Grant Selection Criteria FAQs

These questions address the selection criteria and the process used for evaluating proposals.

What happens after the proposal is submitted? How will my proposal be evaluated?

Proposals will be reviewed through a multistep review process, with participation from expert reviewers, RWJF staff, NPO staff, and the PHLR National Advisory Committee (NAC). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundaiton will make all final funding decisions. The Foundation does not provide individual critiques of proposals submitted. For more information on the NPO staff, NAC and Methods Core, visit:

How will reviewers determine if my study will have a clear effect in advancing effective public health policies?

Strong Research Design: Is it a longitudinal or pre/post design? How many baseline and follow-up observations? What is timing or spacing of the measures, and how does that compare with the hypothesized pattern of effect expected? Does the design include comparison groups or comparison jurisdictions? Can you defend the comparison groups selected as similar in important relevant ways to the "experimental" state, city or group? In other words, all the dimensions of design that affect the internal validity of the study—the degree to which differences or relationships observed can plausibly be interpreted in causal terms.

Reliable and Valid Measures: If the project plans to collect new original data (e.g., surveys, field observations, event counts) does it use well-developed protocols for accurate measurement? Or if the study plans to use existing data, do the investigators adequately show their reliability and validity, and show awareness of any particular points of weakness in the data to be used?

Appropriate Statistical Analyses: Do the analyses match the research design, do they take into account the nature of the measures and data used? Or, for study components that may be analyzing qualitative data, are there clearly defined specific protocols and procedures for collection, coding, organizing and analyzing those data? What software packages and procedures within those packages will be used for the analyses of quantitative (SAS, STATA, etc.) or qualitative (nVivo, Ethnograph, etc.) data?

Significance to Public Health Law: Assuming the first three dimensions of good science are met, will the results likely have a significant effect in expanding the knowledge base about effective or ineffective public health law, and will the results and specific plans for dissemination have a beneficial effect on policy-makers, public health practitioners, policy implementers, and ultimately the health of the population?