Application Questions

Application Questions

1. I am a researcher focusing on South Sudanese politics, and as one of the coordinators of a research project called V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy), I just saw your announcement for research grants. I read that it concerned the Middle East and North Africa, so I take it that it excludes countries such as South Sudan..?

2. But could we get same grants to Nepalese students?

3. Can I use the grant to conduct research related to my dissertation?

4. Can I use the grant to conduct research in Sub Saharan African countries?

5. How quickly is a decision made?

6. When does the 8 month window start? The researcher’s discretion or IIE’s?

7. Does the PI have to have a PhD?  If yes, can co-PIs be ABDs?

8. Can American citizens studying at foreign universities apply?

9. Please do let me know whether am eligible to apply Social Movements RFA and am not a US citizen. Am an Indian national working in Malaysia.

10. We are a group of scholars based at [xxxxx] University in the United Kingdom and we wish to respond to the call for applications from USAID here below. Could you clarify the following please?: 'Applications from non-US institutions that are ineligible for assistance under USG laws will not be accepted.' As a UK-based university, are we eligible to apply?

11. I am co-writing my proposal with a colleague at [xxxx] University.  Does the DFG need additional documentation for cross-university collaborations?  Does DFS make a distinction between contracting, subawards, and collaborations?  If so, could you please elaborate?  My university’s grants office believes USAID requires a separate budget and statement of work for her, but those feel redundant since we are equals on the project.

12. In collaboration with other researchers, I will be applying for the Understanding Social Movements grant intended to further understanding of these movements in the context of the Arab Spring. I have looked at the FAQs on the website, but have some more specific inquiries about timing: Understanding that the results of this grant will be presented in a conference, I am wondering about the exact timing of this event. When will it be held? What is the latest possible start date for the eight-month grant window? Assuming that we are successful in the grant application, our ideal start date would be during this coming March. Given other timing constraints (application process length, conference timing, etc.), does that potential start date make sense?

13. What is the difference between a consultant and subcontractor?

14. We would like to know if having a CO-PI from another institution is allowable? Would the CO-PI send its own application or would the main PI submit?

15. Thank you for sending this interesting RFA. I have a question regarding part 2. Background: do I need to present a general brief understanding of social movements or do I need to focus on the development of social movements in the specific case studies/countries?

16. What does LOE mean?

17. I just wanted to double check the application due date: is December 10, 2013, at 11:59 PM EST, Dec 10, 2013, at 17:59 PM in [country on Central European Time]? 

18. In collaboration with other researchers, I will be applying for the Understanding Social Movements grant intended to further understanding of these movements in the context of the Arab Spring. I have one inquiry not mentioned in the FAQS or RFA, unless I missed it, in which case I apologize: Are appendices permissible beyond what is specified in the Technical Application instructions? Specifically, we would like to submit an appendix including the format and questions of semi-structured qualitative interviews we intend to carry out with informants for the project. 

19. I am finalizing my application for the USAID grant on case study analysis of recent social movements in the Middle East and North Africa. I am a bit perplexed about one single issue. It is stated in the guidelines that USAID will accept proposals for either a comparative analysis or individual case studies of two to three cases. I have hard time understanding what these "individual case studies of two or three cases" entails if it is not going to be a comparative study. Could you please clarify this issue for me? I would like to run a case study in Tunisia for example about the informal networks, systems and leadership in this country. Would this be enough and qualified as an individual case of two or three cases or do I need to include something else here?

20. I also would like to find out whether I can apply as the principal researcher and work with a PhD student and some research assistants/translators on the ground or is it preferable to apply with a team of two or three principal researchers?

21. First, my university has a standard cover page they use when submitting grants.  It contains all the information the RFA asks for, but it takes 1.5 pages.  Given that it’s a fixed form, is submitting acceptable?

22. Second, the Application Submission Checklist on page 5 of the RFA is a list of bullet points.  My institution prefers to submit all the materials as one .pdf.  Is that acceptable?


Q1. I am a researcher focusing on South Sudanese politics, and as one of the coordinators of a research project called V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy), I just saw your announcement for research grants. I read that it concerned the Middle East and North Africa, so I take it that it excludes countries such as South Sudan..?

A: Technical applications will be evaluated in part on the strength of the applicants’ technical understanding of social movements—specifically, the social movements of the Arab Spring. See pp. 5-6 of RFA for further information on technical application evaluation criteria.

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Q2. But could we get same grants to Nepalese students?

A: An applicant for this grant opportunity must either be or be affiliated with a public or private university, research institution, think tank, or other organization. An applicant must also be a legally registered entity, according to the laws of the countries in which it operates. See p. 2 of RFA for full eligibility criteria for this grant opportunity.

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Q3. Can I use the grant to conduct research related to my dissertation?

A: Applicants can use aspects of the research towards their dissertation as long as they prepare and produce the case study analysis outlined in the RFA (pages 1 – 3). Applications will be evaluated on the soundness of their approach in designing and developing a case study analysis according to USAID’s specifications, i.e., meeting the specifics described in the RFA (35 points).

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Q4. Can I use the grant to conduct research in Sub Saharan African countries?

A: No. This analysis focuses on the Middle East and North Africa. See response to Question 1.

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Q5. How quickly is a decision made?

A: IIE anticipates notifying applicants by late January 2014 whether their application has been selected for funding. At that time, the apparently successful applicant will be provided templates to complete a full grant package (see page 6 of the RFA).

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Q6. When does the 8 month window start? The researcher’s discretion or IIE’s?

A: Applicants should propose the timeline for submission of deliverables in their project timetable (Annex 2), detailing the preferred start and end months for the eight-month grant period and proposing due dates for the key grant deliverables. See Question 5 for more information.

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Q7. Does the PI have to have a PhD?  If yes, can co-PIs be ABDs?

A: PIs can be ABDs. USAID has not set minimum qualifications for Principal Investigators or other restrictions on who, within an organization, may apply. A maximum of 20 points are allocated to the research team, and points will be awarded based on the depth and relevance of previous research work and/or publications. See pages 5-6 of RFA for evaluation criteria.

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Q8. Can American citizens studying at foreign universities apply?

A: Applicants must be or be affiliated with a public or private university, research institution, think tank, or other organization. Foreign universities are eligible as long as they meet the eligibility criteria on page 2 of the RFA. An American citizen may apply as a PI for a grant with a foreign university as long as institution policies or other local laws do not prelude this arrangement. Please see also question 9, below.

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Q9. Please do let me know whether am eligible to apply Social Movements RFA and am not a US citizen. Am an Indian national working in Malaysia.

A: Please refer to page 2 of the RFA for eligibility criteria. Applicants must be institutions, not individuals, and so scholars will need to apply through their affiliated institution (university, think tank, NGO, etc.). IIE will accept applications from US and non-US colleges, universities, research institutions, think tanks, and other non-profit organizations. However, please note:

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Q10. We are a group of scholars based at [xxxxx] University in the United Kingdom and we wish to respond to the call for applications from USAID here below. Could you clarify the following please?: 'Applications from non-US institutions that are ineligible for assistance under USG laws will not be accepted.' As a UK-based university, are we eligible to apply?

A: A UK-based university is eligible, as are all non-US universities, research institutions, think tanks, or other non-profits that are not specifically prohibited from receiving USG funds because of Mandatory Standard Provision 5: Preventing Terrorist Financing  or other related regulations.

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Q11. I am co-writing my proposal with a colleague at [xxxx] University.  Does the DFG need additional documentation for cross-university collaborations?  Does DFS make a distinction between contracting, subawards, and collaborations?  If so, could you please elaborate?  My university’s grants office believes USAID requires a separate budget and statement of work for her, but those feel redundant since we are equals on the project.

A: Cross-university collaborations are absolutely fine, as long as the application is submitted by one institution only. The applying institution may engage staff at other universities as consultants or subcontractors, depending on the applicant’s institutional policies and scope of the proposed research. Detailed subcontractor budgets and scopes of work, or consultant scopes of work, are not required at the application stage, but will be required from apparently successful applicants (see Section V of the RFA page 6-7). However, the technical proposal should make clear what each researcher’s role is and how the collaboration should be managed, and the budget should present the costs of consultancy or subcontract in the appropriate lines.

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Q12. In collaboration with other researchers, I will be applying for the Understanding Social Movements grant intended to further understanding of these movements in the context of the Arab Spring. I have looked at the FAQs on the website, but have some more specific inquiries about timing:  Understanding that the results of this grant will be presented in a conference, I am wondering about the exact timing of this event. When will it be held? What is the latest possible start date for the eight-month grant window? Assuming that we are successful in the grant application, our ideal start date would be during this coming March. Given other timing constraints (application process length, conference timing, etc.), does that potential start date make sense?

A: Yes, that start date is likely fine, but not guaranteed, given unforeseen delays that may occur. Please see the answer to Questions 5 and 6 for more information.

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Q13. What is the difference between a consultant and subcontractor?  

A: The difference is in whether you are contracting a person or an organization. The term “consultant” refers to someone who is contracted as an individual; the term “subcontractor” refers to an entity that is contracted as an organization. Applicants can engage research staff at other universities either by developing a contract with that person as an individual (consultant) or developing a contract with that person’s institution (subcontract). The decision of whether to use a consultant contract or a subcontract should be made by the applicant, based on the applicant’s institutional policies and the scope of the proposed research. Applicants should be aware that cost is a factor in the evaluation and that proposed levels of effort for all personnel must be justified in the proposal.

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14. We would like to know if having a CO-PI from another institution is allowable? Would the CO-PI send its own application or would the main PI submit?

A: Yes, having a co-PI is allowable. Applications must be submitted by one institution only, but research staff from two or more universities may collaborate on a single application. See Questions 11 and 13 for more information.

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Q15. Thank you for sending this interesting RFA. I have a question regarding part 2. Background: do I need to present a general brief understanding of social movements or do I need to focus on the development of social movements in the specific case studies/countries?

A: The empirical focus of the proposal should be on social movements in the region. However, the theoretical focus should draw broadly from the social movements literature without regard to its geographic focus.

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Q16. What does LOE mean?

A: The acronym LOE, in the budget, stands for “level of effort”, and refers to the percentage of a person’s time that will be charged to the grant.

Q17. I just wanted to double check the application due date: is December 10, 2013, at 11:59 PM EST, Dec 10, 2013, at 17:59 PM in [country on Central European Time]? 

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A: Applications are due December 10, 2013 at 11:59PM EST, or Eastern Standard Time—the time on the east coast of the United States. 11:59 PM EST on December 10, 2013 will be 5:59 AM CET (Central European Time) on December 11, 2013.

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Q18. In collaboration with other researchers, I will be applying for the Understanding Social Movements grant intended to further understanding of these movements in the context of the Arab Spring. I have one inquiry not mentioned in the FAQS or RFA, unless I missed it, in which case I apologize: Are appendices permissible beyond what is specified in the Technical Application instructions? Specifically, we would like to submit an appendix including the format and questions of semi-structured qualitative interviews we intend to carry out with informants for the project. 

A: No, any material provided in excess of what is required in the RFA will not be reviewed. Please see pages 3 and 4 of the RFA.

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Q19. I am finalizing my application for the USAID grant on case study analysis of recent social movements in the Middle East and North Africa. I am a bit perplexed about one single issue. It is stated in the guidelines that USAID will accept proposals for either a comparative analysis or individual case studies of two to three cases. I have hard time understanding what these "individual case studies of two or three cases" entails if it is not going to be a comparative study. Could you please clarify this issue for me? I would like to run a case study in Tunisia for example about the informal networks, systems and leadership in this country. Would this be enough and qualified as an individual case of two or three cases or do I need to include something else here?

A: The difference between comparative analysis and individual case studies is the emphasis and degree of integration between the cases—whether they be 3 fairly individual country studies or one integrated set of analysis across the issues. USAID is most interested in the strength and rigor of the analysis. USAID would consider one, very strong  single-country case study over a weaker, multi-country study, but our preference would be to have multiple countries or contexts examined. A single-country case study  would need to be demonstrably responsive to USAID's research interests as described in the RFA.

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Q20. I also would like to find out whether I can apply as the principal researcher and work with a PhD student and some research assistants/translators on the ground or is it preferable to apply with a team of two or three principal researchers?

A: USAID has not set requirements for how research teams should be structured or for minimum qualifications for proposed personnel. Please see the answer to Question 7.

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Q21: First, my university has a standard cover page they use when submitting grants.  It contains all the information the RFA asks for, but it takes 1.5 pages.  Given that it’s a fixed form, is submitting acceptable?

A: It is acceptable to submit your organization’s standard cover page, but please also submit the title page, as required in the RFA.

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Q22: Second, the Application Submission Checklist on page 5 of the RFA is a list of bullet points.  My institution prefers to submit all the materials as one .pdf.  Is that acceptable?

A: Yes, this is acceptable.

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