Below are the latest University Research Foundation Guidelines, revised
as of June 27, 2001.
The Guidelines and additional information may be found on line at
For the recipients of the Spring 2001 awards, see Almanac May 29,
online at www.upenn.edu/almanac/v47/n35/RF-Awards.html.
University Research Foundation Guidelines
Statement of Purpose
The University Research Foundation (URF) is an intramural resource to
support faculty research for a variety of purposes, including:
- Helping established faculty perform exploratory research, particularly
on novel or pioneering ideas, to determine the feasibility and develop
preliminary data to support extramural applications.
- Helping junior faculty undertake pilot projects that will enable them
to successfully apply for extramural sources of funding, and aid in establishing
their careers as independent investigators.
- Providing support in disciplines where extramural support is difficult
to obtain and where significant research can be facilitated with modest
- Providing modest institutional matching funds that are awarded contingent
upon a successful external peer-reviewed application that requires an institutional
Disciplines--The URF supports research in all disciplines, including
international research. For purposes of review, applications are assigned
to four broad disciplinary areas, liberal arts, social and behavioral sciences,
natural and engineering sciences, and biomedical sciences.
Term--Grants are given for a single year only. Applications for
a second year of funding may be submitted but usually receive low priority.
Funds must be spent within 12 months of the beginning of the grant, and
may not be "banked" for future use. Unexpended funds must be returned
to the Foundation.
Budget--Applications up to $50,000 will be entertained, but most
grants are for no more than $25,000. Because the total cost of meritorious
requests exceed available funds by several fold, applicants are encouraged
to request only absolutely essential resource.
Eligibility--Eligibility is limited to Standing Faculty (tenure
track or tenured faculty), Standing Faculty--Clinician-Educators, and Research
Dates--Applications are accepted twice each year, for November
1 and March 15 deadlines. If the date falls on a weekend or holiday the
deadline is the next working day. Every effort will be made to process applications
and notify applicants of the outcome within 10 weeks after the deadlines.
The Application--Brevity and clarity will enhance the likelihood
of success. All applications should be limited to 10 pages (applications
for > $25,000 can be up to 15 pages) and should include the following
- A Research Foundation Proposal Cover Sheet.
- An abstract, no more than 200 words, written for the educated non-specialist.
- A description of the research proposal, which should be no more than
5 single spaced pages for grants up to $25,00 and no more than 10 pages
for grants > $25,000. Proposals should provide background, hypothesis
or purpose of the research, significance of the research, methods used,
work to be undertaken, and outlook for future extension of the research
and its potential for external funding (see also criteria for evaluating
- A single page biographical sketch.
- A budget, with justification for each item requested. Items that can
be requested include faculty release time, summer stipends, research travel
expenses, supplies, minor equipment specifically designed for the proposed
research. Items that are usually excluded include renovations of the physical
facilities, major equipment, and extension of projects that are already
- Other research support, including current funding with a list of titles,
amounts, sources, and grant periods, expired funding for the prior three
years, plus pending applications. Applicants with "start up packages"
should provide detailed dated budgets.
- All Assistant Professors in their first three years are required to
include a letter from their department chair indicating their career plans
within the department, and listing all department funding, including startup
packages and the like. In addition, the letter should document the degree
of independence of these investigators.
- Regulatory issues--If research involves human subjects, animals, biohazards,
or other regulatory issues, the application should identify those concerns
and provide documentation that they have been addressed. This may require
IRB or IACUC or Environmental Safety review and approval. It should be
emphasized that full regulatory compliance applies to Research Foundation
grants, which must meet the same standards applied to larger extramural
applications. Regulatory documentation can be provided as an appendix to
the body of the application and will not be included in the page count.
For advice please consult the Office of Regulatory Affairs.
- Conflict of Interest--The applicant should explicitly make a statement
whether or not the application involves any potential conflict of interest,
and any such conflicts should be described. For instance, if the research
could forward the interests of a company in which the applicant has a pecuniary
interest, this should be disclosed. Conflict of interest documentation
(if required) can be provided as an appendix to the body of the application
and will not be included in the page count.
Submission--An original and ten copies of the complete proposal
with the cover sheet should be submitted to the Office of the Vice Provost
for Research, 119 College Hall/6303.
All applications are reviewed by one of four faculty committees, in
the four disciplinary areas mentioned above. Every attempt is made to spread
funding equitably across the major disciplines. Each application is reviewed
for a variety of attributes, including:
- Scientific merit, creativity and innovation
- Appropriateness for the modest funding provided
- Significance of the research
- Time-limited opportunities that require immediate funding
- Prospects for future extramural funding
- Matching support from other sources
- Availability of alternate funding sources
- Career development of young researchers
- Evidence that junior applicants will be working as independent investigators
- Forwarding of school or institutional objectives, such as interdisciplinary
Certain frequently found weaknesses should be avoided, such as:
- "Re-inventing the wheel" due to ignorance of prior published
work, often in cognate fields
- A fishing expedition without a focused hypothesis
- Requests for equipment, such as computers, that could be funded by
- Requests for faculty salary that exceeds the scale of URF grants
- Repeated requests for research projects that are eligible for but have
failed to garner external reviewed support
Since meritorious requests exceed available funds, reviewers often reduce
budgets to extend the number of applications that can be supported. The
review committees make their recommendations to the Vice Provost for Research,
who makes the final decisions about funding, based on year-to-year availability
of resources. Decisions will be made shortly after review committees have
met and should be distributed by e-mail within 10 weeks of the date of submission.
Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 1, July 17, 2001
| FRONT PAGE
| CONTENTS | JOB-OPS
| CRIMESTATS | OF RECORD: Postdoctoral Stipend Levels AND
Research Foundation Guidelines | GOVERNMENT
AFFAIRS UPDATE | TALK
ABOUT TEACHING ARCHIVE | BETWEEN
ISSUES | SUMMER at PENN