August 2019

Building a Framework for Research

As the nation's largest public research university, the University of Michigan Office of Research works with partners across campus and beyond to catalyze, support and safeguard research.

As part of our mission, we launched Research Blueprint this month to drive awareness of and encourage participation in research development opportunities across campus. Through this e-newsletter, we aim to connect faculty to funding opportunities, showcase the valuable resources available, and also identify ways that units can incorporate research development strategies to help faculty be more competitive in the funding space.

And in an effort to further support the U-M research enterprise, the Office of Research soon will roll out new resources and organize events, including workshops that focus on how to write competitive research grant proposals. We look forward to partnering with faculty and staff across campus to advance research that serves the world.

Rebecca Cunningham
Interim Vice President for Research

Resource Spotlight

Research Resources Portal
With $1.55 billion in annual research expenditures, U-M is a vast research enterprise, with infrastructure to match. Those resources are managed from central service units, from schools and colleges, and from institutes and centers.

It can be overwhelming, especially for new investigators. The U-M Office of Research developed a Research Resources Portal that aggregates resources available to the campus research community. Organized by research stage and/or need, this portal helps researchers, and those who support them, navigate the wealth of resources that support individual and institutional success — from finding funding opportunities, to developing proposals, to managing projects and labs, to keeping up with compliance policies, to finding collaborators, to getting your research out in the world.

Want to see a resource added? Contact

Select Funding Opportunities

Internal Funding Limited Submissions Select External Opportunities To explore additional funding opportunities, visit the university's new Research Commons portal.

RD in Practice

Self-Assessment: A Critical Eye to Fundability
When preparing to go after research funding, it's important for Principal Investigators to assess their skills and strengths, as well as gaps and potential pitfalls to funding success. Taking time to appraise these issues in advance allows researchers to promote the positive and to try to mitigate anticipated reviewer concerns. Thoughtful self-evaluation is critical for new investigators, but also for established researchers looking for a new direction.

Taking time early on to assess goals, abilities, resources and needs will likely save time in the long run. Consider the following guide to help faculty gauge "readiness" to pursue external grants.
  • Have they identified their research "niche"? This is the specialized corner of their field where they have the greatest potential for impact and to advance knowledge. What is the most promising angle? (And remember that some niches have remained unexplored because they are insignificant.)
  • How crowded (and competitive) is that field already? Get a broad view of the field and players. Given the landscape, is it possible to build a national reputation in this area?
  • What is their research question? What is the gap in knowledge they want to address? Have they begun to fill the gap (e.g., publications, preliminary data, etc.)? Is the question significant? Innovative? Of interest to sponsors?
  • Are there gaps in expertise? Research is increasingly a team effort. Investigators should identify collaborators and/or staff to supplement any real or perceived hole in their own knowledge or experience.
  • Who are their mentors? Who is giving them advice on research opportunities and priorities, and on their scientific methods/direction? Who is giving them feedback on proposals?
  • Are the resources available? Aside from the requested grant funding, are there cores and services at the institution to ensure the project's success? Is there departmental support for the researcher to undertake this work? Are expectations clear regarding project needs (e.g., space, staff, PI effort, etc.)?
Learn more

Events & Workshops

New Faculty Orientation
August 28
Learn more
Writing a Competitive Research Grant Proposal
September 20
Learn more
Writing a Competitive Research Grant Proposal
October 2
Learn more
Writing a Competitive Research Grant Proposal
October 8
Learn more
If you would like your event featured in an upcoming issue of Research Blueprint, please contact
© 2019 The Regents of the University of Michigan
Research Blueprint, produced by the University of Michigan Office of the Vice President for Research, aims to drive awareness of and encourage participation in research development opportunities across campus. If you have news that you would like to share with the U-M research development community, please contact
U-M Office of the Vice President for Research | 503 Thompson St. | Ann Arbor, MI 48109