Research Opportunity Fund – Program Guidelines
The total amount available ($200,000) for the ROF will be established annually as part of Niagara College’s budget process.
The maximum individual grant from the Niagara College ROF will be established annually by the ROF Review Committee. Grants may be available for the full amount or a portion, depending on the maximum individual amount set by the committee. At this time, the suggested range for projects is up to a maximum of $50,000 for one project.
NOTE: The first year of the ROF will be undertaken as a pilot year. Lessons learned during the pilot year will be used to improve the program for subsequent years.
The application process has two main stages, the Expression of Interest (EOI), and the Full Application. The EOI must be submitted and acknowledged first, before proceeding to the Full Application stage.
Details on who may apply, and how to apply, are included below.
To be eligible for a project under this program, an applicant must be a non-probationary employee of Niagara College.
For all full-time staff (faculty, support or administrative), the EOI/Full Application for funding through the ROF must be reviewed and approved by the applicant’s supervisor before submission. See ‘How to Apply’ section below, for details.
Part-time employees may conduct research when they are not contractually obligated under another NC contract. Part-time employees will either have approval from their supervisor to use a portion of their existing time to conduct the research, or in the case of part-time faculty, may enter into a part-time contract with R&I to conduct the research. [College/Human Resource contract stacking rules and R&I research rubric for pay rate will apply]
First Stage: Expression of Interest
Applying to the ROF is a two-stage process. Proposals for funding will start with an Expression of Interest (EOI), which will be reviewed internally by R&I to ensure at least one or more of the goals of the ROF will be met by the project, and that the high-level timeline and proposed budget/expenses are acceptable. Intake is ongoing throughout the year, with the response from R&I provided within 10 business days. Applicants will have an opportunity to improve or update the application based on input from R&I. They are strongly encouraged to talk to R&I staff before applying (contact information below), Please note: applicants may only conduct one ROF project at a time. The EOI will be completed as an online intake form.
Second Stage: Full Application
Once R&I has approved the EOI, the applicant will have one month to submit a Full Application to the ROF Review Committee for final evaluation. The Committee is chaired by the Vice-President - Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises, and is made up of representatives from across the College (see breakdown below). Research & Innovation will send the fillable PDF form to the successful EOI applicant. Once completed, please email to Research & Innovation Once completed, the form sends a notification to [email protected], and will be brought to the attention of the VP – Research, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships.
Proposals will be reviewed and ranked according to criteria established by the ROF Review Committee (see below) and published on ncinnovation.ca. The criteria will be reviewed once per year by the committee.
Funding will be granted on the merits of the proposal.
ROF applications must be submitted at least four weeks before the proposed project will commence.
Final approval of an application will be dependent on the supervisor’s review of operational requirements during the research project. As noted above, a signature line will be included in both the EOI and Full Application. A supervisor’s signature denotes affirmation of discussion and awareness of the proposal, and agreement that approval of the project may result in release time for the applicant.
Notice of successful applications will come via email from the Office of the VP – Research, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships.
The funding may be used to cover research costs in all forms, including but not limited to: release time, equipment and materials, survey development, data analysis, and dissemination and outreach. Research funded through the ROF is subject to all applicable College policies, including the College Intellectual Property policy, and policies related to Finance and Purchasing, and if needed, Niagara College Research Ethics Board approval, when dealing with human subjects in research.
Successful applicants are responsible for management and spending. Expenses are to be charged to the NC Dream Big Fund, using a special cost code provided at award time. Unused funds will stay with the Dream Big Fund. Research & Innovation is available for support and will monitor purchases throughout projects, for compliance as per College policies.
The Resource Section (APPENDIX A) includes a sample budget, and a list of eligible and ineligible expenses, to help guide the application amount. Note: Minor equipment up to $5,000 will be eligible; the equipment will be owned by the applicant’s division at the end of the project.
For full-time faculty and staff, all approved course- and work-release funds from the ROF will be provided to the employee’s department, not directly to the researcher.
In the case of part-time staff or faculty, the applicant will/may receive a contract by the College to work on the project. College/Human Resources contract stacking rules will apply. R&I will consult with its HR Consultant to determine PT staff eligibility to accept an additional part-time contract to conduct research.
All funds for a project must be used exclusively for the project. Funds may be applied in a manner different than originally indicated in the approved application, under these conditions: if the funds are still being used exclusively to support the employee and their research in the approved research project; and with the mutual agreement of the employee’s supervisor and the employee; and with the approval of the VP - Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises.
Supports and Record Keeping
As noted above, ROF support will be provided to a researcher for only one funded research project at a time.
R&I will provide a support role throughout the project, answering questions, providing clarification, etc., from application to conclusion. Complete and proper records of all expenditures associated with a project must be kept by the researcher for 7 years, and provided to R&I on request, as well as at the completion of the project.
Project files will be kept on the Research & Innovation drive (access granted upon project approval), and will be compliant with the Research Data Management Strategy and practices. [Hyperlink will be added once available]
In general, all ROF projects must be completed within 18 months. Projects may take longer than 18 months if properly justified at the application stage. Applicants may have a further extension, but it needs to be requested in writing, to the attention of the VP – Research, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, with a detailed justification for the extension, at least one month before the expected end of the project.
One of the central aims of the ROF is to nurture creativity and cultivate research and innovation across Niagara College. For that reason, the applicant will commit to sharing the outcomes of their projects in a mutually accepted format, such as a high-level description published on InsideNC; a feature story in Research & Innovation e-newsletter; and/or highlighted as part of a college-wide research excellence showcase.
As noted above, the application is a two-stage process, starting with the Expression of Interest, followed by the Full Application form.
Expression of Interest includes:
• Project identification (name, theme, date submitted)
• Contact information of applicant
• Project justification (identify how research project aligns with goals of program/college’s strategic direction) in 250 words max.
• Project plan, timelin e and expected outcomes (250 words max on how funds will be used to accomplish goals)
• High-level budget table
• Signature of supervisor indicating approval of application
Full Application Form includes:
• Project identification (name, theme, duration of project, date submitted)
• Contact information (principal researchers, other project members)
• Project details: objectives, methodology, roles and responsibilities, goals (max 500 words)
• Budget and budget justification (max 300 words)
• Proposed plan / timelines (up to a maximum of 12 months within fiscal year)
• Deliverables/metrics to be expected from project, and how findings will be disseminated (max 300 words)
• Instructions on formatting
The ROF Internal Review Committee is chaired by the Vice-President – Research, Innovation & Strategic Enterprises, and is comprised of staff from divisions across the College. The makeup of ROF Review Committee is to be comprised of 8 to 10 individuals, with a maximum of 50% from R&I.
An invited call for committee members will happen annually, and there will be a plan for succession (ie establish a 2-year term and then have overlapping terms).
Review process / criteria
When a Full Application is received, it will be reviewed by R&I to ensure all components are included, before sending on to the Review Committee.
The Review Committee will be sent one set of Applications (pilot phase), and be asked to independently score the projects based on the criteria below. They will provide results (confidentially) to R&I within 10 business days.
Projects that achieve a minimum of 70% will be awarded funds from the ROF.