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What support is offered by the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs?

The Office of Research & Sponsored Programs supports UWL faculty and staff members in developing, preparing, writing, and submitting proposals of institutional interest.  Assistance is available to help identify funding sources, develop budgets, offer feedback and editing for final drafts, interpret and ensure compliance with internal and external guidelines, communicate and negotiate with funding sources, and review and approve final proposals.  As a complement to one-on-one support, campus-wide workshops are offered to promote and enhance grant seeking and writing throughout the campus community.  Additionally, a monthly newsletter, Grant News, provides updates regarding upcoming funding opportunities and the latest news from our office.

Funding Sources

How do I find funding for my project?

A number of funding resources are outlined on our website's "Funding Sources" page.  In particular, the UWL campus has access to two resources:

  1. COS PivotCOS is a comprehensive, searchable database of funding sources for all project types. Set up an individual account, create customized queries, and request automatic weekly email updates when new funding opportunities are posted that match your criteria.
  2. Grants Resource Center (GRC):  Contact the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs for the institutional log-in needed to access GRC online resources.GRC offers several tools to assist in identifying funding:
    1. Funding publications: Three publications - on a twice weekly, weekly, and monthly basis - highlight upcoming funding opportunities, primarily from federal agencies.  Opportunities are organized by discipline and can be accessed on the GRC website.
    2. GrantSearch database: This targeted database of approximately 2,000 recurring funding opportunities that have a national/regional scope provides a good staring point for funding research.

Additionally, the monthly publication of Grant News is emailed to all faculty/staff members and contains a list of upcoming funding opportunities for a wide array of disciplines. The most recent issues are archived on the ORSP website under Funding Sources.

Complete a Funding Finder Survey for additional assistance in identifying potential funding sources.

What support is available for professional development?

For professional development, a number of grants are available available to faculty/staff through UWL and the UW System.  Fellowships are also available through a number of external funding agencies, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Proposal Preparation and Submission

I want to submit a proposal for extramural funding. Where do I start?

As soon as you have a project idea, we encourage you to contact our office.  We can help get your proposal off to the right start and assist you throughout the proposal and budget development process.  Further information about how to start the grant seeking process is available on our website.

Who can serve as a primary investigator (PI) on an award application?

As a general guideline, tenured UWL faculty, faculty on tenure track, and staff with at least a 50% continuing appointment may serve as a PI on an award application.  This helps to ensure staffing continuity for the duration of a project.  If you have questions about serving as a PI, please contact the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs.

How can I refine my proposal writing skills?

The Office of Researched & Sponsored Programs sponsors educational workshops throughout the year designed to enhance the grant seeking skills of the campus community.  Upcoming workshops are listed on our home page, and materials from past workshops are posted online.  To augment campus-wide opportunities, please contact our office for one-on-one support.  A list of proposal writing resources  are available on our website, including several specific to major funding agencies.

Where can I find the institutional information requested by the proposal's cover sheet, such as UWL's DUNS number?

Templates have been created that address institutional information commonly requested by funding agencies, such as the impact statement required for National Science Foundation RUI proposals and a budget development worksheet. These documents are available on our website under Boilerplate Information. Additional institutional information can be found on the office's Frequently Requested Information webpage.

Whose approval do I need for my proposal?

Extramural proposals:  The approval of various parties is indicated by their signatures on the UWL  Grant Transmittal Form .  Each proposal for extramural support must be approved by the department chair/unit director, the college dean/division director, and the director of Research & Sponsored Programs before it is forwarded to the funding agency.  Proposals that involve more than one department, school, or college must be reviewed by appropriate officials of each.  Projects that involve partnerships with other institutions must be reviewed by the appropriate officials within each, such as a university's grants office.  Proposals that involve the use of animal or human subjects must be approved by the appropriate university committees, although approval can be obtained after a proposal has been submitted so long as the process is completed before research commences.

UW System proposals:  Approval signatures for UW System proposals should be obtained on the  UW System Grant Transmittal Form .  The appropriate UWL contacts for each UW System grant program are listed on the ORSP website under Funding Sources.

When do I need to submit a final version of my proposal to the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs?

Please review the established grant submission timeline on our website. Please also note the deadlines leading up to grant submission when application materials are due to an applicant's department chair/unit director, dean/division director, and ORSP for review and approval.

What is the role of the department chair/unit director in reviewing a proposal?

The department chair/unit director reviews the proposal to:

  1. assure faculty and staff time commitments are reasonable and compatible with department workloads, present and planned;
  2. determine that the percentages of time and the salaries are accurate; and
  3. verify that the space, facility, and service requirements are within the department's present capability if not specifically provided for in the proposal.

What is the role of the dean/division director in reviewing a proposal?

The dean/division director reviews the proposal for completeness and to confirm that:

  1. space, services, and support requirements have been adequately provided for;
  2. responsibility will be accepted for assuring the availability of cost sharing funds promised in the proposal; and
  3. the project budget, salary rates, job titles, classifications, and committed effort are reasonable and appropriate.

What is the role of the Director of Research & Sponsored Programs in reviewing a proposal?

As the chancellor's designated representative, the director reviews the proposal for compatibility with the appropriate university plans, policies, and regulations as well as for conformity with agency requirements and policies.

What are the deadlines associated with proposal development and submission?

Please review the established grant submission timeline on our website. Note there are several internal deadlines leading up to grant submission when application materials are due to an applicant's department chair/unit director, dean/division director, and ORSP for review and approval.

Budget Development

Where should I start when developing my budget?

Start by calling the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs as soon as you are considering a project.  During an initial meeting, we can help to brainstorm your project needs and assign figures to those needs.  It isn't necessary to come equipped with a budget draft - only a project concept.  To conceptualize your project needs, you may find it helpful to first develop a concept paper . You can also begin to build a budget using the budget helper spreadsheet on our website, which automatically calculates some budget components.

Which line items should be considered in developing my project budget?

Standard budget line items include personnel salaries and wages, fringe benefits, equipment, supplies, dissemination costs, participant support, travel, consultants, subcontractors, space, miscellaneous costs, and indirect (overhead) costs.  Additionally, take into account any cost sharing requirements.  For budgets extending beyond the current fiscal year, please see fringe benefit rates for the current and upcoming fiscal years. A budget  helper spreadsheet is available.

How are a project's personnel salaries and wages calculated?

Professional and staff salaries are calculated in terms of the percentage of their time that will be devoted to the project.  Part-time personnel wages are calculated in terms of the hourly pay rate.  Budgets for multiple year projects should take into account annual merit and promotional rate increases of 3% per year. A time & salary calculator is provided on our website to assist in these calculations

What are the guidelines for fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits must be included for all project staff using the rates established by the UW System.  Project staff from other UW campuses must also have their fringe benefits included in the budget.  If you are considering the inclusion of an ad hoc staff member, consult with HR for prior approval.  A table is available with the effective fringe benefit rates for the current and upcoming fiscal years .

Who should not be included as project staff?

Consultants and administrative support personnel generally should not be included as project staff.  Consultants are listed as a separate budget line item.  However, only external experts may serve as consultants, and thus employees within the UW System who participate in a project must be included as staff with fringe benefits. Administrative support personnel are part of indirect (overhead) costs unless the staff member is specifically assigned to the project to provide significant technical assistance, in which case they should be included as staff with fringe benefits.

Is there a limit to the amount of additional compensation a PI can receive through award funds?

What is the difference between a consultant and a subrecipient?

A subrecipient is an external organization that makes a significant contribution to a project.  They generally submit a separate, detailed budget for their portion of the project.  Project activities undertaken by a subrecipient often take place at their facility.  A consultant is an external expert who lends their expertise to a project in a more limited fashion.  Consultants are typically paid directly instead of through an organization and receive a pre-established hourly or per diem rate.

What are the guidelines for using a project consultant?

Generally, consultants are external professionals that are listed in a separate budget line item.  If a UW System employee will be serving in a consulting role, they should be listed as personnel, and fringe benefits should be included for them in the budget.  Contact the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs for further guidance on how to incorporate a consultant into your project.

What resources are available if I am planning a workshop, seminar, or conference?

UW-La Crosse  Continuing Education and Extension (CEE)  provides a range of services and expertise that will enhance your plans and free you to focus on the key elements of your projects:

  • Program development and management for presentations, meetings, workshops, or conferences (including marketing, logistics, registration, and more!)
  • Providing participants with course credits
  • Offering licensing credentials
  • Estimating costs of CEE services to simplify budgeting

CEE also sponsors a Conference/Program Support Grant for UWL faculty/staff to promote conference/program development. 

How should equipment be listed in the budget?

As a general rule for extramural proposals, equipment is defined as items that cost $5,000 or more per unit.  Equipment costs should take into account the cost of shipping, installation, fabrication, and maintenance.  Be as specific as possible in describing the equipment name, model number, and manufacturer.  Note that allowable equipment expenditures vary by funding agency.  To ensure your requests meet the appropriate guidelines, consult with the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs.

What are indirect (overhead, F&A) costs, and are they a required budget line item?

Indirect (overhead) costs are real costs for actual institutional expenses that support extramural activities but cannot be directly charged to a grant or contract.  Examples include utility costs, administrative support, facility maintenance, buildings, and equipment.  The UW System Board of Regents mandates that extramural proposals request overhead costs to cover these expenses.

How are indirect (overhead, F&A) costs calculated?

Indirect (overhead) cost rates for federal grants and contracts  are negotiated between the UW System and US Department of Health and Human Services.  Rates are calculated as a percentage of a project's modified total direct costs (MTDC), which are further defined in the university's fringe benefit & indirect cost rate information.

Non-federal grants and contracts must also request overhead cost reimbursement unless a funding agency prohibits/restricts it; if a funding agency has such restrictions, the PI must forward documentation of the agency's overhead policy to ORSP.  UWL has established  non-federal overhead cost rates .  Non-federal rates are calculated as a percentage of a project's total direct costs.

What are the guidelines for cost sharing (matching funds) in a budget?

Cost sharing requirements vary by funding agency, and our office can help you to identify what those requirements may be.  Cost sharing must be auditable and can consist of cash and/or in-kind contributions, depending upon funding agency guidelines.  Institutional cost sharing commitments must be made in writing, and before a proposal can be submitted, the dean/division director must indicate their approval either via email communication to the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs or via their approval signature on the grant transmittal form. Commitments made by collaborators outside the university must similarly be documented in writing before grant submission; the documentation must be supplied by an authorized representative of the collaborating entity and be submitted to ORSP.  Please see this cost sharing guide for additional information.

Compliance, Policies, and Procedures

In regards to research compliance, whose approval is needed to carry out my research project?

If it involves human subjects or human tissue, it will need approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

If it involves toxic, infectious, or carcinogenic/mutagenic materials, or uses recombinant DNA technology it will need approval from the Institutional Bio-Safety Committee (IBC). Researchers must also contact IBC to ensure compliance with Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) requirements; DURC requirements apply to life sciences research involving the use of one or more of the 15 agents/toxins identified by the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern.

If it involves the use of vertebrate animals, it will need approval from the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC).

When do I need to receive IRB, IBC, or IACUC approval for my project?

If your project requires IRB, IBC, or IACUC approval, it does not need to be approved before you submit a proposal for extramural funding.  However, since committee approval is required before your research commences, you should initiate the process as you draft your proposal or soon afterwards so that you are prepared to move forward if your project is funded.

Which funding agencies currently have Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training requirements?

Effective January 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) requires RCR instruction for all students - paid and unpaid - working on an NSF-funded project.  The USDA also has RCR training requirements for students engaged in an agency-funded project.  UWL has established a policy to guide students' training and ensure compliance with each agency's requirements.  Further information about this policy can be found in RCR for Federal Agencies webpage or by contacting our office.

What are the responsibilities of a principal investigator (PI)?

During proposal development, it is the PI's responsibility to prepare the proposal (please see the timeline and checklist); route application materials for review and approval by the designated institutional deadlines to the appropriate department chair(s)/unit director(s), dean(s)/division director (s), and ORSP; submit a final proposal and budget to our office for review and approval before submission to the funding agency; submit a completed grant transmittal form to ORSP; and submit proposals to the appropriate research compliance entities (e.g., Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Bio-safety Committee (IBC)).

During proposal submission, after the proposal is approved by ORSP, it is the PI's responsibility to mail the proposal by the due date unless it is to be transmitted electronically.  For the latter situation, the PI should plan to submit the proposal in collaboration with our office at least three business days before the deadline.  (Please see the timeline and checklist.)

If a project is funded, the PI is responsible for seeing that it is carried out in compliance with the terms, conditions, and policies of both the funding agency and UWL, including the submission of all required reports. PIs should contact ORSP or the grant accountant with questions about managing their project.

What is the purpose of the financial conflict of interest (FCOI) training and form, and who must complete it?

For Public Health Service (PHS) federal agencies: PHS regulations require that all investigators associated with grants/contracts directed to PHS federal agencies (e.g., NIH, SAMHSA) complete FCOI training and a significant financial interest (SFI) disclosure form.  UWL's FCOI policy for PHS grants/contracts requires investigators to complete the training and SFI disclosure form prior to grant/contract submission.  Note "investigator" is a term that may encompass individuals who may not be identified as PIs or co-PIs; subcontractors and consultants may be considered investigators for the purpose of the FCOI policy.  Please see the UWL FCOI policy for additional information.

For all other (non-PHS) federal agencies: UWL PIs and co-PIs need to complete a significant financial interest (SFI) disclosure form before a grant/contract is submitted to any federal agency. Please see the UWL FCOI policy for additional information.

Post Award

I received a notice that my proposal has been funded. What happens now?

Upon award notification, the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs (ORSP), in consultation with the principal investigator (PI), will verify the itemized budget.  A uniquely numbered account and title for the project (fund 144 for a federal grant, fund 133 for a non-federal award) will be established by the Business Services Office. The PI will receive an email notification from the grant accountant once the account set-up process is complete with additional information. The PI, along with the department chair, dean, and central administration, is responsible for directing the funded project and bears fiscal responsibility.  You may contact ORSP or the grant accountant for assistance at any point during the post award process.

Who should I contact when completing the financial information portion of the progress/final reports required by the funding agency?

You should contact the grant accountant whenever providing financial information to a funding agency. WISDM is not always up to date, as there can be pending transfers that you cannot see when logging in on your own.

Where should I submit copies of the progress/final reports required by the funding agency?

In addition to submitting the required reports for your sponsored project to the funding agency, we strongly encourage you to submit a copy of all such reports to ORSP.  This will assist us in maintaining accurate, current, and complete records.

Who should I consult if I need to make modifications to my project budget?

The grant accountant should be your first stop before making budget modifications, as they can verify the actual availability of award funds.  Afterwards, the grant accountant and ORSP will work with you to either make the modifications internally and/or communicate with the funding agency.  The process should be initiated at least four weeks prior to the project end date.  Some agencies only allow such modifications if they are initiated electronically by ORSP. You will need to complete a budget modification form prior to the modification being submitted to the grantor.

What should I do if there will be significant changes in personnel working on my project?

If you are anticipating significant changes in the personnel working on your project, contact ORSP for guidance. Generally, funding agencies require prior approval before making such a change.

What is the process for requesting an extension of the award period without requesting additional funds?

First request an available balance worksheet from the grant accountant. Then complete the No Cost Time Extension Form and route it to ORSP.  ORSP will communicate with the funding agency on your behalf.  To allow sufficient time, the completed form is due to ORSP at least eight weeks prior to the project end date.

Who handles award invoicing and deposits?

The grant accountant handles all invoicing of funding agencies.  Additionally, they process all deposits.