Glossary - Research Terms & Acronyms
This glossary will be updated periodically. Please e-mail questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 CFR Part 215 (A-110) - Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations. HTML or PDF. Sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among federal agencies in the administration of grants to and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations.
2 CFR Part 220 (A-21) - Cost Principles for Educational Institutions (05/10/2004) HTML or PDF. Establishes principles for determining costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other agreements with educational institutions.
29 CFR Part 99 (A-133) (PDF) - Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations. This part sets forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among federal agencies for the audit of non-federal entities expending federal awards.
ARRA - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – see The Recovery Act for information.
Allowable Costs - Those categories of costs that are allowable as a charge on a grant or contract as determined by the terms and conditions of the award and/or appropriate cost principles. Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages, are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.
Applied Research - The systemic, intensive study directed toward the practical application of knowledge.
Audit - A formal examination of an organization or individual's financial status. An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable award terms, laws, regulations and policies.
Authorized Signature - The signature of a university official who is designated to give assurances, make commitments, and execute documents on behalf of UWF. Faculty members are not authorized to commit the university to any project. See Signature Authorization UWF Policy P-04.01-11/09 (PDF).
Basic Research - A systemic, intensive study. The primary aim of which is fuller knowledge or understanding of the subject under study rather than a practical application thereof.
Bequests - A type of donation or gift. Bequests and gifts are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available.
Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) - An announcement of a federal agency's general research interests that invite proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made.
Budget - The detailed statement outlining estimated project costs available, or required, to support work under a funded project.
Budget Adjustment/Transfer (BT) - The act of changing or amending a budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another. (See also Rebudget)
Budget Description (or Justification or Narrative) - A written description of the cost estimation methods used in preparing a budget that also explains or describes the types of individual costs that make up a larger budget category. This description links the expected expenditures to project deliverables or outcomes.
Budget Period - The interval of time, specified by the agency or investigator, into which the project period is divided for budgetary purposes. Expenditures or charges made toward the grant before or after these dates is not permitted without written approval from the agency.
CAERS - See Combined Activity/Effort Reporting System.
Capital Expenditures - See Equipment.
Capital Outlay - See Equipment.
CAS - See Cost Accounting Standards.
Change Order - A written order signed by the contracting officer outlining specific changes to a contract. The change order directs the contractor to make changes as ordered. The changes clause of the contract authorizes the contracting officer to issue change orders without the consent of the contractor.
Chapter 119 – The State of Florida statute reference to public records access rules and regulations.
Close Out - The act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project.
Cognizant Agency for Audit - The federal agency designated to carry out the responsibilities for recipients expending more than $25 million ($50 million for fiscal years ending after December 31, 2003) a year in federal awards shall have a cognizant agency for audit. The cognizant agency for audit shall (1) Provide technical audit advice and liaison to auditees and auditors, (2) Consider auditee requests for extensions to the report submission due date - the cognizant agency for audit may grant extensions for good cause-, (3) Obtain or conduct quality control reviews of selected audits.
COI - See Conflict of Interest.
COLA - Cost of Living Allowance granted to employees based in a foreign city, where cost of living is higher than in Washington, D.C.
Combined Activity/Effort Reporting System (CAERS) - Combines the state mandated Faculty Activity Reporting System (FARS) and the federally mandated Personnel Activity Reporting System (PARS). The FARS collects faculty activity for the purpose of certifying compliance with Florida’s 12-Contact Hour Law for faculty paid from General Revenue Funds. The PARS collects faculty and staff activity data for the purpose of certifying compliance with Uniform Guidance 2 CFR 200 and other various requirements of the federal government. The web-based CAERS collects all of the activity data ingredients to satisfy the needs of both the FARS and PARS system.
Community of Science (COS) - A web site containing information about scientific expertise, funded scientific research, and funding opportunities for research. The web address is http://www.cos.com.
Competing Proposals - See Types of Application.
Competing Renewal Proposal - See Types of Application.
Computer Services - Cost of computer-based retrieval of scientific, technical and educational information. Also includes the cost for leasing automated data processing equipment.
Conferences - Activity in which payment for facility/conference rental, participant attendance and meal expenses are proposed. The applicant must identify the conference/meeting purpose and number of estimated attendees. If attendee conference fees are proposed, please contact RAE to discuss university requirements.
Conflict of Interest (COI) - University regulations state if any investigator has direct or indirect financial interest in the sponsor of research, this must be disclosed prior to proposal submission. Situations in which employees may use their positions for purposes that are, or give the appearance of being, motivated by a desire for private gain for themselves or others, such as those with whom they have family, business or other ties. See Academic Affairs' Conflict of Interest/Outside Activity for more information.
Consortium Agreement - Group of collaborative investigators/institutions; arrangement can be formalized with specified terms and conditions.
Consultants - Includes all fees, honoraria and expenses paid for consulting and professional services of individuals or organizations not employed by UWF. Each consultant and all anticipated costs must be clearly identified within the budget. See agency regulations for allowable rates.
Continuation Proposal - See Types of Application.
Contract - A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals.
Contracting Officer - A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular contract. The contracting officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a contract and interprets the associated administration policies, regulations, and provisions. (For definition of scientific officer, see Program/Project Officer.)
Copyright - An intangible, incorporeal right granted by statute to an author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, where he/she is invested, for a limited period, with the sole and exclusive privilege of multiplying copies of the same and publishing and selling them. Works of authorship include literary, musical or dramatic works, works of art, motion pictures or video tapes, audio recordings or computer programs.
Cooperative Agreement - An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation, and anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.
Cost Sharing - A general term that describes any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs, institutions. Example: A university receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000. The sponsor agrees to pay 75% ($75,000), and the university agrees to pay 25% ($25,000). The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component.
Developmental Research - The systemic use of scientific knowledge directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes.
DHHS - Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS is UWF's cognizant agency.
Direct Costs - Clearly identifiable costs related to a specific project, instructional activity or other institutional activity. General categories of direct costs include, but are not limited to, salaries and wages, fringe benefits, subcontract expenses, equipment, travel expenses, consultant expenses, supplies, duplication, and student tuition.
Dissemination - The act of making the results of a project widely available to the general public so that others may learn from the results.
Division of Sponsored Research – Florida Statute 1004.22 authorizes state universities to establish a Division of Sponsored Research for management of all research related activities. See Research Administration & Engagement (RAE).
Duplicating (Reproduction) - The cost of photocopying. Some agencies will require a breakdown of cost per copy.
Electronic Research Administration (NIH eRA) – Name of the NIH electronic management system for all applications, grant management, and reporting. Also referred to as the Commons. See NIH eRA Commons.
Encumbrance - Funds that have been set aside or "claimed" for projected expenses pending actual expenditure of the funds.
Endowment - A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions (e.g., endowed chair).
Equipment - An article of nonexpendable, tangible personal property with a life of more than one year that costs $1000 or more. Some federal agencies require only equipment costing $5,000 or more listed under the "Equipment" category; however, current regulations require all eligible items $1000 or more be listed as equipment and takes precedence over the agency requirement. Some common terms include
|Capital Expenditures/Outlays: the cost of the asset, delivery and/or installation. This can include the cost of any modifications, attachments, accessories or auxiliary apparatus to make it useable for the purpose it is acquired.|
|Special Purpose Equipment: Used only for research including medical, scientific or other technical activities.|
|General-Purpose Equipment: Use is not limited to research, medical, scientific or other technical activities. Examples of general-purpose equipment include office equipment and furnishings, air conditioning equipment, reproduction and printing equipment, motor vehicles and automatic data processing equipment.|
Escalation - The act of increasing costs by a predetermined percentage to account for cost of living increases and inflation. Generally applies to salaries and wages, student tuition and travel.
Expiration Date - The date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award.
Export Control - Export Control regulations are federal laws that prohibit the unlicensed export of certain commodities or information for reasons of national security or protections of trade. Export controls usually arise for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the nature of the export has actual or potential military applications or economic protection issues; (2) government concerns about the destination country, organization, or individual, and (3) government concerns about the declared or suspected end use or the end user of the export. See Export Control for information.
Extension - An additional period of time authorized by the sponsor (or prime awardee) to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or contract. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date.
Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs (Formerly Indirect Costs or Overhead) - Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. The university's negotiated F&A rate must be used on all proposals unless otherwise limited by the sponsoring agency.
Faculty Activity Reporting System (FARS) - See Combined Activity/Effort Reporting System.
FDP - Federal Demonstration Partnership is a cooperative effort between a number of universities and federal agencies to increase research productivity by eliminating unnecessary administrative procedures and by streamlining and standardizing needed controls.
Final Report - The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor.
Fiscal Year (FY) - Any 12-month period for which annual accounts are kept. The federal government's fiscal year is October 1 through September 30. UWF's and most state governments' is July 1 through June 30. May also be calendar year.
Fixed-Price (FP) Contract/Grant - A contract/grant for which one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered or the delivery of a final product/report. Quite often this is a fee-for-service agreement.
FOIA - Freedom of Information Act
Freight Costs - Costs incurred for freight, express, and other transportation services relating to goods purchased, in process or delivered.
Fringe Benefits - Employee benefits paid by the employer. At UWF, the fringe benefit rate is based on the cost of FICA, Retirement plans, State Health Insurance, State Life Insurance, Worker's Compensation, General Liability, Unemployment Compensation, DOA Personnel Assessment, and Annual & Sick Leave Pool.
Funding Cycle - Range of time during which proposals are accepted, reviewed, and funds are awarded. If a sponsor has standing proposal review committees (or boards) that meet at specified times during the year, application deadlines are set to correspond with those meetings. For some sponsors, if proposals are received too late to be considered in the current funding cycle, they may be held over for the next review meeting.
General Purpose Equipment - See Equipment
Gift - Gifts and bequests are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. Also see Donation.
Grant - A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program activities as specified in an approved proposal. A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities.
Grants Officer - A sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular award. The grants officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of an award and interprets the associated administration policies, regulations, and provisions.
IC or IDC - Indirect Costs. See Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs (Formerly Indirect Costs or Overhead).
IFB - Invitation for Bid
In-Kind Contribution - Contributions or assistance in a form other than money usually consisting of donated personnel services, materials or equipment. In-kind contributions must benefit and be specifically identified with the project. In-kind contributions must receive fair market valuation and be adequately supported by auditable records maintained by the contract/fiscal area at UWF. All contributions are subject to the guidelines and provisions of the sponsoring agency.
Incremental Funding - A method of funding awards that provide specific spending limits below the total estimated costs.
Indirect Costs - See Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs (Formerly Indirect Costs or Overhead).
Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) - Purpose is to ensure the welfare and humane treatment of all animals in current or planned use for research, testing, training, instruction, or any other purpose at, or in association with, UWF regardless of the source of funding. See the IACUC web site for more information.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) For Human Research Participants Protection - It is the policy of UWF that all educational, training or research activities involving human subjects at any UWF campus or by any UWF faculty, staff or student, must be reviewed and approved by the IRB prior to the initiation of data collection. See the IRB web site for more information.
Intellectual Property (IP) Committee - RAE, in conjunction with the IP Committee, handles the marketing, licensing and patenting of university technologies. The IP Committee works closely with RAE and faculty in the identification, protection and licensing of new inventions. See the Intellectual Property web site for more information.
Internal Routing Form (IRF) - A form used at UWF for securing institutional approvals prior to submitting a proposal to a sponsor for funding consideration.
Invention - Any process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or design, or any new or useful improvement thereof, and any variety of plant which is or may be patentable under the patent laws of the United States.
Invitation for Bid (IFB) - A solicitation issued to prospective bidders. An IFB describes what is required and how the bidders will be evaluated. Award is based on the lowest bid. Negotiations are not conducted.
IP - See Intellectual Property.
IRF - See Internal Routing Form.
Key Personnel - Personnel considered being of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff; however, sponsors may have differing definitions of Key Personnel.
Limitation of Cost (LOC) - A mandatory clause for cost-reimbursable contracts. Under the clause, the sponsor is not obligated to reimburse the contractor for costs in excess of the stated amount.
Line Item Budget - A budget that itemizes all costs associated with a project. Itemization may be required in varying degrees of detail.
Maintenance and Repair Costs - Costs incurred for necessary maintenance, repair or upkeep of property (including federal property unless otherwise provided for) which neither add to the permanent value of the property nor appreciably prolong its intended life but keep it in efficient operating condition.
Matching Fund/Grant - See Cost Sharing.
Materials Costs - Costs incurred for purchased materials, supplies, and fabricated parts directly related to the sponsored agreement.
Material Transfer Agreement - A contract governing the transfer of tangible research materials (usually chemical or biological) between two institutions.
Memberships, Subscriptions and Professional Activities - The following are allowable direct costs if approved by agency:
|Cost of UWF's membership in business, technical and professional organizations.|
|Cost of UWF's subscriptions to business, professional and technical periodicals.|
|Cost of meetings and conferences where the primary purpose is the dissemination of technical information, including the cost of meals, transportation, rental of facilities, and other incidental items.|
Misconduct in Science - Misconduct in research or scholarly activity means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research and scholarly activity. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.
Mission - A sponsor's stated purpose, which is designed to address a specified set of problems. Almost all federal research agencies are designated as mission agencies.
Modification - An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award.
Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) - At UWF, consist of all salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials, supplies, services, travel and subgrants and subcontracts up to $25,000 of each subgrant or subcontract (regardless of the period covered by the subgrant or subcontract). Modified total direct costs shall exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care and tuition remission, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships, and fellowships as well as the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
New Proposal - See Types of Application.
NIH eRA – see Electronic Research Administration (eRA).
No Cost-Extension - An extension of the period of performance beyond the contracted end date to allow a PI to complete a project. Usually, no additional costs or funding are provided. Also called No-Cost Time Extension.
Non-Competing Continuation Proposal - A continuation proposal reports on progress made during a portion of the project period and requests continuation funding for the next portion of the project period. Continuation proposals do not compete with new project proposals and are not subject to peer review beyond the initial project approval.
Notice of Grant Award - The legally binding document that serves as a notification to the recipient and others that a grant or cooperative agreement has been made; it contains or references all terms of the award and documents the obligation of funds.
Organized Research - Research activities that the university budgets and accounts for separately, including all extramurally funded programs in the Sponsored Research and Development Trust Fund.
Other Costs - Budget category that usually includes all items not listed in any other line category.
Participant Support - Costs of transportation, per diem, stipends and other related costs for trainees (not UWF employees) in connection with conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities and workshops. F&A costs are generally not allowed on participant support.
Patent Costs - Costs of preparing disclosures, reports, and other documents required by the sponsored agreement, and of searching the art to the extent necessary to make such invention disclosures. Also includes costs in accordance with the clauses of the sponsored agreement relating to patents, costs of preparing documents and any other patent costs, in connection with filing of a patent application where title is conveyed to the federal government.
Peer Review – A system that uses reviewers who are the professional equals of the PI or a program director and are responsible for directing or conducting the proposed project. It is a form of objective review. Peer review is legislatively mandated in some programs and in other programs is administratively required.
Per Diem - Meals + Hotel. See Travel.
Personnel - Cost of salaries and wages for participating project personnel including faculty, staff, OPS personnel, and undergraduate and graduate students. Each position, salary amount and the percentage of time (or Effort) devoted to the project should be identified.
Personnel Activity Report (PAR) - See Combined Activity/Effort Reporting System (CAERS).
PI - See Principal Investigator.
Preliminary/Pre-Proposal - A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal. Also termed Preliminary Proposal.
Principal Investigator (PI) - The individual responsible for the conduct of research or other activity, described in a proposal for an award. The PI is responsible for all programmatic, fiscal and administrative aspects of a project or program.
Printing/Publication - Allowable cost for production of all printed materials for the project.
Prior Approval - The requirement for written documentation of permission to use project funds for purposes not in the approved budget or to change aspects of the program from those originally planned and approved.
Priority Score - A score derived from the rating given a research proposal by each member on a review committee. It is used to help determine which proposals will be selected for award.
Program/Project Officer -The sponsor's designated official responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of an award.
Progress Report - Periodic reports required by the sponsor summarizing research progress to date. Technical, fiscal, and invention reports may be required.
Project Director - The individual responsible for the conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal for an award.
Project Period/Period of Performance - The total time for which support of a project has been approved. A project period may consist of one or more budget periods. (Also see Budget Period.)
Proposal - An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans and funds requested. Proposals are approved by UWF's RAE and submitted on behalf of the PI. See Types of Application.
Rebudget - The act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another. (See also Budget Adjustment)
Regulations - The contractual rules and procedures governing sponsored research projects.
Regulatory Noncompliance - Failure to adhere to regulations, policies, procedures or special conditions related to the conduct of research. Examples of such noncompliance include, but are not limited to, failure to obtain/maintain approval for research, coercion of human subjects, performing unapproved procedures, and conducting research at unapproved sites.
Rental Cost of Buildings and Equipment - If approved by the agency, cost to rent building and equipment are allowable if the rental is necessary for the operation of the project and are consistent with UWF policies and practices.
Request for Applications (RFA) - Announcements that indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a sponsor. Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in the award of a grant. (Also see Broad Agency Announcements.)
Request for Proposal (RFP) - Announcements that specify a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered and appropriate applicants sought. Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of a contract.
Request for Quotations (RFQ) - A formal request to vendors for a price quotation on equipment or supplies to be purchased.
Research - A systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.
Research Administration and Engagement (RAE) - RAE is an administrative unit under the direction of the Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. The staff assists faculty and administrators in the acquisition and management of external funds, principally from governmental agencies (state and federal) to support research, training, and other sponsored projects. Services provided include the development of collaborative responses to specific RFPs/RFAs, the administrative review of proposals prior to submission to the funding agency and assistance with fiscal management and compliance issues for funded projects.
Revised Proposal - A modified and resubmitted request for funding.
Revision - A modified request for funding for a project.
Scholarly and Creative Activities Committee (SCAC) - A UWF Standing Committee created to promote and make recommendations concerning the scholarly and creative activities of the faculty and graduate students. Monetary awards made through SCAC are funded by the RAE Trust Fund. See Scholarly and Creative Activities Committee (SCAC) for more information.
Senior Personnel - Professional personnel who are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of a project.
Small Grant - An award in limited amounts as defined by the sponsor.
Special Purpose Equipment - Equipment that is generally usable only for research, medical, scientific, or technical activities.
Sponsored Research - Research conducted by university employees using any university space, facilities, materials, equipment, or property, and which is financed by external funding sources.
Statement of Work - See Scope of Work.
Stipend - A payment made to an individual under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual's living expenses during the period of training. Stipends are not used to pay a student's regular salary and may affect student's financial aid.
Subcontract, Subgrant, or Subagreement - A document written under the authority of, and consistent with, the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement) that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.
Subawards/Subcontractors/Subrecipients – Any organization performing a portion of the research activities under the direction of a prime awardee.
Subsistence - See Per Diem.
Sunshine Law - See Chapter 119.
Supplemental Proposal - See Types of Application.
Supplies - General types of expendable materials and supplies.
Teaming Agreement - An agreement between two or more parties to participate in a research project or teaching activity.
Technical Data - Recorded information, regardless of form or characteristic, of a scientific or technical nature. Often referred to as the "science" of a proposal.
Technology transfer - A term that describes a formal transfer of rights to use and commercialize new discoveries and innovations resulting from scientific research to another party.
Telephone - All allowable telecommunications including cell phones and facsimiles.
Terms of Award - All legal requirements imposed on an agreement by the sponsor, whether by statute, regulation(s), or terms in the award document. The terms of an agreement may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to protect the sponsor's interests.
Total Direct Costs (TDC) - The total of all allowable direct costs of a project.
Training Costs - See Participant Support.
Travel - Costs for transportation, lodging, subsistence and related items incurred by employees traveling on official UWF business. See UWF Financial Services' Travel for more information.
Tuition - Cost of instruction expressed as cost per credit hour including applicable fees.
|Additional Funds - A requirement for additional funds for a project that was previously awarded funds in the same funding/budget period. Project nature and scope unchanged.|
|Competing Proposals - Proposals that are submitted for the first time or ongoing projects that must compete again for funding prior to expiration of the original award.|
Competing Renewal Proposal - Proposals (for ongoing projects) that must compete again if the term of the original award has expired.
|Continuation Proposal – An extension for an additional funding/budget period for a project the agency initially agreed to fund for a definite period.|
|New Proposal - Proposals that are submitted to a particular sponsor for the first time.|
|Revision - A modification to project nature or scope which may result in funding change (increase or decrease).|
|Supplemental (Rebudgeting or Modification) Proposal - A request to the sponsor for additional funds for an ongoing project during the previously approved performance period. A supplemental proposal may result from increased costs, modifications in design, or a desire to add a closely related component to the ongoing project.|
Unrestricted Funds - Moneys with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition.
Unilateral Award - An award made by a sponsor to an organization without considering competitive proposals. Unilateral awards are most often made when unsolicited proposals receive favorable treatment.
White Paper Proposal - A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans that is submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal. Also termed Preliminary/Pre-Proposal.