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Preparing A Proposal

 A well-written and skillfully prepared research proposal is crucial to the success of an application for research funding.  This section provides guidance for developing the various sections of a proposal, including the budget, and explains the proposal review process.

  • Developing a Proposal
  • Developing a Budget
  • Proposal Review Process

Common Elements of a Proposal

Face Page/Cover Page

The cover page captures general data elements about a proposal, such as:

  • Principal Investigator's name, address, phone number
  • Title of proposal
  • Sponsor name and address
  • Period of performance with start and end dates
  • Amount requested
  • Institutional information


The abstract outlines the proposed research, including objectives, methodology, and significance of the research.

Statement of Work or Research Plan

One of the most critical elements of a proposal or portion of a career proposal, known as a subagreement, is the Statement of Work.  At a minimum, it should provide a full and detailed explanation of the proposed activity, typically including project goals, specific aims, methodology, and Investigator responsibilities.

Budget and Budget Justification

The budget includes a reasonable estimate of the financial support required to conduct the project, including justification of budget expenses.

  • Direct Costs
    • SalariesFor University professional and research staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and casual or part-time workers, salary figures should be based on the percentage of effort by each individual on the project applied to his/her annual salary.
  • Fringe BenefitsThe fringe rate is expressed as a percentage of salary. The rate may vary depending on personnel classification.
  • Equipment
  • Materials and SuppliesItemize supplies in separate categories, such as glassware, chemicals, radioisotopes, etc. If animals are to be purchased, state the species and the number to be used.
  • TravelDomestic and foreign travel should be shown separately. List the names of individuals traveling, destination, purpose of trip, and estimated dates (if known). Include transportation costs (coach airfare), registration fees, accommodation fees, and other related expenses. Travel Policy?
  • Publication CostsEstimate the number of pages, page charges, and names of journals if possible.
  • ConsultantsList each consultant, their specialty or service to the project, and their daily, weekly or monthly rate of reimbursement, and show the consultant's total projected cost on the project. Include in the proposal a letter of collaboration and the consultant's curriculum vitae or biographical sketch.
  • SubrecipientsAny subrecipient should be identified at proposal stage; the main proposal the subrecipient's authorized proposal, letter of intent, statement of work, and budget with justification.
  • OtherOther costs typically include items such as long distance telephone charges, research publications, fees, animal per diem costs, or other project related costs.
  • Indirect Costs
    • Facilities and Administrative Costs (F& A Costs)
    • Cost SharingCost sharing is any cost to the project not borne by the sponsor. Cost Sharing Policy?

Additional Information

Additional information may consist of the following:

  • Current and pending support. Sponsor may require a listing of the PI and Key Personnel on current awards and pending proposals.
  • Letters of support from non-university investigators may also be required. If the proposal is a fellowship, a mentor support letter may be required.

CV or Biographical Sketch

The CV or Biographical Sketch is required for all key project personnel.

Other Support

Other support is a compilation of the current funding and time commitments for the Principal Investigator and any other key project personnel.


A list of all references needs to be cited in the proposal.