The College of Medicine has contracted with Hanover Research, a research and grant development firm headquartered in Washington, DC, to provide proposal development services to faculty investigators. The overarching goal of this partnership is to improve the success rate of research proposals submitted to external funding sponsors. Hanover makes no claim that its grants consultants are subject matter experts who can evaluate the specific science underpinning a research proposal. Rather, Hanover’s value lies in its understanding of proposal and agency nuances that can help PIs competitively reframe proposals in response to a specific solicitation. Hanover seeks to achieve cohesion in the grant narrative and align the proposal with funding requirements. As a general rule, the cutoff date for submitting proposals to Hanover is 5-7 weeks before the sponsoring agency’s proposal submission deadline.

Who is eligible for Hanover’s services?

Hanover’s services are available to PIs who hold a primary faculty appointment at the College of Medicine.

What types of proposal services are available?

Hanover has experience with a wide range of funders, including but not limited to the NIH, NSF, AHRQ, PCORI, and the DOD. Hanover’s proposal development services are appropriate for individual grants (e.g. K, R01, R21) as well as program project grants, center grants, and institutional training grants. Hanover provides two (2) types of proposal services: (1) Proposal Review and (2) Proposal Revision. In general, Proposal Review is a best fit for PIs in the early stages of proposal writing who are seeking guidance on a proposal’s overall competitiveness. Proposal Review provides a more in-depth examination of a proposal and is generally most suitable for PIs in the later stages of proposal writing who are seeking specific recommendations to address proposal weaknesses. The following table provides an overview of each proposal service.

What parts of a research proposal do PIs provide to Hanover?

Hanover’s proposal critiques focuse on the narrative components of research proposals. At a minimum, PIs preparing a new grant submission provide Hanover a draft of the specific aims page and research strategy. For resubmission proposals, the PI provides a copy of the unfunded proposal, reviewer feedback (e.g., summary statement), the introduction, and the newly revised specific aims page and research strategy. PIs are welcome to submit other narrative elements for Hanover’s critique – e.g., biosketches, budget justifications, facilities and resources sections.

How are Hanover’s service requested?

PIs must submit a Service Request Form. The Research Concierge Service reviews all request forms and contacts the PI via email to notify him/her if their project was accepted into Hanover’s pipeline.

How are projects selected?

The College of Medicine’s contract with Hanover Research is capped at six (6) concurrent projects. The College does its best to accommodate all PI requests, but cannot make a guarantee that all worthwhile projects will be accepted into the pipeline. Several factors are considered when evaluating projects for Hanover, including the completeness of the PI’s proposal documents, the funding sponsor’s proposal submission deadline, and current pipeline capacity.

If accepted into Hanover’s pipeline, what can the PI expect?

On the Service Request Form PIs are asked to provide a date by which all proposal documents will be available to Hanover. Hanover utilizes this date to queue up a grants consultant, so it is important that PIs adhere to this date. PIs are expected to email all relevant proposal documents to the Research Concierge. The Research Concierge uploads the documents to a secure FTP site managed by Hanover. Once Hanover has the PI’s proposal documents in hand, the assigned grants consultant examines the proposal documents and relevant funding announcement. Hanover schedules a project initiation conference call prior to the start of work. Project initiation calls give the PI an opportunity to discuss specific areas of concern with the grants consultant and to share feedback (if available) from the program officer. After Hanover releases its deliverables, the PI is afforded the opportunity for a debrief conference call to discuss Hanover’s critique and address any outstanding issues.

 

 


FAQs

A Hanover grants consultant may address general scientific elements of a proposal, such as:

  • Construct or structure of the hypothesis and methodology. While Hanover does not purport to provide “scientific reviews” that evaluate the specific science underpinning proposals, its grants consultants will flag where they think research questions, aims, and hypotheses could be strengthened and better aligned.
  • Literature review. Hanover grants consultants will note places where a citation is needed and has not been included. 
  • Clarity and focus. When they suspect that narrative content lacks sufficient clarity, consistency, or rigor, Hanover grants consultants will pose questions to encourage the PI to verify the science, and/or suggest a review by a senior colleague or program officer.

All documents are shared with Hanover via secure File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to protect the exchange of confidential information.

This program receives generous financial support from the Office of the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. There is no cost to the individual PI or department.

Hanover Research has the expertise to review a wide range of proposals, from individual grants (e.g. K, R01) to program project, center, and institutional training grants. For resubmissions of previously unfunded proposals and competing renewal applications, PIs will be asked to provide a copy of the original submission along with reviewers’ comments (e.g. summary statement).

Please direct questions to Jennifer Schaefer, Research Concierge Administrator for the CoM at jschaefer1@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or ext. 289352.

To be eligible for the program, the PI of the grant proposal must have a primary faculty appointment at the College of Medicine.