FAQ

The following provides answers to some recurring questions about the Systematic Review call

Do I need to submit an 'Expression of Interest' or a 'Letter of Interest' (LoI) or am I allowed to submit directly a full proposal?

You do not need to submit an EoI or LoI - you go directly into the full proposal.

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The application form allows for "Title of the Review (if different from Review Question)"- what does this mean?

Some of the proposed systematic review questions might be usefully broken down into smaller questions. If you think you need to reword the proposed question or suggest a sub-question, please put this on the form. In order to ensure equal opportunity, we are unable to provide guidance to specific teams; the winning bidders will be expected to agree on the scope and focus with 3ie, the funders and an advisory group at the review scoping stage.

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What are the steps for application?

Step 1: Log in to the Online Application System.
Step 2: Complete Application Form
Step 3: Submit your application online, using the grant management system.

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Can one organization be awarded more than one grant?

Yes

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Can more than one affiliate of an organization submit proposals?

Yes

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Are bids welcomed from consortia of researchers?

3ie encourages applicants to bring in partners from other organisations to complete their teams. 3ie is only able to sign grants with single organisations, and if grantees wish to have sub-agreements with other teams, this needs to be clearly budgeted as such.

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Do I need to submit a separate application for each question on which I want to bid?

Yes, because the composition of the teams and the methods will vary from question to question.

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What are the target/focus countries under this call for proposals?

3ie systematic reviews focus on evidence from, and applicable to, low- and middle-income country (LMIC) contexts. For some questions, the target region may be further specified geographically or according to ‘low-income’, ‘fragile states’ or ‘least developed’ classifications. Where relevant, evidence and studies from non-developing country settings may be incorporated into the review if there is a strong rationale for doing so.

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What is the primary audience of the systematic reviews?

International policy makers, advisors and development programme managers are key audiences for the reviews.

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What is the deadline for submission of proposals?

The deadline for submissions is 11.59 am Eastern Standard Time (EST), Friday, August 31, 2012.

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When will successful applicants hear back?

Successful applicants will be contacted by Friday, October 5, 2012.

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How much does a systematic review cost? Are there any grant limits?

The cost of a systematic review will depend on the size of the evidence base. If there are only 5 studies to review, and the methods used are standard to systematic reviewing, the review should be quite short. If there are 200 studies to review, and/or the study draws on non-standard review methodology, the review will take longer and cost more. As an approximate guide, the average budget of studies financed under the previous call for proposals was US$72,500.

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What resources does a systematic review entail?

The minimum team size for a systematic review is 2 members, including one lead investigator and one research assistant. In order to conduct a comprehensive search, teams will need full-text access to journals, an academic library and the internet, and access to reference management software. Access to statistical software packages for meta-analysis, or software packages for qualitative data analysis, are an advantage.

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How do I know if my institution qualifies for this RFP?

Any organization can apply - the review criteria (found in the call) include the qualifications and experience of the study team.

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Does 3ie embrace/promote certain systematic review methods and approaches only?

3ie partners with the Campbell Collaboration in the production of systematic reviews, and accordingly all reviews of effectiveness must be conducted to Campbell standards. However, we take a broad perspective on systematic reviews not limited to quantitative approaches, which includes quantitative and qualitative reviews of complex interventions. In practice this means reviews: (1) are based on high quality evidence appropriate to the research question; (2) set the outcome in the broader context of the underlying program theory, reporting evidence on all links in the causal chain, not only final (‘endpoint’) outcomes. Hence teams should synthesise broader factual and counterfactual evidence, and quantitative and qualitative evidence, for example on barriers and facilitators of change; and (3) examine the variation and heterogeneity of reported outcomes, not only their mean/central tendency (average effect size).

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Does 3ie only want systematic reviews of Randomized Control Trials?

No. The type of study and method of synthesis must be appropriate to the question. RCTs might be the relevant study type for some interventions, but quasi-experimental methods (such as statistical matching, regression-based designs, pipeline approach) are admissible studies of intervention effectiveness, and non-experimental methods may also be admissible for interventions in which experimental and quasi-experimental approaches are not appropriate or feasible. For more information about quantitative evaluation design, see here. Qualitative or mixed methods evidence might be appropriate to understanding mechanisms or factors explaining why something works or does not work.

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What kind of methodological standards are expected from systematic review?

There are many guidelines available for conducting systematic reviews including:

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On which criteria will the quality of proposals be assessed?

Proposals will be assessed according to whether they are substantively important and methodologically appropriate. Criteria and weights are found in Appendix 1 of the call for proposals document.

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Where can I find out more about systematic reviews?

The sites of the Campbell and Cochrane Collaborations contain guidelines on producing systematic reviews. These resources, and others, are listed on this site under useful links and resources.

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What support can 3ie give to preparing proposals?

3ie has put resources on this website for those wanting to submit proposals in response to this RFP. 3ie staff cannot give advice on individual proposals, or be named as part of teams submitting proposals.

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What are the acceptable indirect costs?

Please read the Indirect Cost Guidelines.

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What are the acceptable direct costs?

Please read the Direct Cost Guidelines.

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