achieve and by when?
- Plan based on potential resources (i.e. mentors, environment, budget).
Writing your Application
- Determine all requirements to write your application (i.e., forms, bios, Institutional Review Board [IRB]).
- Consider your team of mentors and get commitment up front in terms of support, time and effort, access to laboratories, databases. Assemble your team early.
- Letters of support—these need to clearly indicate mentors support and commitment as well familiarity with your goals and achievements.
- Describe opportunities for collaboration and becoming an independent investigator.
Writing Your Application
- Review the grant application instructions carefully.
- Discuss your career development pathway and goals with mentors and colleagues.
- Propose carefully related coursework to achieve goals.
- Solicit feedback about your research idea.
- In some cases, preliminary data is desirable.
- Provide a succinct but focused review of literature.
- The timeline should be realistic for both training and competing the research project.
Writing Your Application
- Is the proposed training relevant to the field? Will it promote a successful research career?
- Does the project addresses an important problem? Is it innovative? How will the clinical practice be improved?
- Is the proposed methodology sound?
- Is your CV strong enough?
- Align your career development plan to your professional goals:
- Justify the need for training (it will be a vital step toward your ultimate career goal and move you toward scientific independence).
- Specify training and courses and how these will help you to reach your objectives.
- Stress your commitment to a career in health services research.
- Design Your Research Plan Carefully:
- Reviewers will look closely at your plan.
- 2 part plan: aims and strategy.
- Is it related to your experience and will it enable you to achieve your objectives?
- Provide a realistic time frame.
- Document training on responsible conduct of research.
Special Emphasis: Independence for K02s, K99, K24
- It is important to provide reviewers evidence that you are independent and are prepared to be able to lead your project.
- Consider whether your career stage, expertise, and proposed training are appropriate to the size and scope of your project.
- You want to reveal your independence through your publications.
Areas of Special Focus
- Institutional Support—letters of reference and commitment.
- Collaborators/Consultants—letters of commitment.
- Protection of Human Subjects.
- Recruitment and Inclusion of Women, Minorities, Children and Persons with Disabilities.
- Have a plan for inclusion of AHRQ priority populations.
- Data and Safety Monitoring Plan.
- Access to required resources: databases, patients, laboratories, equipment, etc.
- Budget and budget justification related to years of training proposed.
AHRQ Training Program Officers
- For K awards: Dr. Kay Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- For R36s or Dissertation awards: Ms. Brenda Harding (email@example.com).
Summary of Major Pitfalls
- A training application is not an R01—applicant needs to achieve a balance between the career plan, didactics and project proposed.
- Research project should relate to training, be methodologically sound (clear aims) and reasonable within budget, resources and time frame.
- Make sure your mentors have the required expertise, have read your application and fully on board with you. Clear commitment is key.
On Being Successful
- Allow sufficient time for planning and writing.
- Make your application responsive to the agency and your own interests and expertise.
- Get feedback on content and format.
- Review Peer review Guidelines and Scoring.
- Plan on possible re-submission!