Vice President for Research & Creative Scholarship
Vice President for Research & Creative Scholarship
Submitting a Proposal
Before a proposal may be forwarded to a sponsor it must receive administrative approval. Your proposal will be reviewed by appropriate academic and ORSP personnel for its compliance with various University, state and federal guidelines.
In order to expedite the administrative review process, a cover sheet, entitled the Checklist for Proposal Approval (Form RA-100), has been developed to ensure that a proposal is properly routed, documented, reviewed, and approved. The Checklist is an internal document. Five working days before the proposal is due at the funding agency, the completed/signed Checklist must be received by ORSP with, at a minimum, a scope of work, budget, and budget narrative. This allows ORSP to begin review while the PI finalizes the remainder of the proposal.
It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to provide the specified number of copies of the proposal to the sponsor in a timely fashion.
A good proposal has at its core a good idea; it takes considerable time and effort to flesh a good idea into a solid proposal. In general, be prepared to address the following questions as you develop a proposal:
It is important to discuss your proposal with your colleagues, department chair, or dean as you refine it. ORSP personnel are available to review and critique your proposal as time allows.
If you anticipate a financial obligation from the University as part of your request for funding, you should contact the Vice President for Research and Development as soon as possible.
Once you have identified potential sponsors, ORSP can secure program guidelines and application materials for you. You should read carefully and follow vigorously any instructions published by a potential sponsor. If such instructions are not supplied by the agency, the following organization of a proposal can be adopted:
1. need for the project;
2. project objectives and rationale;
3. project design;
4. feasibility of the project; and,
5. project timeline.
Private foundations and corporate sponsors often request brief (2-3 page) concept papers, often in the form of a letter. Such sponsors prefer to invite applicants to submit full proposals based on the appeal of the concept paper. A good concept paper is not merely a letter of introduction or inquiry, but should reflect the form a full proposal might take.
A key factor in the development of a proposal is the creation of a credible and intelligible budget. To allow ample time for revisions, involve ORSP staff in the development of your budget sufficiently in advance of the sponsor's deadline.
The elements of cost in a budget must be those necessary to accomplish the proposed activity. Cost estimates of individual line items should be carefully calculated so that the requested funds are adequate but not excessive. As you develop your budget, it is important to keep in mind that sponsored project costs fall into two broad categories: direct and indirect costs. Because the definitions of "direct" versus "indirect" costs vary at each institution, no blanket definitions of these two types of costs exist.
Generally speaking, direct costs are those which can be specifically identified with a single sponsored project. At UM these costs usually include salaries and wages, equipment, communication costs, materials and supplies, and project travel.
Indirect costs are those that are incurred in conducting sponsored activity at an educational institution. At UM, these costs include services provided to the principal investigator by Purchasing, Human Resource Services, and Business Services; the use of office or laboratory space, existing equipment, library services; heat, light, power and janitorial services; administrative time spent by academic units and by ORSP. Some projects require extensive use of the University's existing services and facilities; others involve minimal use. Few projects would be considered for funding by sponsors if the combined resources of the University were not at the disposal of the principal investigators.
If payment of indirect costs is not allowed by the sponsor, a copy of the sponsor's statement to that effect should be provided with the Checklist for Proposal Approval (Form RA-100). If the sponsor has an established indirect cost rate which is different from the UM federally audited rate, as is the case with agencies of state government, this too should be noted prominently on the Checklist. Since UM's indirect cost rate is negotiated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, contact ORSP for the current rate before assembling your proposal budget or check the budget information.
A budget narrative should follow your itemized budget to fully identify and explain unusual items or activities. For example, the need for the use of consultant services, use of subcontractors or other collaborating organizations, or the necessity for foreign travel should be highlighted in the budget narrative. The payment of any salary as extra compensation should be detailed in a footnote at the bottom of the budget page.
Completing the Checklist for Proposal Approval
No proposal is complete without its identifying Checklist for Proposal Approval (Form RA-100). You must secure a copy of the Checklist form and prepare it during the final stages of proposal preparation. Always download as needed to be sure you are working with lastest version. If you are submitting your proposal to more than one sponsor, you will need to complete a Checklist for each submittal.
If you receive an award announcement, send the original award document to ORSP immediately. Many award agreements need to be negotiated due to budget adjustments proposed by the sponsor. All awards must be processed through ORSP before award acceptance.
Likewise, if you receive notice that your project was not funded, send a copy of that notice to ORSP. If not provided, you may request reviewers' comments on your proposal. ORSP staff may be able to suggest other potential sponsors.
If you receive an award announcement contingent upon a budget revision or modification, any changes made to your original budget must be routed through, and approved by, ORSP.
Upon receipt of an award, ORSP reviews the award agreement and assigns an organization number (Org. No.) to the project. Once you have been notified of the Org. No., you may charge project expenses against the account, in accordance with the project start date and the approved budget.
Grants and contracts are awarded to the University, and the University is administratively responsible for the successful operation of projects. Administrative authority is delegated through the deans to the academic unit in which the principal investigator holds an appointment. ORSP assists unit administrators and the principal investigator in administratively fulfilling the contract or grant requirements and is responsible for financial accounting and expenditure reporting.
The technical requirements and the day-to-day administration of the project are the responsibility of the principal investigator, under the supervision of the department chair or dean. While each sponsor may have additional reporting requirements, in general it is the responsibility of the principal investigator to:
For more specific information on the role and responsibilities of the principal investigator, read the PI Roles and Responsibilities.
Office of the Vice President
Research & Creative Scholarship
University Hall 116
Fax: (406) 243-6330