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Proposal Components

Sponsors often provide required forms and guidelines specifying the format of the proposal. If forms are provided, you must use them. The recommended format must be followed as it will be directly related to the criteria used in reviewing the proposal. In addition, be sure to remain within page limits and font size specified. 

If there are no specified guidelines the proposal should include the following: 

Cover Page

  • Project Title.
  • Name of Applicant Organization.
  • Name of Funding Source to which the proposal is being submitted.
  • Proposed project period (beginning and ending dates).
  • Funds requested (for multi-year projects, note total and first-year request).
  • Names, title, and signatures of the project director (principal investigator) and authorizing officials. 
  • The project director may want to include his academic unit, campus address, and campus telephone.


Should be a condensed version of the proposal, usually about 250 words. It should concisely state the proposed project's objectives, methods, and significance. The abstract is vital in creating a favorable first impression. Proposal writers often write the abstract last. If the proposal is being submitted to a foundation or corporation, some of this information may also be included in a covering letter.

Table of Contents

Project Description -To include:

  • A reasonably well-documented statement of the problem or need to be addressed by the proposed project.
  • A clear formulation of the project's specific objectives as related to the overall problem defined above.
  • A detailed description of the methods to be used in conducting the project.
  • This section may include a discussion of general methodology and a detailed work plan (complete with time line).

Evaluation - some sponsors will require a detailed discussion of how you will objectively measure your success in meeting the project's objectives.

Resources - Should Include:

  • a description of the facilities and personnel available to conduct the project. 
  • Curricula vitae for key staff are usually included in the appendices. 
    Key to a successful proposal and smooth administration of the potential award is clearly identifying the major players in the project itself. 
    This includes identifying by name individuals whose particular expertise and skills are crucial to successfully undertaking the project. 
    Include their affiliation, status on the project (Co-PI, Consultant, new hire) and justification for their involvement.

Budget - a detailed account of the estimated funds required to conduct the project. 

The budget should be directly related to the project description and include a budget justification section explaining all items. Office of Research Administration will assist in budget preparation and calculation of indirect costs (see Indirect Cost Information) and determining the granting agencies budget restrictions.

Future Funding - an important issue if the project could be reasonably expected to continue beyond the end of the proposed project period.

Significance - since most sponsors have to justify their awards to someone, a general statement about the project's significance can be helpful both in making decisions about awarding grants and in reporting on grants awarded.

Subcontracts - If there will be a subcontractor all the following must be received:

  • a budget
  • budget justification
  • scope of work
  • a letter of commitment signed by an authorized official of the subrecipient organization must be submitted to ORA.
  • F&A Rate Agreement if applicable

Compliance Review - certain activities must be approved by University committees, these included the use of animal or human subjects, hazardous substances, and radioactive substances. Review and approval may be required before the proposal can be signed.

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