Collecting Data and Preparing Tables



Data Management

Ask those who have submitted training grants how they organize their data.

A popular method is saving a version of the document or spreadsheet each time edits are made with the date in the file name. This reduces the risk of losing a version that a person may have wanted to keep and ensures the correct version is worked on.

Consistently backing up the data on more than one machine is something else to keep in mind as well.

Another method is color coding your spreadsheet cells: one color when the item has been received from the department, one color when the item has been reviewed, formatted and edited, and one color when it is ready to submit.

When preparing the tables, utilize the resources from the NIH website and keep the samples and instructions on hand CLOSELY.

Brush up on your Excel skills! 

Give yourself ample time

This portion of the submission process will, by far, take up the bulk of your time. Be sure to plan accordingly. Go through the data table overview on NIH and make sure you thoroughly understand what NIH is looking for in each table. Keep collected data organized, and develop a system so that you are aware what data still needs to be gathered. Make sure to take a look at the data table samples that NIH provides. Keep organized what sort of information you need to ask from each individual to prevent redundancy and unnecessary back and forth.

Please make sure that the PI's are aware of the effort and time that a training grant requires. The preparation time is not similar to that of an R01 grant. NIH advises to allow 4-6 months of preparation time. Some say that completing the data tables can range from 6 months to a year. If this is your first training grant submission, make sure to allow yourself more time. Meet with the PI to discuss strategy, clarify roles and understand the information required so that the PI can write their portion. Agree on the frequency of future meetings to assess progress. Make sure everyone involved understands expectations and deadlines. Be sure to closely read the guidelines specific to the institute/center you are submitting for. There are often different and/or more specific guidelines.

Make sure that you are very familiar with the current data tables.

Communication is key

Have the PI come up with a list of faculty that they would like to include on their grant. Advise them that, to be competitive, they should include faculty that have up to 10 years of (and trackable) trainees in their lab as well as funding and publications. However, it would still be favorable to have a wide range of experience in the faculty members. Throughout all this, remember that it is key to ensure that these faculty members have records available because you will be reaching out to each faculty member many times throughout this process. You may need to narrow down the list of faculty, but it is best that you have the PI do this. 

You will be working with the participating faculty members and departments very closely. If a faculty member is unresponsive to your requests, you may want to discuss the issue with your PI and emphasize that it is to this grant's detriment if you continue to meet roadblocks in the form of unanswered email requests. Explain to the PI that you will be working closely with the participating departments, so make sure there are no extraneous departments. First step before diving into the tables is to get the list of participating faculty members and consequently the participating departments/programs on this submission.

You must have the complete list of faculty that are going to be on your grant before beginning these tables. Every table is based on the participating faculty members. If the director or PI decides to include a new faculty member part way through, it may have major cascading effects (e.g., the new addition may be in a different department or on another training grant that you haven't accounted for).

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