Proposal Development Suggestions

In order to allow sufficient time for necessary internal review and approvals, and to allow time to navigate complex online submission systems, final documents must be submitted to the Grants Office 48 hours prior to the funder’s submission deadline. The office cannot guarantee timely and accurate submission of documents received closer to the deadline.

Specific Helps

Click on options – in the sidebar to the left – for time-saving proposal-preparation specifics for funders of NSF, NIH, NEH, ACLS, Fulbright Scholar.

General Helps

Proposals vary as much as the individuals who write them. In addition to the guidelines published by the Office of the Provost, the following suggestions might be useful in developing proposals:

  • Discuss your ideas
    • Dialogue with colleagues, your department chair, and the deans. Try to assess the impact your proposal will have on your department, other departments, the curriculum, and the College.
  • Locate funding resources
  • Read the proposal guidelines
    • Obtain the application packet (if available) and carefully read the program solicitation instructions
  • Match your ideas and language to the grantor
    • Closely align your project to the needs and language of potential funder.
  • Consider merit and broader impacts
    • Funders are increasingly asking for explicit plans for projects to make an impact. The National Science Foundation outlines five elements to be considered in reviewing both criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts, elements which can offer guidance in the writing of any proposal.
      • What is the potential for the proposed activity to:
        • advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields [Intellectual Merit];
        • benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes [Broader Impacts]?
      • To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
      • Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
      • How well qualified is the individual, team, or institution to conduct the proposed activities?
      • Are there adequate resources available to the PI – either at the home institution or through collaborations – to carry out the proposed activities?

This University of Missouri page (the connector Broader Impacts) was established as a response to the National Science Foundation’s emphasis on the integration of education and outreach into research projects. This Perspectives on Broader Impacts publication presents highlights from the Broader Impacts Infrastructure Summit in April 2014. Additionally, refer to: What criteria is used to review my proposal?

Two weeks before submission

While preparing your proposal, inform the Office of the Provost (usually Eric Egge and sometimes the Provost) providing a summary of your project and any course releases or other time away from teaching or campus.

Two days before submission deadline

  • Submit your proposal to the Grants Office 48 hours before the due date.
    • Send all components of your proposal to the Grants Office 48 hours before the funder’s deadline.
    • [Authority from the Trustees to the President to the Provost to the Grants Office for submitting proposals is found in this doc showing delegated authority; part of that document includes page 1 of the October 2014 amended and restated Board of Trustees Bylaws.]
  • Inform your department chair.
    • Grants Office personnel will send the External Proposal Approval Form to your department chair, the Associate Provost, and the Business Office. Depending on the kind of grant, signatures may need to be obtained from
      • your department chair,
      • the Associate Provost,
      • the Provost,
      • the Business Office,
      • the Grants Office,
      • Information Technology Services,
      • Institutional Research and Assessment, and
      • the Vice President and Treasurer.
  • Attend to compliance issues.
    • Complete a Compliance & Disclosure Form if the funder is a federal agency, by clicking on this Link to OnBase Form and logging in using your Carleton credentials. The Grants Office will confirm and document, in the System for Award Management (SAM), that the PI/coPIs have not been suspended or debarred by the federal government.
    • If equipment will be procured (i.e., “small” purchase of $10,001-$150,000), complete the Supplier Selection Form and obtain quotes (see the Business Office Grants Manual Procurement, Suspension and Debarment Requirements for Grants).

Beyond this, the Grants Office can aid grantseekers by providing assistance with draft organization and preparation, informing of NSF proposal specifics, creating a budget, and editing and submitting proposals. After a grant is awarded, we can also help with the administration of the grant, including monitoring and submitting reports on the grant.