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Proposal Process Checklist: Steps to Success!

"A journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step." - Laozi

The journey in creating and submitting a competitive proposal involves many steps.  This document is intended as a guide to provide an overview of suggested strategies and practices and also to make sure you are aware of the requirements of submitting a proposal at UTC.  While this document presents proposal development tasks in a series of consecutive steps, depending on your timeframe, it may be necessary to take some of these steps concurrently.  Remember:  ORSP assistance is available every step of the way!  


Faculty/ Staff Responsibilities

Step 1:

Analyze the Funding Opportunity

  • Notify the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs as soon as possible that you are planning to apply; an ORSP liaison who will work with you will be identified. The earlier you notify ORSP, the more help we can provide!
  • Procure a copy of the proposal guidelines, application instructions, agency guidance, and/or other key informational resources. Review informational resources carefully, noting all application requirements.
  • Seek clarifications or additional information regarding any points of uncertainty.
  • Familiarize yourself with the sponsor & program requirements, especially any unusual elements such as cost-share / match, IRB requirements, limitations on the use of funds, PI or participant eligibility restrictions, etc.
  • Take special note of the proposal deadline and submission requirements. Make sure that you are familiar with the system or method required for submission, complete any applicable registration processes, etc. (Note: UTC is registered in most proposal submission systems including and Fastlane, and has a DUNS number and other classifications frequently required for proposals.) If you aren’t sure if additional registrations are needed, check with ORSP.
  • Schedule a meeting with your ORSP staff liaison to discuss proposal development, budget development, internal approvals, and the proposal submission process. A brief meeting is recommended even if you do not anticipate needing assistance.

Step 2:

Gather your Resources

  • Review information about funded proposals, if possible. ORSP can help with securing abstracts and sample funded proposals for many projects.
  • Review previous reviewer comments—if you are resubmitting a proposal.
  • Build your proposal development team, enlisting additional faculty and staff members as needed.
  • Contact external partners or stakeholders, if necessary based on the nature of your proposal. Identify and make a plan to secure any approvals, letters, signatures, or documents needed from external partners. If you are working with Hamilton County Schools, you must get formal approval; contact ORSP for assistance.
  • Develop a proposal development timeline to keep the process on-track. Be sure to incorporate adequate time for administrative review and approval of your proposal.
  • Prepare or procure an outline for the proposal narrative and templates for other key proposal elements such as letters of support, required attachments, the budget, etc.
  • Contact the program officer or sponsor representative to introduce yourself and provide an overview of your proposed plan, clarify any points of uncertainty, and glean any feedback or insights that the program officer can offer.
  • Work with ORSP to identify an external reviewer with expertise in the discipline and, preferably, experience with the sponsoring agency. ORSP can help find a reviewer and provide a modest honorarium for their time.

Step 3:

Plan & Prepare the Proposal & Budget

  • Draft your proposal narrative. ORSP is pleased to provide editorial support and offer suggestions on various drafts of the proposal.
  • Work on your budget in tandem with the proposal, making sure that your budget reflects that activities and outcomes you are proposing in the narrative. ORSP is available to help with budget preparation including scheduling a work session to draft the budget collaboratively.
  • Make sure that your proposal and budget comply with the sponsor’s guidelines, federal or other government regulations, and UT policies.
  • Discuss and secure preliminary approval for items such as faculty / staff release time, cost-share commitments, use of institutional facilities, research involving hazardous chemicals or other biosafety considerations.
  • Send draft narrative and other documents (as appropriate) to the external reviewer and request their feedback in a timeframe that will allow you an opportunity to make revisions based on the reviewer’s feedback.

Step 4:

Compile All Documentation Needed

  • Gather copies of required documentation that you will need for either securing internal approval or submitting the proposal. Depending on the nature of your proposal some or all of the following may be relevant:
    • Outside Interest Disclosure Forms (for any grant) or PHS Financial Interest Disclosure Form for PHS Investigators (for grants submitted to PHS agencies). Information about UT Fiscal Policy on conflicts of interest and forms can be accessed here. [REQUIRED FOR ALL UTC EMPLOYEES NAMED IN A PROPOSAL! NOTIFY ORSP IMMEDIATELY IF THERE IS ANY POTENTIAL FOR A CONFLICT OF INTERESTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PROJECT.]
    • CVs or biosketches from faculty & staff involved in the project (if required).
    • Documentation of support / commitment from UTC and partners (if required).
    • Written documentation of 3rd party cost-share if there is a cost-share requirement.
    • Current & pending support for all investigators (if required).
  • Any additional attachments required by the sponsor.

Step 5:

Secure Approvals & Submit Proposal to the Funder

  • Finalize all proposal elements.
  • Send at least the budget and narrative to ORSP for final review, if you haven’t done so already.
  • Complete the Proposal Questionnaire in Cayuse, filling out each screen and attach, at a minimum, a finalized budget, proposal narrative, and disclosure forms for all UTC employees named in the proposal. [THE PROPOSAL QUESTIONNAIRE IN CAYUSE MUST BE SUBMITTED FOR INTERNAL ROUTING AND CERTIFIED BY ALL INVESTIGATORS A MINIMUM OF 5 BUSINESS DAYS PRIOR TO THE DEADLINE!]
  • Work with ORSP to coordinate proposal submission to the funding agency. The process will vary depending on the type of submission required. ORSP can generally provide significant support—if we have the final documents at least 48 hours prior to the deadline. For electronic submissions, you must schedule a time to submit the proposal together with your ORSP staff liaison.
  • Congratulate yourself and your proposal development team on a successful proposal development process!