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FAQ

Q: Can the co-investigator be from a different country not residing in UAE?

A. The Co-PIs must reside in, and be faculty members in a Federal or CAA approved institution in the UAE. However you may have collaborators that don't reside in the UAE.

Q: In the EOI, we indicated our domain of research. Now it appears that we would more closely fit under another domain. Is it possible to change the designation for the Pre-Proposal?

A. You are free to change your domain when submitting your 4-page pre-proposal. You know best which domain is most appropriate for your proposal, so it is up to you to designate the domain. If you believe that the domain is not sufficiently precise to describe the field of your proposal, you still have the core disciplines and keywords to fill out, which will further refine the appropriate field.

Q: Does the 100 word limitation apply only to the abstract, or does it include the title, PI's name and institution, and domain?

A: The 100 word limitation applies only to the abstract.

Q: How many EoIs have passed the first stage of the RSA 2009 competition?

A: No screening has occurred at stage 1 of the RSA competition. All EOI applicants are invited to submit pre-proposals for stage 2.

Q: How many grants will be awarded in a specific domain?

A: There are no predetermined number of awards designated in a specific domain. The awards will be made based on the quality of the proposed project as determined by the reviewers.

Q: What is the NRF review process of the RSA 2009 competition?

A: The review process is as follows:

  1. Panels of reviewers will be formed based on the number of proposals submitted to each domain.
  2. All pre-proposals will be evaluated by panels of international reviewers selected by NRF staff and the top 200, approximately, pre-proposals will be invited to submit full proposals.
  3. At the full proposal stage, proposals will be reviewed by a set of international reviewers who will also write reviews of each of the full proposals.
  4. Each full proposal will have at least three written reviews.
  5. The reviewers will meet in Dubai to discuss the proposals and recommend approximately 100 proposals for awards.
  6. The panel summary and the anonymized reviews will be provided to all PIs, who submit a full proposal, at the end of the process.

Q: What format should be used for the 4-page pre-proposal, and what should be the font, size, etc.?

A: There are no restrictions on the formatting, as long as the pre-proposal is within 4 pages. However you should choose a font size that is big enough to be easily readable and such that the text is not too dense. Remember that the last thing you want to do is to annoy the reviewers by making your proposal difficult to read.

Q: On page 4 of the RSA Call for Proposal Document, cover-sheet page is mentioned on top of the other 5 pages. However the cover-sheet page is not mentioned in your email?

A: The fields provided through our online portal make up your cover sheet. Thus there is no need to include a cover sheet in your document.  The four pages should be used to explain your proposed research.

Q: Does the 4 page limit include the list of references? or can references be on extra pages?

A: The 4 pages must include the list of references, you are NOT allowed any extra pages.

Q: Can I still apply if I don't have a PhD?

A: The PI and the co-PIs all must have PhD degrees or equivalent. The one exception is in those disciplines where the terminal degree is not the PhD e.g. in Fine Arts an MFA is the normal terminal degree. There is no requirement on the numbers of years beyond the doctorate degree. But the applicants will be expected to have a track record of research/scholarship that is commensurate with the stage of their career as measured by the academic metrics appropriate to their fields of endeavor.

Q: In the pre-proposal you talk about a 1-page CV. Is that the CV of only the lead PI, or do we need a 1-page CV for the lead PI and a 1-page CV for the Co-PI? I have another researcher within my proposal and I wonder if he also has to submit a 1-page CV?

A: At the pre-proposal stage of the competition, NRF only requires the lead PI to submit a one page CV. At the full proposal stage, the CVs of all co-PIs will be required.

Q: I am getting the following Error when I try to submit my application:*NEW*

"A potentially dangerous Request.Form value was detected from the client (PIprojectSummary="...DG kinase α (DGKα) a...")."

A. Please make sure that the text inserted in Project Summary is Text Only and does not have any characters such as superscript, subscript, and/or symbols, etc.

Q: Is there any specific format required for the final application, i.e., font, font size, line spacing, margins...etc*NEW*

A. There are no restrictions on the formatting, as long as you stay within the page limits. However you should choose a font size that is big enough to be easily readable and such that the text is not too dense. Remember that the last thing you want to do is to annoy the reviewers by making your proposal difficult to read.

Q: If I am a PI and a CO-PI at the same time. What is the maximum number of months I can ask for as a salary in both projects?*NEW*

A. NRF has a guideline of a maximum of 1/6 of the PIs institutional salary that will be paid from the RSA2009 Budget. This equates to two months equivalent full time work on the project during the course of the year. Co-PIs will be treated in a similar fashion. However, the 1/6 fraction is based on the assumption that the PI will be able to use up to two months of the summer vacation working on the project. This 1/6 fraction is a maximum irrespective of the number of projects the investigator works on. For example if a co-PI works on two separate projects, the most they can claim is 1/6 in total, not 1/6 for each project.

Q: The submission page includes a section for supplementary documents, If a PI doesn’t have any supplementary documents to submit, shall they submit a blank page, or ignore the section and not submit anything.*NEW*

A. If you do not have any supplementary documents you may upload a blank page.

Q: Is there a restriction on the number of co-Pi’s that can work in a research?*NEW*

A. No.

Q: Are quotations necessary to be included in the submission? If yes, under which section shall they be included?*NEW*

A. No quotations are not necessary to include in the submission. However justification of each budget item is required.

Q: Can I pay my master student’s tuition?*NEW*

A. Provided the Masters' degree student is working on the project as a researcher putting in at least half their time on the project and expecting to complete and MS thesis based on the project, then the RSA grant would pay for the student's tuition as well as a stipend consistent with university regulations.

Q: Do I include the budget justification as a word document within the Budget template you provided?*NEW*

A. You may copy/import the excel table into a word document and provide your budget justification below the table. Please ensure you do not exceed the 2 page limit (including the table).

Q: In the case where a project requires international benchmarking may the cost of such international benchmarking be included in the budget? Furthermore, may others be employed to do the benchmarking?

A. PIs may request all research costs that are considered necessary and genuine as long as they fit into budget limits. If the project requires benchmarking in a foreign country then someone needs to do it. The question of who does it becomes a cost benefit one. Is it cheaper and better for someone else to be paid to do the benchmarking or is it better if the PI does it? PIs are reminded that this value for money question is something the reviewers will look at.

Q: Shall I add the overhead cost of the university to the final budget?

A. No.

Q: Can a PI add extra pages to the budget template because the proposed template is not enough to provide the full justifications of the budget items?

A. NRF advises that compliance with the requirements of the submission for full proposals, as outlined in the Call Document, will be enforced strictly in the interests of fairness. This means that the budget justification must not exceed 2 pages. Inclusion of budget discussion in the Supplementary documents runs the risk that your proposal will be ruled as ineligible.

Q: Is it correct to assume that the 10 page project description is a continuation of the stage 2 submission. In other words, does the PI have to repeat the background and justification for the project that was presented in stage 2; these 10 pages will be devoted to methods, etc.

A. Stage 3 is a separate and independent step in the evaluation process. In many if not most cases new reviewers, unfamiliar with the pre-proposal, will be used to evaluate proposals. No reference will be made to pre-proposals by NRF in advising reviewers how to evaluate proposals. Pre-proposals will not be available to reviewers in the final evaluation stage. NRF advises that you should treat the full proposal as a complete internally consistent document in its own right that satisfies all the criteria outlined in the Call document.

Q: With regard to the change of the Frascati Domain Classification. We are in a dilemma as our proposal is an interdisciplinary research, and therefore fits into the broad category of Domains. Could you please advise on that matter?

A. NRF has decided to adopt the Frascati Manual classification system because it is a highly aggregated international standard with a coherent methodology. The domains used currently by NRF are not based upon any standard and were created by NRF for its convenience. Irrespective of whatever standard is used there will always be tricky cases where projects cross disciplines and domains. Irrespective of what standard is used such problems cannot be overcome. As projects become more interdisciplinary this problem will become more challenging for classification purposes. However, for purposes of record keeping and administration generally, each PI must, themselves, pick the Frascati code that they believe most closely fits their proposal.

Importantly, the Frascati codes will be used for record keeping purposes (particularly going forward so that NRF may be able to track the areas that attract most funding and competition). The sourcing of proposal reviewers will be based on the content of the proposals.

Q: How many conferences can i apply for? Can I invite one of the international contributors to attend the conference as well?

A. If reviewers think you are being unreasonable, then it will count against you in the review process. NRF will allow the expenses of a collaborator to attend a conference in the general area of the project in UAE but NOT if the conference were held elsewhere.

Q: What is appropriate to pay an international collaborator who needs to spend on the project?

A. NRF policy is clear (as per FAQs). If indeed the international person is truly a "collaborator" on the project then they should not need payment for simply working on the project at their home institution. If there are expenses associated with the work eg samples to run, surveys to be carried out, then NRF believes it is reasonable for the grant to pay for such expenses but NOT for the "collaborator's" time. Otherwise the person is not a collaborator but a paid consultant. A collaborator should benefit by participating in publications from the work etc.

NRF makes the fundamental assumption that a foreign collaborator is engaged in research projects, whether funded or not, in their respective countries. They are not expected to be wholly dependent on NRF funding. NRF can pay for the collaboration costs that include the collaborator's time spent in UAE but not the collaborator's time spent outside UAE. The latter is treated as a part of their individual research in their home institution.

Q: Is there a specific and explicit formula for the salaries of the full-time as well as part-time research assistants?

A. No. NRF does not have a formula for this but leaves it to the PI and host institution to determine reasonable rates.

Q: Are there any constraints related to the number of trips relevant to the project, e.g. trips from one research body to another, say from UAE to US or Canada back and forth, i.e., the PI, collaborators and research assistants, provided that such travels are totally justified?

A. No. NRF leaves it to the PI to justify whatever is reasonable to include in the budget. Remember that value for money requested is something reviewers will look at in evaluating proposals.

Q: How does NRF consider the foreign consultants? Are they different from international collaborators?

A. It is up to the PI to justify any cost item in the budget. Remember, reviewers will assess value for money in determining the competitiveness of proposals. If a PI is using foreign consultants then this will need careful and compelling justification. NRF is not supportive of sub-contracting research activities to third parties, particulalry if they are outside the country. Remember, NRF is building research capacity in UAE. By contrast, international collaboration is beneficial to the extent that it increases the competitiveness of a proposal. However, where a proposal is overly dependent upon international collaboration and or consultants then this will weaken its competitiveness.

Q: What is the percentage that the PI can claim of their current institutional salary within the RSA2009 budget. and does it apply to Co-PIs? (b)Are there any guidelines for what will be deemed reasonable rates for hire of postdoctoral fellows or student researchers?

A.

(a) At present, NRF has a guideline of a maximum of 1/6 of the PIs institutional salary that will be paid from the RSA2009 Budget. This equates to two months equivalent full time work on the project during the course of the year. Normally, this would be expected to be carried out during the summer holiday break period. Co-PIs will be treated in a similar fashion.

(b) The awardee institution’s salary guidelines as well as prevailing market rates will be expected to be used for post doc and graduate student stipends. NRF expects to leave some flexibility to the PI in determining stipends which will depend on the experience of the people involved. However the PI should realize that funds spent on salaries either for the PI or other researchers will not be available for other purposes in the grant.

Q: Are there any guidelines for what will be deemed reasonable expenses (or percentages of the total budget) for other costs, such as collaboration, travel etc. We assume that these cost items should be justified on their merit within the particular research proposal, but would appreciate notification of any guidelines.

A. Because of the wide variation in the kind of research projects that are expected to be supported, it is very difficult to give guidelines for specific items. However the PI should remember that the reviewers will be asked to comment on budgets presented in the proposals and advise both on the reasonableness of the individual items and the value for money from the project. Please check the budget template posted on the RSA 2009 page of the NRF website

Q: The letter of institutional endorsement states that "the project is in full agreement with all laws and regulations governing university-based research in UAE". Please direct us to the relevant legal areas we should ensure are agreed to. This is the responsibility of the institution, not NRF.

A. Please check the Grant terms and Conditions on the RSA 2009 page of the NRF website.

Q: The letter of institutional endorsement states that "no aspect of this project is already being funded from another source". Some projects have been developing for some time however, and have received internal grants from within the institution. Is it the intention that these grants should be rescinded within the institution before acceptance of an NFR grant?

A. The statement in the letter of institutional endorsement is intended to avoid redundant funding of projects or parts of projects from sources external to the institution (and NRF). Presumably the institutional administrators will also not wish their funds to be used redundantly and so will make appropriate adjustments to internal funding. If the work in the proposed project is related to another funded project, the relation must be described to make it clear that there are no funding overlaps. NRF will not require that prior internal grants be rescinded.

Q: Can a PI change , remove or add co-PI?

A. Yes. NRF understands that circumstances change with time.

Q: Is there a negative impact on the evaluation of a proposal, if a PI submits it without co-investigators?

A. No. The only possible negative impact would occur if the reviewers believe that the PI does not possess the capability to undertake all the relevant aspects of the research project and that some collaboration is required. But this depends on the nature of the research and the PIs experience and capabilities.

Q: In the case of international contributors/collaborators from outside UAE, may a PI include in the budget relevant costs such as travel fees if they are invited to UAE to work on the project, and consulting fees for the time they will spend on the project?

A. Yes, travel to and from UAE is allowable as well as consulting fees for time spent on the project in UAE. NRF cannot pay for time spent on the project outside UAE.

Q: Are there any other constraints or relevant information related to the RSA2009 budget?

A. NRF intends to be reasonably flexible in determining the budget for the RSA2009 grants. The budget must be presented on the budget template provided on the RSA 2009 page of the NRF website. Remember that NRF will monitor the spending on the awards to see that these are related to the research project and are consistent with the budget agreed to in the letter making the award.

Q: Must the institution commit or guarantee 3 years of employment ? or as long as the contractual agreement indicate the possibility of renewal it should be acceptable?

A. There must be a reasonable expectation that the PI will remain at the institution during the period of the award. However NRF understands that it is difficult to absolutely guarantee that a PI will remain at the institution for the time of the award. Remember that awards will normally be terminated if the PI leaves the institution. Although in the case where a PI moves from one accredited institution to another the award may move with him/her, provided both institutions involved and NRF agree in writing to the transfer of the award.

Q: Does the Project period have to be 3 years or it can vary from 1-3 years? And in terms of budget, for 3 years it can be for up to 1 million AED, if less that 3 years should it be approximately 1 million/3 for each year.

A. Normally the period of an RSA2009 grant will be 3 years. A strong case will need to be made in the proposal to justify a shorter time period of the award. If a shorter period is justified, the budget would be expected to be scaled appropriately.

Q: Is it possible to keep the status of a co-investigator who works in the US as it is or does their status change to a collaborator?

A. All PIs and Co-PIs must be faculty at an institution accredited in UAE and resident in UAE. Any researchers working on the project who do not match this eligibility requirement, should be listed as collaborators.

Q: Is there any guidance regarding Supplementary Documents? What does NRF want PIs to provide under this title?

A. The documents provided as Supplementary Documents should add evidence to issues in the proposal. For example, a letter from a collaborator stating his/her willingness to collaborate and listing the specific contributions expected such as samples provided, analysis tools provided etc. Or a letter from a company stating the amount of cash, material, or equipment provided to the project. Note that general letters of recommendations and endorsements saying how great the PI is or how important this research project is are NOT useful and often are viewed negatively by the reviewers.