Proposal Contents

Most sponsors publish guidelines on how to prepare a proposal and the requirements.  The application package may also include forms that require a signature from an authorized official. Sponsor instructions should be followed carefully for format, content, and budget and submission requirements.

The following is a list of common proposal elements. If there are no sponsor guidelines these documents represent the minimum required by Pre-Award Services. For most sponsor agencies, proposals contain most or all of these elements.  (Specific agency guidelines, if available, should always be followed.)

  • Proposal guidelines from sponsoring agency or website link: assists with reviewing proposal and ensuring all sponsor requirements are met prior to submission.
  • Internal Proposal Review Form: complete for all proposals and secure signatures of the Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator(s), Department Chair, Unit Head, and in some cases Dean as appropriate.
  • SPS Proposal Cover Page: complete if the sponsor does not provide a cover page for approval signature. Please refer to the Frequently Requested Information for assistance with completing the sponsor cover page. The University’s Authorized Representative signs all proposals on behalf of the University.
  • Proposal Narrative: describe the objectives, methodology and significance of the proposed project.
  • Budget Spreadsheet: provide a reasonable estimate of expenses for each budget category. Include cost sharing/matching only if specifically required by the funding agency. Please refer to the Budgeting and Costing Guide for assistance.
  • Budget Justification: provide a detailed explanation of all items listed in the budget. Please refer to the budget justification guide for assistance.
  • Electronic application (if applicable): provide a completed application or access to the completed application.
  • Subcontracts (if applicable): provide a statement of work, budget, budget justification, F&A Rate Agreement and Information and Compliance Form for Subrecipients, signed by an authorized official of that organization.  Please refer to the  Subaward Determination Guidance for assistance with determining the subrecipient versus contractor relationship during the budget preparation stage.
  • Research Compliance Review: Federal regulations and University policies require that various University committees approve certain proposed activities.  Compliance review and approvals for Animal and Human Subjects, Radioactive Substances, Bio-hazardous Substances, Controlled Substances, and Recombinant DNA may be necessary before your proposal can be signed.  These areas should be designated on the Internal Proposal Review Form.  Please refer to the Research Compliance section of this website for specific compliance office contacts who can assist with any approvals necessary for your proposal.
  • Optional items: The proposal contents listed below are fairly standard items required by many sponsors and may be included as part of your proposal:
    • A table of contents
    • Bibliography of pertinent literature
    • Vitae of all senior personnel
    • Recent publications
    • List of collaborators
    • Active and pending support (generally, sponsors request information on current (active/awarded) and pending support to evaluate potential scientific and/or commitment overlaps; this list should be complete including all support whether or not that support is funded through the University)
    • Description of available facilities and equipment