UWL Guidelines for Proposal Development & Administration

Planning Your Project expanding section

In the early stages of planning your project, you need to begin converting your initial idea into a clear and reasonably detailed project design. Consider developing a concept paper to outline your project. This will help to:

  • define the problem that the project addresses and its importance, 
  • identify the need for the project as a significant response to the problem,
  • elicit feedback and constructive criticism from colleagues, 
  • facilitate preliminary contact with potential sponsors, and
  • assist in finding potential funding sources.

To make your project appealing to a prospective sponsor, it is important to demonstrate that you are offering a significant response to a current problem of interest to the sponsor. The goal is to propose a clear, thought-out project with measurable outcomes in a specific area of need.

Evaluate your idea as objectively as possible in terms of its contribution as a response to this problem. The evaluation process may require:

  • reading and citing authoritative sources in the problem area,
  • conversation or correspondence with leading figures in the area,
  • familiarizing yourself with ongoing funded activities in the area, and
  • considering the relevance of your idea in light of other approaches.

You should always be open to the possibility of re-focusing the project design as a result of this evaluation.

Keep in mind that many proposals are reviewed by a panel of peer reviewers and the program officer. While they consider the merit of each application, they will also assess:

  • the significance, originality, and potentially transformative nature of the proposed research,
  • the adequacy of the methodology,
  • the qualifications and experience of the investigator(s),
  • the suitability of the facilities, and
  • the appropriateness of the budget requested.

All of these criteria should be considered as you develop your project plans.

Finding Funding expanding section

UWL personnel have access to several funding search databases to help identify potential funding sources for a project or program. These databases, and information on how to access them, can be found on the External Funding Sources webpage. The webpage also links to common community/regional funding sources, national non-federal sponsors, and federal sponsors.

You can also view current funding announcements in the monthly Grant News or submit an electronic Funding Finder Request for ORSP's help in identifying potential funding sources.

Contacting the Sponsor expanding section

It is recommended that preliminary contact be made with potential sponsors to determine whether they are willing to consider a formal grant application. A well-written two or three page preliminary proposal, or concept paper, submitted to a sponsor can inform you of their potential interest in the proposal and will save time for both you and the sponsor--especially if the proposal is clearly not well aligned with the sponsor's priorities. This process may result in sponsor feedback for refining the proposal to meet their priorities without distorting your original intentions. Finally, the sponsor's staff may be able to suggest other contacts that may have an interest in your proposed project. See "How to Contact the Potential Funding Agency" for general guidance.

The preliminary inquiry should, if possible, demonstrate that the investigator is acquainted with the work and priorities of the sponsor being contacted. An effective prospectus will point out the significance of the project and will discuss the objectives of your particular research, how you plan to reach these objectives, and how long it will take you to do so. Although a detailed budget is not necessary, there should be an overall cost estimate. Other information that should be included is the following: Who will benefit? Who cares about the outcomes? What difference will it make if the project is not funded? How is your approach unique, inventive, or transformative?

A preliminary proposal should give enough indication of step-by-step planning to show that the project has been thought through and that pitfalls have been anticipated. It should demonstrate the writer's grasp of the subject and their capabilities to undertake the project. It should be emphasized that this is a preliminary inquiry, not a formal proposal, and so the information should be concise.

Since the preliminary inquiry is an informal, direct communication between the PI/PD and the sponsor, it does not need to be routed through university channels for preliminary review or approval. However, by request, ORSP staff can provide feedback on concept paper drafts.

It is important that PIs/PDs do not commit university resources without the explicit consent of their cognizant department chair/unit director, dean/division director, and ORSP.

Developing a Proposal expanding section

ORSP staff can assist with all aspects of the proposal development process,  such as establishing a proposal development timeline and checklist of required components, providing feedback on the narrative and supplementary documents, assessing project needs, developing a budget, aligning the proposal with sponsor priorities and guidelines, navigating research and regulatory compliance requirements, following UWL's institutional procedures for review and approval, and determining submission logistics.

While there is no "one size fits all" approach for developing a perfect proposal, there are some general principles that can help you prepare an effective document that will strongly state your case in seeking extramural funding.

A proposal's format and content will depend on the sponsor's requirements. Most federal agencies have application forms or very specific guidelines, while other sponsors may be less prescriptive. Always read sponsor guidelines in detail, and be mindful that some sponsors may have more than one set of guidelines that apply to a single application.

Consider the nature of the potential funding source as you begin to write. The approach to a private foundation will differ from that to a discipline-specific federal agency. In the former, you need to start with a more general needs statement to establish the importance of your whole area of interest relative to other large areas of need. In the latter, you can go directly to the specific need for your project. Always consider your audience when drafting your narrative and target the content to them. If you developed one, your concept paper/preliminary proposal can serve as an outline in drafting the full application.

Some examples of the typical sections within a proposal are outlined below, but you should refer to the sponsor's guidelines for actual requirements.

Project Title expanding section

The title of a proposal often provides reviewers' first impression of a proposal. A title should be self-explanatory, describe the proposed project, express the end result of the project, and be easy to remember.

Cover Sheet expanding section
  • Name and address of sponsor
  • Name of the applicant or organization - University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
  • Place of performance
  • Title of proposed project
  • Total funds requested
  • Name and title of the PI/PD and co-investigators
  • Name and title of authorizing UWL official - Director of Research & Sponsored Programs
Abstract expanding section

While an abstract is not required by all funding agencies, it is a highly effective means of presenting a project to reviewers. Typically, an abstract is no longer than 200 to 250 words. It is a brief exposition that summarizes the objectives and significance of the project, the procedures to be followed in carrying it out, and the plans for evaluating the results.

Introduction expanding section

If extensive introductory remarks are appropriate to "set the stage" for the specific proposal, you should devote a separate section to them. However, if only a brief introduction is necessary, it should be included as an introductory paragraph.

Project Description expanding section

The description of the proposed project is an expansion of the abstract and constitutes the heart and soul of the proposal. It is a full and detailed explanation of the PI's proposed research plan and should include:

  • A detailed description of the work to be undertaken;
  • Its relation to both the present state of knowledge in the field and to comparable work known to be in progress elsewhere; and
  • Justification that the proposed research is timely and critical. This section should include a clearly stated, detailed discussion of the methodology, goals, and objectives of the research.
Bibliography expanding section

References should be selected carefully, and generally only those that are discussed in the proposal should be included. Reviewers may be interested in assessing the relevance of the listed references to the proposed project. Carefully selected references can also help to establish the theoretical and/or practical foundation for the proposed project.

It can be helpful to keep in mind that many proposals are not funded the first time. The probabilities of successful funding tend to increase with resubmissions. Consequently, proposal revisions and re-submissions are to be expected. In most cases, feedback from proposal reviewers is either provided automatically by the sponsor or can be requested by the principal investigator/project director (PI/PD).

Developing a Budget expanding section

The budget is one of the key elements in any proposal because it outlines your project in fiscal terms and is often used by reviewers to form an impression of how the project will be organized.

You are urged to contact ORSP early in the proposal development process to discuss and plan your budget to ensure it is accurate and follows all sponsor, UWL, UW System, state, and federal policies and regulations. The UWL budget helper spreadsheet provides a good starting point for budget development.

Personnel expanding section

List professional personnel first, staff second, and part-time or student workers third. Professional and staff salary figures should include the percentage of effort or number of person months (per sponsor guidelines) reflecting the amount of time each person will devote to the proposed project. An individuals' gross, full-time base salary should be used to calculate salary requested from the grant; refer to your monthly pay statement or contract. In the case of part-time or hourly personnel (such as students), the number of hours and hourly wage should be used instead. Annual merit and promotional rate increases should be included. Additionally, it is recommended that budgets include a 2%-3% salary/wage increase per year to cover cost of living increases. Refer to the Time & Salary Calculator and Budget Guidance: Effort & Course Release for Extramural Projects for more information.

If support personnel and students who will work on the project are already employed by UWL, they may be listed by name. If not, the positions to be filled should be described along with an indication of the academic level or job classification desired. Naming a person in a proposal does not commit the institution to employment of that person and does not satisfy the requirements of open recruitment.

The following categories of personnel may be included:

  • Principal investigator (PI)/program director (PD) (and, in some cases, co-PI/PDs)
  • Other key personnel
  • Research or project assistants (e.g., undergraduate or graduate students engaged in research training under the proposed grant)
  • Academic staff
  • University staff (e.g., administrative support staff)
  • Student employees

Consultants should not be included in this section but should instead be listed under "Consultant Services." 

Generally, costs related to administrative support personnel should not be requested from a sponsor, but any individual specifically and significantly assigned to a project should be listed at the appropriate level of participation. Consult with ORSP to determine if a particular support position may be eligible to include in a budget request according to applicable policies and regulations.

Depending on the nature of an individual's proposed work, and a sponsor's guidelines, it may be appropriate to request summer salary support, partial release from university duties, or overload payment to complete the work. Any compensation for UWL personnel paid by grants or contracts is subject to the applicable sponsor regulations, State of Wisconsin and UW System policies, and UWL policies (e.g., UWL Policy on Overload Payments). Consult with ORSP for guidance on allowable project effort and compensation.

Fringe Benefits expanding section

Fringe benefits, expressed as a percentage of salary, include items such as, but not limited to, Social Security, state retirement programs, health insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance. Per UW System policy, fringe benefits must be included in all budgets for extramural funding unless such costs are specifically excluded or restricted by the sponsor, in which case they must be covered by an alternate source (typically a PI's college/division). Fringe benefit rates are prescribed by personnel classification. Refer to UWL's current extramural fringe benefit rates. Multiple year proposals must include an estimated increase of 5% per year. New fringe rates are established and approved by UW System at the beginning of each fiscal year.

Equipment expanding section

Generally, equipment is defined as tangible, nonexpendable property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. A “unit” may comprise multiple components that collectively function as a system. The best source of estimated equipment cost is a vendor quote. The cost of shipping, installation, and fabrication should be included in the cost of the equipment. Whenever possible, the PI/PD should specify the name, model number, and manufacturer of the equipment.

Permanent equipment is broken into two categories: special purpose and general purpose. The type of equipment most often purchased under grants or contracts is designated special purpose equipment because it is necessary to the research and is generally not available within or of general use to UWL. Justification for such equipment should be provided in the proposal.

General purpose equipment includes items such as office furniture, dictation/transcription machines, personal computers, etc. The purchase of general purpose equipment is allowed by some federal sponsors when it is primarily or exclusively used in the conduct of scientific research. However, it is heavily scrutinized, and requests should include extensive justification as to why the items are integral to the project objectives.

Generally, title to equipment purchased with grant funds is allowed to remain at UWL. However, the specific conditions of each grant or contract will govern.

Travel expanding section

Use the UW TravelWise Lodging, Meals, & Incidental Per Diem Calculator and Concur to estimate travel costs. Examples of travel support include conducting research at off-campus locations, meeting with collaborators, disseminating project results at academic conferences, and supporting travel costs for program participants. Domestic and international travel costs should be separately itemized.

Justification for travel costs should specify the purpose (e.g., conducting research, attending a meeting) and provide information such as:

  • Name of traveler(s), destination , and reason for trip (including conference name, if applicable)
  • Round-trip commercial coach airfare (allowances for air travel will not normally exceed round-trip economy airfare)
  • Number of days, meals & incidentals per diem rate, and lodging costs
  • Other expenses, such as ground transportation or conference registration fees

The purpose of each trip should be discussed in the proposal narrative and budget justification. Expenditures for travel must follow university and State of Wisconsin travel regulations.

If international travel is anticipated, additional justification may be needed, as such travel is typically more closely scrutinized by sponsors. If no provision for international travel was included in the original proposal, approval must be obtained from the sponsor and/or UWL (as appropriate) prior to the commitment of grant funds.

Participant Support Costs expanding section

Participant support costs include items like stipends, subsistence or travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) participating in conferences, workshops, seminars, symposia, or other training projects/activities. Participants do not include individuals who perform work or services for a project unless it is for their own educational benefit/professional development. Participant support stipends should not describe employment arrangements (e.g., required number of hours, hourly rate of pay).

There are multiple federal regulations, sponsor policies, and university requirements related to this cost category. Consult with ORSP for assistance.

Materials and Supplies expanding section

Any equipment or supplies needed for your project that costs less than $5,000 per unit should be listed under materials and supplies. This category may also include consumable items (e.g., office supplies, glassware, electronic supplies, laboratory supplies, chemicals). Identify as specifically as possible the types of equipment or supplies needed.

Publication Costs expanding section

Publication costs are the expenses of preparing and publishing the results of the research conducted under the grant, including costs of reports, reprints, page charges, or other journal costs and necessary illustrations. Such costs do not normally include support of book or monograph publication.

Consultant Services expanding section

Consultants are defined as external experts (not employed by the UW System) who work on a project for a limited duration and scope while providing a specific service (e.g., data processing, sample analysis, marketing services, website development, program evaluation) but do not exercise control over the achievement of any project objectives.

A consultant should be identified by name and/or by their specialty; the number of person-days and/or hours of consulting and their daily rate should also be specified. Federal sponsors generally ask that PI/PDs:

  • Hire consultants only when the services are necessary and cannot be provided by paying direct salaries to a current employee of the proposed project;
  • Engage in an objective selection process designed to secure the most qualified individual; and
  • Ensure these persons provide a "necessary and unique contribution" to the project.

Eligibility of individuals holding local, state, or federal positions to serve as paid consultants must be determined in advance. Employees within the UW System cannot serve within the system as paid consultants nor can employees of a federal agency unless they are on leave status. UW System employees can, however, serve as staff members on a project, in which case the appropriate fringe benefit rates should be included in the budget. Each UW campus has its own prescribed fringe benefit rates. Project personnel should work with their respective campus's sponsored programs office for budget and proposal development.

Where the costs of consultants are borne in whole or in part as direct costs by federal projects, the consultation must be documented by an invoice from the consultant. Any of the following information not shown on the invoice must be shown in a memorandum or other document signed by an organizational official: the name of the consulting firm or individual; social security number and home address of individual consultant; the nature of the services rendered and their relevance to the grant supported activities, if not otherwise apparent from the nature of the services; the period of the service; the basis for calculating the fee paid (e.g., rate per day, hours worked, or rate per unit of service rendered); and the amount paid.

Subawards expanding section

Subawards are funds distributed to outside institutions/individuals that exercise control over the achievement of one or more project objectives. Subawards should appear as a line item reflecting the total subaward amount in the proposal budget with reference to an attached subrecipient's formal, detailed budget. PIs should document the reasons for choosing a particular subrecipient over others. For each subaward, a separate, itemized budget and budget justification must be provided to ORSP and the sponsor. Consult with ORSP on the additional documentation requirements for subrecipients.

Tuition Remission expanding section

Some grants will allow for the payment of participating student trainees' tuition, segregated fees, and/or institutional allowances. Account for anticipated increases in these costs. Under UW System policies, training grants must equal or exceed tuition and fee costs per student; if a given grant or contract fails to do so, the difference will be charged to the individual students.

Other Costs expanding section

Where supporting sponsor guidelines and regulations permit, a budget may include appropriate amounts for costs such as freight charges, equipment maintenance and rental, reference books, and other costs specifically related to the project that may not fit within other budget categories. Generally, sponsors do not allow for costs categorized as "miscellaneous" without an itemized justification and description of estimated expenses.

Space and Extended Use of University Facilities expanding section

Expenditures necessary for construction, remodeling, or rental of space and facilities should be explained in detail. The basis for this should be the estimates you receive from UWL's space management, remodeling, or planning and construction representative. If off-campus rental facilities are approved by UWL, the budget should include rent, utilities, custodial care, and other costs which may be incurred.

Indirect Costs/Overhead expanding section

Per UW System policy, indirect costs (a.k.a. overhead, facilities & administrative costs, F&A) are required for all extramural funding at the university prescribed rates. Indirect costs are real costs associated with the completion of a funded project. Extramural proposals must request indirect costs from the sponsor to cover expenditures such as administrative costs, maintenance of physical facilities, and utilities that are not readily identified with a specific project. In undertaking any funded project, whether or not it is sponsored by the federal government, UWL must recover two components of costs--those directly attributable to the specific project and those incurred for the general support and management of the project. Indirect costs are real costs. They provide reimbursements for expenses incurred in conducting or supporting the project. Funds paid to UWL for indirect costs of a sponsored project are reimbursement for expenditures actually incurred.

For non-federal grants/contracts, the PI/PD should include the applicable non-federal indirect cost rate unless the sponsor has specific, published, universally applied policies restricting indirect costs. Documentation of the sponsor's policy is required to request approval for the use of an alternate rate. Consult ORSP for further information.

For federal grants/contracts, the basic regulations for ascertaining the costs of federally sponsored projects at educational institutions are set forth in federal regulations. Annually, the UW System presents its expenditures in these categories and evidence regarding the proportion of these costs incurred as a result of its total research effort. This information is audited by representatives of the HHS Audit Agency (the cognizant audit agency for the UW System), and the allowable rates of reimbursement are then established. Rates are calculated as a percentage of a project's modified total direct costs (MTDC). Refer to UWL's federal negotiated indirect cost rate agreement for more information.

Cost Sharing expanding section

If it is included, cost sharing is complex and requires proactive planning with project collaborators, department chairs/unit directors, deans/division heads, and ORSP well in advance of submission. Note federal sponsors generally do not allow cost sharing. All cost sharing requires written confirmation by an authorized representative be submitted to ORSP prior to application submission. Consult with ORSP regarding cost sharing requirements and allowability. Generally, cost share:

  • Must be verifiable by UWL’s records post award
  • Must come from non-federal sources 
  • Can only be cited as cost share for one award
  • Must be necessary and reasonable for the accomplishment of program objectives
  • Must be an otherwise allowable cost per the sponsor guidelines

Sponsors may or may not require UWL to demonstrate its participation in the total costs of any project supported by a grant. In determining how or if UWL will share in the cost of a project, specific sponsor guidelines should be followed, as allowable types and requirements vary widely. Contingent upon sponsor guidelines and UWL approval, cost sharing may include cash and/or in-kind contributions.

Developing Supplementary Documents expanding section

Supplementary document requirements vary widely by sponsor and program. Refer to the specific program guidelines. ORSP has a number of templates for commonly required supplementary documents on the "How to Apply for Grants" webpage. Examples of such documents are described below.

Biographical Sketches expanding section

Brief biographical sketches, including publications, of the PI/PD and the senior professional personnel involved are typically required. Sponsors generally have specific requirements for the content and format of key personnel's biographical sketches. Templates are available on ORSP's "How to Apply for Grants" webpage.

Current & Pending Support expanding section

Some sponsors require all key personnel to submit information related to their current and pending grant applications and other time commitments. Each sponsor has their own required format for this information, but a template is available on ORSP's "How to Apply for Grants" webpage. Generally, the document should summarize all current extramural and internal support and other pending applications of the PI(s), including the application under development. This information should include sources of support, project titles, project periods, committed effort (if applicable), and award amounts.

Data Management Plan expanding section

A Data Management Plan generally should describe how a proposed project will manage related data, share research results, and conform to a sponsor's policies on the dissemination and sharing of research results. See ORSP's template for guidance.

Facilities, Equipment, & Other Resources expanding section

Some sponsors ask for a document summarizing the existing institutional facilities, equipment, and other resources (such as personnel and expertise) available to support the proposed project. Several templates for this document are available on ORSP's "How to Apply for Grants" webpage.

Appendices expanding section

Sponsors may or may not allow additional information to be submitted as one or several appendices to the application. Follow sponsor guidelines. Generally, you should be mindful that reviewers are often not required to review information submitted in an appendix. Appendices should not be used to circumvent an application's page limits.

Requesting University Review & Approval expanding section
Grant Submission Timeline & On-Campus Deadlines expanding section

Before a grant application can be submitted to a sponsor, all materials must be reviewed and approved by the applicable department chair(s)/unit director(s), college dean(s)/division director(s), and ORSP. The PI/PD needs to allow sufficient time for on-campus review, processing, and approval of proposals. At minimum, application components should be routed for review according to the UWL Grant Submission Timeline. Adequate time for institutional review and approval is not guaranteed for materials received after these deadlines. Contact ORSP to determine whether an application can be accommodated. 

Applications submitted prior to full institutional approval may be withdrawn. If funded, award acceptance for such applications will be contingent upon institutional review and approval. If award conditions or aspects of the proposed project do not meet institutional requirements, the award will be declined. Individual PIs/co-PIs are not authorized to sign off on application components on behalf of the university; applications must be reviewed by appropriate personnel and approved by signatories designated by UWL leadership.

Grant/Contract Transmittal Form expanding section

Each proposal for extramural or UW System/WiSys funding must be approved by the PI's/PD's department chair or unit director, the college dean or division director, and ORSP before it is submitted to the funding agency. Proposals that involve more than one department/unit, school, or college/division must be reviewed and approved by each respective UWL personnel's chair/director and dean/division director. This approval is documented by administrators' signatures on the UWL Grant/Contract Transmittal Form. The form should be routed with a final budget and budget justification, and a draft narrative. The form assures that appropriate university officials have reviewed and approved each proposal in accordance with university, sponsor, and other applicable policies and regulations. It also provides the basic UWL record of the processing transaction.

Principal Investigator/Project Director Role & Responsibilities expanding section

The terms "Principal Investigator" (PI) and "Project Director" (PD) are often used interchangeably to designate an individual who has the responsibility for seeing that proposals are submitted and that sponsored projects are carried out in compliance with the terms, conditions, and policies of both the funding agency and UWL, including the submission of all required narrative and technical reports.

A project is generally conceived of and carried out by the PI/PD, who manages the funds entrusted to them to meet the project goals. As the person primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of a project, the PI/PD must be alert to both university and funding agency requirements.

Department Chair/Unit Director Role & Responsibilities expanding section

The PI's/PD's department chairperson or unit director shall:

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

The department chair's/unit director's certification of the items above is designated by their signature on the UWL Grant/Contract Transmittal Form.

College Dean/Division Director Role & Responsibilities expanding section

The PI's/PD's college dean or division director shall review the proposal for completeness and to confirm that:

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

In addition, it should be ascertained to what degree this proposal will commit the college or school to long-term support of project personnel or to a program which may evolve from the project.

The dean's/division director's certification of the items above is designated by their signature on the UWL Grant/Contract Transmittal Form.

Director of Research & Sponsored Programs Role & Responsibilities expanding section

Per the policy of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, the chancellor or their designee(s) can enter into grant and contract arrangements on behalf of the institution. As the chancellor's designated representative for extramural funding arrangements, the Director of Research & Sponsored Programs shall review the proposal for compatibility with the appropriate university plans, policies, and regulations as well as for conformity with agency requirements and policies. The director's certification of these items is designated by their signature on the UWL Grant/Contract Transmittal Form.

Identifying Compliance Requirements expanding section

In addition to university review and approval requirements, proposals may have additional compliance requirements that must be fulfilled either before the proposal is submitted to the sponsor or before work on the project begins. Such requirements will depend upon which university, sponsor, state, and federal policies and regulations are applicable to a project. An overview of some requirements is provided below. See the Compliance and Policies website for more information.

Chemical & Physical Safety expanding section

A chemical is defined as any element, chemical compound or mixture of elements and/or compounds. These materials can pose a variety of hazards, including but not limited to: toxic to humans and/or environment, fire and explosion. PIs/PDs should be prepared to identify all chemicals that will be used. The chemical identity can be completed through provision of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

Physical hazards are defined as excessive levels of electromagnetic and ionizing radiations, noise, vibration, and extremes of temperature and pressure.

Those PIs/PDs involved in research or use of chemicals or physical hazards should contact Dan Sweetman to assist in obtaining all required reviews and approvals. These approvals must be obtained before project work can begin but do not necessarily need to be completed before an application is submitted to a sponsor. See Chemical & Physical Safety for more information.

Financial Conflicts of Interest (FCOI) expanding section

To ensure compliance with federal regulations, before submission, all applications for federal funding, including subawards and federal flow-through funding, require all UWL investigators to complete a significant financial interest (SFI) disclosure form. See FCOI Basics: Overview of Policy & Requirements for a summary of the requirements and items that need to be disclosed. The policy also applies to non-federal sponsors with FCOI requirements (e.g., Alliance for Lupus Research, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Arthritis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Lupus Foundation of America, Susan G. Komen for the Cure).

If applying to a Public Health Service (PHS) agency (e.g., NIH), there is an additional FCOI training and assessment requirement for all investigators. As defined by PHS, investigators may extend beyond a project's PIs and co-PIs to include students, subrecipients, consultants, and/or other collaborators. Refer to the UWL Identifying Investigators resource for help determining who may constitute an investigator on a particular project. There are also FCOI requirements for external collaborators named in PHS agency applications. Refer to the UWL FCOI policy website for further information. 

Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) expanding section

Projects involving animal subjects are subject to IACUC requirements. Protocols must be approved before project work can begin but not necessarily before an application is submitted to a sponsor. See the IACUC website for more information.

Additionally, some federal sponsors (e.g., NIH, NSF) require IACUC congruency review before award issuance and before project work begins, which is completed by the UWL IACUC Coordinator and recorded by ORSP. This ensures the approved protocol(s) aligns with the research outlined in the application. The PI/PD is responsible for initiating the review. To allow for potentially required protocol revisions, it is strongly recommended a PI initiate the process after application scores are received if a high score indicates funding is likely. Contact ORSP for further guidance.

Institutional Bio-safety Committee (IBC) and Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) expanding section

Projects involving recombinant DNA (rDNA), biohazardous materials, and/or other general biological safety concerns are subject to IBC requirements. Protocols must be approved before project work can begin but not necessarily before an application is submitted to a sponsor. See the IBC website for more information.

Additionally, projects involving the use of one or more of the 15 agents/toxins identified in section 6.2.1 of the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) is subject to DURC compliance requirements, regardless of funding source(s) supporting the research. At UWL, the institutional review entity for qualifying research is the IBC. Researchers whose work involves one or more of these agents/toxins must contact the IBC chair to receive guidance on fulfilling DURC-related training and other compliance requirements. DURC requirements must be fulfilled before work on qualifying research commences. Additional information can be found at the Public Health Emergency DURC policy training

Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects expanding section

Projects subject to IRB requirements must have approval from the IRB committee before project work can begin. While an IRB protocol does not need to be approved before an application is submitted to a sponsor, it is strongly recommended PIs/PDs begin the process as soon as possible to ensure adequate time for review. See the IRB website for more information.

Additionally, some federal sponsors (e.g., NIH, NSF) require IRB congruency review before award issuance and before project work begins, which is completed by the UWL IRB Coordinator and recorded by ORSP. This ensures the approved protocol(s) aligns with the research outlined in the application. The PI/PD is responsible for initiating the review. To allow for potentially required protocol revisions, it is strongly recommended a PI initiate the process after application scores are received if a high score indicates funding is likely. Contact ORSP for further guidance.

Intellectual Property, Inventions, & Patents expanding section

Extramurally funded scholarly projects are subject to UW System Administrative (UWSA) Policy 346: Patents and Inventions. UWL faculty, staff, and students are subject to the policy. For more information on requirements, see the Intellectual Property, Inventions, and Patents website.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) expanding section

The following federal agencies have set forth RCR requirements for all institutions receiving agency funding 

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) (only some funding mechanisms, such as R25 and R36) 
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) 
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 

Each agency defines training expectations for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in projects funded by the above agencies, whether they are paid or unpaid.

For applications subject to RCR requirements, all PIs must complete an RCR Student Training Plan Form before submission. The form outlines the PI's plan for fulfilling student training obligations. The UWL RCR Policy for Federal Agencies details the specific training requirements for each agency and provides information on how to access online RCR training modules. 

Restrictions of Publication & Proprietary Information expanding section

It is the policy of UWL that the results of research shall be fully communicated; accordingly, UWL does not engage in classified research and will not agree to grant or contract provisions that restrict the right of a UWL employee to publish, release, or otherwise share findings derived from the sponsored activities. UWL does recognize that some research may require access to proprietary data. As a consequence, it will permit the sponsor of the research an opportunity to review materials prior to publication and to request changes in order to protect proprietary data. The final decision on whether to publish, however, remains with the researcher; the right of review by the sponsor does not contain a corresponding right of approval. In addition, this review period is not to exceed 90 days.

Although UWL will agree to receive proprietary information and will exercise best efforts to maintain the confidentiality of this information, it insists such proprietary information be restricted to that which is absolutely necessary for the research. It must be clearly marked as "proprietary" at the time it is received by UWL. Proposed exceptions to this policy, including the negotiation of contracts or agreements covering classified research in the national interest, must be approved by the cognizant dean or director and the chancellor or their designee.

Subawards expanding section

Applications involving subawards to external collaborators are subject to additional requirements before an application is submitted and, for federal awards, before project work begins.

Before an application is submitted, subrecipient institutions must confirm their role in the proposed project and their requested budget. Before submission, an authorized organizational representative from the subrecipient (e.g., ORSP administrator) must provide the following documents to the lead institution:

  • Scope of work
  • Subaward budget and budget justification
  • Subrecipient commitment form or written confirmation of the intent to collaborate (e.g., memorandum of understanding)

Templates for the above documents are available from ORSP. There may be additional compliance requirements contingent upon lead institution and sponsor requirements (e.g., FCOI training, SFI disclosures, other certifications).

Before project work begins for a federal award, subawards must undergo the processes outlined on the Subaward Risk Assessment & Monitoring website.

Navigating Post Award Administration expanding section
Award Acceptance expanding section

After a proposal has been approved for support and an award is granted, official notification is usually sent from the funding agency to the chancellor's office or the designee and the PI/PD. In all cases, official acceptance of funds is required. In the case of grants and contracts, the chancellor or their designee provides the official signature of acceptance. When a grant award becomes official, ORSP formally acknowledges it and forwards a letter to the post award grant accountant, who assigns the UWL account number and administers post award financial activities.

Administrative Responsibilities expanding section

The PI/PD, operating within the policies of UWL and assisted by appropriate university administrative offices and officials, is responsible for the day-to-day administration and direction of an approved project. The PI/PD will be furnished a copy of the grant or contract document for reference. In order to effectively discharge their primary responsibility, the PI/PD should be cognizant of all contract or grant provisions and give special attention to those pertaining to budget limitations, patents/inventions and copyrights, safety and security, research compliance, and required reports.

It is expected that the PI/PD will maintain close liaison with the cognizant dean/division director, ORSP, and grant accountant in order to apprise them of developments requiring deviation from the initial budget or from other terms and conditions of the approved grant or contract. They must be furnished copies of, and in most cases countersign, all administrative correspondence between the PI/PD and the sponsor.

Records expanding section

A separate accounting report is established for each UWL grant or contract account number, and all financial transactions, such as budget receipts, encumbrances, payments, and balances, will be recorded on this ledger. The PI/PD is expected to keep sufficient records in his/her own department to control all expenditures, including budget items (e.g., travel) which may not be exceeded without sponsor approval. Some grants require supplementary records, and these are defined in the grant or contract document or in published agency regulations. The grant accountant should be consulted to determine current and accurate funds remaining for budget line items.

Budget Modifications expanding section

Supporting agencies have specific requirements for and restrictions on deviation from the approved project budget. The PI/PD is responsible for complying with such regulations. See UWL's Post Award Modifications guidelines for the types of budget modifications requiring prior university and agency approval, and for the required on-campus documentation, review, and approval processes.

Carryover of Funding expanding section

Sponsoring agencies and organizations have different rules regarding funds that are unspent at the end of a budget period in a multi-year grant. PIs/PDs should find out what their sponsor requires so as not to jeopardize the use of these funds. Generally, a formal request must be submitted to the sponsor, via ORSP, with an explanation of why the residual exists and how it will be used during the next budget period.

No-Cost Extension expanding section

Requests to extend the award termination date without additional funds (no-cost extension) should be sent to the sponsor through ORSP. See UWL's Post Award Modifications guidelines for the required on-campus documentation, review, and approval processes. Note that sponsors have deadlines required for submitting no-cost extension requests; PIs/PDs are responsible for following those requirements and UWL's required timeline.

Supplemental Funds expanding section

Requests for supplemental funds should be treated as a mini-proposal. A budget showing how the funds will be spent and an explanation of why they are needed and relevant to the research must be included in the request. Before the request can be submitted to the sponsor, a UWL Grant/Contract Transmittal Form must be routed to document review and approval by the appropriate department chair/unit director, college dean/division director, and Office of Research & Sponsored Programs.

Purchasing Procedures expanding section

All regular university purchasing policies must be followed when purchasing with grant monies. If you are unaware of purchasing procedures, check with your department chair/unit director, college dean/division director, purchasing department, your department administrative support, or the grant accountant.

Salaries expanding section

Salaries and wages must be administered in accordance with state and university personnel and compensation rules and regulations. PI/PDs should be familiar with the faculty, academic staff, and university staff rules and regulations, current policies for employees-in-training and student hourly help, and federal work study procedures. Contact Human Resources for details on personnel policies and hiring. Federal grants require compliance with federal anti-discrimination statutes.

Time & Effort Certification expanding section

Under federal guidelines, appointment letters, payroll records, etc., are not sufficient documentation to certify expended effort on an externally funded project: often a separate document, the Time and Effort Certification Form, signed and dated by the individual having first-hand knowledge of 100% of the employee's activities, both sponsored and non-sponsored, is required. These forms are sent to PI/PDs after every payroll period--monthly for faculty and academic staff and bi-monthly for university staff.

Travel expanding section

The state and UW System travel regulations govern reimbursement for travel performed with project funds. UW TravelWise  should be consulted for current policies and rates for travel costs such as airfare, car rental, mileage reimbursement lodging, and meals & incidentals.

Equipment expanding section

Permanent equipment purchased from project funds is owned by either UWL or the sponsor, depending upon the terms of the grant or contract. In either case, the PI/PD is responsible for such equipment and must account for all items periodically and at the close of the project. Equipment purchased with extramural funds must be entered into the UWL inventory system.

Reports expanding section

The PI/PD is responsible for complying with all technical and scholarly report requirements and filing deadlines as specified by the sponsor and/or UWL. When required by the sponsoring agency, auditable financial reports will be prepared by the grant accountant in conjunction with the PI/PD.

Program Income expanding section

Federal regulations require that UWL report to the sponsor any program income related to projects funded in whole or in part with federal funds. It is therefore important that income generated from the sale of goods and/or services be re-deposited to the source of funds paying the costs of the sale. These regulations also require prior agency approval before expending income generated from grant/contract activities. Sales and income is a complex area that should be discussed with UWL Business Office if extramural funds are involved.

Project Changes expanding section

A number of post award modifications require a sponsor's prior approval before carrying out, such as:

  • Budget modifications when total funding previously awarded is reduced or increased, significant revisions are needed (i.e., those requiring a sponsor's prior approval), or funds are reallocated from participant support
  • No-cost extensions when additional time is needed to meet a project’s objectives with no additional funding 
  • Award transfers from or to another institution
  • Changes to project’s PI, scope, objectives, or personnel effort 
  • Other modifications requiring a sponsor’s prior approval

Refer to the UWL Post Award Modifications guidelines for information about the required documentation, timelines, and review & approval processes for each modification type.

Care should be taken to charge the project for all approved expenses incurred. The fact that this may require additional paperwork (e.g., a separate order to Central Stores or a vendor) is no reason to avoid the practice and thus load the regular department budget or other extramural projects with inappropriate or unnecessary charges.

Changes in Research Plan expanding section

Major changes in the research plan that constitute a redirection of the statement of work included in the original proposal must be discussed in advance with and approved by the sponsor. Before submission of such a proposal to the sponsor, a Post Award Modifications Form with required documentation must be routed for institutional review and approval. Refer to the UWL Post Award Modifications guidelines for the required timeline, documentation, and processes.

Changes in PI/PD expanding section

Whenever an individual is unable to continue serving as a PI/PD on an extramural project, university and sponsor approval is required before a new PI/PD can be designated. Refer to the UWL Post Award Modifications guidelines for the required timeline, documentation, and processes.

Transfer of Grant to Another Institution expanding section

When a PI/PD is terminating their association with UWL and requests a transfer of their extramural support to another university, specific approval must be obtained from both UWL  administration and the sponsor. Refer to the UWL Post Award Modifications guidelines for the required timeline, documentation, and processes.