There are many sources of funding for sponsored projects and each sponsor has unique proposal requirements. Therefore, it is important to review the proposal guidelines when developing and submitting your application. For Federal funding, the government uses a submission interface called Grants.gov for most proposal submissions. OSP transmits these applications directly to the Federal government using System-to-System (S2S) transfer inside the MSU Kuali Coeus (KC) system. For more information about submitting a proposal through KC, please see the KC Prepare a Proposal Development webpage; for a broad overview of grants.gov, visit the About Grants.gov webpage.
OSP has developed the following checklists to assist with preparing proposal applications:
Most proposals will require similar sections and usually include a standard proposal form with required institutional data (e.g. SF424 R&R), a cover page, project summary/abstract, project description, references cited, budget and budget justification, biographical sketches of key personnel, facilities and other resources, and attachments or supplemental materials. If your project involves animals or human subjects, additional materials may be required.
Proposal Form with Required Institutional Data (e.g. SF424 R&R)
Most proposals include a form that requires institutional information such as address, DUNS number, EIN number, etc. You can find much of the requested information on the Frequently Required Budget and Proposal Data page.
The cover page will differ between sponsors, but will usually require the name of the project, project start and end dates, total proposed budget, and contact information for the Primary Investigator(s) and the MSU Authorized Official, among other items. Many sponsors have required cover page templates.
The project summary or abstract is often limited by number of pages or word count. Be sure to adhere to the instructions in the solicitation or proposal guidelines.
The project description is typically the "meat" of the proposal and outlines the research strategy and plan. The solicitation will usually include specific questions to be addressed in this section, so refer back to the solicitation to ensure each topic is discussed. The project description is likely to be highly technical and review by a faculty peer is suggested prior to submission.
Provide a bibliography of any references cited in the Project Description. Typically includes the names of all authors, the article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication.
Budget and Budget Justification
The budget and budget justification are integral parts of a proposal. Visit the Develop Budget webpage for detailed information in creating a proposal budget.
Biographical sketches of key personnel are sometimes required in a specific format identified in the solicitation or sponsor guidelines. Typically, the bio-sketch will include education, appointments, research experience, publications, and collaborators.
Facilities and Other Resources
The facilities and other resources section should include discussion of the MSU resources available for use on your project but not associated with direct costs on the project budget. This may include lab or office space, library resources, equipment, or unpaid personnel (i.e., personnel paid from other sources). This section should not quantify resources in terms of dollar amounts or percentages.
Attachments and Supplemental Materials
Attachments or supplemental materials, if required, are listed in the solicitation or sponsor guidelines and may include letters of collaboration, examples of informed consent forms for human subjects, postdoctoral mentoring plan, data management plan, etc. Review the solicitation to ensure required materials are included in your proposal. Generally, you should not include supplemental materials not explicitly requested in the solicitation or guidelines as some sponsors will return the proposal without review.
Proposal Development Systems
Some proposals are developed and submitted through unique systems that require special access. For example, National Science Foundation (NSF) proposals are submitted through FastLane following specific guidelines outlined in the NSF Grant Proposal Guideline. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a post-submission system, eRA Commons, where PI's have two days to review their submitted proposal prior to the proposal being sent for review (as long as the two day window is prior to the proposal deadline date). The majority of NIH proposals are submitted in KC using the System-to-System functionality, however large center grants, or grants that require the use of multiple components must be submitted through NIH ASSIST. Principal Investigators must be set-up in NSF Fastlane or eRA Commons in order to apply. Please contact OSP to be set-up in these systems.
If you have questions about developing your proposal, contact your department or college research administrator, if applicable. When contacting OSP, please email the appropriate OSP group email address according to your department or college. If you are submitting a proposal to an industry sponsor, please contact MSU Business Connect.
What do I need to provide to the Direct Sponsor when MSU is included as a subrecipient?
The following documents are generally requested by the Direct Sponsor:
- Commitment Form – The MSU Commitment Form should be used for submission to the Direct Sponsor. Some Direct Sponsors may request that we complete their subrecipient commitment form, but will usually accept the MSU Commitment Form in its place.
- Budget Justification
- Scope of Work
- Current/Pending Support (not required at the proposal stage when NIH is the prime)
- Any other documents requested by the Direct Sponsor