7 PAEA Grantees Offer a Cornucopia of Helpful Proposal Tips & Tricks

Though it’s from fictional book-turned-movie The Hunger Games, that sentiment isn’t far off from what many researchers feel when submitting proposals for funding. Luckily, some of our past grantees are here to share their best practices, tips, and tricks with you to help make the process just a little bit easier — just in time for you to apply for a 2017 Don Pedersen Research Grant!

James Stoehr & Bettie Coplan | 2017 Support to Advance Research (STAR) Winners

As a result of this experience, I’d suggest partnering with another faculty member that is genuinely dedicated to learning more about these topics from other PA programs. Then I’d recommend starting from the end: How would the information in which you’re interested directly benefit PA education?

From there, I’d develop focused ideas, the objectives, and finally the survey questions themselves. This approach, in my opinion, maximizes the potential impact of your work and, therefore, reinforces the entire development of a proposal and fundable project. — James Stoehr

I would first consider questions that you think are relevant to PA education and that align with PAEA’s mission. The next step would be to determine whether or not there is a gap in understanding that could be addressed by obtaining information from PA programs. Drawing from survey items used in prior research may also be helpful. Finally, obtain all of the assistance you can get! My co-investigator and I contacted experts on the issue we were interested in and solicited feedback from multiple colleagues. — Bettie Coplan

Tony Miller & Jayne Brahler | 2017 Faculty Generated Research Grant Winners

We recommend that faculty begin to find a problem within their program that they would like to solve or a question that needs to be answered. Writing a solid research question or problem statement is key. Then, read the literature and see if others have tried to solve the problem. You might discover that you would like to try a different approach and develop a method for implementing the approach and measuring the outcomes. If you are new to this, find a mentor or colleague to partner with.

The key to a successful proposal is to know that you will need to write many drafts. Enlist someone with a critical eye to review the proposal and give you critical feedback. Finally, the adage, “If you first don’t succeed, try again,” certainly applies.

Ziemowit Mazur | 2016 Don Pedersen Research Grant Winner

My advice is to network and partner with fellow faculty who already may have research experience, whether at your institution or outside of it. (PAEA provides plenty of opportunities to do this.) That is essentially what the Don Pedersen Research Grant allowed us to do, which was ideal!

As far as devising an important research question, consciously seeking examples from everyday work in academia provides a treasure trove of potential topics. Be on the lookout for problems that need further investigation or for ways to transform data you already possess into meaningful tools.

Taking your idea and refining it into a meaningful research question, investigated with a properly selected lens (i.e., surveys and questionnaires) and appropriate processes to yield a competitive, high-quality proposal, can be daunting to a novice researcher. However, taking advantage of resources available at your institution (e.g., a grant peer-review group at your university) and surrounding oneself with mentors is key to easing into the process and not feeling overwhelmed.

Chris Everett & Perri Morgan | 2015 Faculty Generated Research Grant Winners 

We have three key recommendations:

  1. Work with someone who has written successful grants in the past.
  2. Make sure the proposal can be done well within the budget and timeline.
  3. Ask a question that you think can lead into a greater research agenda.

Now It’s Your Turn

Got all that? Then it’s time to try it out for yourself. Currently, PAEA is accepting proposals for our 2017 Don Pedersen Research Grants Program. This grant is intended to foster PA faculty development in the area of research — both about PA education and workforce issues.

If that’s not your cup of tea, keep an eye out later this year for our other grant opportunities:

Support to Advance Research (STAR) Program: This program allows faculty members to submit research questions to be included in PAEA’s annual Program Survey.

Faculty Generated Research Grant: This grant provides up to $50,000 for research on a significant/critical question relevant to PA education and/or the profession.

Scientific Meeting Scholarship: This always-open funding opportunity provides travel scholarships of up to $2,000 for PA faculty presenting posters or presentations at scientific meetings other than the PAEA Education Forum or the AAPA Conference.

For questions about any of PAEA’s grants, please contact the Research team at