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Proposal Development

Grant preparation and submission guidelines vary depending on the funding agency. However, the below basic proposal planning outline and our proposal writing guide will cover the general areas you will need to address in any proposal.

Proposal Planning and Submission Process at UCI

From the inception of an idea to the final application package, writing a grant proposal requires custom tailoring. Individual sections of a proposal (such as the background, preliminary results, or methods) require different strategies, and proposals to different types of funders (such as federal agencies and foundations) follow different sets of conventions. For all types of proposals, the funding organization's guidelines should be strictly followed. This brief outline shows the steps to be taken when preparing a proposal. Print it to use as a checklist.

  1. Conceptualize project: If you plan to submit an individual investigator proposal, check the literature to situate your project in relation to current work in the discipline. If you plan to submit a multi-investigator and/or interdisciplinary proposal, start developing relationships with your collaborators, contact a Research Development Officer in your school or the central office, and outline your research idea before you prepare the proposal.
  2. Search for and identify funding sources using Pivot, a funding database. This intuitive, user-friendly tool has an outstanding help text and YouTube videos that make it easy to learn initially, refresh your memory about how to perform search functions, and query issues that are not readily evident. For the basics, please see the “Pivot in a Nutshell” guide.
  3. Review the funding organization's guidelines, identify the deadline, and make note of special issues and requirements.
  4. Speak to a Program Manager/Director at the funding organization early and often. Start by drafting a 1-page summary or “white paper” of your project, sending it to the Program Manager via email, and requesting an opportunity to briefly discuss the project on the phone to determine whether it fits with the funding organization’s funding priorities and goals.
  5. Identify and contact your Sponsored Projects (SPA) Grants Officer to let him/her know you are planning to submit the proposal. Work with him/her to identify any special steps you’ll need to take to prepare the proposal. Visit SPA's website for additional information about SPA procedures and requirements. 
  6. Forms: Collect or identify funding agency application forms and campus approval forms. If your project requires a subaward to an external organization, additional UCI approval forms are necessary. Note: Since most units on campus have begun using the Kuali-Coeus online proposal submission portal, familiarize yourself with it and begin assembling the required forms in the K-C system.
  7. Writing: Assemble project information and do the following:
    • Establish a timeline for project; leave time for multiple revisions
    • Identify necessary staff and equipment
    • Draft proposal (see Writing Tips and Guides)
    • Work with Department Administrator to develop a budget
    • Finalize statement of work and check committee deadlines
  8. Identify regulatory and campus review requirements (Animal/Human/Biosafety/Financial Disclosure (COI)).
  9. Complete the sponsor application and all required sponsor and campus approval forms and obtain Departmental, School or Organized Research Unit approvals using the KC system.
  10. Submit the proposal package to your SPA Grants Officer for review and endorsement. SPA requests that proposals be submitted at least five days before the agency deadline (ten days for non-standard proposals) to allow for processing, and to leave time to address any errors or oversights.

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