Call for Proposals: Action Research Pilot Projects

The Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) project is soliciting proposals for the development of ground-breaking action research pilot activities as a part of Component 2 of the project (see www.meas-extension.org for more information about all components of the project).  There is no deadline for submission of proposals; proposals will be accepted and reviewed bi-monthly throughout the life of the project until all project funds for this activity are committed (see review dates below).   The list of in-progress and completed action research pilot projects is posted at http://www.meas-extension.org/meas-offers/pilot-projects.

 

Action Research Pilots

As a complement to MEAS capacity-building efforts the project will also invest in expanding the frontiers of knowledge and application through a series of targeted action-research pilot activities to test and demonstrate key, new interventions and efficiency enhancing technologies.  Use of an action research – learning-by-doing – paradigm is perfectly suited for the development of new agricultural extension and advisory service tools, techniques and practices.  The successful implementation of these pilots will enrich the “lessons learned” MEAS case studies, while the development of evidenced-based examples of good practice will contribute to the assessment activities undertaken in Component 3, and will be reflected in the skill-sets targeted and examples used in the training modules and technical notes developed under Component 1.    

It is expected that the individuals proposing pilot activities will have substantial technical expertise in the targeted domains, as well as significant personal experience in the country selected, directly or through their graduate students or projects, which they will draw upon in implementing the activities that they propose.  To the extent possible, the involvement of qualified advanced graduate students is strongly recommended.

Action Research Pilot proposals must follow the general guidelines outlined below:

1.       Target an issue critical to future MEAS success;

2.       Present a clearly written, 5-page (max.) statement outlining -- the proposed activity and its innovative and transformative potential, the technical basis and proposed methodology,  the “goodness-of-fit” of the activity to the proposed country, MEAS future developments and USAID interests, as well as the proposer’s and their partners’ expertise, in-country experience and what lesson(s) the pilot will generate;

3.       Include a detailed one-page budget, indicating levels and sources of all cost sharing and other leveraged resources;

4.       Identify the proposed calendar of any field work to be conducted, and the final delivery date of the completed pilot report;

5.       Proposals must be submitted in MS Word format, using one inch margins and 12 pt type.

 

NOTE:  In addition to meeting all requirement laid forth by the MEAS PMU, successful applicants will be responsible for meeting any and all requirements of the home institution(s), as well as any in-country registration, research and/or implementation requirements.

 

The completed Action Research Pilot reports will:

1.       Be included as a stand-alone document in a series of MEAS Action Research Pilot Project publications;

2.       Typically be 20-25 pages in length, single-spaced;

3.       Include diagrams, tables, graphs and photos necessary to illustrate activities undertaken and outputs achieved through the pilot;

4.       Include acknowledgement and references of all resources used in carrying out the pilot and preparing the report.

 

As appropriate, grant recipients are strongly encouraged to publish their research findings in peer-reviewed journals and/or presentations at professional conferences.  MEAS retains the right to use and distribute all reports and findings generated through pilot activities.  No royalty payments will be made to authors since the material created will be made available for free to MEAS clients and stakeholders worldwide.

 

Funding

The funding for the development of action research pilot activities will be managed through a competitive grants process, overseen by the MEAS Project Management Unit (PMU).  Applicants are encouraged to make full use of in-country research associates, project personnel, advanced graduate students and local consultants as a means of reducing costs of pilot project implementation, as well as cost-sharing and the leveraging of resources from other funded activities.  The compensation for level of effort (LOE) will be determined through USAID daily rate approval procedures.  Other norms of USAID budget preparation (e.g., per diem rates, airfare calculations, etc.) must be followed.   There is no fixed upper limit budget for pilot activities, although the requested level of budgetary support will be included in the review and selection process.   

 

Proposals requesting funding in excess of $100,000 require special approval from USAID AOR Gary Alex.


Proposal Review Process

All proposals for case studies and evaluations will be reviewed by members of the MEAS PMU.  As needed, external reviewers may be contacted to assist with the review process.  The review process will consider the following:

1)      the relevance and importance of the proposed pilot action research to expanding our understanding of key MEAS principles and areas of practice (50 pts):

a.       the innovativeness and transformative potential of the proposed activity;

b.      the technical strength and methodological rigor of the proposal;

c.       the “goodness-of-fit” of the activity to the proposed country and country needs;

d.      relevancy of the pilot with MEAS future developments, USAID mission interests and value of lesson(s) that the pilot will generate;

 

2)      the depth of the proposer’s, and proposer’s team, expertise in the technical area proposed, previous experience in the country, strength of in-country partners/partnerships (25 pts);

 

3) the level of resources requested, availability of cost sharing and other leveraged resources, and assessed risks to successful completion of the proposed activity (25 pts).

 

While not formally required, those proposals that include full or partial cost-sharing using MEAS sub-award resources, will be favored all things being equal.  The level of financial support and cost-sharing are considered in order to “stretch” the available resources as far as possible, but is of less importance than the substance and quality of the pilot activities proposed. 

 

The decision of the PMU in selecting pilot project proposals is final.  In some instances, authors may be asked to revise a proposal for re-submission.   At the time of acceptance of a proposal, a workplan, implementation calendar and final end-date will be agreed upon between MEAS PMU and awardees.  The reimbursement of pilot project expenditures will be approved upon completion of approved workplan by the agreed delivery date.  The final project report will be reviewed for acceptance by the PMU before invoicing is approved.

 

Review Dates:

Action research pilot project proposals will be accepted on a continuing basis and will be reviewed by the MEAS PMU on the following dates:

 

September 6, 2011*

November 1, 2011

January 3, 2012

March 6, 2012

May 1, 2012

 

*Proposals for Pilot Projects to be included in the Year 2 workplan will need to be submitted by 31 August, 2011.

 

Submission of Proposals

All Action Research Pilot Project proposals must be submitted electronically to Dr. Brent Simpson at bsimpson@msu.edu.  Questions may be submitted to Dr. Simpson by email or telephone (517) 432-0963.

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