FAQ

Open Window - Frequently asked questions

Most Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Open Window 4

Proposal – Expression of Interest (EOI)

Review process – Expression of Interest & Full proposal

Full Proposal

Other Funding Opportunities

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by ‘Open Window’?

This grant window is called ‘Open Window’ because it accepts proposals for conducting impact evaluations of social and economic development programmes/interventions in all sectors and on all themes.

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What organisations /institutions are eligible to submit proposals in response to this Request for Proposals?

Organisations /institutions with relevant evaluation expertise are eligible to submit proposals, as long as they have established and can prove demand for the evaluation from the implementing agency. The typical applicant is a research institute, think tank, university or consultancy firm. Both non-profit and for-profit organisations can apply. Governmental /implementing agencies can also apply for Open Window grants; however, they must submit a letter stating how potential conflicts of interest will be avoided.

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How can I apply?

All Expressions of Interest and full proposals are to be submitted using 3ie’s online Grant Management System at: http://praxispts.com/3ieimpact/. The person in charge of submitting the proposal must register on the site and will be given login details. The system opened on the 1st of June 2012, when the window was launched.

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Where can I download the Expression of Interest form?

As during earlier grant windows, all applicants will first have to register and log-in to 3ie’s online Grant Management System at: http://praxispts.com/3ieimpact/. Only there can applicants access and complete the online Expression of Interest form. The system opened on the 1st of June 2012, when OW4 was launched.

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Can an organisation submit multiple proposals for the same grant window?

Yes.

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Can one organisation be awarded more than one grant?

Yes.

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Can a researcher be involved in more than one proposal?

Yes, as long as s/he has the time available to participate in all submitted studies, should they all be awarded grants.

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Can more than one affiliate of an organisation submit proposals?

Yes.

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Is it true that 3ie only funds developed country researchers?

No. Any research institution with the capacity to conduct impact evaluations can apply. In fact, 3ie's review criteria give extra points for substantive involvement of developing country researchers. Over three-quarters of 3ie grants under the Open Window have been given to teams that include developing country researchers.

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What is the maximum or minimum grant limit for a single study under 3ie’s Open Window 4?

There are no pre-established funding limits. However, the costs of the evaluation is one of the criterion used to score and rank proposals.

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What is the average grant size awarded by 3ie?

The average 3ie grant is just under US$350,000.

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Does 3ie pay for the costs of the intervention being evaluated? Does 3ie fund interventions?

No. 3ie funds can only be used for the costs of the evaluation. The costs of the intervention are expected to be borne by the implementing agency, or potential implementing agency in the case of a pilot programme.

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If the applicant organisation is unable to accept the Grant Agreement terms regarding Arbitration, Governing Law, and Enforcement, is there scope for negotiation?

The terms of the Global Development Network (GDN) grant administration agreement are fixed. If your institution cannot accept them, you will need to find another institution to submit the proposal and hold the grant for you. The terms of the 3ie grant agreement may be changed subject to negotiations between the institution and 3ie’s law firm. However, 3ie provides no guarantee of a change in the terms to fit an applicant organisation’s demands.

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Questions About Open Window 4

What is the total value of the award under 3ie's Open Window 4?

3ie hopes to make awards up to a total value of US$4 million under OW4.

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

Proposals may be submitted for impact studies in any low, lower-middle or upper-middle income country as classified by the World Bank.

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What is 3ie’s definition of social and economic development interventions?

Social and economic development interventions should, as their primary purpose, improve a population’s quality of life. For example, programmes aimed at improving health, education, employment, environment, access to credit, infrastructure, and/or reducing income-poverty are considered social and/or economic development interventions.

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Who is the primary audience for 3ie’s funded studies?

The primary audience for 3ie’s funded studies is developing country policy makers and programme managers.

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Can I access the proposal form for the full proposal during the Expression of Interest (EOI) period?

No. Only if your EOI is selected for the second phase of the proposal process will you be able to complete the full proposal form through the online Grant Management System at: http://praxispts.com/3ieimpact/. EOI selection decisions will be communicated on a rolling basis, within 1-2 weeks of submission of the EOI. If the EOI is selected for the second phase of the proposal process, applicants will receive a notification with a link to the full online proposal and detailed instructions.

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Can an organisation apply to Open Window 4 even if it did not apply for grants under earlier 3ie grant Windows?

Yes, Open Window 4 is open to anyone, even if you did not apply for grants under earlier 3ie-funded Windows, or, indeed if you did apply to earlier Windows and your proposal was successful/unsuccessful.

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Proposal – Expression of Interest (EOI)

Is the proposal process under Open Window 4 similar to the proposal process under OW3 and Social Protection Thematic Window (SPTW)?

Yes, the proposal process under OW4 is similar to the proposal process under OW3 and SPTW. As in OW3 and SPTW, OW4 uses a two stage proposal process: first an Expression of Interest phase, and second, a full proposal stage. However, there are some differences. Most notably, the scoring criteria have changed since OW3 and are more similar to the scoring criteria of SPTW.  

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Can funds be budgeted towards implementing agency staff time if he/she is part of the evaluation team?

No, as the cost policy states, staff of the implementing agency cannot be remunerated under the grant. Implementing agency staff time spent on the evaluation must be covered by their employer.

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The 3ie direct cost policy document states: “3ie funds may not be used to remunerate the staff of any implementing agency (including NGOs) whose programme is evaluated under a 3ie grant.” What is the 3ie policy if the staff from the implementing agency work in an independent department, completely separate from individuals implementing the programme, and the staff is not involved in the implementation of the programme in any way, except by participating in the evaluation team?

The Open Window can remunerate external researchers that are hired by an implementing agency. However, the staff of the implementing agency cannot be directly remunerated by a 3ie grant. This policy is consistent with 3ie’s policy that no government employees can be remunerated by a 3ie grant, and we extend that policy to NGOs, so that the two types of implementing agencies are treated equally. This policy also promotes independence of evaluations. 3ie expects that the benefits of the evaluation are worth the investment of time implementing agency staff.

3ie does not prohibit staff of the implementing agency from serving on the evaluation team, although reviewers check for possible conflict of interest when reviewing proposals and grant deliverables. If implementing agencies are applying for an OW4 grants, 3ie does require a letter stating how possible conflicts of interest will be avoided.

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Can I submit a full proposal even if my Expression of Interest has been rejected?

No, only successful Expressions of Interests will be eligible to submit a full proposal.

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What are the deadlines for submissions?

Applicants are required to submit an Expression of Interest no later than June 24, 2012 (11.59 pm GMT) through the Grant Management System at http://praxispts.com/3ieimpact/. Only teams whose Expressions of Interests have passed the first screening will be eligible to submit a detailed full proposal by August 6, 2012 (11.59 pm GMT).

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When will I be notified about the results of my Expression of Interest?

EOIs can be submitted to 3ie on a rolling basis. You will be notified of the results of the EOI within 1-2 weeks of your submission. The last date of submission of EOIs for OW4 is the 24th of June, 2012 (11.59 pm GMT). All applicants will be informed at the latest by the 10th of July, 2012.  Successful applicants can begin preparing the full proposals upon receiving notification from 3ie.  

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If my Expression of Interest is successful and I submit a full proposal, when will I be notified about the results for the final awards?

The deadline for submitting full proposals is the 6th of August, 2012 (11.59 pm, GMT). Announcement for the final awards is expected 10-12 weeks after the final deadline for full proposals.

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If my Expression of Interest is rejected, can I revise it and re-submit before the deadline of the full proposal on August 6, 2012?

No. The call for Expression of Interest closes on June 24th, 2012. Applicants who are not shortlisted will be notified through the online system. If your Expression of Interest is unsuccessful, you can apply under subsequent grant windows of 3ie.

3ie has Policy and Thematic Windows that also receive proposals for grants. The Policy Window 2 (PW2) is accepting proposals on an ongoing basis. The dates for the next Thematic and Open Windows have not yet been determined.

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Review process – Expression of Interest & Full proposal

How is 3ie’s review process organised?

All Expressions of Interests (EOIs) go through an internal review by a representative of 3ie’s Evaluation Office. EOIs selected by the internal reviewer for the next phase will be eligible for submitting the full proposal. EOIs rejected by the internal reviewer are sent to an external reviewer for an independent decision. If the EOI is selected for the next phase by the external reviewer, the applicant is then eligible for submitting the full proposal. If the EOI is rejected by the external reviewer, the applicant will not be eligible for submitting the full proposal.

Full proposals are reviewed by an internal reviewer and three external reviewers. The average scores from these reviews will be used to prepare a shortlist of proposals. Subsequently, a panel of policy makers reviews and ranks the shortlisted proposals for policy relevance and potential policy impact. Review criteria are stated in the OW4 Request for Proposals.  

What are the review criteria for the Expression of Interest?

Reviewers of the Expressions of Interest consider: (1) whether the proposal is for an impact evaluation of a social and/or economic development intervention in a low or middle income country; and (2) whether the proposed design meets 3ie’s minimum threshold for rigour as explained in the 3ie Principles for Impact Evaluation.

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Is the proposal for OW4 different from earlier Open Windows?

Yes, the review process for full proposals has been slightly modified since Open Window 3; however, the OW4 process is very similar to the selection process of the Social Protection Thematic Window. Under the new system, the full proposals will first go through a technical review where external reviewers will shortlist all proposals of sufficient technical quality. These technically-sound, shortlisted studies will then be screened by a panel of policy makers and researchers to select those proposals with the greatest policy relevance and potential policy impact.

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Will the review of my Expression of Interest affect the results of my full proposal?

No, the EOI and full proposal review process are two separate processes. However, the review of the EOI determines eligibility to submit a full proposal. If the EOI is not selected, applicants cannot submit the full proposal.

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I have submitted a proposal under 3ie’s Policy Window. Will my organisation be eligible for submitting a proposal under Open Window 4?

Yes.

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When am I expected to hear from 3ie about the result of my proposal?

Results of the EOI review will be communicated within 1-2 weeks of submission of the EOI, and by the 10th of July, 2012 at the latest. Announcement for the final awards is expected 10-12 weeks after the final deadline for full proposals, which is the 6th of August, 2012.

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Full Proposal

Can the Full Proposal be submitted at the first stage?

No, this is a two stage proposal process. Only applicants that are successful in the Expression of Interest phase are invited to submit a full proposal.

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How do I know if my evaluation design stands a good chance for being selected?

Applicants should familiarize themselves with 3ie Principles of Impact Evaluation, 3ie Impact Evaluation Practice, and 3ie’s strategy: Improving Lives through Impact Evaluation: a strategy for 3ie

In addition, applicants are encouraged to read carefully the review criteria and scoring in the detailed Request For Proposals.

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How will the Full Proposal be scored? What are the criteria for scoring the Full Proposal?

Proposals are scored against two sets of pre-determined criteria: (1) a technical score, and (2) a policy score. The technical score includes the following criteria: Quality of technical proposal - internal validity; Quality of technical proposal - external validity; Qualifications of proposed staff; Involvement of developing country researchers/evaluators and developing country research organisations; and Participation/involvement of a 3ie member/associate member. The policy score includes: Policy relevance; Potential policy impact; and Cost of the evaluation.

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I have an impact evaluation in mind, but I am currently looking for a Principal Investigator to partner with for conducting this evaluation. Does 3ie connect organisations with researchers or institutions that have the evaluation expertise to conduct rigorous impact evaluations?

Yes, upon request, 3ie provides support by way of connecting impact evaluation experts to the applicant. 3ie has an impact evaluation Expert Roster which currently profiles more than 200 experts. Using an expert suggested by 3ie is not a guarantee that your proposal will be accepted. If your organization is implementing the programme to be evaluated you can also apply under 3ie’s Policy Window (PW).

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Is it possible to review sample proposals of awarded studies selected under earlier Open Windows (OW1, OW2 and OW3)?

Yes, please see four model proposals at the bottom of the Open Window, How to Apply page. Additionally, you can view the synopsis of all 3ie-funded studies at the 3ie funded impact evaluations page.

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Do I need to submit additional documents as part of the online proposal form on the Grant Management System at: http://www.praxispts.com/3ieimpact?

Yes, you must submit CVs and budgets with the online proposal form. Also, you are requested to upload letters of support of the implementing agency and an additional letter that states how potential conflict of interest will be avoided, in the case that the implementing agency is the grant-holding organisation.

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Do I need to submit a letter of support from an implementing agency if I am submitting a proposal to evaluate the long-term effects of an intervention that is no longer being implemented?

Yes. We require a letter of support for all our applications. Before funding an evaluation, 3ie wants to be sure that parties that can make policy decisions are interested in the evaluation. Thus, 3ie expects applicants to identify parties that can make use of the results and guarantee interest before the evaluation starts.

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How long should the proposal be?

The maximum number of words allowed for each section is indicated in the grant proposal form.

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What is the timeframe of the average 3ie-funded study?

The length of the research typically varies from 12 months to 4 years.

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Do we need a 3ie member/associate member as part of the team since the Request For Proposal gives additional weight to proposal with a 3ie member/associate member as part of the team?

No, having a 3ie member or associate member as part of the team is not a necessary part of a proposal. Under the 3ie review criteria and proposal scoring system, a proposal receives a 5% bonus on the score if the grant holding organisation is a 3ie member or a 3ie associate member, or if the programme to be evaluated is being implemented or substantially funded by a 3ie member/associate member.

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Our institution does not have the capacity to develop a proposal, but our programmes are very innovative and highly policy relevant. What do we do?

Your organisation can apply to 3ie’s Policy Window 2 (PW2). The Policy Window is designed to support developing country institutions in identifying highly qualified impact evaluation experts and to take part in designing rigorous impact evaluations of their most important programmes. Proposals for Policy Window can be sent anytime.

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Does 3ie prefer to fund evaluations of large-scale interventions?

Proposals are scored on policy relevance and policy impact. The scale of the intervention is considered when scoring on these criteria. However, there are other factors included in the policy relevance and policy impact scores. Weights and details of these criteria will be available online at the time the full proposal is open.

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What do you mean by “high quality impact evaluations”?

High-quality impact evaluations measure the net change in outcomes that can be attributed to a specific programme amongst a group or groups of people. A high-quality impact evaluation makes use of the best methodology available that is feasible and appropriate to the evaluation question(s) being investigated and to the specific context. See the 3ie’s Principles for Impact Evaluation.

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What kind of methodological standards are expected from the evaluation design?

3ie supports impact evaluations that adhere to agreed-upon methodological standards for addressing the “attribution challenge”; i.e., establishing cause and effect between programmatic activities and specified outcomes. In particular, evaluation designs must be capable of addressing: a) confounding factors; b) selection bias; c) spillover effects; d) contamination of control groups; and e) impact heterogeneity by beneficiary type and context. 3ie also encourages the use of formative and contextual/process research that can inform the evaluation design and the interpretation of results. Researchers are strongly encouraged to explicitly state the theory of change of the programme and use mixed methods to explore the causal mechanisms between interventions and measured outcomes.

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Does 3ie promote or prefer specific evaluation methods and approaches?

3ie promotes the use of the best available method to address the evaluation question at hand. Please consult 3ie Principles of Impact Evaluation and 3ie Impact Evaluation Practice for further information.

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Does 3ie fund proposals with more than one grant-holding institution?

No. Only a single organization can be the grant-holding institution. The grant-holding institution may have sub-agreements but not secondary sub-agreements.

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Our grant funds pass through two separate organizations with overhead costs which, when combined, amount to more than the 10%. Should we state our real costs, or place the overhead amount at the 10% limit?

Please refer to the Direct Cost Policy and Indirect Cost Guidelines for detailed guidance.  The indirect cost guidelines specify the maximum amount of indirect costs a grantee can claim.  The prime grantee is eligible for 2% Grants & Administration costs for the costs of a sub–grantee.

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What is the meaning of the term ‘fringe’?

Fringe is a term used for the benefits paid by employers to eligible employees. For different organisations, it includes different elements—the determination of a fringe rate should be part of an organisation’s accounting statements. Fringe may include things like vacation leave, public holidays, and health insurance. It is typically separate from overhead or indirect costs.

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If a surveying firm is contracted for data collection and data entry, should this be reflected in the ‘Survey’ worksheet of the budget template or the Sub-grantee worksheet?

The costs should be detailed on the ‘Survey’ worksheet of the budget template submitted for the sub-agreement. That is, in addition to including summary costs for sub-agreements in the sub-grantee worksheet, you must also submit a full budget in the template for each sub-agreement.

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Our organisation has already obtained funding for/conducted a baseline/midline survey for an impact evaluation of a development intervention. Can we submit a proposal for funding the follow-up survey(s)?

Yes, 3ie funds can also be used to fund follow-up surveys for impact evaluations.

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Other Funding Opportunities

Are there other funding opportunities with 3ie, or is Open Window the only one?

There are other funding opportunities. 3ie issues requests for proposals through:

  • Open Windows, which accepts proposals for impact evaluations of programmes in any sector.
  • Policy Windows, which funds evaluations of priority interventions and programmes proposed by policy-makers.
  • Thematic Windows, which focus on priority themes and sectors as defined by policy makers.
  • Systematic Reviews, which examine existing evidence on the impacts of a particular intervention or set of similar interventions.

Visit 3ie's Get Funding page for more information.

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How will I know when the next grant window request for proposals is open?

You can subscribe to 3ie news, which will alert you to future 3ie calls. 

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