FAQ

3ie provides answers to frequently asked questions about the Systematic Review call

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to submit an 'Expression of Interest' (EoI) or a 'Letter of Interest' (LoI) or can I submit a full proposal? 

You do not need to submit an EoI or LoI. You go directly to the full proposal online and complete it.

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What are the steps for submitting an application? 

Step 1: Log in to the 3ie Online Application System.
Step 2: Complete the application form
Step 3: Submit your application online, using the Online Application System.

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Can I work on my application online, save it and return to it later?

Yes, the 3ie online application allows you to work on your application without submitting it. On hitting the ‘Save’ button, a copy of your information is saved in the form itself. You will be able to return to it at another time and continue working on it, and save it as many times as you wish. It is also possible to print your application while you are working on it or after it has been submitted. Unless you hit the submit button, your application will not be considered complete and submitted for review. 

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The application form allows for ‘Title of the study if more focused or broader than the review question selected above’. What does this mean?

Some of the proposed systematic review questions might be usefully broken down into smaller questions. 3ie advises you to propose appropriately focused review questions for questions on broad topics where substantial evidence exists. If you think you need to reword the proposed question or suggest a sub-question, please put this on the form. The winning bidders will be expected to agree on the scope and focus with 3ie, funders of this call and an advisory group at the review scoping stage.

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Can one organisation be awarded more than one grant?

Yes

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Can more than one affiliate of an organisation submit proposals? 

Yes

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Does 3ie welcome bids from consortia of researchers?

3ie encourages applicants to collaborate with partners from other organisations to complete their teams, for example teams comprising systematic review specialists and subject area specialists. 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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Are ‘match-making’ services available for teams seeking additional members?

Yes 

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

Teams wishing to recruit additional members or researchers who can provide relevant information or skills to review teams are encouraged to sign up to the SRs-in-international-development email listserv to post information and requests: srs-in-internation-development@googlegroups.com.

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What are the focus countries under this call for proposals?

3ie systematic reviews focus on evidence from, and applicable to, low- and middle-income countries. For some proposals, the target region may be further specified geographically or according to low-income country, fragile states or least-developed country 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 policymakers, advisors and implementation 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: 30 August 2013
12.00pm British Summer Time (BST; GMT+1)
7.00am Eastern Daylight Time (EDT; GMT-4)
4.30pm India Standard Time (IST; GMT+5 ½)

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When will successful applicants hear the results? 

Successful applicants will be contacted in October 2013. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified. But, by the end of December 2013, they will be able to access their peer review forms, without the scores, by logging onto the 3ie online application system.

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

As an approximate guide, the average budget of studies financed under the previous call for proposals was US$83,000. However, the cost of a systematic review will depend on the size of the evidence base to be reviewed and the methods of synthesis used. If there are many studies to review, and/or the study draws on a range of evidence (for example, including both counterfactual evidence and broader evidence to answer separate review sub-questions), the review might cost more. In previous calls, budgeting mixed method reviews has proved particularly challenging. 3ie urges careful attention to estimating budget costs as accurately as possible in all instances.

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What resources does a systematic review entail? 

There should be sufficient staff to ensure the independent double reading of full text articles, data extraction and quality appraisal of included studies, with third party referral in case of disagreement. Teams are required to consult search librarians or information specialists as part of the process of developing a protocol. 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. Successful teams are also expected to form an advisory group.

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How do I know if my institution qualifies for this Request for Proposals? 

Any organisation that may legally accept a grant agreement can apply. Study teams are assessed based on qualifications and experience of team members, as indicated in the review criteria found in the Request for Proposals.

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Does 3ie promote certain systematic review methods and approaches? 

3ie partners with the Campbell Collaboration in the production of systematic reviews, and accordingly reviews of effectiveness must be conducted to Campbell standards. However, 3ie takes a broad perspective on the types of questions and evidence on which a systematic review can be based. Evidence of effectiveness requires mixed methodological approaches, including quantitative and qualitative studies, using experimental and quasi-experimental designs, in controlled and real life settings. 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 programme theory, reporting evidence on all links in the causal chain, not only final (endpoint) outcomes. Hence teams may wish to 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 central tendency (average effect size). 

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Does 3ie only want systematic reviews of randomised-control trials (RCTs)? 

No, the type of study and method of synthesis must be appropriate to the question. RCTs may be relevant for some interventions, but quasi-experimental methods are usually admissible studies of intervention effectiveness. For more information about quantitative evaluation design, see here and refer to Shadish, Cook and Campbell, 2002, Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Generalized Causal Inference. Reviews should draw on broader evidence including that based on qualitative or mixed methods to understand mechanisms or factors explaining why something works or does not work in a particular context.

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What kind of methodological standards are expected from systematic review? 

There are many guidelines available for conducting systematic reviews:

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On which criteria will the quality of proposals be assessed? 

The quality of proposals will be assessed according to whether they are substantively important and methodologically appropriate. All of the criteria and weights are found in Appendix 1 of the Request for Proposals. 

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What support can 3ie give for preparing proposals? 

In order to ensure equal opportunity, 3ie staff are unable to provide guidance to specific teams or be named as part of teams submitting proposals. 3ie has put resources on this website for those wanting to submit proposals in response to this Request for Proposals. 

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What are the acceptable indirect costs? 

Please read the 3ie Indirect Cost Guidelines.

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What are the acceptable direct costs? 

Please read the 3ie Direct Cost Guidelines.

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Where can I find out more about systematic reviews? 

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

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Where can I find out more about the Policy Influence Plan (PIP)?

3ie is in the process of revising and updating the PIP guidance and template. Submission and approval of the PIP continues to be a prerequisite for successful applicants; but the approach towards finalising it is expected change. The PIP template and guidance will be made available to awardees over email and uploaded on the website here: http://www.3ieimpact.org/en/funding/systematic-reviews-grants/3ie-systematic-review-call-6/how-apply/

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