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PIRA Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can researchers from universities that are not AAP members apply for PIRA? 

At minimum, teams submitting proposals must have at least one lead/principal investigator (PI) researcher from an AAP African member university and one lead researcher (PI) from MSU. There are additional requirements for those applying to the global Diaspora and Africa-Asia transregional grants. As long as teams meet this requirement, they may include other team members or partner organizations from outside the AAP. 

2. If I don’t have a partner from the specified institutions/regions, is there support for identifying one?

The answer is yes. If you are affiliated with an AAP-member university, please create an account on the AAP Bridge where you will be able to search for potential partners. If you are not affiliated with an AAP-member university and you need help with identifying partners, please email the AAP at aap@msu.edu and we will assist in identifying potential partners. Please remember that if you are targeting a proposal for the Africa-Asia transregional grant or the global African Diaspora grant categories, in addition to having an African AAP member lead and an MSU lead, you will need to identify a partner in Asia or Latin America/the Caribbean. AAP partners in the MSU African Studies Center, MSU Center for Caribbean and Latin American Studies, and MSU Asian Studies Center/AsiaNexus are also resources that can assist in identifying partners in the relevant regions. For early career researcher and youth transformation grant categories, there is no requirement to bring in partners from additional regions (beyond an AAP African member and MSU).

3. Is it possible to have a telephone conversation to receive clarification on the call for proposals or to receive advice on our application?

For the sake of transparency and equal treatment of all applicants, AAP does not provide individualized advice or pre-screening of proposals. All questions should be sent to AAP via e-mail (aap(at)msu.edu) and will be shared on the PIRA FAQ page and/or the AAP Bridge and made available to all potential applicants. There will be a Q&A and proposal development workshop on October 14th where potential applicants can also get their questions addressed. Check the AAP website or the AAP Bridge for further information.

4. What are the minimum requirements for establishing a project team? 

Please note that the minimum conditions for teams are specified in the eligibility criteria section of the call. It is up to the applicant to choose the most appropriate team structure to achieve the objectives of the proposalwithin the designated budget and timeline.   

5. What is the definition of "applicant/participant" and "principal investigator"?

An “applicant” or “participant” is an entity that submits a proposal to participate in a project under the call for proposals. In the case of a team, its members must appoint one member to act as “principal investigator” (or “lead person”) at each eligible institution (see eligible institutions in each funding categories). One of the principal investigators must submit the proposal on behalf of all applicants/ investigators. The MSU PI will be the responsible lead for the collaborative budget that will be submitted (one budget per project).

6. Are there any requirements regarding the distribution of the budget amongst project partners? 

There are no specific rules for the distribution of the budget among the members of the project team. Normally, each member of the team estimates their costs based on the project activities to be undertaken; and the overall project budget is agreed upon among the team members as part of their proposal. Partnership teams should develop budgets aligned with the AAP values of transparency and equity. Equity in budgeting will be factored into proposal reviews. It is important that faculty work with their research administrator and/or fiscal officer when developing their budget. 

7. In the youth transformation grant, is the youth leader required to be a PI, a national leader, and/or any youth organization leader? 

Yes, the leadership team for the youth transformation grant must include a youth and other PIs from MSU and the African AAP consortium member. The AAP wants to encourage youth to take a leadership role on proposal teams. 

8. What is the definition or age limit of youth for the transforming youth grants?

In the context of this call, youth is defined as a person within the range of 18-35 years of age, which is aligned with the African Union definition.  

9. Can the program also support graduate students?

Graduate students are not eligible to serve as PIs or Co-PI(unless they are a youth leader applying for the youth transformation program)however, they are eligible to be part of a research team. In fact, it is very much encouraged for graduate students to be engaged on teams. Team should demonstrate diversity—in terms of gender, research experience, disciplinary focus, etc.

10. Are Diaspora organizations eligible to apply? 

Yes, members of African Diaspora organizations are eligible to be members of the research team but will need to identify the lead investigators from MSU, an African AAP university, and a university in Latin America and/or the Caribbean to be eligible for a grant under the Global African Diaspora category. 

11. If someone received an AAP transforming institutions grants in 2018, 2019, or 2020 are they eligible to submit/lead a proposal?

Yes, those who received small grants under AAP’s transforming institutions are eligible to apply. Individuals who were PIs or co-PIs on grants under round 1 of AAP partnership grants, awarded in 2017, are not eligible to lead proposals under this call but may participate as team members. 

12. Is research support open to distance or online learning?

Yes, though idepends on your objectives and how they are meant to contribute to the expected results. 

13. How will payments be transferred from Michigan State University to the other project partners?

The department of the PI fromMichigan State University will transfer funds directly to the lead at AAP institution(s) as they appear in the budget line. Other partner institutions may receive their funds from MSU or the AAP African member institutions.

14. Is salary an eligible expense?

Yes, proposals may include salary in the budget, but the total amount for salaries across all partners cannot exceed 30% of the total budgetPartners should co-develop their budgets, and budgets should reflect the AAP principle of equity. Equity in budgeting will be factored into proposal reviews. Note, MSU salaries do not need to include fringe in the budgets as the funds for the PIRA grant come from an internal GS account. 

15. Do MSU faculty need to route this proposal through OSP?

MSU faculty should follow their departmental and college guidelines for grant submission, but do not need to clear their proposals through OSP. The AAP only needs the proposal to be submitted to the AAP inbox (aap(at)msu.edu) per package instructions.  However, routing through OSP at a later date (if awarded) may be required to ensure export controls and IRB compliance. It is important that faculty work with their research administrator and/or fiscal officer when developing their budget. 

16. Can other participants be added after submitting the application? Can applicants submit additional material to their proposal after the deadline for submission? 

A proposal cannot be modified after the deadline for submission, in view of transparency and equal treatment to all applicants. That is, after submission of the application, other participants cannot be added to the project’s consortium and additional information cannot be provided.Once the award is made, the team can add a new partner or team member as long as it doesn’t change the budget total amount. 

17. Does AAP expect to request modifications to proposed projects once they have been selected for funding? 

Once a proposal is selected for funding, the grant preparation phase will start. During this phase, AAP may ask for an adjustment of a proposal and budget. Adjustments are limited in scope and aim at fine-tuning a proposal or modifying some minor (technical or financial) parts of the proposal. The suggested modifications will not likely affect proposed objectives or core aspects of the proposal.

18. Are AAP focal persons eligible to serve as principal investigators (PIs) on a PIRA funding proposal?

Yes. AAP focal persons are eligible to be a PI on PIRA proposals. At the same time, we are also urging the AAP focal persons to share the information widely and encourage as many teams as possible to apply.  

19. How can AAP member institutions raise awareness about this call among staff, faculty, and students? 

An AAP member institution can raise awareness about this call within the institution by contacting AAP at aap(at)msu.edu. AAP management will be happy to share with you a PowerPoint presentation, the call document on our website and details about the AAP Bridge for use. Please note that a Q&A and proposal development workshop will be held on October 14. Check the AAP website for further details. 

20. Do the partners use the same perdiem/tavel rates in the budget?

All partner budgets should use the same per diem rates for travel so as to be equitable. For example, African partners should budget the same lodging and M&IE rate as the MSU team. All partners can budget less than state department rates but may not exceed those rates. 

21. What is the difference between the small, planning, and scaling tiers of the PIRA grants?

The tiered funding structure is designed to support partnerships at different stages of maturity to create and strengthen relationships among institutions and act as a catalyst for research teams in securing external funding that will allow for long-term engagement. As such, proposal teams should submit an application for the funding tier that best fits the proposed partnership activities. If the proposal team has never worked together before and the proposed activities revolve around exploring or initiating collaborative research, then the small grant is probably most appropriate. If the proposal team has past relationships with each other and are designing a program to deepen the collaboration and includes activities that require more funding, then a planning grant may be the best option. If the proposal team has an established relationship with each other and the plan is to expand the activities of the current partnership, such as adding a capacity building workshop or scaling up to another region or a broader scope, then the scaling grant may be the most suitable choice. Applicants should not worry about applying to the “wrong” tier of funding, if a proposal is technically strong but the budget does not seem reasonable for the activities, AAP management may conditionally award the proposal at the funding tier deemed most appropriate by the review committee (either at a higher or lower tier). 

22. Is there a maximum number of partners allowed on a proposal team?

There is no maximum number partners, but the number of partners included should make sense for and be relevant to the activities proposed and should fit within the proposed budget. 

23. Can publication costs be included in the proposal budget?

Yes, publication costs may be included in the proposal budget. The three expenses that may NOT be included in the proposal budget are 1) indirect costs (expenses usually covered by indirect costs will be considered in-kind cost share); 2) equipment exceeding $5,000; and, 3) construction-related costs. Please keep in mind that cost reasonableness is a criterion for selection while appropriating funds in the proposal budget. 

24. What are the qualifications needed to serve as a PI?

The PI should normally have an advanced terminal degree at the doctoral level (for example Ph.D., M.D., D.O., Ed.D. etc). For certain professional disciplines like Music, Art etc, an advanced degree that is applicable for the discipline (for example MFA) will be sufficient. Exceptional consideration will also be given to those with an advanced degree outside the professional disciplines where such individuals have a recognized track record of research and teaching.  

25. Is there a limit on how many proposals a researcher can participate?

There is no limit on the number of proposals in which a researcher may participate. However, applicants can only be lead PI on one submission, though they may be listed as a team member on additional submissions. Also, please keep in mind that Individuals who were PIs or co-PIs on grants under round 1 of AAP partnership grants are not eligible to lead proposals under this call but may participate as team members.

26. How do applicants address the issue if their institutions require indirect costs on any grants received by their employees?

Indirect costs (IDC) are not an allowable expense for PIRA grants. This is clearly documented in the PIRA call for proposals. Applicants/institutions submitting proposals can count waiving IDC as cost share in the proposal budget. For AAP member institutions, we recommend strongly that you contact the AAP focal point and the  research administration offices at your institution to alert them that you are applying and to help negotiate the approval to waive the indirect costs requirement.

27. What is meant by “capacity building” in the call for proposals?

Capacity building refers to any activity that helps build individuals’ capacity in skill, method, or technical area and/or helps build institutional capacity for quality teaching, research, and/or outreach within the partner universities.

28. Can an early career researcher be a post-doc?

As long as the researcher is employed by an eligible institution and is within 10 years of receiving their PhD, they are eligible as an early career researcher. 

29. Is there a list of previously awarded AAP grants available?

Yes, a list of previously funded partnership grants can be found on AAP’s website.

30. Should a proposal have a literature review?

A full, comprehensive literature review is not required, but applicants are encouraged to cite relevant literature in their proposal narrative to strengthen their overall proposal and problem definition, identify existing gaps, and justify their approach. References cited can be included as an appendix to the grant proposal narrative. 

31. Are projects which focus on basic rather than applied science eligible for funding under the PIRA program?

Yes, as long as the proposal demonstrates how the research will move forward scientific discoveries that will positively impact people’s lives, this type of proposal could be considered for PIRA funding.