Committee Guidelines

For New Members

The overall funding budget for internal grants is determined by MTSU which is based on several factors.  Therefore, the actual annual budget for FRCAC funds may vary from academic year to academic year.  Funds are available to support faculty research or/and their creative activities to cover summer stipend as well as academic year support of reassigned time, travel, supplies and equipment.  Please note that FRCAC will support requests for summer salary through a "summer stipend" structure starting from August 2016.  

FRCAC funds are intended to leverage MTSU's ability to garner extramural dollars for research and are not intended to be an ongoing source of funding of any individual's research program, except in disciplines bereft of suitable funding sources. Support is provided for both individual awards and synergy awards, which are intended to foster scholarly synergies between different disciplines. Proposals are reviewed two times each year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Deadlines and guidelines for proposal preparation instructions should be carefully observed. This committee consists of faculty members from various colleges who are selected by the Faculty Senate.  Currently, the 2019/20 FRCAC roster consists of 10 voting faculty and a few ad hoc non-voting members and ex-officio as shown below:

  • two faculty members from each cohort (8 voting members); 
  • two "at large" members to additional expertise during the grant review;   
  • additional experts who are MTSU tenure-track faculty members to serve as non-voting ad hoc reviewers as needed; and
  • non-voting consultants, ex-officio members, administrators and program coordinators to facilitate the logistics and work flow of the funding process.  

Review Process

Initial Committee Meetings: The FRCAC is headed by a chair, who is elected by the outgoing committee in the previous academic year during its final Spring meeting.  The chair can either appoint or solicit nominations from the current FRCAC to appoint sub-committee chairs, one for the physical sciences and one for the social sciences. Members are assigned to one of these sub-committee groups according to their discipline.   The first full committee meeting will be held immediately after the Fall academic session starts.  Subsequently, the committee chair will set up a preliminary meeting(s) with the sub-chairs, and they will divide the newly submitted proposals into the two sub-committee groups.  In the event that a sub-committee does not have enough members, the sub-committee chair will work with FRCAC to appoint non-voting ad hoc reviewers. Committee members will then receive an email showing which proposals each member has been assigned to read.  In general, 20-30 proposals are received for the Fall session while a lower number of proposals, typically 10-20 are received in the Spring.  Each FRCAC member is expected to review at least 4 proposals in each semester session.  The final determination on which proposal gets funded is made using a two step process: (1) individual review of each proposal by multiple members; and (2) an overall vote by the full committee.

Review:  Each proposal will be assigned a primary and a secondary reviewer who will be chosen based on their proximity to the applicants discipline without posing any conflicts of interest.  Once assigned to a proposal, the members review them in accordance with various review criteria including the funding priorities issued in the beginning of the funding year.  Each reviewer will score the proposals based on their scientific merit and significance initially. The new application packets released for the Fall 2019 funding session are expected to assist the applicants by providing a detailed framework for researchers to ensure proposals can address common review questions used to evaluate the merit of each.  Subsequently, the reviewer(s) will also evaluate the feasibility of the study within the projected timeline and proposed budget.  In addition, the qualification and expertise of the principal investigator to lead the research will also be critically evaluated.  Most importantly, the reviewers will consider if the study has a long-term future to advance the investigators' career and if the research will have a positive impact on the University's overall mission.  The review scores will be assigned only based on the merit of the proposal.  

Once reviews by sub-committee members are complete, the sub-committees will meet and rank the proposals.  The sub-committees will also assign a designation for each proposal:
"A" - Recommend for funding;
"B" - Consider for funding;
"C" - Not recommended for funding.
At this juncture, the sub-committee will also evaluate if the proposal offers a new direction when the applicant is a senior/established faculty.  It is noteworthy to mention that applicant's rank or tenure status will not be used to determine the final score of a proposal.  If the scores of two proposals are identical, then the junior of the two PIs will be given priority.  The proposal scores and the sub-committee ranking will be sent back to the FRCAC chair who will then call for a full committee meeting.  
Final Decision: In the final meeting, the members will deliberate and create a compiled ranking that intertwines the two groups of proposals.  It is worth reiterating that all of the proposals will be discussed regardless of the applicant's sub-committee rank.  The following are a few typically observed scenarios:
  1. If all of the proposals that received an "A" rating can be funded within the set forth budget for the session/cycle, then the Chair will entertain a motion to recommend funds for those proposals.  
  2. If excess funds are available after funding the ones with "A" rating, then the members may either consider top "B" proposals for funding or they may table the funds for the subsequent session/cycle.  
  3. If the budget is less than what is required to fund all the proposals with "A" rating, then additional deliberation will be conducted at the convened meeting.

Scenarios 2 and 3 listed above will open additional deliberations by the members.  To determine which of the proposals would receive approval for funding, the members will use comments provided by the proposal reviewers and other details from the application packet to further evaluate if the study fits the funding criteria.  It is essential verify if the applicant conclusively demonstrates the value of the proposed study in every aspect.  Subsequent to the deliberation, a final priority list will be generated to determine the awardees.  If the competition is tight, the junior member gets to win the tie.  In addition, the members will also finalize their recommendation through a committee-wide vote.  It is noteworthy that a proposal that received "A" rating from the reviewers may not be voted for funding recommendation if the applicant did not present a strong case for the entire committee to support the proposed study.  

Notification: The results and FRCAC's recommendations will be provided to the applicants via email.  Decision notifications after which the FRCAC administration will create appropriate index numbers and account details.  Once all administrative steps have been completed, the researchers approved for funding will be sent this additional information.  The initial notification will be sent in early December for the Fall semester session and in early May for the Spring semester sessions. All notifications are sent on behalf of FRCAC by the Dean of College of Graduate Studies who is also the Vice Provost for Research.  The FRCAC administration will facilitate all of the interactions with the applicants.  

  • Approved proposal letters - discloses the funding amount along with important account numbers and instructions to the applicants.  The supplemental section of the letter will also contain unedited reviewer comments and other notes generated during the meeting.  
  • Denied proposal notifications - provides reviewer comments and possible reasons the committee's decision.  The applicants will receive unedited-anonymous reviewer comments.  It is essential that the reviewers provide constructive criticisms that can be used by the applicants to further improve their prospects during a potential resubmission.   

Rebuttals and Appeals

All FRCAC decisions are final and applicants may not appeal or request for additional review once a determination has been made.  If not approved, the applicants are encouraged to revise and resubmit their proposal in one of the subsequent funding sessions.  


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