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Grant Writing Services & Guides

Basic Proposal Format

Proposal Guidelines

In preparing proposals for submission to external sponsors, read the directions and information available in the application materials provided by the sponsor. Application packages are often referred to by one of the following:  RFP – Request for Proposals; RFA – Request for Application; FOA – Funding Opportunity Announcement; Application Booklet; Program Brochure or Guidelines.

SP should be contacted as soon as a PI knows he/she will be submitting a proposal. SP can be of great assistance to faculty/staff in the proposal preparation and review process and will act as a second set of eyes to ensure the proposal meets the RFP requirements.  Whatever the sponsor provides in these instructions should be followed precisely, i.e. page limits, typeface size, and other restrictions are taken seriously by sponsoring organizations and act as the first level of grant review.  If the directions are not followed the proposal is routinely returned to the PI without review.

Sometimes sponsors request a preliminary or shorter proposal (3–5 pages) before asking for a complete final proposal. Often times these pre-proposals are binding, meaning if accepted, the PI needs to further develop the proposal and is not at liberty to change the terms of the pre-proposal.  In this case, the pre-proposal will need University approval before submission. 

In the absence of specific directions from the sponsoring agency, the following format to organize the proposal may be used:

Title and Cover Page
Abstract or Project Summary
Institutional Overview and College Descriptions
Background and Significance
Project Goals and Objectives
Plan of Action, Methods, Design
Bibliography or Works Cited
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) Approval
Active and Pending Grant Support
Facilities and Equipment
Information and Technology Support