VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund

The VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund - the “Research Fund” - is grounded in the President's commitment to develop and enhance faculty scholarship across the institution. The Research Fund’s goal is to afford all faculty an internal funding opportunity to support new, emerging, or continuing research. Proposed research should align with the goals and key strategies presented in Virginia Commonwealth University's Quest 2025: Together We Transform strategic plan.

All VCU faculty whose appointments are approved by the Dean of their college or school are eligible to apply to the Presidential Research Quest Fund, regardless of their current research support. Research proposals that advance any discipline and area of research focus are appropriate for consideration. Requests for grant support may be based on a broad array of needs, from restarting an inactive research program to pilot studies that would produce preliminary results on which external grant applications could be based. Proposed work that helps advance interdisciplinary research and inter-campus collaboration as well as research that has the potential for translation to practice or market is especially encouraged.

Applications to the Presidential Research Quest Fund are to be submitted via RAMS-SPOT under internal opportunities no later than 5pm on Monday, April 1, 2019. There will be no exceptions to the deadline.

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All full-time VCU faculty regardless of rank or tenure status are eligible to apply.

Faculty receiving a grant from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund as either a Principal Investigator (PI) or co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) must delay subsequent applications to the Research Fund for a specified time depending on their rank. Junior faculty may submit a second proposal 3 years from the termination date of their first award. Senior faculty are required to wait 4 years. No faculty member may receive more than 2 Research Fund awards in a 10 year period. In addition, those applicants who have previously received any internal University funding, including PeRQ, must provide a summary of how those funds were leveraged to obtain extramural grant awards and/or other demonstrable measures of successful return on investment or impact.

Budget and allowable costs

Award amounts are variable and must consist of a cash component contributed by the investigator's chair and/or dean from school/departmental funds. In short, the Research Fund provides 60% of the total award, and the department or school provides no less than 40%. The typical award architecture is as follows:

Total Budget Requested Research Fund Contribution Department/School Contribution
$50,000 $30,000 $20,000
$30,000 $18,000 $12,000
$20,000 $12,000 $8,000

The application must have guaranteed unit-level cost-sharing. These must be unit contributed dollars, and they cannot be reallocated dollars from another extramural or intramural research funding source of the investigator(s).

The total budget may be for any amount up to $50,000, but must always reflect the 60/40% contribution scheme.

Allowable costs include those typically appropriate for grant budgets to federal agencies, including investigator salary. Where justified, a major portion of the budget can be used to offset faculty time and effort in order to allow significant effort to be applied to scholarly activities. Renovation costs are not allowable. Only direct costs are paid by Research Fund awards.

Click here for an overview of the Research Fund Application, Submission, Review, and Award Process.

Proposal submission

Proposals must be submitted online via RAMS-SPOT under internal opportunities by 5:00pm on Monday, April 1, 2019. Applications that do not adhere to the required formatting requirements or applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted.

Received applications will then be forwarded to the relevant Dean’s Office(s) for internal review. For specific questions or concerns about your proposal, including eligibility and signatures, please contact your Dean’s office and/or your Associate Dean for Research..

For general questions about the Presidential Research Quest Fund or for faculty whose appointment is not within one of VCU's academic schools, the College of Humanities and Sciences, VCU Life Sciences, or VCUQatar, please contact Melissa Throckmorton in the Office of Research and Innovation (

Proposal review

Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline will not be reviewed. Incomplete applications are those from ineligible faculty and applications deviating from the guidelines listed below.

There will be two levels of Research Fund review: first within the school/college, and then recommendations are forwarded to the Research Fund Review Committee. Multi-investigator proposals will undergo the initial review by all units from which matching funds are requested.

The submission, review, and funding process is coordinated by the Vice President for Research and Innovation who will recommend proposals to the President for final approval.

The number of proposals recommended for funding is dependent upon the Research Fund dollars available each year.

Unit Level Review: All applications are first reviewed at the unit level. While each school/college/relevant unit will establish its own review process, every application within the school/college/relevant unit must be reviewed using a common format and scoring criteria.

Applications must be assessed in the following areas with percentage of score assigned as noted:

  • Scholarly merit of the project: 60%
  • Potential for extramural funding leading from the project: 10%
  • Contribution of the project to the scholarly trajectory/line of inquiry of the investigator: 10%
  • Extent of interdisciplinary and cross-campus collaborations: 5%
  • Potential for translation to practice or market: 5%
  • Additional school/college criteria as relevant to unit priorities: 10%

A written assessment must be completed on each application that is reviewed at the unit level. Assessments must be made available to the PI when the Research Fund award process is complete.

The unit-level review committees forward recommendations to the Research Fund Review Committee (RFRC) within 6 weeks of the application deadline. Applications forwarded to the RFRC must be scored (using the criteria and weights noted above), and, if there is more than one application forwarded from a unit, the applications should be ranked based on an assessment of recommended funding priority. The school/college process for reviewing will also be presented to the RFRC for review.

The Research Fund Review Committee: The Research Fund Review Committee (RFRC) will consist of the members of the Research Development Advisory Council (ReDAC). The RFRC makes recommendations for funding to the Vice President for Research and Innovation.

Only applications with assured matching funds from the unit(s) will be considered for funding by the RFRC. Applications will be ranked to allow for final decisions based on funding available. In its ranking, the RFRC will consider such factors as distribution of awards across units and the alignment with VCU Quest for Distinction. If it is a multi-investigator project reviewed by more than one unit, rankings from all units will be presented to the RFRC.

Within 4 weeks of receipt of unit recommendations, the RFRC will make their final recommendations for funding to the Vice President for Research and Innovation who will communicate the recommendations to the President.

Funding period

The Research Fund award is 18 months, from July 1 to December 31. Awards are made on July 1.

Awardee responsibilities

IRB and IACUC approval (if needed) are required prior to release of funds.

Principal Investigators are required to submit a short report to the Vice President for Research and Innovation within 60 days of the completion of the funded project. In addition, researchers will be required to participate in an annual survey of results and outcomes (e.g. grants submitted, papers published, presentations made, etc.) associated with their Fund-sponsored research.

All publications, presentations, etc. resulting from the project must acknowledge financial support from the VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund.

January 24

Research Fund application available in RAMS-SPOT internal opportunities

April 1

Applications submitted electronically via internal opportunities in RAMS-SPOT to the Office of Vice President for Research and Innovation by 5:00pm. No additional applications will be accepted after the deadline.

April 5-May 17 Unit-level reviews conducted.
May 22-June 12 Research Fund Review Committee review completed and award recommendations made to the Vice President of Research and Innovation and President.
July 1

Research Fund awards made.

Research Fund award period is July 1-December 31 (18 months).

VCU Presidential Research Quest Fund applications should be submitted electronically via RAMS-SPOT internal opportunities no later than 5:00pm on Monday, April 1, 2019.

Step 1.

The Principal Investigator should log into RAMS-SPOT under the internal opportunities section and create an internal application in response to the Presidential Research Quest Fund opportunity. Please be sure to fully complete all requested information.

Step 2.

Complete the following proposal documents and save, in the order listed below, as a single PDF named PIlastname_perqYear.pdf (e.g. Smith_perq2019.pdf).

  1. Application Endorsements Form: Use the attached formto obtain signatures from the PI, Co-PI(s), Chair(s), and the Dean(s).
  2. Response to prior critique (if applicable): If this application is a revision to a previous PRIP or Research Fund submission, detail the major changes in the present proposal. 1 page maximum.
  3. Project abstract and alignment with VCU Quest 2025: Together We Transform: Address how this project aligns with/supports the VCU Quest 2025: Together We Transform strategic plan. 1 page maximum.
  4. Research Plan: Address the proposed project’s:
    • Background and significance;
    • Specific aims;
    • Preliminary results (if applicable);
    • Research/scholarship methodology that is well-designed and uses adequate statistical and sample size calculations as appropriate;
    • Description of the contribution of the project to the investigator's scholarly trajectory/line of inquiry;
    • Outcomes including specific information on how the award will be leveraged into external support;
    • Please give a brief description of any and all prior internal University funding received by either the PI and/or co-PIs and document any related external funding. Descriptions should include:
      1. The source of internal funding (e.g., PeRQ, CCTR, etc.), the title and a short description of the project and outcomes, project dates and the amount of the award(s).
      2. A list of all external project(s) related to prior internal funding including the source of funding, project dates, title and short description of each project, amount and funding decision(s) (funded/unfunded).

    9 pages maximum. Space allocation is at the discretion of the Principal Investigator.

  5. References Cited, Bibliography: Use the citation format that is appropriate for your field. 2 pages maximum.
  6. Timeline: Outline major project milestones and associated timeframes for accomplishment anticipated during the 18 month period of performance. The project start date is July 1 and the end date is December 31, 18 months later. 1 page maximum.
  7. Mentor Letter of Support and Mentoring Plan (if applicable):Certain applicants for Research Fund awards must include a mentoring plan. Submissions from junior faculty who have been employed at VCU for 3 years or less are required to include a letter of support from a senior faculty member who will serve as a mentor to the applicant. The mentor must be appointed by the department chair with the approval of the Dean. The mentor must be a VCU faculty member who is an experienced, externally-funded principal investigator. The mentor's letter should describe his or her plan for providing guidance and project oversight. This plan should be formulated in concert with the departmental chair and with the applicant. The defined participation of a mentor follows a number of external funding models, and is designed to help promote the success of the project and the positive professional development of the applicant. Exceptions to the mentoring plan requirement may be granted by the applicant's chair or dean.
  8. Biographical sketch(es): Use the attached formto complete biographical sketches for the Principal Investigator and each Co-Principal Investigator(s). 4 pages maximum each.
  9. Budget & Budget Justification: Use the attached formto justify all requested costs associated with the proposed project.
  10. Current and Pending Support: Use the attached formto itemize all current and pending support associated with the proposed project.

Minimum Format specifications: hese criteria apply to the narrative sections of your application described in Step 2: Response to Prior Critique; Project Abstract and Alignment with Quest for Distinction; Research Plan Narrative; References Cited, Bibliography; and Timeline.

  • The application should be single spaced. Use Arial, 11 point (minimum) font and one half (0.5)-inch margins on all sides.
  • All pages (including forms) should be consecutively numbered as a footer on each page.

Step 3.

Research Fund application packages must be saved as a single PDF named PIlastname_perqYear.pdf (e.g. Smith_perq2019.pdf) and uploaded into your internal RAMS-SPOT application. Applications that do not adhere to the required formatting specifications will not be accepted.

Submit electronically no later than 5pm on Monday, April 1, 2019.

Please confirm you press the send button in RAMS-SPOT to ensure your application is received by the Office of Research and Innovation. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

Specific questions or concerns about your proposal, including eligibility, cost-share commitments, mentoring plan exemptions, and endorsement signatures:

General questions about the Presidential Research Quest Fund and review process: