Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities Grant Program

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Cal Poly is committed to the teacher-scholar model in which faculty integrate excellence in teaching with excellence in research, scholarly and creative activities. The teacher-scholar model enables faculty to fulfill Cal Poly’s mission as an institution committed to quality undergraduate and graduate education, to the advancement of knowledge through basic and applied research, to the enrichment of society through creative activities in the arts and humanities, and to serving our community. The Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities (RSCA) Grant Program, supported by funds from the Provost’s Office and the Chancellor’s Office, is intended to help faculty remain engaged in their disciplines beyond the classroom and to contribute new knowledge through robust programs of scholarship focused on strengthening California socially, culturally, and economically.  The annual funding from the program is intended to provide more internal resources to help faculty pursue a broader array of professional activities.

Request for Proposals
Deadline: Thursday, February 6, 2020

Who may apply?

All faculty unit employees are eligible to compete for funding.  Awards are provided only to those who hold a current appointment for the duration of the award (July 2020 – June 2021); exceptions may be granted but require review by the Dean of Research and the Dean of the respective college. This funding is intended to provide support to new faculty (i.e. less than 6 years as a Cal Poly faculty member; faculty appointment after July 2014) and to help tenured faculty open new scholarly directions.  For tenured faculty, it is necessary to provide the reviewers specific information that demonstrates the proposed research is a new scholarly direction. This funding is not intended to be an ongoing source of funding for faculty research projects.

Applicants may only submit up to two proposals, either 1) one as the PI and one as a Co-PI, or 2) two as a Co-PI; submitting two proposals as PI is not allowed. Applicants also cannot submit a proposal as a PI if they have received two RSCA awards in the preceding 5 years; this limit does not apply to submissions as Co-PI. Applicants can only re-submit the same proposal three times – one original submission and two resubmissions.

What types of projects will be funded?

The program is intended to fund all types of research, scholarly, and creative activities. This includes but is not limited to empirical and theoretical research, applied design and development, pedagogical research, writing of books, and the production of art. Proposed projects must be related to the generation of new knowledge and learning.

What types of projects will not be funded?

Grants will not be awarded for instructional improvement, course development, or evaluation. If the scholarship is pedagogically focused, which is a fundable research type, it is incumbent upon the applicant to make this clear.

What review criteria will apply?

Proposals will be evaluated according to standardized criteria, including intellectual merit; significance and role in advancing the field or discipline; feasibility; accrued benefits to the University, candidate’s profession, and/or students; and the qualifications of the faculty project director and collaborators. In order to ensure proposals are equitably reviewed, the committee uses a review model based on faculty FTE across the six colleges, ensuring proposals are reviewed against other proposals in the same college. The following additional criteria will be considered in assigning funding priority:

  • Interdisciplinary projects
  • Potential of the project to attract future funding
  • Support of fields and disciplines with minimal access to external funding
  • Involvement of students

For more information, please find the rubric and rating definitions on the Office of Research and Economic Development website.

When can projects begin?

Projects may begin on July 1, 2020.

For what may funding be used?

All justified and normally allowable expenses will be considered:

Faculty assigned time — the maximum amount that can be requested is 8 WTUs per project and per person in an award cycle; an individual applicant, whether PI or Co-PI, may only receive up to 8 WTUs per award cycle and no proposal can request more than 8 WTUs

Additional compensation – the maximum amount that can be requested is $9,000 per project and per individual in an award cycle; an individual, whether PI or Co-PI, may only receive up to $9,000 per award cycle and no proposal can request more than $9,000, which is half of the allowed RSCA project maximum ($18,000)

Support for student assistants; please explain how the work is educationally beneficial to students

Support for temporary personnel (consultants, collaborators)

Supplies, services, and equipment

Travel to conduct research (no conference travel allowed) — travel reimbursement rates will be based on Cal Poly travel guidelines: (

Incentives for research subjects must meet CSU and State fiscal requirements; please contact ORED in advance of submitting your proposal if your project includes incentives so we can assist you in making sure your use of incentives is compliant

Assigned time must be used during the academic year and additional compensation must be used during the summer.  The Office of Research and Economic Development will route proposals for approval by the proposer’s Department Chair and Dean; assigned time requests will be approved via this routing.  If a proposal is not approved by a Department Chair or Dean, the faculty member will be notified.  If unable to take the assigned time as proposed, it can be converted to additional compensation. The value of the conversion cannot exceed the value of the assigned time and is capped at $9,000.

All funds awarded must be used for the specific, approved purposes and may not be converted to other uses without prior authorization.

For what may funding not be used?

Additional compensation requests are limited; see the statement above.  Monies will not be awarded for the purpose of attending conferences, courses, workshops or professional meetings.

When must projects be completed?

Projects must be completed by June 30, 2021; under special circumstances, extensions may be given.

At what level will the projects be funded?

The award maximum is $18,000 or 8 WTUs of assigned time.

Is there a specified proposal format?

Proposals should include the following:

  1. A completed InfoReady submission; please see below for how to access the InfoReady system.
  2. Core content that includes:
    • an abstract that introduces the proposed work;
    • a description of the project that includes the methodology, objectives, theoretical justification, and significance of the project;
    • a timeline for completion of the project;
    • a description of the expected outcomes and how the findings will be used; and
    • a statement justifying the requested resources needed to complete the project.

In addition to the information requested on the InfoReady application, you will need to use the included template to create your proposal for uploading. The body of the proposal should not exceed 5 pages (12 pt font and 1-inch margins), exclusive of citations and other supplemental materials.

  • A detailed budget (please use the attached template and upload to the InfoReady application) — in which line items are clearly related to the scope of work is required.
  • A current curriculum vitae for applicant(s). Max 2 pages.
  • A list of former, current, or pending support for this or related work, the sources and amount awarded, scholarly products resulting from the support, and — if support from Cal Poly was provided in the past — the outcome must be described.

Additional Information: The proposal should be written for reviewers who are not experts in the applicant’s specific field. It is incumbent upon the applicant to write their proposal so that their non-disciplinary colleagues can judge the merit of their proposals. If involving students, please explain how the work is educationally beneficial to students.

When will I be notified?

All proposals will be reviewed by the Academic Senate Grants Review Committee and additional internal or external reviewers as necessary. Applicants will be notified in Spring quarter whether their proposals have been recommended for an award with funds available July 1, 2020.

What are the reporting requirements?

Following completion of the grant, a report, using the InfoReady application, must be filed no later than October 1, 2021.  A notification will be provided in advance of the report deadline.

Where can I get more information?

Additional copies of this RFP, budget template, and evaluation criteria can be downloaded from the Office of Research and Economic Development website or obtained from that office (38-154; (805) 756-5153).

Proposal Submission.
By 11:59p.m. on Thursday, February 6, 2020:

Submit your proposal to the Office of Research and Economic Development Cal Poly InfoReady Review website. From the InfoReady homepage, select “Office of Research and Economic Development” from the drop-down menu in the upper left corner. Then click on the 2020-21 Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activities Grant link under “Applications and Competitions for Research Support Programs.” You will use your Cal Poly username and password to login, complete the application, and upload related documents.  Uploading the attached budget template and proposal template (revised for your proposal) will be required as part of your application.

If you have questions regarding this RFP, contact Allie Walter at or at (805) 756-5153.

The Cal Poly College of Engineering understands there has been an enormous amount of turmoil and transition due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). As we continue offering support to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, we also continue providing critical updates as well as college highlights. Ours is a college full of creative and bright engineers and staff. For more information on COVID-19 visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For more information on how Cal Poly is responding to COVID-19, visit the Cal Poly Coronavirus website Coronavirus website.


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