Submitting a Proposal

Most institutional funders require an authorized organizational representative (AOR) or sponsored projects/grants official at the university to sign off and submit a proposal (or accept an award) on a PI’s behalf attesting to and certifying compliance with various federal regulations (e.g., through electronic application systems such as, NSF Fastlane, NIH eRA Commons, and other public and private funder application portals). Office of Research Support (ORS) staff assume this responsibility, oversee and manage the final submission process, and coordinate with the PI/PD, once the institutional agreement process for restricted grants is completed, regardless of the submission format.

Electronic Research Administration and Application Submission

ORS oversees and manages the submission process along with institutional account information.

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) publishes a Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that explains how to develop and submit an application through its online portal, NSF Fastlane. ORS staff can provide PIs and co-PIs with user accounts to access the application portal and begin working on a proposal. Please note that NSF updates the PAPPG regularly; make sure you are referring to the most recent version in developing your materials.

  • The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) website has a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the online portal,, through which the university submits applications on behalf of the PI for funding from the NEH.

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website provides examples of the typical structure of successful R01 and R21 proposals, with summary statements, research plans, and research aims and annotated feedback from NIH reviewers (for reference) and guidance on how to submit a proposal through their eRA Commons portal. Also note that certain research compliancerequirements must be met before a proposal for PHS funding can be submitted.

  • Please email ORS with any questions or concerns about the submission process for a proposal you are developing.

Declined Proposals

Not all worthwhile projects receive funding, particularly on first submissions. Successful grantseekers often have applied multiple times before they are awarded a grant.

If a proposal is declined, it is important for the PI to request any written feedback, scores or evaluative summary available from the sponsor. Not every sponsor discloses or provides this information to applicants, though reviewer comments are extremely valuable and helpful when considering a resubmission to the same sponsor in a subsequent round (if the program allows for it or encourages a resubmission) or submitting a modified version of the proposal to a different sponsor, aligned with another solicitation or program.

Addressing and incorporating feedback and reviewer critiques in subsequent proposal submissions plays a significant role in successful grantseeking. Successful PIs continue to apply, update/modify, and re-submit based on feedback from peers and reviewers.