A Day of Family Remembrance

Mass card for my Dad.

My Dad passed away one year ago today. It’s never easy to lose a parent, but I’m thankful I was able to be there in Virginia with him in his final stages. It was a long and hard fought battle with carcinoid cancer. Dad loved life and resisted leaving us with all his might.

I really feel for those going through life’s end stages alone during Covid.

As today is Dad’s one-year Anniversary, Aongus and I remembered him; we celebrated his life, our love and our small circle of friends. In the days leading up, we have chatted with relatives on the phone.

Today, we tried to stay busy and make the most of the day. We started late-ish, with a breakfast of blueberry-raspberry, buckwheat pancakes and a side of bacon.

Then Aongus headed out by bike to visit his auntie and I jumped on a Dublin Bike to meet colleagues for a walk around the new campus of TU Dublin.

View of campus from above.
The building my Kevin Street colleagues will move to after Covid.

I got a bit of exercise alongside Damon, John, and Heitor—at a much greater distance from them than unusual. In the past we’d have had our sleeves rolled up building robots!

Masks and 20’ between us each today. Still, it was great to see them and view the progress on TU Dublin’s new buildings!

I went straight from campus to join a virtual mass, said for my father at a church nearby. Aongus had asked the priest at St. Michan’s (Dublin’s oldest Catholic community) to mention him and put in a good word. The Irish are careful about marking anniversaries like these and remembering their forebearers. It was so kind of both him and the priest.

A kind gesture from my sweet partner.
A screenshot of the mass. It was really lovely. Third weekend in October is mission Sunday, and my Dad was a generous donor to such causes.

Drawing can be therapeutic, so I decided to make a couple videos for my Tech Graphics students. The strategy I developed for teaching them Hand Drawing online has been working out well, so far. Hope it holds out! Marks are nice and high and they seem to be learning well.

A lesson in architectural graphics.
Constructing an ellipse.

Mid-day, my friend Cinaria dropped over an amazing home-cooked Arab meal. I met Cinaria via a Facebook discussion on preparing applications for Marie Curie fellowships. She grew up in Kansas and I in Virginia. More recently, she has been doing research on lung cancer here in Dublin. Such admirable work!

Aongus and I had planned to have Cinaria for in for a visit, but a few days ago the government said no more discretionary visits to other’s homes. As it was, I met her on the Quays just long enough to exchange a bag full of goodies she had prepared. I do look forward to having her over as soon as health regulations permit.

Since lockdown, we’ve had only two other people in the flat besides ourselves–a washing machine repairman and a graduate engineer I’ve been mentoring. It will be nice to get back to normal one of these days.

Cinaria dropping lunch by, so very thoughtful!

The meal Cinaria cooked for us was extraordinary! It was clearly cooked with both skill and love. Really lovely flavors!

Cinaria is an amazing cook!

How blessed we are to have friends and health and delicious food during these trying times.

Aongus and I were thoroughly delighted.
Cinaria even baked up dessert! ❤️

Thank you, Cinaria, Damon, John, Heitor, and Auntie Eithne, for helping make our day a positive and uplifting one!

We will end the day with a swim at the gym. Then it’s headlong into another intense week of work.

I may be far from home and family, but I felt surrounded by love today.

An Irish Welcome-Home!

Welcome to the homepage of Ireland by Chance, a blog sharing the adventures of an Expat architect/urbanist/teacher/engineering education researcher who moved from the United States in 2012 to make Ireland her home.

You can view archives (2012-present) by clicking the folder icon to learn what it’s like to be Fulbright and Marie Curie Research Fellow, to teach at university in Ireland, and to explore the cities and landscapes of Ireland, the UK, and Europe.

I’ve also posted an example grant proposal for Marie Curie (individual fellowships):
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Ethics Section

It might be helpful to other applicants in the SOC panel to see an example of the ethics section as well, so I’m providing this example from 2015. It is very important to note, however, that the rules for personal and data protection have gotten more highly defined, and so it would not be a good idea to copy paste this for your own submission. It must be updated for current GDPR regulations, as well as being tailored to your topic.

For the full suite of posts:

Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section (here)
Final Report from 2016 submission

6      ETHICS SELF-REVIEW           

This research study involves (1) interviewing women who are studying engineering at 3rd level and (2) conducting surveys with male and female engineering students. Because this project involves human participants, we must obtain informed consent from each participant. Informed Consent Form and Information Sheets examples are provided below. Ethics approvals will be obtained from the host institution and each partner university prior to any data collection (see Tables 2, 4, and 6). Profs. Chance and Tyler will accept responsibility for being ethical stewards of the data throughout its life cycle. This will be checked during the Milestone reviews that occur every six months, where, for instance, Dr. Chance will provide Prof. Tyler with proof that Informed Consent has been secured.

HUMAN SUBJECTS

All participants will be university undergraduates, postgraduates, or practicing professionals. They will all be volunteers, recruited with the help of their teachers (or, in the case of Poland, via the Perspektywy Education Foundation website). They will be solicited in class, during events, via list serves, and/or by email. They can withdraw their participation at any time and they will be informed of such on the Information Sheet and Informed Consent Form. Interview and survey participants will be asked three demographic questions:

  1. What is your gender?
  2. Were you born in the country where you are now studying?
  3. On which continent were you born?

Raffle prizes (such as Kindle readers or iTunes gift certificates) may be offered to encourage participation in the interviews and surveys. Prizewinners will be selected randomly, by drawing numbers from a hat.

Volunteers for surveys will be limited to students over age 18 who are studying engineering and/or architecture. The opening page of the online survey will include a concise Information Sheet and ask the participant to give informed consent before starting the survey by clicking “continue.” The content of the online survey will be generated in light of findings from the interviews and will be provided to the host institution’s Ethics Review Committee prior to commencing the survey.

Volunteers for interviews will be limited to students over age 18 who are women studying engineering and/or architecture. When they are recruited, they will receive an Information Sheet and be invited to provide their preferred form of contact (email or text number) so the researcher can contact them. The Informed Consent Form will explicitly ask if it is okay to keep the contact information on file for follow-up and will let each participant specify time limits and any other preferences/stipulations about use of her contact information, interview data, and personal data. Each interview participant will be asked to sign the Informed Consent Form before the interview starts. The content of the Information Sheet and the Informed Consent Form will be translated into Polish and Portuguese for use in those countries. These materials will undergo review by Ethics boards at UCL and our partner institutions in Ireland, Poland, Portugal, and the USA. Our primary goal with this research is to support minority students (in engineering this mans women as well as non-native born students and those belonging to groups of minority status in their country of study). We will make every effort to protect the interests of and to support the success of participants of minority status in our research, outreach, and dissemination. Prior to submitting for Ethics approval, Dr. Chance will carefully review UCL’s Data Protection guidelines, policies, and principles. She will meet with a member of the UCL Research Ethics Committee  (i.e., UCL’s data protection officers) to discuss various aspects of the proposed work. The timeline for submitting ethics applications to UCL and the various partner institutions are provided in the Gantt chart (Table 6, in Section 3.1).

Check for collection of sensitive data

Interviewees may be asked to complete an epistemological survey instrument (an updated version of one produced by Kuhn, Cheney, and Winestock from Columbia Teacher’s College12) and to provide some basic demographic information as identified above. If we decide to include an epistemological survey questionnaire along with the interviews, information about the survey tool will be incorporated into the Information Sheet and Informed Consent Form. These personal data are of fairly low sensitivity, but nevertheless, UCL’s data protection officers will be consulted to ensure compliance and to advise the researchers if any specific authorizations from the national data protection authority are necessary. The ethics application/review process will include detailed information about the collection of the demographic data identified above, as well as the epistemological survey instrument.

SOCIAL SCIENCE AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH

This research involves online surveys and audio-recorded interviews. Interviews will be conducted in English, which presents one form of bias in sampling. Recruitment will happen in designated partner institutions, so there is also a convenience sampling bias. We will use extreme-case sampling for interview participants to get the most diverse points of view. In other words, we will be attempting to secure participation from native-born and non-native students in each location. Within the participating architecture and engineering programs, we will invite all registered students to complete the online surveys, which will be translated into the native language by a native speaker (working in consultation with the primary researcher to achieve the most accurate translation possible for each language).

Minimal risk/minimal burden. Questions will involve non-sensitive topics regarding experiences in engineering education. Risks associated with participating are extremely small. It is possible that participants could experience some emotional distress in reflecting on their past experiences, but not more than would be expected in the course of normal conversation. Participants’ identities will be kept confidential and references to actual names will be removed from transcripts, as detailed below; pseudonyms will be used in reporting.

Benefits of participation to the individual participation are the opportunity to reflect on past experiences and to contribute to research about engineering education, epistemological development, and design thinking.

PERSONAL DATA

Procedures for data collection, storage, protection, retention, transfer, destruction, or re-use.Personal data to be collected in this study will be collected through face-to-face interviews and online survey questionnaires.

Online surveys. No personal identifiers will be collected during online surveys—they will be completely anonymized. As per Horizon 2020 ethics self-assessment instructions, “completely anonymized data does not fall under data privacy rules (as from the moment it has been completely anonymized).” Responses to surveys will be stored in Excel spreadsheets, and analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) or similar.

Face-to-face interviews. The researcher is likely to know/record the name, email address and/or telephone number, gender, continent of birth, and national/non-national status for each interview participant. Processing of interviews will involve: collection of digital audio recordings, organization and storage, use, and deleting / destruction of audio recordings following transcription. If a prize raffle is held to encourage participation, email addresses will be collected, stored temporarily, and destroyed following the award of prizes. Interview data will be collected using digital sound recording devices and stored on a password-protected computer. Interview participants can choose to have their data included only in this study, or archived for future research, conditional on the restrictions listed on the Consent Form. The list of interview participants (with name, contact information, and identifying code / pseudonym will not be stored in the same digital archive as the transcriptions and audio recordings. Audio recordings will be deleted/destroyed following transcription. Data will be analyzed using Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, NVivo, Scrivener, or other specialized software for qualitative data analysis. At the beginning and end of each interview the researchers will ask the participant for both verbal and written confirmation that it is acceptable to archive the interview transcript for future use. Each participant will be asked to note in writing any specific limits for use of her data. 

Use of previously processed data (secondary use). The longitudinal component of this study utilizes data collected during interviews conducted in Ireland (in 2014-15) and Poland (in 2015). Each participant has already provided written consent for archiving and ongoing use of her interview data, following the same procedure described above. These procedures were reviewed and approved by DIT’s Ethics Review Committee and by WUT’s Rector. These data have been and will be collected, stored, and processed in the ways stated above. Dr. Chance is the manager of these data, which are owned by Dr. Chance and the respective interview participant.

Privacy and data safety protection procedures. All individual information collected as part of the study will be anonymous—the identity of participants will be known only to the official research team. Data may be included in future conference presentations and publications, but at no time will it be possible to identify it as belonging to a specific individual. Information will be used solely for Dr. Chance’s research. It will be stripped of any personal identifiers and stored securely in password-protected electronic format pending possible continuation of the study. Data will be stored on two external backup hard drives and on UCL’s encrypted servers. Dr. Chance will provide Prof. Tyler with evidence that agreed-upon procedures for protection of personal data are being upheld during the Milestone reviews that occur every six months.

THIRD COUNTRIES

The only third country involved in this study is the USA. Ethical research standards and procedures are clear and well enforced in universities in the USA that will be involved in this study (Hampton University and the College of William and Mary). Procedures will follow those described above.

INFORMATION SHEET

DESIGINING ENGINEERS

Note: This is an example Information Sheet for Research Participants–the one that was actually used was updated to meet UCL specifications and all current GDPR regulations:

You are invited to participate in a research study about your experiences with project work, design, and design projects in engineering and/or architecture. The research team has received approval from your institution’s research ethics committee. Please read the following information before deciding whether or not to participate.

What are the objectives of the study? Dr. Shannon Chance is conducting this study because she wants to understand what it is like to be an engineering or architecture student, to experience project work, and to think about design and knowledge.

Why have you been asked to participate? You are engineering and/or architecture courses and you have experience of project work and/or design.

What happens if you agree to take part?

  • Information about you will be treated in strict confidence.
  • You will be asked to schedule a time for an interview at a time and place that suits you. You’ll be provided with Dr. Chance’s telephone/text number so that you can use it to make scheduling changes if necessary.
  • During the interview, we will chat about your experiences for about an hour. Before we start, you will be asked if it is okay to audio record what you say. You will be asked if you’d like a written copy of your interview for your records and/or to check for accuracy. Dr. Chance will also ask if she can keep your permanent email address and telephone number on file so that she can follow up with you in later years to talk again. (You can still participate in this study if you do not want to provide that information or if you don’t want her to keep it.)

Benefits of participating: The benefit of participation to you is the chance to talk about what you are going through in your engineering program—which can be a fun learning experience. By participating, you can also help teachers understand what it’s like to be an engineering student and how they can support students who are learning engineering and design.

Are there any risks involved in participation? There is very little risk associated with participation. In the unlikely event that talking about what you’re going through causes distress, Dr. Chance can help you locate support services or you can go directly to [TBD office or website at each university], which provides a list of support services available to students on your campus.

Participants’ rights:

  • Your participation in this research project will not influence your academic marks or your relationship with your institution in any way.
  • You may decide to stop being a part of this study at any time, and you do not need to explain why. You can omit or refuse to answer or respond to any question that is asked of you if you feel uncomfortable. If you decided to stop participating, you have the right to request that all data about be withdrawn from the study you (including the interview recordings, transcriptions, and contact information).
  • You have the right to have all your questions about the study and the research methods answered. If you have any questions as a result of reading this information sheet, please ask Dr. Chance before the study begins or email her at any time.

Confidentiality: Your identity will remain secret/anonymous. Your data may be included in future publications and conference presentations, but at no time will it be possible to identify it as yours. All information will be reported using pseudonyms (fictitious names, rather than real names). Your interview data will be stored using a code, and it will be kept separate from your actual name and contact information.

If you’d like to set any additional restrictions for use of your data and your contact information, please let Dr. Chance know now or at the end of the interview.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

If you want to find out more about the study or would like a summary of the results, you can contact:

Prof. Shannon Chance, [email and phone number were provided]

Prof. Nick Tyler, [email and phone number were provided]

Note: This is an example Consent Form–the one that was actually used was updated to meet UCL specifications and all current GDPR regulations:

CONSENT FORM

DESIGINING ENGINEERS

PLEASE CIRCLE YOUR RESPONSE TO EACH QUESTION

• I have read and understood the attached Information Sheet YES / NO

• I have had the opportunity to ask any questions I have about the study YES / NO

• I have received satisfactory answers to all my questions YES / NO

• I understand that my data will be used for research purposes and stored securely on a password protected device in a secure location until the end of the project, when they will be destroyed, unless I grant additional permission for their use below*. YES / NO

• I would like to receive a written copy of my interview transcript YES / NO

• I understand that I am free to withdraw from the study at any time YES / NO

without giving a reason and without this affecting my college studies

I agree to take part in the study YES / NO

You may, in addition, agree to have your interview transcript (without your name or any personal identifiers) archived for future similar research. Please read the note below and decide whether you wish to agree to this element:

I give my approval that these anonymous data concerning me may be stored or electronically processed for the purpose of scientific research and may be used in this research project, and, potentially, in other research studies in the future. (Any future use of the anonymous interview transcripts related to me would still be subject to approval by an independent ethical review body.)

Please tick        I agree [ ]          I do not agree [ ]

I make the following stipulations regarding the use of my data or length of time my data may be archived:____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

If you want to find out more about the study or would like a summary of the results, you can contact:

Prof. Shannon Chance, [email and phone number were provided]

Prof. Nick Tyler, [email and phone number were provided]

DIT Research Ethics Committee notes from prior research:

  • For persons under 18 years of age the consent of the parents or guardians must be obtained or an explanation given to the Research Ethics Committee and the assent of the child/young person should be obtained to the degree possible dependent on the age of the child/young person. (For this study, we do not intend to recruit under-age participants.)
  • In some studies, witnessed consent may be appropriate. (We do not anticipate any need for witness consent.)
  • The researcher concerned must sign the consent form after having explained the project to the subject and after having answered his/her questions about the project.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Implementation Section

Many applicants run out of steam before they reach the Implementation Section, but in order to score high enough to be competitive, a proposal must carefully address each and every point requested in the Guidelines for Applicants. Leave no stone unturned if you want to win an MSCA Individual Fellowship! They’re extremely competitive, with a success rate around 9-12% depending on the year.

This post shares the Implementation Section of my unsuccessful 2015 proposal. I’ve also shared the scoring rubric, that I used to get the proposal over the line the following year when I earned the funded needed to spend two years at University College London. Your host organization will need to help you prepare. Find someone in their Research Support Office to help, in addition to getting help from your supervisor and the host country’s MSCA National Contact Point (NCP). They should ALL want to help you as the EU funds will be coming into their country and will support their local economy.

If you’re wanting to come to TU Dublin, our Research Support Office is awesome. Jean Cahill has been a huge support to me in writing grant proposals, with others in the office also chipping in to help us win.

The full suite of my posts on this topics includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

The evaluation sheet shows that I lost points in two categories for the work plan. Evaluators though it was not clear enough and I didn’t convince them I could finish everything in two years.

3     IMPLEMENTATION    

3.1  Overall coherence and effectiveness of the work plan

Table 6 provides a timeline of milestones (the lowercase letters correspond to Work Package descriptions below). Country codes indicate 10-day visits for data collection, outreach, and training (also see Table 4, data collection).

Table 6: Work Plan

WP1: Qualitative studies (Q1-3). Deliverables: two conference papers and a journal article. Milestones: (a) university ethics approvals secured, (b) 60 interviews completed and professionally transcribed, (*) coding and analysis.

WP2: Mixed-methods study (Q4). Deliverables: statistical calculations, a conference paper, and a journal article. Milestones: (c) survey questionnaire developed based on results emerging from Q1-3, (d) survey approved by ethics committees, (e) survey data collected from ~500 participants, and (*) statistical analysis.

WP3: Background research and book manuscript (Q5). Deliverable: book manuscript. Milestones for sending publisher: (f) proposal with background research, (g) first draft, (h) second draft, (i) permissions and final proof.

WP4: Outreach activities will engage multiple sections of society, as detailed in Section 2.2, Tables 4 and 5. Conferences dates are estimated for (1) SEFI, (2) PAEE, (3) REES, (4) EPDE, (5) ASHE, and (6) AERA based on both recent conference dates and when research results and findings will be available to present.

WP5: Training and Transfer-of-Knowledge. Project-related milestones: (j) social science training from Prof. Tyler and CEE researchers, (k) statistical analysis training from Prof. Tyler and CRUCIBLE researchers, (m) tailored project management training from Prof. Tyler, (n) tailored grant-writing mentorship from Prof. Tyler, and (t) a likely secondment will span a 3-month period (t) and will develop transferable skills. Other training activities (to diversify Dr. Chance’s competencies and develop transferable skills) are detailed in Tables 2 and 4, and match travel.

WP6: Management activities. Milestones: (o) Career Development Plan, (p) bi-weekly meetings with Nick Tyler to monitoring the Plan and manage quality and risks, (q) formal reviews with Prof. Tyler every six months, and consultation with (r) UCL financial managers, and (s) UCL Enterprise regarding Intellectual Property management.

3.2  Appropriateness of management structure & procedures, inc. quality management & risk management

Financial management for grants at UCL is provided centrally by Research Services within Financial Services. The research division collaborates closely with the engineering Dean and CEE’s administrators about financial monitoring and grant reporting. Upon arrival, Dr. Chance will take Introduction to Managing UCL Finances and her project will receive its own account code. Prof. Tyler and Dr. Chance will have financial control for the project with support from Research Services. IPR management will be conducted via meetings with experts fromUCL Enterprise. Progress monitoring will focus on quality and timeliness of research, training, transfer-of-knowledge, dissemination, and the Career Development Plan. Prof. Tyler and Dr. Chance will meet twice monthly to evaluate each of these items and to monitor research methods and grant writing. Prof. Tyler will help ensure Dr. Chance’s full integration into UCL and CEE and will provide entrée into CRUCIBLE events. In addition, Dr. Chance will report her progress regularly to colleagues in CEE—seeking feedback, collaboration, and advice. Through daily contact and regular CEE meetings, Emanuella Tilley and Drs. Paul Greening and John Mitchell will help Dr. Chance monitor progress of R&D on new undergraduate design activities and MSc activities/modules. Dr. Chance will meet with Dr. Abel Nyamapfene and Profs. David Guile and Andrew Brown several times each, for advice on targeted social science topics (please see Capacities). Risk monitoring will occur monthly in meetings with Prof. Tyler, to address emerging issues, such as those speculated in Table 6. The management procedures for this grant, along with Professional Development and VITAE training courses (see Section 1.2), will develop Dr. Chance’s skill in administering and managing research projects.

Table 6: Risk mitigation plan

3.3  Appropriateness of the institutional environment (infrastructure) (Please see Capacities chart also.)

University College London has world-class mechanisms to support international fellows in all aspects of training, result dissemination, public engagement, and project management. UCL is a global leader in funded research—running €347M in EU-funded research since 2007, including 173 MSCA projects. The project has the Dean’s strong support and the resources offered by the host facility (CEE), the institution, and Prof. Tyler guarantee that all aspects of the proposed research will be supported at UCL. The University commits to providing a safe and supportive work environment for Dr. Chance, a stable research contract, guidance of a highly experienced supervisor, an array of Professional Development and VITAE programs, administrative and financial accounting support, access to exemplary library resources and databases, and a shared open-plan office space. The office will be equipped for the computational needs of this project with up-to-date computer equipment, external hard-drives and secure data backup systems, telephone and Internet access. UCL also provides high-performance computing capacity for researchers. It has one of the world’s largest academic supercomputers available for use in this project. Logistical support for visiting researchers is provided by the offices for HR and Accommodation Services, and by UCL’s “European Office.” Orientation programs include On-line Induction, Diversity in the Workplace, and the Provost’s welcome and staff benefits marketplace. UCL and all its engineering departments earned Athena SWAN awards.

3.4  Competences, experience & complementarity of participating organizations & institutional commitment

Institutional commitment. The UK is steadfastly committed to educational excellence and these values infuse the UCL ethos (see Capacities chart). All new 3rd level teachers are mandated to earn teaching qualifications—providing a ready audience for Dr. Chance’s work and means to exploit findings and get tutors to apply them in practice. The EURAXESS Rights webpage notes the UK’s unique nation-wide research infrastructure that streamlines how 3rd level institutions earn the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Badge, which UCL earned in 2013. According to EURAXESS, “The UK’s approach includes ongoing national evaluation and benchmarking.” Additionally, UCL is a member of the European Charter for the Researchers and it upholds the Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers. UCL has an impressive record of internal, international, and intra-European collaboration that facilitates teamwork and multidisciplinary exploration of scientific questions. The approximately 2,500 research staff and fellows working at UCL today enjoy a dynamic, diverse, and supportive learning environment. This well-structured research environment will provide Dr. Chance with new examples, competencies, and skills, and catapult her research career forward. The proposed work plan, the resources offered by UCL and CEE for its implementation, the peer-to-peer training with and from CEE and CRUCIBLE researchers, the active participation of international partner organizations, and Dr. Chance’s growing record of success effectively work synergistically to ensure delivery of high-quality research that can have positive, large-scale impact for society.

Participating organizations.HMH, Science|Business, and CIF and described in the Capacities charts. Partners in Poland, Portugal, Ireland, and USA previously contributed to Dr. Chance’s research. This EF grant will facilitate mobility, providing access to resources for training and audiences for data gathering, outreach, and dissemination.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Impact (dissemination and communication, 2.2)

In 2015, sub-section 2.2 of my MSCA IF proposal on “Effectiveness of the proposed measures for communication and results dissemination”, in the Impact section, identified strategies for “exploiting” or “valorizing” possible business ideas stemming from the proposed work, as well as disseminating results and findings to academics, and communicating the value of research to non-academic audiences.

This example wasn’t funded in 2015, but was the following year when it was amended in response to reviewer comments. The full suite of posts I’m sharing on this proposal includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

2     IMPACT

2.2  Effectiveness of the proposed measures for communication and results dissemination

Table 4: Integrated plan for data collection, outreach, and training (by host and partners)

Exploitation strategy.

To meet global challenges, engineering must become more flexible, creative, and socially responsive4, 5, 6. Dr. Chance’s work will help transform the culture of engineering education and track outcomes. Results will facilitate publication of a book and possible spin-off businesses in consulting both addressing Question Q5) What knowledge of epistemology and design thinking can help educators support student development?

There is global demand for dramatic changes in engineering today, but education leaders don’t yet know what to do. Dr. Chance and Prof. Tyler have fresh, innovative ideas that are based on their prior work. Their body of work can provide a solid foundation for this EF project. So far the thrust of modernization in engineering education has been to implement Student-Centered and Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Similar pedagogies have been used to teach architecture since the Renaissance and engineering is fostering a healthy new focus on teamwork. Bridging the best practices from these fields and supplementing them with research is essential. Collaboration among architecture and engineering educators is crucial for knowledge transfer. R&D Dr. Chance leads as an EF will reach:

  • 2nd level students (via outreach to STEMettes in the UK for girls ages 11-22, RoboSlam robot-building workshops in the UK and Ireland, and Perspektywy Education Foundation in Poland for supporting girls in STEM)
  • 3rd level students (through new UCL undergraduate engineering modules and Perspektywy mentorship programs)
  • 3rd level teachers (through new UCL post-graduate modules that exploit Dr. Chance’s research) (see also Table 4)

Exploitation activities will embed research findings (collected and/or generated by Dr. Chance) into project briefs and module descriptors. The new MSc programs will have tremendous positive impact. This MSc program (to be launched in 2016) will be unique. It will be the world’s first and only Masters-level program designed to help university tutors upgrade their teaching skills across the realm of engineering topics. (DIT is launching an MPhil to train engineering education researchers, and Aalborg offers an MSc in Problem-Based Learning.) UCL’s program has broad appeal and a captive audience, since every new university teacher in the UK must earn at least one credential in teaching and learning. Two other avenues for exploiting Dr. Chance’s research findings are the creation of new programs for Creative Industries Federation and the possible creation of a business to help organizations (universities, businesses, and corporations) design and implement more effective education and training programs.

Public engagement strategy.

Dr. Chance will encourage public interest and involvement through engineering activities and communication. During the EF, Dr. Chance will advise multiple organizations—assisting some with program evaluation, strategic vision, and grant-writing support—and conducting engineering events for various age groups. In the UK, Dr. Chance will make public presentations through Creative Industries Federation (CIF) and STEMettes. Activities for STEMettes will include STEM projects (for 50+ girls) plus one or more RobSlam robot-building workshops (for 20+ girls). Dr. Chance will seek opportunities to make school presentations, become a MSCA Ambassador, and deliver public talks. Communication activities involve attracting the attention of news outlets. Dr. Chance will write one or more articles for Perspektywy Magazine. To help attract attention of TV, radio, and newspapers in the UK, Dr. Chance will attend UCL workshops in media relations for researchers. A 2014 workshop she took on this topic helped gain recognition for her work and as a result she was quoted in an Irish Timesarticle on women in STEM. She will continue to build public relations skills using UCL’s exceptional resources. She will maintain an educational blog to increase public understanding of research topics and activities.

Table 5: Impact targets for communication and dissemination (see Table 4 for outreach targets)

Dissemination strategy.

Dr. Chance will disseminate research findings to international audiences via conference papers, journal articles, and publication of a 100,000-word handbook for educators with a comprehensive new set of resources on epistemological development and design thinking (addressing Q5). Its planning, compilation, and editing will take 2-2.5 years. It will likely include 10 chapters of new primary research by leading experts in various aspects of epistemological development and design thinking, 8 chapters summarizing and synthesizing existing theories and literature in new ways, and an introduction and conclusion by Dr. Chance. She will seek funds to support an invitational symposium on the book’s topics to recruit specific experts internationally. This will facilitate knowledge generation and prompt submittal of high-quality chapters. Her work will help overcome a current problem, identified by Dr. Bill Williams (a probable co-editor for the book), wherein EER journals published in the USA almost exclusively cite US scholars. Trans-Atlantic authorship can help. She will recruit a 3rd editor as well.

Dr. Chance has the goal of publishing results of Research Questions 1-4 in two of the world’s top-ranked journals in EER and higher education. These ask: Q1*) To what extents do design and pedagogy influence women’s choice to study engineering at third-level? Q2*) Among women, to what extents do design-based pedagogies prompt more sophisticated epistemologies than traditional teaching formats? Q3*) How do women experience engineering over time, from early design projects to entering industry? Q4*) Among men and women, to what extents do design pedagogies prompt more sophisticated epistemologies than traditional teaching formats? She is targeting Learning and Instruction (impact factor 3.585, SJR 2.907) and the Journal of Engineering Education (impact factor 2.059) for publication. Dr. Chance aims to present preliminary findings at three top-tier conferences (AERA, ASHE, and REES) where she will also network internationally. She will assemble teams of peers to co-author conference papers on educ. design (for SEFI, PAEE, EPDE, see Table 5); leading these teams will develop her skills.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Impact (skills and conditions, 2.1)

Envisioning the impact your your future work poses quite a challenge. You nearly need a crystal ball! I hope that reading the draft of the Impact Section of my 2015 proposal (unsuccessful that year, but successful when modified in response to reviewer comments and re-submitted in 2016) will provide you ideas and inspiration for crafting your own plan of action.

In this post, I share subsection 2.1, on “Enhancing research- & innovation-related skills & working conditions to realize potential of individual”. In this subsection, I also show how the proposed work aligns with European policies and priorities.

The full suite of posts I’m sharing on this proposal includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

Hopefully, your proposed sponsor/PI can help you brainstorm ideas for increasing the impact of your work. It may be difficult to get feedback from a proposed PI during August (when you’re probably working on the proposal) since most European academics are out-of-office. Try talking this through with some people in your field of study if the PI isn’t available.

The (MSCA)-ITN the Innovative Training Networks program ENHPATHY ...
MSCA logo — Marie Curie had huge impact on science and life at a global level. This funding program celebrates her accomplishments and her perseverance.

2     IMPACT

2.1  Enhancing research- & innovation-related skills & working conditions to realize potential of individual

The training Dr. Chance can receive UCL is essential. It will provide management and innovation skills necessary for her to lead research teams on behalf of the EU. At DIT, she is successfully developing expertise in phenomenological research. Via a new fellowship at UCL, she will tackle ever-bigger challenges. She will master new research skills (developing statistical expertise to amplify the power of her qualitative results) and new transferrable skills (from global leaders in research). She will gain new exposure to industry. Her current projects at DIT are carefully aligned with policy foci of FP7 IIF, which is geared toward transferring knowledge into Europe by bringing foreign researchers here. Through FP7, Dr. Chance has been bringing—from the US to DIT—international perspectives and knowledge of curriculum design, program evaluation, architecture and design education, as well as various frameworks and procedures for conducting educational research. In order to grow and excel in research, she and DIT’s CREATE research group must develop a wider skill set. This will enable them to manage large-scale projects for education and industry in the EU—training that Prof. Tyler and UCL can readily provide. New skills, essential for Dr. Chance to garner a large-scale competitive grant to lead an independent research team, are:

  • Managing multiple projects and budgets, gained by exposure to a well-established research management system.
  • Preparing and submitting applications for complex, larger-scale grants with multiple partners.
  • Creating new programs at 2nd, 3rd, and post-graduate levels and rigorously assessing them.
  • Conducting large-scale surveys and learning to analyze them with new techniques to extend generalizability.
  • Supervising PhD students and learning to secure funding for their research.
  • Operating within the industrial sector and learning to focus research on questions relevant to industry.
  • Communicating STEM topics to target audiences via events and public media, and compiling/editing books.

Horizon 2020 recognizes these types of need, supporting ongoing development of experienced researchers through policies and EF programs. The EU seeks to enhance “international cooperation in research and innovation” through a strategic approach that tackles global societal challenges. The EU seeks to develop/deploy effective new solutions to achieve “excellence and attractiveness in research and innovation” and ensure its own economic and industrial competitiveness. By leveraging interdisciplinarity in innovative ways, this project will deliver great benefit to UCL, DIT, Dr. Chance as a researcher, partner institutions and engineering education globally. It will also benefit the EU—economically, socially, scientifically—by addressing problems described in section 1.1 and through:

  • Improved pedagogies for engineers that attract additional engineers from a larger, more diverse pool of people.
  • Perfecting phenomenology as an approach for EER and extending its generalizability across the EU via surveys.
  • Building resources to recruit and skills and train new scholars in engineering education to research EU problems.
  • Cross-pollinating and coordinating educational offerings among engineering education centers in the EU.

As a result of this EF, UCL’s new CEE will reap benefit from the US and Irish perspectives, connections, and skills that Dr. Chance will bring. Dr. Chance will connect UCL’s CEE with DIT’s CREATE research group and intends to return to CREATE following the EF, to transfer critical knowledge back to DIT—bringing new credentials and crucial new skills. She will help CREATE gain formal status as a research center, secure large-scale grants, and attract emerging scholars to Ireland who can learn new research skills and generate new knowledge for society.

This project addresses the focus of H2020 EF and all six key Indicators for promoting and monitoring Responsible Research and Innovation defined by the European Commission: (1) public engagement, (2) gender equality, (3) science education, (4) open access, (5) ethics, and (6) governance. This proposed work supports many 2015 key initiatives of the Innovation Union, including: (1) promoting excellence in education (through MSc, undergrad projects, outreach, and dissemination) and skills development (of both Dr. Chance those she transfers knowledge to); (2) delivering the European Research Area (5 keys explained below); (3) focusing EU funding instruments on Innovation Union priorities (e.g., societal challenges related to STEM); (3) promoting openness and capitalizing on Europe’s creative potential (increasing creativity by using design thinking in engineering); (4) spreading the benefits of innovation across the Union (through collaboration and outreach in four EU countries); (5) increasing social benefits (supporting students in STEM); and (6) pooling forces to achieve breakthroughs (creating European Innovation Partnerships). The secondment supports IU Commitment #2B to support “knowledge alliances” between education and business and #7 to increase involvement of SMEs. Dr. Chance’s research supports Europe’s Flagship Initiative for Youth on the Move by developing modern education systems to deliver key competencies and make education more relevant to young people’s needs. It addresses all 5 key prioritiesof the European Research Area:

1) More effective national research systems (by strengthening UK and Irish research through UCL and DIT).

2) Improved trans-national cooperation (through cross-border links, research agendas, and coordinated offerings).

3) A more open labor market for researchers (providing training crucial for Dr. Chance to base all research in EU).

4) Gender equality/mainstreaming in research organizations (research to support female students, conducted about and by women, which incorporates all 9 recommendations on research content listed in the EU’s gender toolkit).

5) Optimal circulation, access, and transfer of scientific knowledge (via diverse dissemination, communication, and outreach, including an open-access book—part of IU Commitment #20 and Point 5 of ERA Communication 2012).

11,573 MSCA-IF Proposals Submitted in 2020

The deadline passed last week for submitting applications for Marie Curie Individual Fellowships. I received many supportive messages, most on Facebook, with thanks for sharing online one of my past proposals and the evaluators’ comments. I was so happy to help others through the challenging process of creating and refining their proposals.

The posts on this topic were accessed by a huge number of people–some 4,363 visitors to my blog site–making this perhaps the most widely read document I’ve ever written.

I posted the following content from my unsuccessful 2015 proposal, which provided the best lessons on how to address the evaluation criteria:

• Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.11.21.31.4
• Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.12.2
• Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
• Ethics Section
• Final Report from 2016 submission

Almost all people visiting Ireland By Chance in August and September 2020 have been those preparing proposals. In August, there were 3,687 visitors to the site, and in September there have been another 676 visitors. The number of views for since the start of August totals 10,661!

I’m pleased to have reached people in most parts of the world, as illustrated in the August maps provided by WordPress (see below).

I’m happy to report that people in Ireland used the site most, and many from the UK as well, so the time and effort contributed by people from Ireland and the UK, helping me learn these skills and create this proposal, had benefits to those countries.

The total number of applications received this year was up 17%. In all, 11,573 MSCA-IF proposals were submitted to the European Commission. Writing just one is a massive undertaking, requiring 5-6 weeks of focused work.

Unfortunately, the most recent EU budget allocations provide 25% less money to this particular fellowship program. You can read more about the cuts in this article:

https://sciencebusiness.net/framework-programmes/news/member-states-agree-cuts-2021-rd-budget

Congratulations on the huge accomplishment of submitting to all those who met the deadline–and the best of luck in garnering funding to support your important work.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Using Tables

In all my MSCA-IF proposals, my National Contact Point (NCP) advised me to present in charts to break things up visually and make it easier for reviewers to comprehend crucial messages.

Members of one of the Facebook groups to which I belong (Marie Curie Individual Fellowship 2020) raised questions about the Tables I’ve presented from the 2015 example proposal. The discussion we’ve had might be of use to others beyond this group, so I’m sharing it below:

MC: Thank you for your apportation, it is very usefull, but I have a question: you use very much charts, it is a way to use more space with a smaller letter, but I think that in the last MC calls, the use of charts to incluide relevant information about the project that is not included in the rest of the proposal is not allowed, isn’t it?

Me: I am not sure what the current rules are for this program, you’ll need to confirm that using the guidelines. I know they changed the rules for some MSCA calls to clarify that you cannot put huge blocks of narrative text in just to fit more using the smaller font.

Applicants had been pushing the limits too far.

CB: The guidelines say that “Tables are only for illustrating the core text of the proposal. As such, they cannot be used to contain the core text itself.” Is this new from this year? I know that in past editions you could use tables for training activities/ communication activities etc. and I was doing the same this year. I am introducing the table in the core text but putting details in the table. Am I doing wrong?

OH: The Net4mobility+ 2020 guidelines document states precisely which sections should (or recommended to) appear as tables. I’m just following those instructions. In sections 1.2.2.; 2.2.1; 2.3 I’m using tables with almost no text outside the table. I hope that’s a good choice 🤷‍♂️

SB: Well the last year evaulator’s guide explicitly says that if they see such a thing they have to report it and the comitee will ask the applicant to copy it to the main text with the proper font size. Then everything over 10 pages will get lost. And the guide also says that we should not do it. So it is risky to use only tables for core text. Of course it depends on the evaulators.

For clarity’s sake, I’m noting that all tables in this 2015 example proposal were at the same size and style font as the entire rest of the document: Times New Roman 11 point. Because I also evaluate proposals for the EC, I know from experience that it’s really difficult and stressful to read tables that use tiny font–some applicants (have the nerve to) use 8pt Arial Narrow and think evaluators will be able to see it. It’s not a good idea.

I have, myself, advocated for stricter regulations regarding font size and style. My advice to applicants is to keep everything very easy on the eye. Try to keep evaluators from getting tired and frustrated due to your formatting. Use small graphics where possible to help snag their memory when discussing your proposal during the review week (so much to keep in one’s mind during that time).

I managed to place small graphics into the header and footer of my (successful) 2016 proposal as well as on the cover page, which I had not done in prior proposals. I’ve included that cover page below.

I also embedded small thumbnail graphics in two of the tables to project a sense of the outreach activities proposed and the supervision team.

I discovered this was possible by evaluating MSCA COFUND proposals; I highly recommend serving as an expert evaluator to gain wide perspective on possibilities. I learned more about what to do and what not to do in seeking funding. Anyone can register as an expert on the Participant Portal.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Quality of supervision (1.3)

In today’s post, I share subsection 1.3 of the MSCA Individual Fellowship proposal submitted in 2015–it’s on “Quality of the supervision and the hosting arrangements.”

As the 2015 call allowed for a chart highlighting the capacity of the host organization to support my development, I’ve included that chart in the blog as well (down at the bottom).

Although this 2015 submission was unsuccessful, I revised it based on evaluators’ comments and the revision was funded in the 2016 call.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

1     EXCELLENCE

1.3  Quality of the supervision and the hosting arrangements       

Qualifications and experience of the supervisor(s). Prof. Nick Tyler has unique expertise to support Dr. Chance’s development into an independent researcher. He has implemented EER findings4 and has supervised 17 PhD completers and as many post-docs. He is currently part of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering’s Engineering Education hub. He is advising universities in Argentina, Colombia, UK, and Japan in renewing their approaches to education. From 2003-13, Prof. Tyler headed UCL’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. During this period, he developed new educational approaches to combat problems, introducing a new curriculum based on detailed analysis of quality and gender4. It was launched in 2006 and graduated it first students in 2009; this provides a valuable case study and a wealth of experience that can be transferred to other engineering programs. For this work, Prof. Tyler’s group received the inaugural Athena SWAN Silver awarded to an engineering department.

Prof. Tyler’s successes—in project management, social science methodologies23, diversity and inclusion research24, and book publishing25—support a portfolio of £20 million in research that is funded by research councils, industry, and government. His CV features well over 70 publications. Prof. Tyler has been named a Fellow of multiple organizations, including the UK’s: Institution of Civil Engineers; Royal Society of Arts; Transport Research Foundation; and most recently the Royal Academy of Engineering. Most noteworthy, however, is his 2011 appointment, by Her Majesty the Queen, as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to technology. The CRUCIBLE research center he directs will provide Dr. Chance a plethora of research consultants. It involves experts, from all eleven faculties at UCL, who conduct interdisciplinary research.

Prof. Tyler’s experience is well aligned with the proposed project. At the outset of the EF, Professors Tyler and Chance will create a Career Development Plan. They will meet frequently as part of larger research meetings, and will hold EF-specific meetings twice monthly to monitor progress and quality. They will conduct formal milestone assessments every six months. Throughout, Prof. Tyler will provide strategic advice on data collection, analysis, methodologies, gender and diversity, engineering education pedagogies, UCL’s culture and curricular innovations, and the creation of design projects. He will assist/mentor Dr. Chance in dissemination and outreach activities and budgetary matters, help her gain ethics approvals, and help with the recruitment of research participants. She will learn highly effective techniques by observing his team meetings, grant writing, and project management activities.

Hosting arrangements.

UCL Human Resources and EURAXESS UK will provide assistance in relocating and settling in (see Capacities). UCL offers many induction activities she will attend. UCL is ideal for her project because:

1) Its design-focused civil engineering programs achieved notable successes among women, meriting more study4.

2) Dr. Chance will be well integrated into UCL’s organization. She will work in UCL’s new Centre for Engineering Education (CEE), which is physically located in the office of the Dean of Engineering at UCL. She will collaborate closely with the Vice-Dean for Education, staff members of the CEE, and the Centre’s two co-directors.

3) CEE has been set up to support training and two-way transfer of knowledge. Formally launched in April 2015, it brings together UCL’s Institute of Education with its Faculty of Engineering Sciences. CEE hosts a bi-weekly “Engineering Education Seminar Series” on topics central to engineering education. These seminars facilitate conversation among educators, professional bodies, and industry about how to attract and nurture engineering talent. Dr. Chance will participate fully in these sessions and will deliver seminars early and late in the Fellowship to familiarize her colleagues with the topics at hand. Industry representatives also attend these sessions.

3) CEE is establishing industry partnerships. These include Creative Industries Federation (CIF), which advocates integrating art and design in industry and has already expressed great interest in Dr. Chance’s research proposal.

4) UK policy requires all new 3rd level teachers to study pedagogy. As such, CEE will launch a new Masters program in 2016, geared toward practicing engineers and people who teach engineering. Dr. Chance will help create activities and module descriptors for this program—an ideal platform to exploit her research findings.

Career development.

UCL provides a healthy research environment as evidenced in its HR Excellence in Research Award from the European Commission (see also Section 3.2-3.4 and the Capacities Charts). UCL publicizes all successful promotions, including those by researchers, and has clear promotion procedures for research staff. UCL offers open training and development programs to all staff; as detailed above, Dr. Chance will make use of UCL’s Professional Development Programmes (PDPs) on: 1) Academic & Researcher Development, 2) Financial & Resource Management, 3) Leadership & Management, and 4) Project Management. She will also attend courses and events offered through VITAE, designed to help researchers realize their full potential, such as Vitae Connections for Supporting Open Researchers and the Vitae Researcher Conference. Based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, Dr. Chance’s fellowship at UCL will focus on building skill in areas: B3-Professional and Career Development, C2-Research Management, C3-Financial, Funding and Resources, and D2-Communication and Dissemination. Her training will also include: a) conferences on gender/technology; b) writing/submitting proposals to Irish, UK, and EU Research Councils, Horizon 2020, and Science Foundation Ireland; and likely c) serving on an evaluation panel for Horizon 2020, the Irish Research Council, or similar. She is registered as a CORDIS expert.

Capacities Table

The following table appeared in the Appendices and thus it didn’t count against the page limit. It was restricted to a single page. I included a second page with the three possibilities I had identified for secondment, but I ended up omitting them in my resubmission.

Note that because I made no mention of a secondment in the resubmission, I wasn’t allowed to add one later. Had I mentioned one in any form (I was told by my Project Officer later when trying to add one in), I could have altered the destination. I wasn’t allowed to add one later, however, as I hadn’t mentioned one in the 2016 proposal. Adding one after acceptance would have required a new formal review of the project. I don’t like to over-complicate things, yet I did manage to work closely with a non-profit organization (Engineers Without Borders UK) while I was in London, and produce research of value to them.

Top half of the capacities table.

You’ll see I tried to personalize this chart by including photos of the people I’d be working with because I wanted to highlight the diversity of this team. Plus I managed to make a fairly nice graphic arrangement to add appeal to the page! By the time I started the Fellowship, Paul, Greening had moved to a different university so I worked with the Vice Dean for Education, Prof. John Mitchell–as well as the rest of this group. By the time I arrived to start my MSCA-IF, UCL had brought a new full-time researcher on board who isn’t pictured above, so I got to work with the brilliant Dr. Inês Direito as well.

This was a truly amazing team to work with!

The research facilities and supports at UCL are world class, as the bottom half of the Capacities Table illustrates:

Bottom half of the capacities table.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Transfer-of-Knowledge (1.2)

1     EXCELLENCE

In this post, I share subsection 1.2 on “Clarity and quality of Transfer-of-Knowledge/training for development of the researcher in light of the research objectives” of an MSCA Individual Fellowship proposal submitted, unsuccessfully in 2015. I revised it based on evaluators’ comments provided in a previous blog. The revision was funded in the 2016 call. This blog provides one sub-section of the “Excellence” section, the section that has to do with the researcher and the design and merit of the work being proposed.

Please note that my home institution, formerly known as DIT, changed its name to TU Dublin (Technological University Dublin) while I was in London doing my MSCA-IF.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

1.2  Clarity and quality of Transfer-of-Knowledge/training for development of the researcher in light of the research objectives

UCL offers crucial knowledge, models, and training programs (see 1.3 & Capacities). At UCL, Dr. Chance will build on her solid foundation in the emerging field of EER by developing new research and management skills and by catapulting her work well beyond her already notable capabilities. Working under the expert supervision of Prof. Nick Tyler, a global leader in research productivity, she will develop specific, crucial new skills in: quantitative and qualitative social science research, project organization and leadership, financial management, grant writing, and PhD supervision. This training will have enormous positive impact on the research career of Dr. Chance and will positively impact UCL, UK and Irish EER, and a host of project partners across the EU (see Table 2). Specific stretch-goals for the EF period are: (1) publishing two articles in the highest-ranking journals in EER and higher education, (2) leading the production of a seminal new guidebook for educators, and (3) securing grants to establish an independent research team, recruit/train new researchers (see Implementation).

Dr. Chance’s career goals are to permanently base her research operations in Ireland and to spearhead research teams via European Research Council and industry funding. She possesses many of the skills necessary to do this, however she and CREATE need specific experience in securing and managing large-scale research grants, conducting advanced statistical procedures using statistical modeling tools, and using programs like SPSS. To gain crucial experience, Dr. Chance needs mobility out of DIT for a period so she can work alongside extremely high-research producers and in industry. A three-month secondment will develop her understanding of what this sector needs and how it uses social science research and education programs. It will help exploit her research more fully.

Table 2: Training and project support provided by partner organizations.

As an EF, Dr. Chance will spearhead two-way transfer of knowledge between UCL and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT, her current employer), and will coordinate EER efforts between the two. This will enhance her leadership and project management skills. She will transfer to UCL specific knowledge gained at DIT regarding phenomenological research methods, design of a new Master of Philosophy degree in EER, and implementation of engineering design projects. Dr. Chance will transfer crucial knowledge back to DIT through ongoing exchange and her planned return to DIT at the end of the EF—at which point she aims to lead a new research strand for DIT’s CREATE research group via grant funding secured under Prof. Tyler’s mentorship (details in CV). She will apply to organizations like the European Research Commission (ERC) for large-scale Starter Grants. Her new research and project management skills will render Dr. Chance more competitive in accessing this type of large-scale funding, and her support network (from UCL, DIT, and industry) will provide valuable assistance. Her work will support DIT’s evolution into Ireland’s first Technological University and help grow CREATE into a full-fledged research center. UCL is a global leader in the training of researchers, and Dr. Chance will take full advantage of its excellent Professional Development programs. She enjoys this type of learning and is committed to completing a wide range of Researcher Development and Leadership and Management programs at UCL. She will participate in either Springboard Women’s Development Programme (researcher cohort) or Taking Control of Your Career. Both of these run over the course of a year. She will definitely take Writing Targeted Grant Proposals and 4 specific Financial and Project Management courses (see 3.3). She will watch the schedule for Quality Papers, Writing a Peer Review, Leadership in Action, Professional Skills for Research Leaders, Effective Delegation, and Breakthrough Conversations and will complete as many as possible. If Writing a Book is offered upon arrival, she will take it.

Table 3: Plan for transfer of knowledge to host

New collaboration opportunities will open for the host institution, notably a new symbiotic relationship with DIT that will further enhancing UCL’s successes in engineering education pedagogy while also adding to CREATE’s record of producing quality phenomenological and phenomenographic research. Dr. Chance’s work will include clarifying and refining a distinctive niche for each institution, and positioning each for maximum impact. To UCL, Dr. Chance will bring existing international connections, as well as an engaging new research project that includes R&D of educational activities. She will help infuse practice and pedagogy at UCL with findings from her research.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Capacity of researcher (1.4)

In this post, I share the subsection 1.4 on “Capacity of the researcher to reach and re-enforce a position of professional maturity in research” of an MSCA Individual Fellowship proposal submitted in 2015. In this section I include the CV, to show how I tailored it to support the application. I’ve had a non-standard career path, with engineering education research (EER) being something I’ve tried mastering late in my academic career, so I used the CV to show what I am doing, why, and how it builds on my past experience. I aimed to show how things about my record that might first appear to be weaknesses can also be framed as strengths.

I also needed to provide very clear justification for receiving a second MSCA IF. I had to show it would be a good investment.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

1     EXCELLENCE

1.4  Capacity of researcher to reach and re-enforce a position of professional maturity in research (see CV)

Since completing a PhD in Higher Education (with an honors designation and her School’s Award of Excellence), Dr. Chance has transitioned her career focus from teaching to research, and been selected as:

  • Fulbright Core Scholar to Ireland in Engineering Education (2012-13)
  • Scholar in Residence for the University of Oregon’s Study Abroad program in Rome (2013)
  • Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturer to both Portugal and Belgium (2013)
  • Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow to Ireland (2014-16) where she learned phenomenological methods.

Dr. Chance has a long history teaching architecture and supervising Master’s thesis students (at Hampton University). She has evaluated architecture programs at the highest levels (having served on seven teams of the US National Architectural Accrediting Board, and having chaired a team in 2015). She coordinated university accreditation activities at Hampton U. She has taught educational planning (at William and Mary) and Problem-Based Learning and design projects in engineering (at DIT). She has developed curricula (for Hampton and DIT). A focus on diversity and inclusion has always formed a part of her research efforts, dating back to her first conference paper in 2000. Over time, Dr. Chance has demonstrated scholarly productivity through completion of: 37 peer-reviewed conference papers, eight peer reviewed journal articles, seven book chapters, two thesis design projects, a PhD dissertation, and an edited volume. She has delivered 87 academic lectures in Europe, USA, and Asia. For all research and grant-funded projects, Dr. Chance pursued projects that she conceived. All research lines—including her PhD research—were separate from her advisors. This attests to Dr. Chance’s capacity for independent thinking/research. Google Scholar now lists her h-index at 4 [note: I’m happy to report it’s now at 7, but I wish I could get it to climb faster], above the average among full professors in social science (3.67), political science (3.43), and law (2.83), according to the London School of Economics. Her work has been cited in over 36 publications (excluding self-citations). She is now requesting approvals from publishers to upload more of her articles on freely accessible sites so as to extend the reach of her work. Her citation index is on an upward swing.

Dr. Chance’s foundation in phenomenology and statistics give her a strong base for EF research to be conducted. Due to the novel hybrid topic and innovative approach she is proposing to use in future work, Routledge publishers recently asked her to submit a book proposal on epistemology and design thinking. She was interested in—and has committed to—the book idea. However, if she secures EU funding, she would prefer to opt for the UCL Press instead of a profit-driven publisher. UCL Press (see Capacities Chart) will ensure the content is as openly accessible as possible, as per EU policy. Over time, Dr. Chance has steadily accrued skills that will enable her to conduct pioneering and truly groundbreaking research and spearhead the development of a seminal new book.

The value of Europe’s IIF investment will be hugely increased if the IIF study is followed up by an EF that brings the discipline to a whole new level. The innovative, pioneering, and ground-breaking findings from the IIF can be harnessed and brought to use in the EF study, creating the potential to revolutionize teaching methods and to fast track a new generation of creative and challenging engineers. It is imperative that immediate action is taken to address the dangerous shortfall of engineers that precipitates the EU’s low number of patent filings and top tech companies, and lagging industry R&D. We must protect and enhance the EU’s reputation for producing quality goods. Whereas the IIF focused on bringing skills from the USA, developing curricula and phenomenological research skills, the EF will focus on: 1) achieving more powerful, substantial and tangible findings (by enhancing phenomenology with quantitative data), 2) disseminating the findings globally, and 3) equipping Dr. Chance with the necessary skills to manage complex large-scale research projects and teams. The EF study will be conducted in a completely new arena of the discipline; one that will have tangible and far-reaching effects on the teaching of engineering in Europe. The most common route for European researchers to develop these skills is through taking an intermediate step between the IIF and an ERC Starter Grant via a nationally funded project. However, due to the fixed-term of the MSCA contract, Dr. Chance is not yet eligible for all of Ireland’s grant programs. Yet she is firmly committed to life and citizenship here, and to basing all her future research operations in the EU. The proposed EF work is significantly different from the IIF in scale, complexity, and range of exploitation activities. It also includes extensive training in research management that only a world-class research institution like UCL can provide. UCL is truly unique in that it has achieved success in engineering diversity and retention. This work is of such a standard that is has been recognized by MIT4. This new educational methodology needs further study, development, and promotion. The EF will equip Dr. Chance to establish an independent research team at DIT leading the new research strand on epistemology and design thinking. 

Attached CV

4          CV OF THE EXPERIENCED RESEARCHER

In this portion of the 2015 proposal, I started by listing my degrees, earned in the USA. I provided reviewers with the text below to put things in context before listing my Employment History (Research Positions, Teaching Positions, Professional Practice), Professional Registrations, sentences on Invited Lectures, Supervising Activities, Organization of Conferences, and lists of Professional Memberships, Special Recognition, Grant-Funded Projects, and Publications.

I’ll provide an example of the list of Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles at the end here, as I inserted info to help them assess my reach and impact.

Note that in the text below, I highlighted specific qualities asked for in the guidelines: Independent Thinking, Leadership Skills, and Results of some past projects. It’s important to use the specified words as it makes evaluators’ work easier. They are very busy people and you want to make it easy for them to find evidence to base their scores upon.

Dr. Chance is uniquely qualified for this interdisciplinary study. In the last two decades, working in the USA, she taught in two different institutions—one with a special focus on diversity and the other a research-intensive institution. Educational research is her second career. Her focus on research began with PhD studies (2006-10), her introduction to the field of engineering education research as a Fulbright Fellow (2012-3), and development of phenomenological research skills at DIT (2014-now). Results are now beginning to accrue from Dr. Chance’s current Marie Curie research studies. Preliminary results have revealed a promising new stream for investigation—overlaps of design thinking and epistemological development. As a result of the IIF, Dr. Chance is on track to produce at least: 3 journal articles, a book proposal, a book chapter, 10 conference papers, and 6 grant applications (with 3 of them funded to date at €2-10k). She benefited tremendously from IIF supervisor Prof. Brian Bowe’s phenomenological expertise, EER connections, and work chairing the 2015 Research on Engineering Education Symposium (REES). Through ongoing career planning and networking, Dr. Chance identified further training needs and career development opportunities. She discovered a number of surprising findings and developed an innovative stream of research for detailed study and development into a book. As an IIF, she gained acceptance in EER and has made the successful transition into a new research career. She identified sources of funding that she can target in the future; DIT has agreed to host her should she get future funding in place. As a result of participating in a 2015 EER conference and working group, Dr. Chance secured an exciting opportunity to join UCL, a world-class research institution. After the conference, she attended CEE’s launch and organized meetings for CREATE and CEE to come together to share ideas. So, as a direct result of successes in the first phase at DIT, she was presented with the opportunity to help plug DIT into a much bigger community—most notably the embryonic UK and Ireland Network on Engineering Education to be launched 6 November 2015. By making such connections, Dr. Chance realized she needed to develop a set of specific skills in order to get to where she aims to be in five years [note: they want to see your trajectory and goals, but I feel these were a bit too lofty], having: secured an ERC grant [note: this was an admirable goal, and MSCA fellows win these awards at higher rates than non-fellows, but it’s still out of my reach–I’m focusing now on strengthening my publication record to get here], published a widely respected book [note: I broaden this option in the final proposal to book or special focus issue–I delivered two of special focus issues during the fellowship], and be leading an independent research team [note: I’m doing this one to some degree now, but my collaborators aren’t on my campus]. She is on track to apply for ERC funding and this fellowship at UCL will help her achieve these aims by providing strategic management and research skills and giving her time to recruit new members to her research team and secure ERC funding (or help them secure MSCA IF funding) for future training at DIT. A potential candidate is [name removed], an engineer from Spain who is interested in earning a PhD in EER who Dr. Chance has been mentoring informally.

Table 7: Match between the project objectives and Dr. Chance’s profile

Independent Thinking. Dr. Chance has authored 5 opinion/editorial columns, expressing her independent views on: (1) Architectural registration and its diversity vortex published by Crit Magazine; (2&3) HU: Forerunner in architectural diversity and HU to host national diversity conference published regionally by American Institute of Architects; (4) Architect—Visionary or order filler?, published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development; and (5) Green aesthetic: Seeing beauty in clotheslines and weeds in Virginia’s Daily Press.

Leadership Skills. Dr. Chance chaired the 20th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student and serves on the organization’s steering committee. She has headed Construction Administration for a $7 million library and managed grants from the US Department of Education ($75k) and the ROTCH Foundation ($20k). She has planned and managed 10 study-abroad programs (6 to Europe, 4 to Africa) and secured ongoing support from charitable foundations. She has received formal leadership training (through both the 4-H youth organization and William and Mary university). She provided leadership to the City of Portsmouth (Virginia) as a Commissioner of Architectural Review (2002-5), also serving as Vice- (2004) and Acting-Chair (2005). Within the Port Norfolk Civic League (1999-2009) she served as President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, and Stabilization Chair. As a member of the international Congress on the New Urbanism, she served as Accessibility Taskforce Chair (2006-10), Session Organizer (2006-10), and Panelist (2009, 2010), advocating for accessibility and universal design.

Results of 3 Major Projects

Results of dissertation research (using quantitative methods). Dr. Chance’s dissertation investigated the use of the LEED® Green Building Rating system by higher education institutions (HEIs). It tracked implementation of LEED® over time and helped assess the degree to which HEIs have been meeting the program’s stated goals, particularly in the areas most critical for environmental sustainability. Dr. Chance used MANOVA and multiple regression analyses to identify Energy and Atmosphere as the most important category in predicting overall ratings achieved by HEIs—indicating that this category, which is expensive to achieve but is most important for controlling climate change, also carries incentive because it most influences ratings. The study contributed new understanding of both the organizational learning that has resulted from refining LEED and how such rating systems can be used to generate and apply new knowledge. Dr. Chance presented the study to NASA scientists at Langley Air Force Base. The project resulted in several publications—including an article in Planning for Higher Education that garnered 800+ downloads the first week it was posted on the Society for College and University Planning’s (SCUP’s) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The original work received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the International Society for Educational Planning (ISEP) in 2010.

Results of PBL research (using qualitative, phenomenological methods). During her nine-month Fulbright fellowship, Dr. Chance developed a range of foundational skills in qualitative research: conducting semi-structured interviews; identifying invariant meaning units; and developing descriptions to capture the essence of specific phenomena. Prior to arriving in Ireland, Dr. Chance had only basic coursework in qualitative research methods, and no experience with phenomenological research. She knew CREATE had expertise in phenomenology and also provided highly valuable examples of organizational learning. As a Fulbright she collaborated with colleagues from CREATE to research what motivated engineering educators to change the way they teach. During data analysis, Dr. Chance distilled a model for creating change in engineering education that is transferable and can help others facilitate change. Findings of the study have been published in two conference papers and a book chapter to date.

Results of identity research (using mixed-methods approaches). As a Fulbright fellow, Dr. Chance spearheaded quantitative components of an exploratory, mixed-methods study conducted with Drs. Mike Murphy and Eddie Conlon. She drew from past experience, using new skills in combination with existing skills, to develop survey instruments, analyze data using t-Tests and Chi-Squared procedures, and describe the sense of identity reflected by DIT engineering and technology students. Results indicated that, when choosing engineering, design and other hands-on aspects of education had been important considerations for many DIT students. These design and hands-on aspects appeared to be even more important to (the small sample of) women than to men in their degree choice. The resulting book chapter was recently published by Springer, ensuring dissemination to a wide audience.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles                     

CHANCE, S.M., Mitchell, J., & Duffy, G. (in press). Using architecture design studio pedagogies to enhance engineering education. International Journal of Engineering Education. h5-index 16. SJR h-index 30.

CHANCE, S.M., & Bowe, B. (in process). Phenomenological study of how women experience collaborative learning in engineering education.

CHANCE, S.M., Duffy, G. & Bowe, B. (in process). Understanding lectures’ experiences of group learning in engineering.

CHANCE, S.M. (Nov. 2012). Planning for environmental sustainability: Learning from LEED and the USGBC. Planning for Higher Education, 41(1). h5-index 9. Cited by 1.

Seymour, M.W., & CHANCE, S.M. (2010). Assessment Formats. International Journal of Learning, 17(10), 137-154. h5-index 5. SJR h-index 6.

CHANCE, S.M. (2010). Strategic by design: Iterative approaches to educational planning. Planning for Higher Education, 38(2), 40-54. h5-index 9. Cited by 10.

CHANCE, S.M., & Williams, B. (2009). Assessing university strategic plans: A tool for consideration. Educational Planning: The Journal of the International Society for Educational Planning, 18(1), 38-54. Indexed in the H. W. Wilson Education Index. Cited by 14.

Fisler, J., Agati, H.A., CHANCE, S.M., Donahue, G.A., Eickhoff, E.J., Hack, A.E., Gastler, S.E.K., Lowder, J.C., & Foubert, J.D. (2009). Keeping (or losing) the faith: Reflections on spiritual struggles and their resolution by college seniors. College Student Affairs Journal, 27(2), 257-274. Cited by 5.

CHANCE, S. M. (2008). Proposal for using a studio format to enhance institutional advancement. International Journal of Educational Advancement, 8(3/4), 111-125. SJR h-index 4. Cited by 1.

CHANCE, S.M. (2004). Architectural registration and its diversity vortex. Crit: Journal of the American Institute of Architecture Students, 58, 36-40.