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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) -
UC MEXUS-CONACYT Collaborative Research Grants Program

The Application Process

  1. Whom can I contact for additional information or if I have questions regarding the application process or my current grant?
  2. Whom can I contact if I have problems submitting my application on-line?
  3. Am I eligible to apply?
  4. I do not have a collaborator at the University of California (or in Mexico). Can UC MEXUS put me in contact or place me with somebody appropriate to my field of study?
  5. What format should I use for the project plan?
  6. Is the bibliography included in the allowed number of pages for the project plan?
  7. May I send UC MEXUS a draft of my proposal before the deadline for pre-review and comments on how to make it stronger?
  8. For the UC MEXUS-CONACYT grants, should the UC P.I. submit an application from the UC side and the Mexican P.I. submit an application from the Mexican institution? Do we send then send the UC portion to UC MEXUS and the Mexican portion to CONACYT or a copy to both institutions?
  9. How many hard copies should I submit?
  10. Why do I have to send hard copies if I've already submitted my application electronically? Can I just send a diskette?
  11. When will I be notified of the results of the competition?
  12. How are the proposals reviewed?
  13. Can I get reviewer comments back after the competition is over?

Grant Administration

  1. When do the grants begin?
  2. Why can't you give me any information about the status of a specific grant?
  3. How are the grants administrated for UC P.I.s? Do I need to submit receipts to UC MEXUS?
  4. How are the grants administrated for the Mexican P.I.s? Do I need to submit receipts to UC MEXUS?
  5. How long does it take to get grant funds after the final decisions are made?
  6. Can I change the budget or extend the project period after the grant commences?
  7. If one of the P.I.s moves to another institution, can the grant move with him/her?
  8. What if we need to change a Principal Investigator for the project?
  9. If I have funds left over after the project is finished, may I use them toward something else?
  10. What are the final reporting requirements?

The Application Process

1. Whom can I contact for additional information or if I have questions regarding the application process or my current grant?

At UC MEXUS, contact Andrea Kaus (andrea.kaus@ucr.edu; tel: 951-827-3586) or Martha Ponce (martha.ponce@ucr.edu; tel: 951-827-4773).

At CONACYT, contact Dra. Maria Cristina Revilla Monsalve, Directora, Direccion de Investigación Científica Básica (mrevilla@conacyt.mx; tel: 5322-7790 ext. 6100).

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2. Whom can I contact if I have problems submitting my application on-line?

Contact Andrea Kaus (andrea.kaus@ucr.edu; tel: 951-827-3586) or Martha Ponce (martha.ponce@ucr.edu; tel: 951-827-4773).

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3. Am I eligible to apply?

Proposals must be submitted by a partnership of Co-Principal Investigators, with at least one P.I. from the University of California and at least one P.I. from Mexico. Additional P.I.s are welcome if they meet the eligibility requirements. Additional academic participants from any institution are also welcome as part of the proposed project. The eligibility requirements are included in the program description under Eligibility.

Eligibility requirements for University of California faculty and researchers are outlined in the UC requirements for Principal Investigator status. Lecturers, postdoctoral researchers, and students are not eligible. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for P.I. status, contact your department administrator or research office (Office of Sponsored Projects or Contracts and Grants Office).

Eligibility requirements for Mexican P.I.s stipulate that they must be faculty or researchers with full-time positions at Mexican institutions of higher education and/or research that is part of the Registro Nacional de Instituciones y Empresas Científicas y Tecnológicas (RENIECYT). Students are not eligible. Please note that most NGOs (ONGs) are not recognized as eligible institutions by CONACYT, even if they have a research component coupled with an advocacy role. Contact CONACYT if you have any questions regarding eligibility of the P.I. from the Mexican institution.

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4. I do not have a collaborator at the University of California (or in Mexico). Can UC MEXUS put me in contact or place me with somebody appropriate to my field of study?

UC MEXUS cannot be involved in proposal preparation, including setting up the initial collaborative connections. As the funding organization and office responsible for overseeing the peer review process, any participation in individual proposal development represents a conflict of interest. Any individual guidance on setting up the initial collaboration would create an unfair advantage or unrealistic expectation of funding.

The following general suggestions may help to find colleagues, contacts, and potential collaborators in the UC system and Mexico. The most direct, though labor-intensive, way is to go through the results of our past grants competitions, available at on the UC MEXUS site under Program Results, and search for previously funded projects in your area. The titles of all the funded projects are on-line, along with the Principal Investigators' departments and home institutions. You can contact the researchers directly to ask for their suggestions of potential collaborators in your area of research. The quickest way to find previous grantees' contact information is to use Google (www.google.com) or any other type of on-line search engine and type in the name and institution/campus. Use the department name as well if a finer search is needed.

For researchers seeking colleagues in the UC system, there are several useful and searchable sites:

http://ucmexus.ucr.edu/posting/index.html - the UC MEXUS Posting Service can be used to either search for or post a profile for a collaborator. It is not a guarantee that there will be a match, but it increases your visibility to other researchers who might be searching.

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/campuses/welcome.html - go to any individual campus site and search either by area (e.g., shrimp, forests, indigenous migration, modern dance, etc.) or discipline (e.g., neurology, botany, anthropology, theatre, etc.) or college/school (e.g., medicine, social sciences, humanities, arts, etc.).

http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/spanishexperts/subjects/agriculture.html - this is the "Spanish Experts" site, which lists people who are bilingual with research areas that are related to Latin America or Latino Studies. It is not specific to Mexico and not comprehensive, but it is searchable by area or campus and provides complete contact information.

expertise.cos.com/ - this is a searchable resource from the Community of Science site. However, keep in mind that it is not specific to the University of California. While it may provide you with a great collaborator, it may not provide you with a colleague who is eligible to apply for a UC MEXUS grant.

For researchers interested in finding colleagues in Mexico, beyond using the search engines noted above and searching for a specific institution, one way is to look at the directory of research centers, groups, and networks associated with CONACYT: http://www.conacyt.mx/Centros/Centros_ConoceCentros.html. The website for ANUIS (the National Association for Universities and Institutions of Higher Education) also has a page for affiliated institutions which is searchable by state: http://www.anuies.mx/la_anuies/afiliadas.php.

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5. What format should I use for the project plan?

There is no specified or required format. We suggest that you keep the narrative simple, with at least 1 inch margins all the way around, 11-12 point fonts, and 1.5 or double-spaced. Breaking up the text with subheaders and illustrations or diagrams can also lighten a dense presentation. Keep in mind that reviewers have to read and discuss all the proposals for their particular committee, which may include 20 applications or more. They appreciate a simple, straightforward presentation and are dismayed when someone tries to put 20 pages worth of text into a 10 page narrative.

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6. Is the bibliography included in the allowed number of pages for the project plan?

No. The bibliography is considered separately. You have the entire 10 pages for text if you need it but consider that reviewers are grateful for short, clear, concise presentations.

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7. May I send UC MEXUS a draft of my proposal before the deadline for pre-review and comments on how to make it stronger?

UC MEXUS cannot be involved in proposal preparation, including the pre-review of proposals. As the funding organization and office responsible for overseeing the peer review process, any participation in individual proposal development represents a conflict of interest. UC MEXUS does not encourage specific research emphases or disciplines in these competitions and any individual guidance would create an unfair advantage or unrealistic expectation of funding. However, suggestions for proposal writing specific to this program are available on the UC MEXUS website under Resources.

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8. For the UC MEXUS-CONACYT grants, should the UC P.I. submit an application from the UC side and the Mexican P.I. submit an application from the Mexican institution? Do we then send the UC portion to UC MEXUS and the Mexican portion to CONACYT or a copy to both institutions?

None of the above. Submit one electronic application for the collaborative team that includes the information required from both P.I.s. The electronic application site is available on the UC MEXUS website. The website is maintained by UC MEXUS but accessible to CONACYT. Then send one set containing three hard copies directly to UC MEXUS at the address indicated in the application and the instructions.

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9. How many hard copies should I submit?

Submit three copies total, which would consist of one original (with original signatures) and two copies.

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10. Why do I have to send hard copies if I’ve already submitted my application electronically? Can I just send a diskette?

As the Office of Record, UC MEXUS must retain a hard copy with all the original signatures on the Institutional Approval Forms. We also have a set of hard copies on hand for CONACYT and also for any reviewers who are uncomfortable with accessing or reviewing the proposals from the on-line site.

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11. When will I be notified of the results of the competition?

Applicants are not notified until after all the review committees have met and submitted their recommendations to UC MEXUS and CONACYT. Committee meetings are not completed until mid- to late June. Notification of the final results are sent out directly afterward, usually at the end of June, but it can be later depending on when committee members are available to meet. You may request information on the status of your proposal at that time. Information is given out ONLY to the Principal Investigators named in the project. No results are released to the P.I.'s students, additional academic participants, or colleagues. Once all the notifications have been sent out, a list of the grant recipients will be placed on the UC MEXUS website under Program Results.

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12. How are the proposals reviewed?

Proposals undergo an initial administrative review at UC MEXUS for completeness and eligibility. In consultation with CONACYT, they are then divided into broad academic areas, depending on the disciplinary range of the proposals received. These divisions are used to determine the compilation of the grants review committees, such as Social Sciences & Humanities, Medical and Health Sciences, Physical Sciences/Engineering/Computer Sciences, Biological Sciences at the organismal or ecological level, and Biological Sciences at the "micro level" (molecular and cell biology, microbiology, etc.), although these broad categories are adjusted depending on what areas are prevalent in the proposals that are received.

UC MEXUS and CONACYT subsequently work together to develop committees with a broad range of expertise in each area. CONACYT appoints researchers from Mexico to form half the committee, and UC MEXUS appoints faculty from the University of California to form the other half. Committee members read through all the individual proposals for their committee and make initial notes on their qualifications. In addition, each proposal is assigned two primary reviewers within the committee. These committee members review their assigned proposals in detail and present the projects and their corresponding assessments to the rest of the committee when it meets.

Committee meetings are held at the end of the review period, usually in mid-June. During the meetings, the proposals are discussed and scored individually, based on their own merits, and subsequently ranked against each other in order of priority for funding. The committees also indicate which proposals are not recommended for support, regardless of available funding. The rankings are presented by the Committee to UC MEXUS and CONACYT as a set of recommendations.

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13. Can I get reviewer comments back after the competition is over?

UC MEXUS and CONACYT do not provide reviewer comments. While reviewers may make some initial notes on a proposal prior to the committee meeting, the critical review work is undertaken during the final committee meeting. Reviewers' early assessments of a project may change significantly during the committee discussions, especially as projects are compared against each other. We have found that these discussions cannot be encapsulated in a way that captures the committees' nuances for an applicant. In addition, the committee recommendations are not the only factors in the final decisions by UC MEXUS, which can include funding limitations and comparisons across committees. Instead, we suggest that applicants look closely at the grant-writing suggestions specific to this program to see if their proposal might be strengthened in one area or another. These suggestions are posted on the UC MEXUS website on the Resources page.

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Grant Administration

14. When do the grants begin?

The project period for the annual grants programs begins on July 1 of the grant year and ends in December of the following year (18 months).

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15. Why won’t you give me any information about the status of a specific grant?

UC MEXUS provides information about an individual grant, its status, its budget, any changes, etc. only to the Principal Investigators, the researchers responsible for directing the project. We consider this information confidential for the P.I.s and the right of the P.I.s to decide who should or should not know specific details regarding the grant. As a result, information about individual grants is not given out to students or additional project participants unless it is with the expressed, written permission of the P.I.

This policy includes notifying applicants to the grants competitions as to whether they have or have not been funded. Once every applicant has been notified, the final results are posted for public viewing on the UC MEXUS website under Program Results.

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16. How are the grants administrated for UC P.I.s? Do I need to submit receipts to UC MEXUS?

After all the appropriate signatures for the terms and conditions of a grant award have been received at UC MEXUS, the funds indicated for the UC P.I.'s use in the approved budget are transferred directly to the P.I.'s department for administration there according to individual departmental and campus policies. The receipts are submitted as required by your department or administrative office responsible for managing your grant account. At the end of the project, both the P.I. at the UC campus and the P.I. at the Mexican institution submit a final collaborative narrative report to document what the project accomplished and each institution submits a financial report to show how the funds were spent in relationship to the approved budget (the guidelines are available on the UC MEXUS website under Resources). We strongly recommend that P.I.s discuss what is required with their department administrators before expending the funds.

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17. How are the grants administrated for the Mexican P.I.s? Do I need to submit receipts to UC MEXUS?

After all the appropriate signatures for the terms and conditions of a grant award have been received at UC MEXUS, a check for the amount indicated for the Mexican P.I.'s use in the approved budget is sent to the Mexican institution for administration there according to local institutional policies. Any receipts would be submitted as required by the administrator or institutional official responsible for managing your grant account. At the end of the project, both the P.I. at the UC campus and the P.I. at the Mexican institution submit a final narrative report to document what the project accomplished and each institution provides a financial report to show how the funds were spent in relationship to the approved budget (the guidelines are available on the UC MEXUS website under Resources). We strongly recommend that P.I.s discuss what is required with their department administrators before expending the funds.

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18. How long does it take to get grant funds after the final decisions are made?

After the final decisions are made and the awardees notified, UC MEXUS does a final review and approval of the proposed budgets. If there are any questions about allowable items, justification, or clarity, the Co-P.I.s are contacted directly. Once the budget is approved, the award packets are sent out to each Co-P.I. in English and Spanish with the official letters of award, the terms and conditions of the award, a departmental transfer form, and the approved budget. The signed conditions of award must be sent back to UC MEXUS by each P.I.. The time from notification to transferring the funds depends on how fast the P.I.s can clarify any budget issues for the final budget approval and subsequently get the required forms back to UC MEXUS.

Once the forms are received by UC MEXUS from both P.I.s, it can take 4-6 weeks for the paperwork to work its way through the University administration or we receive the check for the Mexican institution. For UC P.I.s, the funds may not show up in your campus account for up to 3 months. With this in mind, most departments will advance the funds once they receive the transfer information and the account structure is established in your department. Funds can be applied to anything in the approved budget that postdates the start date of the award.

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19. Can I change the budget or extend the project period after the grant commences?

UC MEXUS recognizes that unforeseen circumstances or opportunities may require some adjustments in a project’s budget, agenda, or timing and some allowances can be made if the overall project retains the same basic goals and structure as those evaluated by the peer review committee.

Only the Co-Principal Investigators may request changes.

For budget revisions, refer to the instructions in the conditions of award, item 4, under Project/Budget Modifications. This part of the contract states that you will only expend the funds according to the approved budget. You must ask for a budget revision for changes exceeding 10% of any budgeted line item (e.g., salaries, travel, supplies and services, etc.). Requests for budget revisions still need to follow the policies for allowable expenditures and cannot include purchases of equipment, academic salaries (except for student research assistants), indirect costs, or institutional overhead.

Requests for budget changes or no-cost extensions may be submitted electronically (via e-mail only, no faxes) and must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of proposed change. They must include signature concurrence from both Principal Investigators in either pdf or Word document format. For project time period extensions, send a brief letter of explanation requesting a “no-cost extension” (be sure to include the requested extension ending date.) Email your request to David Kropf, Director of Administration, at david.kropf@ucr.edu. Written requests may also be sent to Mr. Kropf at UC MEXUS, 3324 Olmsted Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.

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20. If one of the P.I.s moves to another institution, can the grant move with him/her?

UC P.I.s who move to another institution outside the UC system are no longer eligible as P.I.s and cannot take the grant funds with them. If they move to another UC campus, they may move the grant as well, provided that they can provide a new Institutional Approval Form from the new campus' research office. .

For Mexican P.I.s, moving the grant to the new institution depends on whether 1) the P.I. remains eligible as a full-time researcher in a Mexican institution of higher education and/or research recognized by CONACYT; and 2) the old institution is willing to transfer the remaining funds to the new institution.

In either case, both P.I.s need to write a joint letter of request and provide a new Institutional Approval Form from the new institution. Send the letter of request and institutional forms to Mr. David Kropf, Director of Administration, UC MEXUS, 3324 Olmsted Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.

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21. What if we need to change a Principal Investigator for the project?

If one of the P.I.s is unable to continue as co-director of the project, perhaps due to a move to another institution or personal reasons, a new P.I. can be appointed. This requires a written request from the "old" Co-P.I.s, indicating the reason for the change and a letter (with a curriculum vitae) of acceptance from the new P.I. with co-signature from either the campus research office (for new UC P.I.s) or the Mexican institution's institutional official (for new Mexican P.I.s). The new P.I. must meet the eligibility requirements of the program. Both letters should indicate that the original structure of the project as reviewed by the grants review committee will not be altered. If the new P.I. is at another UC campus or Mexican institution, an Institutional Approval Form from the corresponding research office or institutional official will need to be included in the request. Send this packet of information (the two letters, the new P.I.'s c.v., and the Institutional Approval Form, if applicable) to Mr. David Kropf, Director of Administration, UC MEXUS, 3324 Olmsted Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521.

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22. If I have funds left over after the project is finished, may I use them toward something else?

Any funds leftover after the project period ends must be returned to UC MEXUS, as per the conditions of award, Item 4. Before the project period ends, i.e., at least 30 days prior to the end date of your award, you may anticipate that you will not spend all the funds in your approved budget and might wish to direct them to another part of your project. In that case, you can request a rebudget and no-cost extension. Address requests to Mr. David Kropf, Director of Administration, UC MEXUS, 3324 Olmsted Hall, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521. E-mail requests and faxes will not be accepted.

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23. What are the final reporting requirements?

A final narrative and financial report is required three months after the project period ends. Final report forms are available on our website under Resources. The reports may be submitted directly on-line or sent separately by e-mail to the UC MEXUS Director of Administration. The final narrative report is to be submitted by the Co-P.I.s together, and the final financial reports should be submitted separately by each P.I. and their institution.

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Updated on 1/12/2011