IFAS Internal Management Memoranda

 IFAS; Research Planning

EFFECTIVE DATE:     January 12, 2000


SUBJECT:     IFAS; Research Planning

Research planning is an integral component of the research process. All IFAS faculty with research assignments are expected to plan, follow through and publish their research. A project statement is the research planning document by which the research faculty members articulate in writing their research program goals and objectives for up to a five-year period. (It could be viewed as a grant proposal for their research position and program.) These projects are Florida Agricultural Experiment Station (FAES) Projects, and are sometimes referred to as Cooperative Research Information System (CRIS), Hatch, McIntire-Stennis or Animal Health Projects (if they involve federal funds). Their function is primarily for research planning and reviewing. Each project clearly lays out the goals and objectives of the individual research program.

Projects are also the basis of resource allocation (budgets) to units for research.

  1. Instructions for the Preparation of Project Statements - Following are the steps for preparation of a Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Project. The format is patterned after that of the Cooperative State Research Extension and Education Service (CSREES), United States Department of Agriculture. Project Statement Cover Page and Project Transmittal Forms are available from the Dean for Research Web Site (http://research.ifas.ufl.edu) or the office at 1022 McCarty Hall.
    1. Prior to writing a project statement, faculty PIs (principal investigators) should be certain that the proposed work is not covered elsewhere under a current project in operation in the station system. Information regarding nationwide research may be obtained by:
      1. Searching the USDA-CRIS projects Web Site or
      2. Submitting CRIS Form AD-427 "Request for Information Retrieval" available from the USDA-CRIS Web Site.
    2. Principal Investigators from different units can carry out their work under the same project statement with individualized objectives. Cooperative work between units is frequently a desirable approach to a problem; however, such projects must involve joint planning and all work must contribute to the goals and broader objectives of such projects. Where a large number of units are to cooperate under a single project, it is preferable to include in the statement some provision for the selection of a coordinator from within the Co-PIs to insure communication and a closer working relationship. When it is necessary for a PI at a different unit to be added to an on-going project, an addendum should be submitted outlining the PI's proposed contribution. This may be obtained from the Dean for Research Web Site or office in 1022 McCarty Hall.
    3. So that there will be better uniformity in project statements and to relieve the Project Review Committee of appreciable editorial work, the following specific instructions concerning procedure and preparation of project statements are offered. Also, included is a list of specific suggestions regarding style and presentation of material. Suggestions for the preparation of the project statement have been standardized as much as possible to save time in preparation, review, and approval.
    4. In requiring the signature of the department chair and/or center director, it is expected that they have read and approved the research program as developed in the preparation of the project statement; when cooperating with other units, all chairs and/or directors concerned shall sign.

      1. Begin with the FAES Project Statement Cover Page:

        1. Department - Name of Department(s) and/or Research Center(s)

        2. Project Type - Indicate State, Hatch, McIntire-Stennis, or Animal Health. This is usually assigned in cooperation with the unit head.

        3. Number of Project - To be assigned by the Dean for Research Office

        4. Title of Project - Limit is 140 characters including spaces. The title should indicate a concise, clear, and specific statement of the research problem. The use of phrases like "Studies of..."; "Investigations in relation to..."; or "Research dealing with..."; should not be included in titles.

        5. Principal Investigators - The investigators are the research faculty members in charge of the work. Include the last name and initials of each PI; no titles should be given. Graduate students (see cooperators below) and non-academic personnel may not be PIs, since PIs are specifically responsible for planning the research and the prudent use of funds and facilities used in conducting the research program and must, therefore, be members of the faculty. Inform the Dean for Research of any changes in project PIs; such notices should originate with or be approved by the appropriate department chair and/or center director.

        6. Cooperators - Those individuals or organizations who are not actually PIs but who are cooperating in the research outlined are to be designated as cooperators. Graduate students, non-academic personnel, and members of outside organizations who are actively or formally participating in the project should be listed as cooperators. Also, IFAS faculty who are participating primarily as consultants should be listed as cooperators. Agency affiliation(s) of cooperators may be included. List the name and address of cooperating organizations; if grant funds are being awarded, indicate the amount awarded annually.

        7. Location - The area or vicinity in which the investigation is to be conducted. Generally this should be specific to research center, cities, or counties. Names of farms and ranches are not required.

        8. Duration - This is an estimate of the maximum time period required to accomplish the stated objectives and carry the project to completion or to a point when substantial revision will be needed and should not exceed five years. For expiring Hatch and McIntire-Stennis projects, a request for extension without change may be made to the Dean for Research Office. The CRIS form provides an automatic 1-year extension past termination date for State projects to complete all additional details concerned with final closing of a project or submission of a new project. Termination requires completion of CRIS Form AD-421 (with an indication that the project is being terminated). USDA-CRIS prefers that the termination report cover the life of the project.

        9. Date Begun - To be completed by the Dean for Research. For State projects, this shall be the date on which the Dean signs the Project Statement and for Federal projects, this shall be the date it is approved by CSREES.

        10. Objectives - Use a clear, concise one sentence statement for each researchable objective and arrange in a logical sequence. Include only objectives on which significant progress can be made within the duration of the project. The objectives should be attainable and adequately cover all the work outlined in the procedure section.

      2. The following four headings can be included on separate pages in 12-point font:

        1. Justification - A short statement of the problem giving its importance in science, agriculture, environment, rural life and consumer concerns. A statement giving the reasons for undertaking the work. Answer the following questions as completely as possible: What is the importance of the problem to agriculture and natural resources and urban or rural life of the state or region? This should insofar as possible be answered in terms of acres, tons, people, cattle, plants, dollars, or other specific items. When possible, mention the dollar value of the industry. References in support of these items should be cited. What are the benefits which may result from the proposed research? Express this is terms of new varieties, reduced labor costs, increased production, larger net returns, or other appropriate specific results. What will be the dollar value of losses caused by the problem? Acres, tons, or other measures may be used if a dollar evaluation cannot be made. The above information is important whether the research in question is applied or basic in nature. The question may be more difficult to answer for basic research, but the importance of the problem and the reasons for undertaking the work should be clearly pointed out in either case.

        2. Related Current and Previous Work - What has been done? (Literature Review) This should be a brief summary covering pertinent research on the problem. References should be included indicating what was found and its significance. What needs to be done? (Hypothesis, rationale) This should be a summary statement placing emphasis on the research currently needed in this area of work. This paragraph should also contain an outlook statement, i.e., the PIs appraisal of what may be accomplished by this project.

        3. Procedures - There should be a numbered statement of procedures to correspond with each numbered objective and follow the same order. Whenever possible it should be presented in enough detail to serve as a guide for project PIs and to enable the reviewer and other readers to obtain a clear concept of the research to be done. For each objective, one or more experiments should be described that will seek to fulfill that objective. Each of these experiments should have a stated objective, a general description of the design (perhaps including specific treatments where appropriate to enhance greater understanding of the project), and a description of endpoints to be measured. Usually, describing each experiment in full paragraphs rather than outline form will give the reader a clearer idea of what is to be accomplished.

        4. Literature Cited - Literature references within the text should be given by author and year. Full citation of these references should be included in a Literature Cited Section at the end of the Project Statement, and should have the following format: author(s), year, title, publication, volume and pages.

    5. The following specific suggestions should be used in the preparation of all Project Statements. The object is to secure uniformity in preparation of statements and to eliminate unnecessary expenditure of time by leaders in deciding how to prepare certain portions of them. It is hoped that this will also free the Reviewing Committee of much routine "editorial work." The department chair and/or center directors have the responsibility for insuring that Project Statements incorporate these suggestions before forwarding them to the Dean for Research Office. Principal Investigators have full freedom in developing the objectives, justification, and procedures within the very general limitations indicated.
      1. Copies - Six legible copies should be submitted to the Dean for Research Office where they will be referred to the Project Review Committee.
      2. Typing - Single spaced, one side of the paper. Attach extra pages as needed.
      3. Headings and Margins - Main headings (Justification, Related Current and Previous Work, Procedures, Literature Cited) are listed on the Project Statement Cover Page. Complete these four headings on additional pages and underline. Begin each statement immediately to the right of the heading. Double space between paragraphs. Document should be limited to 10 pages if possible. Font size should be 12 pitch.
      4. Tables and Figures - When required in the project statement, they should be properly designated and numbered in Arabic (Table 1, Fig. 1). The title or captions should completely describe the contents. All figures should be prepared or mounted on separate pages.
      5. Abbreviations - Use the AIBS (American Institute of Biological Science) Style Manual as a guide for all abbreviations used in Project Statements.
      6. Reference Citations - References should be included in the text by author and year which may be included with parenthesis if reading of sentence structure is improved by so doing. A "Literature Cited" section, listing all publications cited, arranged alphabetically on the basis of senior author's name should be the last item of the Project Statement.
      7. Underlining - Underline only main headings and scientific names.

      8. Outlines - The ordered importance in numbered headings and items is as follows:

        I. Roman

          A. Capital letters

            1. Arabic numerals

              a. Small letters

                (1) Arabic numerals in parenthesis

                  (a) Small letters in parenthesis

      9. CRIS Forms - The final submission of the Project Statement (after Project Review Committee consideration) is to be both in printed form and on a diskette. The Project Statement is also accompanied by properly signed CRIS Forms 416 and 417 and Form CSREES-662. When more than one department or research center are involved, separate CRIS Forms must be submitted by each. In such cases the objectives should be the same but the approach will likely differ. Also include the IFAS Supplemental Classification Sheet and the Biohazard Form. CRIS forms and instructions are accessible on the internet at the Projects section of the Dean for Research Office site or from the federal CRIS site.
  2. Annual Research Work Plan - This is part of IFAS-wide Faculty Planning Achievement-Evaluation annual report Form 2635. If the Work Plan is inconsistent with the Project Statement (faculty research program) then the project is due for revision.