Proposal Review

Targeting of Proposals

While it is possible, and sometimes advisable, to submit one proposal simultaneously to various agencies, applicants should carefully review individual agency program objectives and submit a proposal only if these objectives are in accord with their own research direction. RSP may supply information to aid applicants in the careful identification of appropriate funding agencies.

If, after reading agency funding materials, the applicant is uncertain if the proposal is appropriate for the agency, it is important to contact agency staff directly to discuss the project and application requirements.

Consultants and Collaborators

New investigators are especially encouraged to seek collaborations with experienced investigators who have an established track record for funding. Such collaborations as subcontractors or subawardees are often a good way to build a record of grant experience and to demonstrate the ability to conduct funded research. Professional colleagues, previous advisors and faculty, and faculty from disciplines in sister institutions are often such possible collaborators.

A very common criticism from review panels is the use of procedures for which investigators have little or no experience according to their curriculum vitae or publication list. With the collaboration of experienced colleagues within the university, or with the assistance of outside consultants, the success of such studies is more realistic and reviewers will approve them more readily.

The university has a number of units with special expertise that may be of assistance in a particular area. See our Institutes & Centers for links. If you need a referral or a special type of consultant or expertise, contact RSP for information on units which may be able to provide assistance.

Collaboration with other State University System (SUS) institutions which prepare proposals as part of a collaborative effort may also be possible. The RSP director and staff participate in many such discussions and efforts and may be able to provide information on possible external collaborations. Contact the Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School for information on current or upcoming collaborative efforts which may be suitable for your research.

Criteria Reviewers Use to Evaluate Proposals

The guidelines should be scrutinized carefully for specific criteria which may apply to a particular announcement. The more directly the proposal addresses these criteria the better. If the agency’s announcement incorporates an outline or list of criteria, it is often helpful to follow this guideline in describing a proposed project to make the linkage apparent to reviewers without inference. Investigators are encouraged to view agency web sites for examples of successful proposals and to seek guidance from program officers on any specific questions.

The criteria used by one government agency to evaluate training proposals may serve as a useful guide in general. The following are examples of possible criteria:

  • the degree to which the proposed program delineates an important need in the field;
  • evidence of a well-coordinated program which has promise of meeting identified needs;
  • the degree to which participants will be exposed to new approaches, techniques and new instructional materials;
  • the extent to which the participants will actually be involved in innovative and creative experiences;
  • the program's focus on a discipline or a group of related disciplines;
  • the consistency and clarity of statement or procedure for selecting participants consistent with the purposes of the program;
  • the level of professional competence and leadership of the program director and of the professional staff who will assist with the program;
  • the time available to the professional staff to prepare for and to conduct the program;
  • the extent to which the institution will make available adequate classrooms, laboratories, library, instructional materials and equipment;
  • prediction that the program will result in the improvement of instruction;
  • completeness of proposal and budget.

Summary Questionnaire for Proposal Development

The following checklist is intended as a guide to assist in the preparation of a proposal. Before submitting the proposal to RSP, faculty should use this list to assure that all aspects of proposal preparation and processing have been taken into account.

1. Is the proposed project consistent with the objectives of the department, college, and university?

2. Are all costs fully detailed, including allowable Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs, fringe benefits, and any cost sharing? Remember that the cost sharing must be validated and guidelines are provided in Cost Sharing. Increases for salary, equipment, and travel costs should be included in calculating multiple-year budgets.

3. Does the proposal involve a commitment of university funds beyond the proposed project period? If yes, has the necessary internal funding been secured to meet this commitment? See the Summary/Request for University Matching Commitment on the RSP forms page.

4. If the proposal contains privileged or proprietary data, has that data been properly marked?

5. If the proposal involves the use of human participants, laboratory animals, radioactive or biohazardous materials or recombinant DNA/RNA, was it indicated in the certification/assurances section of the UWF Internal Routing Form (IRF)? If so, the supplemental procedures and forms for each applicable item must accompany the request to submit the proposal.

6. If the proposal requires subcontracting or other collaborative activities, has a letter of written concurrence been obtained from the respective institutional official? Have subcontracting costs been included in the budget? Is a separate scope of work and budget included for the anticipated subrecipient award or contract? Supplemental forms are available in Forms.

7.  If this is a graduate training program proposal, has it been coordinated with the appropriate graduate department or college dean? All new degree or certificate programs must be cleared through Academic Affairs.

8.  Will the proposal require (a) additional space or renovation/modification of existing space inventory; (b) additional operating or equipment funds (matching); (c) additional information technology services beyond what are normally available as part of university basic support; (d) Marine Service Center services, resources, or personnel?

9.  Has F&A cost reimbursement been requested at the appropriate rate?

10.  Is the applicant eligible to be a PI?

11.  Will any activity of the proposal involve export controlled material or information? Are any participants (including survey subjects, graduate students, or subrecipient personnel) a "foreign person" as defined in RSP Operating Procedures on Export Control? If yes, refer to Ethics & Compliance - Export Control for links to the appropriate procedures, references, and forms.

12.  Do the percent effort and personnel salaries conform to university and agency policies?

13.  If graduate assistants are included and the agency policy and guidelines allow it, have funds for tuition waiver been requested as part of the direct costs? If the proposal includes graduate assistants, do the stipend rates and tuition payments comply with university and college policy?

14.  Are the required space and facilities available without detriment to departmental activities?

15.  Are equipment prices in the budget current, and does it include delivery and installation charges? Departmental endorsement on the IRF confirms that the equipment item is unavailable within the department or college for shared use.

16.  For federal budget, has 2 CFR 200 (formerly OMB Circular A-21) been taken into consideration in the budget development process?

 Common Shortcomings Found By Reviewers 

The proposal does not meet the requirements of the program from which funds are sought or does not advance the goals of that program.  The institution appears to lack the necessary resources in either faculty personnel, physical equipment, or both, to conduct the program.  The cost of the proposal is unreasonable in terms of comparable programs.  No arrangements  made or follow-through to make the investment beneficial for the sponsor to justify its selection a grant. 
No provision for self-evaluation of the program.  Unrealistic time estimates. No description of progam staff or personnel.  No solid basis for pre-selection of participants. 
The proposal does not follow guidelines for form, method of submission, required forms or certifications, etc.  No provision for sustainability or continuation of the program after the award if applicable.  The proposal lacks clearness, coherence, or completeness.  The technique proposed is not judged to be the best method.