Proposal Development Guidelines
The below resources and information are provided as a guide for faculty, staff, and students in the preparation of external proposals.
When developing proposal materials, consider your audience: it is not only the scientific review committee at the funding agency but your Chair/Director, Dean, Office of Research Administration, the research administrators at the sponsoring agency, Maryland's various post-award offices (including travel, purchasing, Sponsored Projects Accounting and Compliance), and eventually an auditor.
Proposal Development Services
The BSOS Research Team can help faculty develop external grant proposals with a range of activities. Please visit our Proposal Development Services webpage for more information.
What Gets Routed
Accompanying each proposal should be a memo outlining any anomalies in the solicitation or proposal, any unusual form or signature requirements, submission requirements, etc. Anything one might put in an email to the Chair/Director, Dean's Office, or ORA regarding the proposal's content or submission should instead go into this routing memo and be uploaded in Kuali Research (KR). This document is for internal University use only and will not be shared with the sponsor.
Proposals should be uploaded into KR, certified, and submitted for routing no later than six (6) business days prior to the sponsor's due date. If a solicitation requires the recipient institution to have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, the University System of Maryland Foundation (USMF) may agree to be named as the awardee and set up a grant-back account to us when the award comes in. The USMF requires five (5) additional business days' notice of a completed proposal; this is in addition to ORA's 6 days as proposals pass through ORA before going to the Foundation.
The items which must be finalized at the time of routing are:
- routing memo (a sample/template routing memo can be found here)
- budget and budget narrative
- subaward documentation (including budget, budget narrative, letter of commitment signed by an institutional authorized official)
- cost-sharing documentation (including identifying the source of funds)
- indirect cost waivers
- significant project designation requests
- Conflict of Interest training documentation
- for non-funded agreements: a scope of work created by the PI to provide ORA with a basic understanding of the related activities
Other items that should be included in the routing package include:
- funding opportunity announcement
- price quotations for equipment or sole-source contracts
- internal forms that need review and signature by the Dean's Office (e.g. IDC waiver request, universal funding form for cost share, DRIF change, Significant Project request, etc)
- sponsor forms that require signature by ORA (SF424 forms, etc)
- a preview of the entire application in the sponsor grant submission system (it is okay to have a draft at the time of routing but ORA needs a final version at their review point)
NOTE: Scientific content need not be finalized to route a proposal within the University.
Pre-proposals must be routed through the standard process if any of the criteria below are met:
- A detailed budget (that would serve as the basis for an award) is required
- Cost share is required or proposed
- The budget requires institutional approval of a reduced or waived F&A rate
- The pre-proposal must be submitted or signed by an authorized official of the University
- The pre-proposal is being submitted to a corporate entity
- There are known restrictions on intellectual property ownership or publication rights
The routing process allows for several layers of scientific and administrative review throughout the university. Each office that reviews a proposal focuses on different items. A Chair/Director will likely focus on the project description and scientific merit of a proposal, but also look to see if any departmental/center resources are being promised. The Director of Administrative Services in a department may look at the budget and budget narrative to ensure they match and reflect the scope of work. The Dean's Office reviews proposals (specifically budgets, budget narratives, subaward documentation, cost sharing documentation, indirect cost waivers, etc.) to ensure compliance with the State and University rules and regulations regarding allowable and reasonable costs. Finally, ORA reviews proposals to ensure all of the above have been reviewed and adjusted where necessary, but also that the proposal conforms to sponsor guidelines and specifications of the RFP/solicitation. The earlier a proposal can be routed through this system, the deeper a review each step in the process can give to a proposal. As the volume of proposals sponsors receive increases and their tolerance for administrative errors decreases, this routing and review process becomes increasingly more valuable to an investigator.
Who can be a Principal Investigator?
Principal investigators and Co-investigators must complete a certification on every proposal submitted on which they are named. The certification is 9-11 questions relating to research conduct and oversight which only the investigators can answer as responsible stewards of the research. As such, this certification cannot be delegated to another individual. First-time investigators take on average about two to four minutes to certify. The certification can be completed using the browser of your choice on any computer or mobile device. Certification can be completed at any time during the proposal development process. For more information on how to certify a KR proposal and what the certifications mean with links to relevant policies please visit the BSOS KR Resources webpage.
Each proposal must designate a split of the credit to investigators and departments. Currently, credit split drives indirect cost return (aka DRIF return). Credit splits can be determined by any reasonable method. The two most common methods are via direct cost dollars and via time or scientific contribution of the faculty named on a proposal. Some on-campus Institutes and Centers may have internal guidelines for determining credit split based on the amount of administrative work involved in the proposal and subsequent award.