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​Proposal Preparation & Submission

Basic Proposal Preparation Process

  1. Select funding opportunity
  2. Notify Department Administrator (DA)
  3. Read/review solicitation; DA sends copy to Office of Sponsored Research Services (OSRS)
  4. Develop scope of work
  5. Confirm collaborators
  6. Prepare budget and budget justification
  7. Complete sponsor's application per solicitation
  8. Prepare forms and obtain signatures

Common Proposal Elements

Cover page or "face page:" Project title, project period, funding requested, PI name and title, authorizing signatures. See institutional data for frequently requested information.

Abstract or project summary: Succinct and accurate description of the proposal application

Table of contents: List of all application elements

Budget: Typically divided into two sections: direct costs and Facilities and Administrative cost (also referred to as "F&A" or indirect costs). Please follow the sponsoring agency's guidelines for format and budget justification. PIs and DAs should ensure compliance and "allowability" with agency guidelines and cost principles (see WashU's Unallowable Costs on Sponsored Projects, OMB Circular A-21 Cost Principles for Educational Institutions). Note: NSF normally limits salary compensation for senior project personnel on awards to no more than two months of their regular salary in any one year.

Budget justification: Categorical justification for the budget request. Consult WUSTL and agency guidelines regarding specifically stated unallowable costs.

Cost sharing: Funds or "in kind" contributions committed to a project by Engineering, which may include cash, effort, supplies and/or equipment. Note: Unless required or specified in the solicitation guidelines, cost sharing is not required or recommended on most proposals to federal agencies. All cost sharing requests included in a proposal need ADVANCE approval from the Engineering Dean's Office. Please see Policies & Guidelines.

Biographical sketch (biosketch) and/or curriculum vitae (CV): A chronological and comprehensive detailing of the professional accomplishments of the PI. Curriculum vita(e) of all key personnel involved in the project should be included if specifically requested; often a biosketch of the key personnel is sufficient.

Current and pending/other support: List of current and pending grant support of all key personnel. NSF requires that the currently proposed project be listed as well Also see: Calculation of person months

Proposal Narrative: Objectives of the project and work to be accomplished (see solicitation guidelines).

Bibliography/references: List of references cited in the Proposal Narrative.

Other elements, as required:

Human subject's approval
Animal subject's protocol
Other compliance approvals (recombinant DNA, radioactive materials, and embryonic stem cells)

For Outgoing Subawards (from proposed subrecipients):

Budget justification
Biographical Sketch(es)
Scope of work
Facilities Statement/Resources (if necessary)
Letter of Intent (Template)
Signature of institutional official on letter of intent, which includes:
PI name
Project title
Agency name
Performance period
Cumulative budget total
Scope of work

For Incoming Subawards (where WUSTL is the subrecipient):

Complete all required information as you would for a normal proposal
OSRS completes the letter of intent

Additional Resources:

Note: DOD has several sub-agencies (e.g., ONR, ARO, AFOSR, etc.) that have their own proposal guidelines. Please consult the sub-agency's specific requirements.

Proposal Development Timeline


Tips & Suggestions

  • Read solicitation thoroughly and carefully.
  • Please notify DA of grant submission as early as possible, even if the PI is uncertain as to whether or not s/he will submit.
  • Complete Compliance/Budget and internal documents early, to allow more time to concentrate on scientific sections.
  • Our goal is to submit the complete, full proposal three (3) days before deadline.