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Application Instructions

General Instructions

The ACA Grants in Biodiversity uses a paper submission application procedure. Your forms must be printed on paper and mailed/couriered/delivered to the address indicated. Allow yourself time for gathering documentation, aquiring signatures, making photocopies and mail/courier/delivery. Faxed and e-mailed applications are not accepted. Send Part A (one original) and Part B (one original and two single sided copies) to arrive by the deadline.

Ensure your application is in black ink, of letter quality. Ensure you complete both Part A and Part B and provide copies as outlined on the application form. Typing must be single-spaced, with no more than 6 lines per inch. Font size must be at least 12 pts. Condensed type is unacceptable. Applications for the ACA Grants in Biodiversity must be written by students and NOT by their supervisors. Submissions not adhering to these standards and those outlined below will be rejected.

Please do not submit any supplementary material, such as resumes, statements as to why the research should be funded, additional pages, etc. This material is not forwarded to reviewers and is not part of the decision-making process.

Ensure the original application and the photocopies are single-sided. Double-sided applications do not save paper as they usually get re-copied and they can cause some of your information to be missed when they are electronically scanned.

If you have applied in the past, do not make reference to previous applications. Material submitted in previous years is not available to reviewers or the Adjudication Committee.

Applicants are advised to review the background of this grant program, and also the mission and values of our sponsor, the Alberta Conservation Association. Ensure the proposal shows a good connection between the possible results and benefit to Alberta citizens, anglers, hunters and conservationists.

Applications for the ACA Grants in Biodiversity must be written by students and NOT by their supervisors.

Part A

APPLICANT CONTACT INFORMATION

Please provide the applicant's postal mailing address. The results of the competition will be mailed to this address. For most students, it is best to use your university department mailing address, but if you are studying remotely another address is acceptable. For the e-mail address, use an address that is checked frequently (at least once a week), preferably even after the project is completed (for final report instructions and follow up surveys).

RESEARCH USING ANIMALS OR HUMAN SUBJECTS

Researchers who use animals in their research, vertebrates in particular, must adhere to the guidelines for animal care (such as Canadian Council on Animal Care). Any biodiversity grant that affects the potential well-being of wild animals requires that the student provide evidence that their research protocols have been approved by a CCAC (Canadian Council of Animal Care) certified animal care committee. This is part of the Federal requirements for any research institution that receives funding from NSERC, SSHRC, or CIHR. You must get CCAC approval for affecting species of higher developmental stage than octopi. Essentially this means all vertebrates, including fish. Degree of disturbance certainly includes capture, tagging, radiotelemetry, trapping, control programs, and nesting studies, but effects may be as slight as observational studies during the breeding season for bird territory estimation, or repetitive approaches to ungulates for behavioral studies. Typically, students will prepare application forms to work with animals with the assistance of their respective university's animal care committee or their University veterinarian.

Similarly, if the project involves human subjects, then appropriate Human Ethics approvals must be obtained. Proposals that involve observations of human behavior, or direct interviews with human subjects will require human ethics approval.

The student's supervisor is ultimately accountable for this certification and assurance that animal care and/or human ethics considerations are followed. The award recipient's institution cannot release the grant funds to a project until the animal care, human ethics and biohazard approvals are in place. The ACA Grants in Biodiversity will no longer require a copy of this approval as part of the application process, but the Program Administrator will be sending out reminders in March of the award year to those who indicate their approvals are not yet in place. Please follow the procedures in place at your own institution and ensure that the correct paperwork is submitted on time.

SUGGESTED REFEREES

Supervisors should get involved here as Biodiversity Grant personnel spend a lot of time trying to get three suitable referees in place. The Program uses a combination of reviewers from our own pool and those provided by applicants in the Suggested Referees section. The application should contain reviewers who are at arm's-length from the applicant and the proposed research; reviewers often reject the Program's requests because they feel they are in a conflict of interest with the project. Suggested referees should not be people you have published with or in your research group. Please provide the names and complete mailing and email addresses of at least four individuals who could provide an independent assessment of the proposal. Telephone and fax numbers are appreciated. If this Section is not addressed appropriately, the application will not proceed to the reviewing stage.

Suggested referees cannot be:

  1. a member of the applicant's Supervisory Committee
  2. a former (within the last 3 years), or present, research collaborator of the applicant or his/her supervisor; or
  3. a departmental colleague of the applicant or supervisor who is working in the same field as the applicant. You may include someone from your department if they meet the arm's length criteria.

SIGNING AUTHORITY (Supervisor's Signature)

Under most university regulations, signing authority may only be granted to a full-time employee of the university. Thus, the graduate student's supervisor or designee will be the designated signing authority and trust account holder for grants to students. The signing authority will ensure that grant funds are used for the purpose(s) for which they were intended.

SIGNATURE PAGE

Applications will NOT be accepted without a complete signature page. At some universities, acquiring signatures can take up to three weeks. Find out what the signature process is for your university and plan your time accordingly. We understand that sometimes signatories are away for extended periods of time. In this case, we suggest the signatory can sign the required space on the page and scan/fax it to the applicant for inclusion in the application package. Also, if someone is away for an extended time, most universities will assign an alternate person who can sign application forms.

PROOF OF PROGRAM OF STUDY

The Proof of Program or Proof of Acceptance must show the name of the program the applicant is currently in (or will be in when they are using the grant funds next summer), and it must show when they started the program (or plan to start), and it must contain some type of official institutional/university signature. The best proof is the applicant's acceptance letter. Other acceptable proof is an official transcript or a letter written by the department of study. Photocopies are acceptable. Printouts or copies of e-mails showing entry into a program are not acceptable. Applications from students not yet in a graduate program will be considered, but must be accompanied by a letter from the prospective graduate supervisor verifying that the research proposed is part of the proposed thesis research and that the applicant is in the process of being accepted.

Part B

RESEARCH PROPOSAL

Research proposal details begin on page B-2 of the application form and 2 additional freeform pages only are allowed for this section. These pages must be single-spaced, with no more than 6 lines per inch. Font size must be at least 12 pts. Condensed type is unacceptable. Please make sure that your name is added to the top of both of the additional pages and that the pages are consecutively numbered to fit into the full application form. All margins must be at least 1 inch in width. Please also ensure that your name is entered into the space provided on each of the other pages.

We often receive questions regarding the literature section of the research proposal. There are no strict guidlines for this section, but it is suggested you treat this section like a mini-literature review. You need to show you are aware of the key research that relates to the proposed project, and how your project will build on or use this existing knowledge. Space is limited, so only the highlights of the literature would be expected (and enough of a citation so someone familiar with the field will know what research you are talking about). Here is how the Administrator explained it in inquiries last year:
You do not need to provide a formal bibliography in your proposal, but you need to show you are familiar with the key literature pertaining to your project.  Using in text author-year citations is generally sufficient, but you may need to add a title if the author-date citation could point to a number of papers in the field.  I've been to a few adjudication meetings now, and I've never heard an adjudicator criticize an application for improper citation technique.  However, I have often heard them say something like, "The application doesn't mention the Smith & Wong paper on squirrel droppings - they obviously aren't familiar with the literature in this area."

Clear hypotheses help reviewers evaluate what is being studied and often increase the likelihood of being funded. Also, please consider explaining the rationale for sample sizes in your project.

BUDGET

We want a detailed budget that deals ONLY with this proposal. Thus, the total amount requested from the ACA for this proposal cannot exceed $20,000. Funds may be used to pay direct costs of research such as employment of student assistants, travel support, rental of equipment, field subsistence, purchase of supplies and incidentals, and other research-related expenses for the student engaged in the research. Funds cannot be used for salary for the grantee or to purchase a single piece of equipment exceeding $1000 in value. Ownership of capital equipment reverts to the ACA when the student graduates. The ACA Grants in Biodiversity will not pay overhead.

In preparing your budgets, remember the grant is a one time payment, but is awarded for a two year duration. Also, for projects that span multiple provinces, the ACA Grants in Biodiversity will only fund the portion of the study that occurs in Alberta; the application should include the whole budget and provide a sub-estimate of the portion that is Alberta based. The budget cannot be longer than one page; empty rows can be deleted if necessary.

Budgets Must Be Itemized Under the Following Subheadings:

Costs of Assistants:
Proposed Rate: Grantees may use their grant funds to employ assistants (on a full-time or part-time basis) when they are required to do research for which the grant was awarded. We follow NSERC recommendations for a minimum salary of approximately $1500/month, but we try to be flexible. Salaries over $2000/month should be justified. Budgets requesting more than one assistant will be subject to extra scrutiny, so ensure the application justifies the need for additional assistants.
Field Travel and Subsistence:
Applicants must follow (and quote) travel and vehicle rental guidelines of their home university. A flat rate of $0.46 per km may be claimed for mileage reimbursement when private vehicles are used. The maximum vehicle charge is $2000/month for vehicle and fuel. Justify use of a 4x4 vehicle.
The Grant will pay up to a $15.00 per diem for reasonable subsistence requests.
Fees associated with residence at biological field stations (e.g. University of Calgary Kananaskis Field Station) are acceptable, as well as motel accommodations (short term only).
Materials and Supplies:
Materials and supplies must be itemized, particularly if amount is high. You decide.
Other Required Expenditures:
We will not support costs related to attendance at conferences or publication fees.

ADDITIONAL BUDGET INFORMATION

Other Sources of Funds:
The Adjudication Committee has decoupled scientific merit from budget requests. We fund based on the merit of the submitted proposal, but we do want a context for our contributions and other contributions to the overall project. Thus, if research funds are held from other sources for the Biodiversity-proposed project, the applicant should indicate how that money is to be spent versus how Biodiversity funds will be spent. If other research funds have been applied for, then applicants should indicate how those funds would compliment Biodiversity funds. If funds have an Applied status, it means an application has been made to another funding source and a decision is pending. Funds with a Held status have definitely been awarded to the project.
Remember the rules regarding funding from multiple ACA programs.
Additional Support:
Do not leave this section blank, because that would tend to indicate to us that both your department and supervisor are providing nothing to the proposed research. At the least, applicants might show how the project is linked intellectually and financially to the research program of supervisors or research cooperators.