Sponsor solicitations may be in the form of Request for Proposals (RFPs), Request for Applications (RFAs), Notice of Funding Opportunity Announcement (NOFA), Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) or Program Announcements (PAs).
- Review all instructions and deadlines
- Review applicant criteria to ensure eligibility
- Identify the sponsor’s central goals
- Clarify submission process and method
You may want to development a checklist of all required proposal elements, timeline for proposal development, and narrative outline based on the scoring rubric or key section headings as a first step.
Most sponsors have specialized requirements and provide a narrative template which should be included in the solicitation but may be in their proposal guide or on their website. Common core elements include:
- Statement of the Problem
- Literature Review
- Conceptual Framework
- Hypotheses or Research Question
- Scope of Work
- Management Plan
- Staff and Institutional Qualifications
When preparing your narrative, consider the following:
- Describe precisely how the money will be spent (who, what, when, where, why)
- Third-person future is preferred (“Drexel will…”)
- Show alignments with the sponsor goals
- Articulate the impact of the project concretely
Most sponsors have a required budget template. Some required very detailed budgets broken down into tasks. It might be helpful to develop the budget in a separate spreadsheet using categories that make sense internally as you scope out your project narrative. Typical budget line items include:
- Fringe benefits
- Tuition and Other Support
- Equipment (durable, long-lasting)
- Other Direct Costs (expendable, short-term)
- Materials & Supplies
Indirect Costs (F&A)
Please refer to the Direct and Indirect Costs matrix [PDF] for assistance in creating your detailed budget.
Once you finalize the budget you would like to submit, you can translate the budget onto the sponsor’s template for the submission.
The budget narrative must be specific and consistent with the project narrative. Things to consider:
- Show a clear method of calculation for each item
- Link each item back to proposed activities and sponsor goals
- Use the same terminology that you used in the project narrative
- Make sure the information is outlined in a clear and concise manner
Attachments and ancillary documents, when place in the appendix, should be organized. Sponsor and solicitation requirements may vary, but often include:
- Quotations or documentation for specific budget items
- Detailed project timelines
- Letters of commitment or Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)
- Agency-specific documents
Be sure to carefully track all of your appendix items.
An abstract is a summary of your proposal narrative, and should include a summary of the need of the work, hypothesis, major objectives, and potential impact of the project. This section of your proposal should be written last.
Sometimes “abstract” is used interchangeably with “project summary” and “executive summary.” Other times, “project summary” and “abstract” are defined separately. It all depends on the sponsor.
Review the completed proposal and application as a whole.
Follow Drexel’s internal review and submission process:
- Complete the COEUS record
- Route to obtain internal approval for submission in advance of the Office of Research 3 days prior to the sponsor’s deadline compliance check
- Be sure you are registered with the appropriate sponsor eRA system, e.g., Grants.gov Workspace, eRA Commons, FastLane, and other required submission portals
Working with your Pre-Award Administrator during the proposal preparation process through the submission process will help to ensure an on-time submission to the sponsor.