Developing a Proposal

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Key Guidelines

  • All grant or contract proposals must be submitted electronically through the RAMSeS system by means of an eIPF (electronic Internal Processing Form) and must be approved through proper university channels before submission to sponsors. OSR Policy 200.7
  • The Principal Investigator (PI) should prepare proposals according to the requirements of the sponsor and aligned with the University’s established processing procedures and deadlines, so there is ample time to evaluate, revise (as necessary) and approve the application prior to the agency submission due date. OSR Policy 300.3
  • In the absence of a specific format or content requirements, sample documents provided in the links below may be used.

Details

Types of Proposals

  • New: a request for new dollars unassociated with an existing contract or grant.
  • Revised Request: a previously submitted request that has not been funded, but may be reconsidered pending revision of one or more of the following elements:
    • Revised Personnel
    • Revised Cost Share
    • Revised Budget

Whenever a proposal revision is requested, the appropriate proposal specialist should be contacted to discuss specific circumstances. (Areas of Responsibility in Proposal Management)

  • Amendment/Supplement: a request for additional new dollars, extending the period of performance or a change in the scope of work. Amendments generally pertain to industry sponsored research and clinical trials whereas supplements pertain to additional new dollars for an existing contract or grant.
  • Renewal or Competing: a request for new dollars for a continuation of the research after the existing project period ends.
  • Non-Competing Continuation: a request for the release of dollars previously committed by sponsor/agency for an existing contract or grant.

Submission Deadlines

Each sponsor typically sets a specific due date for every proposal/grant application. This deadline must be taken into account in addition to those set by the University for internal review. Thus, it is wise to plan and prepare proposals as far in advance of such deadlines as possible.

NIH schedule: NIH (National Institutes of Health) has established a cycle that is constant and does not vary from year to year, with the exception of one-time only RFP dates.

NSF Deadlines and Target dates page: NSF (National Science Foundation) submission dates vary by program area. The Active Funding Opportunities website provides a list of key due dates for active grant proposals.

Proposal Writing Tips

Sponsor Application Forms

Here you can find the most commonly used grant application forms from external agencies. Hard copies of application forms are available by contacting the individual funding agencies.

Sample Application Format

If no prescribed format exists, the basic elements suggested for inclusion are as follows:

  • Proposal Cover Pagewhich includes the following:
    • Name and address of potential sponsor
    • Title of research proposal
    • Name, address, and telephone number of the principal investigator, and department name
    • Amount of funds requested
    • Estimated duration of the project along with proposed starting and ending dates
    • Signature lines
  • Description of research: a brief abstract of the proposed program
  • Space, facilities, and equipment needed and not currently available
  • Personnel vitae
  • Budget information (for information on preparing specific budget items refer to Developing a Budget)

Information Sheet

The Information Sheet provides a handy tool for completing information required on the proposal. It is kept up-to-date with the following information:

  • Official Legal Name
  • Institutional Officer
  • Contract & Grant Administrator
  • Financial Officer
  • Email for all correspondence
  • Frequently Used Information for Sponsored Research
  • Miscellaneous Information for Sponsored Research
  • Financial Information
  • Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Cost Rates
  • FY 2005 Fringe Benefits
  • UNC Physicians & Associates (P&A) Supplemental Fringe Benefits
  • Office of Clinical Trials (OCT) Submissions
  • Sponsored Programs Office (SPO) Submissions
  • Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) Submissions

Proposal Preparation Forms

Additional forms may be required by the University when a proposal is submitted. These may include:

  • Human Subjects Certification Data Sheet
    • Anyone named in the proposal that will be involved in Human Subjects research is required to complete training. Documentation of this training is required to be submitted with the University’s Internal Processing Form (IPF).

Internal Approvals and Certifications

The following links are to other departments within UNC-CH that have responsibility for specific areas of compliance.

The electronic Internal Processing Form (eIPF)

An eIPF must be submitted with every proposal for a grant, contract or cooperative agreement. It may be prepared electronically in RAMSeS (Research Administration Management System & eSubmission) and electronically routed to appropriate departmental officials and the PI for approval. It is then electronically routed to the Office of Sponsored Research or School of Medicine Sponsored Programs Office for approval. If human subjects or animals are involved in the research, a copy of the approval or a copy of the application should be attached to the eIPF as well as the Human Subjects Certification Data Sheets. If subcontractors are included on the proposal, these documents should also be attached to the eIPF. By certifying the eIPF, the PI is indicating ultimate responsibility for the application and its contents. The form contains questions involving:

  • Investigators
  • Budget
  • Other Affiliated Depts
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Research Subjects
  • Subcontractors
  • Personnel/Space/Equipment
  • Export Control
  • Intellectual Property
  • Benefits to NC
  • Location of Sponsored Activities
  • Application Abstract

Each proposal requires budget information estimating the total direct and direct costs related to the life of the project. For detailed information on preparing a budget refer to Developing a Budget.

Proposal Submission Guidelines

The Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) is the primary signatory authority designated by the Chancellor to enter into legal commitments for the University. Principal Investigators and Deans do not have this authority to enter into legal commitments for the University. For detailed information on routing a proposal, go to the section within the Review Process.