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College of Arts & Sciences

Research Enhancement Funds for PIs Utilizing Peer Review Consultants


** NOTICE: As of 15-June-2018 - This program has been temporarily suspended.


This pilot program is sponsored by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity. The program will be administered by the CAS. Inquiries should be addressed to Dr. Brian C. McCarthy, Associate Dean,, 3-2979.

Background/Rationale: The Research Enhancement program is grounded in the philosophy that all grant proposals can benefit from (a) internal peer review prior to submission and (b) preliminary data that provides evidence for the viability of the research/creative idea and methodology. The goal of this program is to incentivize consultation and proposal peer review as a mechanism for enhancing successful grant proposal submissions and fostering a culture of collaboration within and across departments.

Research Enhancement: Funds will be provided to the Principal Investigator (PI) for further project development following external proposal submission. A token of appreciation will be provided to the peer review consultant.

Eligibility: To be eligible for Research Enhancement funds the PI must identify a peer review consultant and follow the eligibility procedures outlined below.

Eligibility Procedures:

  1. The proposal must be submitted to an external grant funding organization. Pre-proposals are not eligible. Only the PI is eligible, not Co-PIs. PIs must be faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  2. The PI must identify a peer consultant.
    1. The peer consultant may be from the same or different department from the PI and cannot be a Co-PI on the proposal.
    2. Peer consultant may or may not be more senior than the PI. Ideally, they should have at least some expertise relevant to the project and a track record of externally funded grants.
    3. The peer consultant must agree to review the proposal at least once and provide meaningful feedback for enhancing the proposal’s success.
    4. The Associate Dean of Research will assist in identifying a peer consultant upon request. Please contact Dr. Brian McCarthy,
  3. Email notification of interest. At least two months before the grant deadline, the PI must email Dr. McCarthy ( with a cc: to the peer consultant and the research office ( with a statement of their intention to pursue CAS Research Enhancement funds. See appendix below for a sample email. The email should specify:
    1. Target funding agency and RFP,
    2. The name of the peer consultant (and CV, if the peer is external to the college),
    3. A brief description (100 words or less) of the proposed plan for peer consultation and review.
  4. Meeting with peer consultant.
    1. The PI and peer consultant should meet two to three months before the proposal deadline to establish a timeline for successful meetings and peer critique. The timeline must include dates for the review process to allow for meaningful feedback and discussion in anticipation of the final proposal submission. Out of respect for the peer consultant’s time, a draft of the proposal to be reviewed should be provided to the peer consultant no later than one month before submission.
    2. The PI and the peer consultant should document the nature and substance of their meetings and review timelines.
  5. Application. Once the PI has submitted the grant proposal, the PI must complete the application for Research Enhancement funds which includes a one-page report of the peer consultation activities, signed by both the mentor and the PI. Email the application form and a copy of the proposal budget to


Peer consultation is most effective when the consultant provides meaningful constructive feedback, in a respectful manner, verbally and in writing about the strength of the scientific/creative argument, significance or impact of the research questions, and the clarity of the writing. In addition, the consultant should offer perspectives on the extent to which the proposal aligns well with agency priorities and the current application guidelines, and should help the PI anticipate possible implementation issues (survey design, budgets, personnel, etc.). Such feedback is most helpful when provided to the PI with ample time to address the feedback before the submission (2 to 4 weeks).

Other eligibility details

  1. Only one application per PI will be considered per fiscal year.
  2. The Research Incentive (RI) account balance of the requesting PI must not exceed $5,000 at the time of the request. Rare exceptions for higher balances may be allowed, but will require justification and pre-approval.
  3. The Research Enhancement award will be up to 10% of the operating budget proposed for the first year of the grant, not to exceed $5,000. Funds are to be spent within a period of 12 months after the Research Enhancement award date.
  4. To the extent possible, the PI will be asked to secure matching funds from their department and/or institutes or programs involved in the proposal. Typically, matching funds should be 50% (i.e., $2500); however, this may be negotiable depending upon the matching unit.
  5. Research Enhancement funds can be used to support operational expenses as requested in the proposal submission, including student and postdoctoral stipends, supplies, as well as data gathering (research) travel. Research Enhancement funds cannot be used for faculty salaries, teaching assistant services, or student tuition and general fees.
  6. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis within two funding cycles (January-June and July-December). If funds are expended prior to the end of a funding cycle, faculty will be placed on a waiting list in case additional funds are identified.


College of Arts and Sciences

Sample Notification of Intent to Pursue Research Enhancement Funds

Sample email:



Dr. McCarthy,

I intend to be the principal investigator on a grant proposal to [agency; RFP#]. The deadline for this grant cycle is [date]. I plan to follow the procedures to be eligible for Research Enhancement funds.  My peer consultant is [name from x department]. I plan to meet with my consultant eight weeks prior to the deadline to discuss an outline of my proposed project and to share a draft proposal abstract. I will submit a full draft of the proposal to Dr. X at least one month in advance of the deadline. Dr. X has agreed to review this draft and provide written and verbal feedback at least 2 weeks before the deadline.

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