FAQ

General

Q: What is the X-Grants program? 
A: X-Grants is an interdisciplinary research program that is part of the ten-year, $100 million President’s Excellence Fund. The first year will provide $7 million funding to faculty-researchers to stimulate and support innovative interdisciplinary research. This program is open to all faculty, researchers, and staff at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Galveston, Texas A&M University-Qatar, TEES, TEEX, AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, or TTI. Projects must be new and must not be continuations of prior research. The X-Grants program is administered by Texas A&M’s Division of Research (DOR).

Q: Who is eligible for an X-Grant? 
A: All faculty, researchers, staff at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M at Qatar, TEES, TEEX, AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, or TTI in The Texas A&M University System.

Q: Who can I contact with questions on the X-Grants program? 
A: Please contact XGrants@tamu.edu. For more detailed questions you may contact the Steering Committee.

Q: Are there minimum and maximum funding amounts? 
A: Projects in the larger category should have a minimum budget request of $500,000 and a maximum of $1,500,000. Projects in the smaller category, should have a minimum budget request of $100,000 and a maximum of $325,000.

Q: May I receive X-Grant funding along with T3 funding? 
A: Yes, T3 funding does not impact your ability to receive X-Grant funding.

Q: What is considered interdisciplinary research? 
A: “Interdisciplinary research focuses on answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing a topic that is too broad or complex to be addressed adequately by a single discipline, and draws on the disciplines with the goal of integrating their insights to produce a cognitive advancement in the form of a new understanding, a new product, or a new meaning.” 
Interdisciplinary Research, A. Repko and R. Szostak, SAGE Publishers, 2017]

“A mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice.” 
Facilitating Interdisciplinary research, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press, 2005]

STEP 2: DEVELOP ONE-PAGERS

Q: How many members can be on a team? 
A: There is currently no hard limit to the number of members that may be on a team. However, any number less than three will likely not be considered large enough for an interdisciplinary project.

Q: Who can be included on a team? 
A: Any faculty member, researcher, or staff member with appropriate expertise for the team.

Q: Can I participate in X-Grants if I am also involved in T3? 
A: Yes, you will be able to participate in X-Grants and T3 at the same time.

Q: How many teams may I be on? 
A: There is no limit but it is expected that each team member will play a role in addressing the proposed scope of work. Teams must state the role of each team member.

Q: Are there any restrictions to forming a team? 
A: Students are not allowed to be team members.

Q: Who can be a leader or co-leader? 
A: Leaders and co-leaders must be in a PI-eligible position at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Galveston, Texas A&M University-Qatar, or TEES, TEEX, AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, or TTI.

Q: When do we define how much money to ask for? 
A: Budget information will be requested at the preliminary proposal and full proposal steps.

Q: What are funding durations of smaller scale and dollar amount awards and larger scale and funding scope awards? 
A: Smaller scale and dollar amount awards will be funded for a maximum of two years. Larger scale and funding scope awards will be funded for a maximum of three years.

Q: Can you tell us about the selection process? Who selects? What is the criteria they use? 
A: All PI eligible (faculty or faculty-equivalent research position) researchers will be able to provide comments on the posted one-pagers. A review committee composed of researchers from the eligible entities will evaluate one-pagers and select teams to submit preliminary proposals.

Evaluation Criteria (100 points total):

Feasibility of proposed research plan

0-20 points

Significance of proposed research

0-25 points

Potential impact of proposed research, including potential to obtain external funding

0-30 points

Appropriate scope of interdisciplinary team (leverages unique strengths/capabilities at Texas A&M)

0-25 points

Q: Are there restrictions on faculty having existing or previous funding on the same topic? 
A: There are no restrictions on faculty having existing or previous funding on a topic. However, in such a case, it would be expected that the proposed work would be an expansion of the scope of the previous work in some manner.

Q: Can you recruit experts from the outside? 
A: Outside researchers will be allowed to work on funded projects but not utilize X-Grants funding.

Q: What is the minimum number of researchers that represent a large interdisciplinary team? 
A: The X-Grants program is looking for large teams to address complex interdisciplinary research. A hard limit on the minimum number of team members has not been set. However, to be competitive a team needs to include the necessary interdisciplinary expertise to address their proposed research scope and it is unlikely this will happen with a team membership of less than three. Also, all members from only one college will not be considered as interdisciplinary, and therefore not be considered for funding.

STEP 3: SUBMIT PRELIMINARY PROPOSALS

Q: Can you tell us about the selection process? Who selects? What is the criteria they use? 
A:  A review committee composed of researchers from the eligible entities will evaluate preliminary proposals and select teams to submit full proposals.

Evaluation Criteria (100 points total):

Feasibility of proposed research plan

0-20 points

Significance of proposed research

0-25 points

Potential impact of proposed research, including potential to obtain external funding

0-30 points

Appropriate scope of interdisciplinary team (leverages unique strengths/capabilities at Texas A&M)

0-25 points

Q:  Can you provide budget guidelines? 
A:  Budgets will be requested for full proposals.

Salaries

  • Must be paid employees (faculty or staff) at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Galveston, Texas A&M University-Qatar, TEES, TEEX, AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, or TTI; or students at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Galveston, or Texas A&M University-Qatar.
  • Faculty – Only summer salary allowed and one month maximum. Include salary and fringe. Faculty salaries and fringe must not exceed 15% of total budget.
  • Graduate assistants - include tuition and fringe.
  • Staff and students - include salary and fringe.

Equipment

  • Must provide strong justification for individual equipment exceeding $10,000.

Award limits

  • Smaller scale and dollar amount awards shall not exceed a total of $325,000 and two years duration. Larger scale and funding scope awards shall not exceed a total of $1,500,000 and three years duration.

Q: Do you want to know the names of all researchers at Texas A&M that we have formally collaborated with in the past 24 months that are not team members on this X-Grant?
A: Yes.

Q: Does part C mean our advisees who have gone on to become faculty at A&M?
A: Yes.

Q: Are the three sections in the preliminary proposal template (i.e., significance and potential impact, research plan, and team profile) the only ones allowed or the only ones required?
A: Those are the sections that are required; however other sections are allowed, within the page limit. 

Q: Is travel for team members or to bring in experts allowed?
A: Travel for team members and personnel is allowed. Travel to bring in experts is permitted if it meets state travel guidelines. All travel must meet state travel guidelines.

Q: Does the designated $7 million for first year cover only first year costs, or is this amount expected to cover up to three years for all proposals funded in the first round?
A: The $7 million will cover all funding awarded in the round for up to three years.

Q: Can you tell me who will be reviewing the preliminary proposals?
A: The preliminary proposals will not be reviewed by members of teams submitting preliminary proposals. A selected set of Texas A&M faculty from various departments, which may include members of the steering committee not in teams submitting proposals, will perform the reviews. We will utilize a two-stage review process.

Q: How should we organize the collaborators list?
A: Please merge the collaborators of all members into a single combined list and then convert to a PDF. In the single merged list, you can sort by the last name of the preliminary proposal member.

Q: How many X-Grants proposals will be funded?
A: Around seven total smaller scale and dollar amount awards and three larger scale and funding scope projects will be funded. Approximately one-third of the preliminary proposals will be invited to submit full proposals. Approximately one-half of the full proposals will be funded.

STEP 4. SUBMIT FINAL PROPOSALS

Q: Is the budget justification part of the 10-page limit or should it be attached separately?
A: No, it is not a part of the 10-page project description document. The budget justification, if applicable, and budget should be combined and uploaded as one PDF document. Put the budget first.  Please note that budget justification is only needed if including individual equipment exceeding $10,000 or there are some unique aspects to the budget (e.g., summer salary for HSC faculty shifting from 12 months, etc.).

Q: What are the faculty salary limits? 
A: Faculty on nine months contracts are allowed a maximum of one month per year of summer salary on X-Grants funding.   Faculty on 10, 11, or 12 months contracts cannot receive salary from X-Grants funds.  The same guidelines apply to HSC faculty converting from 12-month appointments.

Q: Some faculty in the College of Medicine and other colleges affiliated with the HSC will have their salary converted from 12-month appointments to less than 12-month appointments, effective September 1, 2018, or later.  Can these faculty receive a portion of their summer salary from X-Grants funds?
A: The same faculty budget guidelines apply to HSC affiliated faculty converting from 12-month appointments. For HSC affiliated faculty converting from 12-month appointments in FY20 or later, teams would need to request budget revisions to include appropriate summer salaries in year 2 and/or 3 when the appointment changes.

Q: Is it appropriate to include a letter of interest/support from external partners with the final application?
A: You may consider discussing the commitment that you have received from the partner. If you choose, you can include letters of support. But they need to be included in the 10 pages of the project description.

Q: What funding dates should be included in bios?
A: At least months and years for start and end dates.

Q:  Is there any ability to fund a seminar series or a symposium out of the X-Grant monies? 
A:  It is possible to pay for some seminar or symposium expenses. No food, beverages, or business meal expenses are allowed.

Speaker or participant travel and speaker fees are allowed but must meet state and university guidelines.

Below are a few applicable state and university guidelines:

  1. There must be an agreement with the speaker so it is clear what the speaker would be reimbursed for. That requirement is in the FMO disbursement manual at: https://disbursement.tamu.edu/purchase/specific-requirements/speakers/ 
  1. State’s website reference: https://fmx.cpa.texas.gov/fm/pubs/purchase/misc/index.php?section=seminars&page=charge_fees