Guidelines and Tips

The following tips for success will help you choose the right funding opportunity and develop a competitive proposal.

Evaluate the Funding Opportunity

Once you have identified a potential funding opportunity:

  1. Confirm that the opportunity is really a sponsored project. GW's Categorization of External Funding policy identifies the criteria for sponsored project agreements as compared with gifts or vendor contracts.
  2. Take note of the sponsor's deadline. Don’t forget to factor-in the five-day submission deadline and the routing and review of your proposal packet prior to submission.
  3. Determine if the sponsor limits the number of proposals an institution can submit. If this is the case, review our information on limited submission opportunities.
  4. If available, sign up for email alerts related to your funding opportunity to notify you of any changes that may impact your submission.
  5. Contact your pre-award sponsored projects administrator (SPA) when you identify or become aware of a funding opportunity to which you would like to respond.

Develop a Competitive Proposal

Before you launch into the proposal development process, consider the following questions:

  1. Is a preliminary proposal required? If yes, discuss with your pre-award SPA.
  2. Will the scope of the project require subawards for collaborations with other organizations?
  3. Will your project require the purchase of equipment? If so, secure quotes for equipment purchases at the proposal stage to budget accordingly.
  4. Are human or animal subjects involved?
  5. Are your current facilities and space appropriate and sufficient to conduct your project? If not, discuss your needs with your department chair and/or dean early in the process. It may be possible to include a request for funds to provide the necessary facilities or space in the proposal.
  6. Does the sponsor allow full recovery of facilities and administrative (F&A) costs (also referred to as overhead or indirect costs)? If not, what allowance is made for these costs? Any difference between the university's full F&A rate and the rate allowed by the sponsor requires a commitment from the university and must be discussed with your chair, dean, and/or the Office of the Vice President for Research.
  7. Does the sponsor require any cost sharing of direct costs?
  8. Are there any potential conflicts of interest? If yes, please notify the Office of the Vice President for Research at 202-994-6255.
  9. Does the sponsor require a Data Management Plan (DMP)? Will the project be receiving, sending and/or storing data that may be classified as restricted or regulated? If so, the GW Libraries serve as an excellent resource for assessing needs, discussing best practices and developing a DMP that will best fit your project.
  10. Will your project have an international component?
  11. Are there multiple investigators and/or multiple GW schools involved in your proposal? If yes, you will need to utilize the multi-school routing form (PDF). For collaborative proposals, the lead PI must consider additional budget costs for each collaborator. GW also offers a number of resources, including support from our Research Enhancement Unit, to assist with developing collaborative proposals.
  12. Have you reviewed our budget preparation checklist?
  13. Did the sponsor reach out to you directly regarding the funding opportunity? If so, please contact your pre-award sponsored projects administrator to discuss further.
  14. Have you sought feedback from your team, collaborators and department before you begin the proposal?
  15. Have you identified a senior investigator, peer or Research Enhancement Unit consultant who can review your proposal before you consider it to be final?
  16. Have you verified all necessary compliance and regulatory requirements (including export controls, IACUC, IRB, biohazardous materials, etc.)?
  17. Have you prepared letters for institutional commitment in advance?