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I-Os and Funded Research

Ashley Walvoord
Verizon Wireless
Liu-Qin Yang
Portland State University

Introduction and Inspiration!

“I would love to have more resources to do my research. Why aren’t there more research funding announcements related to I-O topics?”

“I’m not really confident about how to pursue funding for I-O studies. I wish I could learn about the success stories of other I-Os”

“Isn’t research funding less applicable to the corporate and consulting domains?”

“I-O is an applied science. How can I successfully articulate the basic concepts underlying my research to a funding agency?”

“What types of funding agencies (besides SIOP and SHRM) have priorities that align with I-O?”

Sound familiar?

In a recent SIOP survey, members (academic and practitioner alike) revealed significant interest in obtaining more resources to support their research, but few had attempted to apply for research grants, contracts, small business innovation funds, or other opportunities (Allen, Oswald, & Cho, 2012). Despite being well-qualified and interested, many I-Os may wonder, “Is research funding really relevant to my work? Can I realistically find success in pursuing substantial funding?” Yes you can!

Over the upcoming year, we are here to partner with you to provide strategies, peer examples, process familiarity, and example funding opportunities at your fingertips (or at your mouse). If you have minimal or no funding experience, this column will help to build your understanding of funding basics. For readers with moderate exposure to the funding world, the content will provide a plug-and-play experience with new approaches and perspectives. In each issue, we will bring you stories and interviews from experts in I-O research funding, who are dedicated to inspiring you and helping you succeed! We look forward to meeting you here each quarter!

To kick off the series, this month we had the opportunity catch up with Dr. Steve Kozlowski (Michigan State University) to share his perspective on the role of I-O in funded research. Dr. Kozlowski is the editor of Journal of Applied Psychology, an awardee of many competitive research grants, a former chair of the SIOP Scientific Affairs Committee, and chaired the SIOP Task Force on Science Advocacy.

Steve, you have a great deal of experience and success in the funded research space; what are your observations regarding the opportunity for I-Os to get more involved?

From my experience, resources from grants are typically directed at big societal problems or issues that are important to everyone to solve. These issues cut across academic and practitioner lines, and there are several reasons why I-Os from either specialization would want to get involved. First, the obvious benefit is having resources to support your research interests. “Resources” could include materials, equipment, facilities, participant remuneration, supplemental salary, and graduate student support, for example. Sure, you can do some research and science without money, but you can make greater progress and impact if you have resources. Second, with funding you can tackle much larger problems than you could otherwise. We [I-Os] need to be out there working with big topics because we have a lot to offer; we are qualified to provide the scientific foundation for effective solutions to problems. The most important reason why we need to engage in this sphere is because it is the future of our field. Participating in funded research promotes the development of the science of industrial and organizational psychology. By contributing to big societal solutions, our field develops tools, techniques, and solutions, and when resources enable graduate assistant involvement, future generations of I-Os are trained, which enhances science and practice.

You mentioned that I-Os are qualified and have a lot to offer. What unique advantages do I-Os bring to the world of funded research?

When you consider the nature of many societal concerns, the topics often include a range of organizational effectiveness issues, and this is where we [I-Os] bring a unique perspective. I-Os also have an advantage in skills for research design, methodology, and analysis. If you find that your specific areas of research seem less aligned with a funding topic, you can almost always be a valued addition to a multidisciplinary team. If you shift your lens from looking for funding announcements about your specific topic to looking for how your research area supports other topics, then I-O opportunities are easier to find.

In your career, how did you begin to hone your skills for conceptualizing and submitting funding applications?

Given my interests in learning, development, and multilevel theory, post-tenure I began to shift my research (from socialization and climate) to these new topics with a particular focus on teams because they are at the micro–macro juncture. That meant doing work on learning/training systems, team development, and team effectiveness. Who funds research on those topics? The military does almost everything with team-based structures, and they fund basic and applied research. That’s where I started. There are summer fellowships for junior faculty available through different agencies or organizations; for example, there is funding for you to spend 10 weeks at a laboratory, make initial contacts, and learn about what their needs and problems are while they learn what your abilities and areas of interest are. You need to make a sponsor contact and then you have to be able to craft a realistic mutual fit between their interests and yours.

Based on the SIOP survey results, many readers here are wondering where to start. What advice could you offer?

I would compare learning how to write funding applications to the way you learn to ride a bike—you get on the bike! The first thing I recommend is to start building a network and get connected. Most colleagues I know who pursue research funding either got started by pairing up with someone else who was already doing it or they pursued a fellowship. In the beginning, it may feel daunting, but you can easily start with colleagues within SIOP and then branch out to other areas of psychology and beyond.

When it comes to understanding how to put applications together and move through the funding process, I would recommend that readers follow this column and leverage the Internet; the web makes everything much more accessible because you can find an agency, browse the programs in the agency, find the program managers’ names, and reach out to them (typically agencies employ program managers to give you feedback so you can submit a good application). For example, if you have an idea, write up a white paper or a brief explanation and send it them (e.g., here’s the problem, here’s what I’m interested in solving)—don’t be shy!

My last recommendation is to fit research funding efforts into your career plan. Depending on the resources available to you in your company or in your university, some readers may wish to get involved in applying for funding sooner rather than later. Others may desire to start building their networks now, as a first step of a longer term plan to begin submitting applications for substantial funding. Remember that the biggest obstacle is not even trying to apply!

A Look Ahead to Next Quarter’s Yes You Can! I-Os and Funded Research

We thank Steve for this great introduction to the I-O opportunities in funded research! In the next column, we will bring you a brief overview of different funding mechanisms out there (there are many alternatives beyond the SIOP Foundation and NIH) and strategies to tailor your research ideas to fit different types of funding agencies. We’ll get the inside scoop from an experienced program manager, and uncover helpful strategies to support successful funding submissions from colleague Lillian Eby. Please check out the following funding resources, and until next time, remember: Yes You Can!

Funding Resources

Federal Funding Agencies


Non-Federal Foundations


Educational Resources

https://www.signup4.net/Public/ap.aspx?EID=NATI416E (NSF Grants Conference)
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/seminars.htm (NIH annual regional seminar)

“Finale”: An Intro to the Scientific Affairs Committee

Fred Oswald, Chair
(Column sponsors)

The SIOP Scientific Affairs Committee (SAC) is concerned with all aspects of I-O psychology as a science. Its members encourage, promote, and facilitate greater contributions of a scientific and technical nature. We are fortunate to have two insightful and hard-working SAC members serving as editors of this new TIP series. Ashley Walvoord and Liu-Qin Yang will be providing SIOP readers with general strategies, specific information, and interview materials related to obtaining research funding that is relevant for I-O psychologists. Increased funding not only improves the quality and quantity of our science; it extends the visibility of SIOP members’ work in the I-O research and practice communities, in government and policymaking circles, and in society at large. The SAC hopes that you will learn from and benefit from this series of articles, as mighty oaks from little acorns grow!


Allen, T.D., Oswald, F., & Cho, E. (2012). Science advocacy survey results: A brief report. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 50(1), 62–69.