07GSAPropworkshop Final

Information about 07GSAPropworkshop Final

Published on January 22, 2008

Author: Demetrio

Source: authorstream.com

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2007 GSA Research Grant Proposal Writing Workshop:  2007 GSA Research Grant Proposal Writing Workshop Joseph Meert University of Florida Department of Geology Gainesville, FL 32611 RULES FOR GSA GRANTS:  RULES FOR GSA GRANTS Students will only be allowed to receive a GSA grant once during their Masters and once during their PhD careers.  GSA money should be considered seed money & multiple years of funding for the same project is not permitted. GSA will attempt to make sure that each proposal is reviewed by a committee member whose expertise lies in the proposal’s disciplinary area. (1) Clearly state the problem(s) to be addressed, the hypothesis or hypotheses to be tested, and the overall objectives of your proposed project. (1,200 character limit): (2) Discuss the previous work on your problem(s) that (1) places the project in a disciplinary and, if appropriate, regional context and (2) documents the importance of your project. (2,500 character limit): (3) Concisely state how you plan to address your problems and test your hypotheses (2,500 character limit): (4) Must be GSA Member. Deadline is Feb 1, 2008 11:59 pm. Your proposal might address…:  Your proposal might address… Testing & improvements—based on outcomes there may be need for revisions of hypotheses, experiments, or methods; the scientific process is iterative… Verification—research or work will become accepted only if they can be verified… Reevaluation—all scientific knowledge is in a state of flux because new evidence can be produced that contradicts a long held hypothesis… In other words, there is always some sort of context or background, not just a search for something that has not been found A successful proposal…:  A successful proposal… Should have clearly written hypotheses or a well-explained problem(s) to be addressed… Should demonstrate that your research outcome will have regional (or global!) application, not just local significance… Should concisely & clearly spell out how you will falsify the incorrect hypothesis or address the problem(s) to be solved… Show reviewers that the research project has a definite end point & it can be solved… Reviewer’s Evaluation Checklist :  Reviewer’s Evaluation Checklist Definition of hypothesis or problem Significance and quality of proposed work Methodology or plans Budget Presentation Quality Overall review—potential for producing significant research that will interest others in the subfield or general geological community From High, very good, reasonable, limited, to low… Results translate into the Grants Scoring Sheet… Think!:  Think! What- What is it you want to accomplish? Why- Why is it important? How- How will you accomplish your goals? Where- Where will the research take place? If the reviewer can’t find clear answers to these questions, you may not be funded. PRINCIPLES OF POOR PROPOSAL WRITING:  PRINCIPLES OF POOR PROPOSAL WRITING Ignore your reviewers - it is your research after all! Write it quickly and don’t rewrite - you are busy! Assume your reviewers know what is important in your field - Darn-it, we are all geoscientists Ignore the literature - those old dudes were wrong anyway! Inflate the budget - steak is better than hamburger! Science and hypotheses are all about salesmanship-stating multiple testable hypotheses takes up too much space Instructions are for losers - this isn’t Geology 101 anymore A research project that is a search for something is good geology Never plan or anticipate your results - then you won’t be objective For a good proposal - read the literature:  For a good proposal - read the literature Preparing to do research is essential Another researcher may already have shown that your hypothesis is wrong Another researcher may have shown your methodology to be flawed The work may have been done already Published literature is your most convincing argument to back up any claim you make - because it already has gone through peer review (prove that the material is available, prove that the problem is important, prove that you know what you are talking about and will be successful) Grant winners always follow the instructions:  Grant winners always follow the instructions Follow them to the letter to get the highest rating Definition of hypotheses or problem Significance and quality of proposed work Methodology or plans Budget Presentation quality Overall review—potential for producing significant research that will interest others in the subfield or general geological community If you really do want a grant - Don’t ignore your reviewers. Write for your audience:  If you really do want a grant - Don’t ignore your reviewers. Write for your audience Reviewers are not all in your field Be sure to define or avoid jargon (What is jargon?-any term you don’t learn as an undergraduate) Be sure to convey the nature of your field Be sure each point being evaluated is addressed Treat the proposal as an exam-write it as if the reviewers are grading you on the basis of the questions asked Writing for success:  Writing for success Even a few typos gives a bad impression and could make your reviewers uPsEt or grUmpy :) Have colleagues read it over for you and give their impressions Rewrite it and adjust it Make it short if you can Check grammar and punctuation Organize it to put your major points up front Slide13:  What is asked for on the proposal form is answered clearly and right away - don’t make the reviewer search for it For example, if it asks ‘why is this work important’ you could write ‘This work is important because….’ After you answer the posed question, additional support can be given Writing for success The importance statement - convey importance to the reviewer outside of your field :  The importance statement - convey importance to the reviewer outside of your field Conveying importance is tricky and challenging Just saying it is important is not enough Don’t make your readers hunt for significance Convince them that this work has to be done - remember, all scientists start off being skeptical Be specific about importance (NOT we need to know about plate tectonics; we need to know about evolution, x will provide information on y, this has not been done and needs to; this has not be quantified and needs to; this needs to be studied more - WHY IS THE QUESTION) Teach the reviewer something about what is happening in your field and why A Poor Importance Statement:  A Poor Importance Statement I plan on studying the magnetic fabric formed in buckle folds. This has not yet been attempted and will improve our understanding of buckle folds. Buckle folds are important structural features in need of study. A bit better, but still….:  A bit better, but still…. The Jurassic Bonanza island arc is extensively exposed on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The volcanic portion of this arc offers an unprecedented opportunity to study geochemical variations across 500 km of exposed strike length. Documenting & analyzing the geochemistry can offer insights into along-strike variations of mantle input & crustal processes that can occur in the subduction setting. Why are these insights important? Example of an importance statement…:  Example of an importance statement… Scree-mantled slopes are a common feature in mountain belts. The amount of sediment produced by these slopes suggest that the small rockfall events that produce these slopes are of geomorphic significance. However, the magnitude of the contribution of small rockfalls to the erosion of mountain ranges needs to be quantified. Why? Slide18:  To get the $$$ - make the budget accurate Reviewers in the know will see if your budget is not accurate It is all about credibility - if a reviewer catches you on one inaccuracy, that reviewer will be skeptical about success of your work Take time to get quotes Grants are typically awarded if cost is low and research payout is high If your advisor is funded and your project is a subset of that proposal, don’t ask for money. Slide19:  Budgets that raise Red Flags… You need to detail your expenses, costs, & number of samples to be analyzed as well as cost per sample Slide20:  You need to detail your expenses, costs, & number of samples to be analyzed as well as cost per sample Budgets that raise Red Flags… Hypothesis statements and testing statements:  Hypothesis statements and testing statements If you can, state multiple testable hypotheses This is a matter of having a scientifically open mind - rather than trying to support your favorite hypothesis, you convince the readers that you are open to alternative explanations This leads to having fallback positions that you can point out to reviewers, where no matter what the outcome, your research will result in an answer - if you start with only a single hypothesis, the reviewer may doubt your ability to come to a conclusion Fishing is for fishermen - not geologists - not hypotheses:  Fishing is for fishermen - not geologists - not hypotheses Never give the impression of a fishing expedition. Prove to the reviewers that you know what among several possibilities you expect to see. Let’s say you are collecting fossils in an area, you will need to convince reviewers that the rocks are in fact fossiliferous. How do we explain higher-than-expected temps??:  How do we explain higher-than-expected temps?? 1) Elevated geothermal gradient (50oC/km) 2) Additional burial not recognized in existing burial histories 3) Injection of hot fluids from deeper parts of the basin Successful proposals follow the scientific method:  Successful proposals follow the scientific method Four essential elements of the scientific method are iterations and recursions of the following four steps: Observation Hypothesis—theoretical, hypothetical explanation Prediction—logical deduction from hypothesis Experiment, Test Your proposal will be judged on how well it follows the Scientific Method: testing hypotheses or addressing problems to be solved… What are hypotheses?:  What are hypotheses? Hypothesis—is a proposed explanation of a phenomenon A provisional idea whose merit is to be evaluated… In the hypothetico-deductive method a hypothesis should be falsifiable, possible to be shown to be false by observation… An hypothesis is not a question—a major misconception among many people… Several hypotheses should be proposed as explanations of a phenomenon… What are hypotheses?:  What are hypotheses? Hypotheses require more work by the researcher in order to either confirm or disprove them… Note: if confirmed, a hypothesis is not necessarily proven but remains provisional... An example: A person enters a new country and observes only white sheep. A hypothesis might be that all sheep in that country are white… This is falsifiable by observing a single black sheep, provided that the observer did not mistake a goat for a sheep or correctly interpreted the hypothesis (exclude rams?)… What are hypotheses?:  What are hypotheses? Hypotheses should provide generally a causal explanation or propose some correlation… Hypotheses are based on a pattern in observations or suggested by preexisting data… There are no definitive guidelines for the production of new hypotheses… Some projects, like testing rates, refining techniques or ages, and exploring new areas, are harder to frame as hypotheses… Here, many refer to these as problems or questions to be answered… It is best, however, to put these types of research into hypotheses as well… Incomplete hypothesis statement:  Incomplete hypothesis statement The Huron-Erie Lobe of the Laurentide ice sheet advanced into Indiana during the late Wisconsin Stage. After several minor retreats and subsequent advances, it finally fully retreated to the northeast leaving behind a succession of moraines, including the Fort Wayne moraine near the Ohio border. Fraser and Bleuer (1988) reported that the Fort Wayne moraine acted as a dam to ancestral Late Erie (proglacial lake Maumee) and that the moraine was eventually overtopped and rapidly eroded resulting in an outburst flood in the Wabash River valley. The hypotheses to be tested could include: The statement is correct; the statement is not correct; other than this one flood, other glacially related, outburst paleofloods occurred; outburst paleofloods occurred repeatedly rather than just once because…; the magnitude of the paleoflood was… and it had…effect on the landscape; there is an x relationship with y landforms in Indiana; paleofloods constrained the present course of the upper Wabash River Poor hypothesis statement:  The Hiemstra Quarry site near Delta, Iowa has been tied to other Late Mississippian fossil sites in the Midwest, as well as in Europe and Australia, as all have early land vertebrate fossils. This study will compare other taxa (mainly fishes) found at the Hiemstra site, in concert with a study of the unusual sedimentology, to help understand Iowa’s Late Mississippian stratigraphy. Poor hypothesis statement This example of a hypothesis or problem is better…:  The Hiemstra Quarry site near Delta, Iowa has been tied to other Late Mississippian fossil sites in the Midwest, as well as in Europe and Australia, as all have early land vertebrate fossils. The hypotheses to be tested are: 1) Taxa at the Hiemstra site correlate with taxa in Europe demonstrating that this stratigraphic interval in Iowa is Visean (Late Mississippian) in age; & 2) The unusual stratigraphic sequences at the Hiemstra site correlate with sequences in Europe that represent global sea-level rise, suggesting a Tournaisian (Early Mississippian) age. This example of a hypothesis or problem is better… To test hypotheses - Plan and anticipate:  To test hypotheses - Plan and anticipate Plan step by step what you are going to do Imagine what you might expect to see as results Show how those results allow you to distinguish between (test) your hypotheses Prove to people it is possible by exploring every outcome Convince the reader that there will be an answer, no matter what you find Establish fallback positions that are still useful if what you initially expect is not found How do we explain higher-than-expected temps?:  How do we explain higher-than-expected temps? Elevated geothermal gradient of 50 C/km Additional burial not recognized in existing burial curves Injection of hot fluid from deeper parts of the basin TESTS (look for these): Geochemical evidence of enhanced fluid flow near faults (support) Record of recurring fluctuations in temp, salinity (support) Record of higher temps. near faults (support and disproof) Record of paleogeothermal gradient (support and disproof) Record of pressure (support and disproof) and Plan and anticipate:  Plan and anticipate Consider generating a logic tree so you know you will have an answer Testing Predictions…:  Testing Predictions… Useful hypotheses enable predictions to be made by deductive reasoning that can be assessed … If results contradictory to the predictions are found, that hypothesis under test is incorrect or incomplete—requires abandonment or revision… If results confirming a hypothesis are found, the hypothesis might be correct but is always subject to further test… Thus, the reason for multiple hypotheses to be tested is to leave you with alternatives… Example of poor test statement:  Example of poor test statement As a test of the hypothesis that a negative feedback between silicate weathering rates and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (CO2atm) is responsible for maintaining a relatively stable climate through much of Earth’s history, my project will collect and use river geochemical data to calculate chemical weathering rates and CO2 fluxes in the Canadian Cordillera. Initial results show that pyrite oxidation coupled with carbonate weathering is an important process in the region. This is a potential source of CO2atm that could completely offset silicate weathering CO2 drawdown in the region; it is also a process not currently considered by global carbon budget models. Identification and quantification of the sources of the riverine sulphate (SO4) is essential to determine the magnitude of pyrite-carbonate CO2 fluxes. This may be an important key to understanding Earth’s climate evolution. The requested funding will be used for isotopic analyses to enable SO4 source determination. What will they do? Examples of poor test statement:  Examples of poor test statement Previous research on Lower Kane Cave of Wyoming has established that sulfur cycling plays an important role in the geomicrobiological dynamics of this karst system, as well as active cave formation by sulfuric acid speleogenesis (1). Data from the cave shows elevated concentrations of sulfidic gases and rapid loss of aqueous sulfide, beyond what can be accounted for by abiotic mechanisms. The presence of prolific microbial mats in the cave system, combined with measurements of aqueous and gaseous sulfur, implies a significant biological influence on sulfur cycling within the cave. Sediment associated with sediment, biomass, aqueous and gaseous sulfur will provide information on the mechanisms of sulfur cycling with this cave and the biochemical pathways of the microbial population. Microbial mediation of the sulfur cycle may also affect transport and sequestration of other metals within the Lower Kane Cave system. What is the specific hypothesis to be tested? Things to remember…:  Things to remember… Now is the time to learn good proposal writing skills… Practice, practice, practice—learn from the reviewers’ feedback… Proposal writing and success rates will only become more difficult in time because of more proposal writers and fewer research dollars… Good luck with your future research grant proposal writing endeavors…:  Good luck with your future research grant proposal writing endeavors…

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