Research and Resources in the Information Age

As higher education moves further into the era of electronic research administration, the Office of Sponsored Programs is working hard to keep our operations and programs current. It is difficult to imagine the time when we did not have the computing support, networking, and Web-based capabilities that now provide the basic infrastructure of our office. The business of Sponsored Programs is now immutably connected to the computer age. My goal is to encourage faculty and staff to take full advantage of the many electronic resources available from this office.

As many of you know, Sponsored Programs distributes information about grants and other funding sources via e-mail to individuals and campus groups every day. Through surveys and personal interaction, we have collected information about faculty and staff interests. Our goal is to put funding information into your hands the moment we receive it.

Electronic access to funding source information, including authorizing and appropriations language, agency mission statements, program and staff profiles, priorities, funding ranges, contact points, descriptions of recently funded grants, and sites on how to develop an effective grant proposal, allows you to get virtually all the materials required to write a successful proposal. Web links and e-mail put you in direct contact with funding agency personnel, providing access to critical program information.

In developing the background, literature review, and descriptive narrative sections for your grant proposal, the Web can provide scientific, technical, demographic, economic, social, and other useful information. Whether you need to consult the latest journal articles or describe the number of low birth-weight babies in a census tract, the Web is the library of efficiency.

Identifying, sorting, and analyzing potential funding sources for projects is now easier with a keyword-based search engine called SPIN, or the Sponsored Programs Information Network, offered through the Office of Sponsored Programs. Faculty and staff can run their own searches using SPIN from their on-campus computer. You can also sign up for a specially-tailored search and retrieval feature of SPIN, a program called SMARTS. Once you register and list key words identifying areas of research or project interest, information corresponding to your interests will be delivered directly from the SMARTS system to your e-mail on a regular basis. Please contact our office for further information about SPIN and SMARTS.

SPIN is only one of several electronic access points for information about funding sources. Using the Web, you can contact virtually every federal and state agency, most private foundations, and many corporations. These resources are increasingly sophisticated, using powerful Web sites, search engines, and electronic reference systems.

Proposal processing and submission are also becoming the province of the Internet. After October 1, 2000, all grant proposals going to the National Science Foundation must be submitted through the FASTLANE process. The entire proposal will be planned, organized, prepared, and submitted electronically. This grant submission method is also being studied by a group called the Federal Commons for the federal government. Eventually, all of our operations and support systems will be electronically-based, allowing the Office of Sponsored Programs to respond quickly and contemporaneously to requests for information and assistance.

For further information, please contact our office at x5700, or visit Sponsored Programs' Web site at

Robert J. Bakke

Office of Sponsored Programs

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