Clemson Division of Research

Dec. 2019: Proper Planning is Crucial to be Successful

Tanju Karanfil
Tanju Karanfil

As this semester comes to a close, I want to congratulate you on your successes this past year. Our research enterprise continues to post strong growth, with annual competitive expenditures topping $100 million for the first time. Read more about the state of Clemson research in my latest report to the Board of Trustees here.

For the Board of Trustees meetings in February, trustees have asked us to review our efficiency. As I compare our growth to our Carnegie R1 peers and consider our institutional size, I believe we operate efficiently. We are conducting more research than ever before. Our success in securing competitive awards has undoubtedly increased our workloads and stressed our ability to prepare and submit new proposals.

I feel this challenge myself. Proper planning is crucial. For the past three months, I have set aside a couple hours each week to work on a grant proposal for my own research that I finally submitted in November. Penny, my executive assistant, can attest that even a few hours on my calendar can be hard to find, as I am sure it is for you to find as well. But this is critical; the product I submit should be polished and professional.

Click to read Dr. Karanfil's latest quarterly report to the Clemson University Board of Trustees.
Click to read Dr. Karanfil’s latest quarterly report to the Clemson University Board of Trustees.

As educators, we have all received student papers we believe were hastily written a night or two before the due date. Funding agencies can also tell which proposals are thoroughly researched, written and edited. In some cases, poorly prepared proposals may not be read at all. The National Science Foundation, for example, automatically roots out all proposals that aren’t formatted correctly.

This seems simple but can be easily overlooked. We have seen proposals rejected because they were submitted in the wrong font. We have seen instances where two abstracts were incorrectly submitted rather than an abstract and a project narrative. These mistakes are made because documents were filed right at the deadline without thorough review. Your Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) Support Center can help ensure that doesn’t happen to you, but you must submit documents to OSP at least two business days before proposals are due.

Grant awards are significant investments in your research and your career. I encourage you to make a plan to have proposals written early so we can help you put your best foot forward. Our goal should not be to meet the deadline. Our goal should be to put forward our best. Best is the standard at Clemson.

Thank you for your contributions to scholarship and discovery at Clemson. I wish you a restful holiday break and successful new year.