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Proposal Preparation Guidelines


The Sponsored Program Services (SPS) is always available to assist you with the proposal preparation process. The SPS Pre-Award Staff can be reached at Our web site contains information that will be helpful to you when preparing your proposal.  The web site provides access to guidelines, policies and procedures, forms,  rates, and funding sources. At Frequently Requested Information, you will find our Authorized University Official information, DUNS number, congressional district, where sponsor checks should be sent and much more.

Getting Started

The Principal Investigator (PI)/Project Director initiates the proposal process. He/She is responsible for the technical content, budget, addressing compliance issues, and the quality and preparation of the proposal. It is important that the funding agency’s priorities and evaluation procedures are understood. It is a good idea to call the funding agency before submitting your proposal.  The program officer may be able to make valuable suggestions to improve your proposal or direct you to another program whose priorities might better match your proposal.

The Department Chair or Unit Head, and in most circumstances the College Dean, reviews and approves the proposal and budget, certifying that the project is consistent with the mission of the Department and College/School, the academic soundness of the proposal, that resources will be available and that no commitments of University resources are made other than those described.

Required Signatures

Once prepared, the proposal is then forwarded to Sponsored Program Services, where it is reviewed for compliance with Federal, State, and University regulations. The University’s authorized representative reviews, approves and signs all proposals. The signatures indicate endorsement and commitment to the project.

Eligibility for Principal Investigator Status

All externally funded projects conducted at the University of Connecticut are expected to be consistent with the teaching, research, and service missions of the University. All projects are therefore, carried out within departments, centers or institutes, or other administrative units under the direction of a faculty member or comparable professional employee.

By limiting principal investigator/project director status to a limited set of designated individuals and/or job categories, and by procuring appropriate dean and department head approval, the University is assured that the proposed research is consistent with its missions and that the necessary space, equipment, facilities and qualified personnel are available to conduct the proposed project. In all cases, the individual designated as Principal Investigator or Project Director are judged to be qualified to conduct an independent research or other educational project.

For information about the eligibility to be a Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator, please refer to the University’s policy on Principal Investigator Eligibility.


National Science Foundation (NSF) Cost Sharing Policy Guidance

NSF policy states that the inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited in all proposals except when required in the NSF solicitation.  SPS has guidance available to assist you during proposal preparation and to help to ensure that applications are compliant with NSF and University policy including situations where senior personnel do not request salary for their effort on the project.

Proposal Contents

Most sponsors publish guidelines on how to prepare a proposal.  Their application package may include standard forms that will require a signature from an authorized official. Sponsor instructions should be followed carefully for content, page limitations and font size.

The Principal Investigator(s) is responsible for ensuring the proposal is complete, accurate and adheres to the sponsor’s guidelines and policies.

The following information encompasses the basic components of a proposal that can be used as a guide when sponsor requirements are not available or specific. At a minimum you will need to provide our office with the following:

  • The sponsor’s URL or a copy of the sponsor’s guidelines, in order to review your proposal and prepare it for submission.
  • An Internal Proposal Review Form (routing form). This form needs to be signed by the Principal Investigator, Department Chair, Unit Head, and in some cases Dean.
  • Proposal Cover Page. The University’s Authorized Representative signs proposals for the university. A standard proposal cover page can be found on our forms page. Information for completing a cover page that has been provided by the sponsor can be found at “Frequently Requested Information” on our web site. At a minimum, the cover page should include the following information:
    • Title of the project
    • Duration of the project with start and end dates
    • Sponsor Name
    • Amount requested (List the Direct an Indirect (F&A) costs)
    • Signature of the Authorized Official to sign for the University.
  • A project summary/abstract and a project description describing the objectives and methodology and significance of the proposed project. These sections may be provided to our office in draft form.
  • A budget and budget justification that reflects a reasonable estimate of expenses for each budget category is required. Include cost sharing/matching only if it is specifically required by the funding agency. This information is located on the Budgeting and Costing Guide.
  • Sub-Contracts: If there is a sub-contract involved, a scope of work, a budget, a budget justification, F&A Rate Agreement and an Information and Compliance Form for Subrecipients, signed by an authorized official of that organization is required.  This information can be e-mailed to or faxed to our office at (860) 486-3726.  Please refer to the Subaward Determination Fact Sheet for assistance with determining the subrecipient versus contractor relationship during the budget preparation stage.
  • Special Service Facilities: Special Service Facilities provide services, not personnel. If Special Services Facilities are to be used, you will need to obtain a signed cost certification form from that center. The center director should also sign the Internal Proposal Review (IPR) form.
  • Compliance Review: Federal regulations and University policies require that various University committees approve certain proposed activities.  Compliance review and approvals for Animal and Human Subjects, Radioactive Substances, Bio-hazardous Substances, Controlled Substances, and Recombinant DNA may be necessary before your proposal can be signed.  You will need to designate these areas on the Internal Proposal Review Form.  Please refer to the Compliance section of this website  for the personnel in the specific compliance office that can assist with any approvals necessary for your proposal.
  • Optional items: The proposal contents listed below are fairly standard items required by many sponsors and may be included as part of your proposal:
    • A table of contents
    • Bibliography of pertinent literature
    • Vitae of all senior personnel
    • Recent publications
    • List of collaborators
    • Current and pending support (generally, sponsors request information on current (active/awarded) and pending support to evaluate potential scientific and/or commitment overlaps; this list should be complete including all support whether or not that support is funded through the University)
    • Description of available facilities and equipment

University Facilities Use

In preparing proposals, PIs must be aware that University facilities are to be used only for those purposes that are part of the University’s mission (research, teaching and public service). In instances where research projects are supported by outside entities, any use of University facilities must be reviewed and approved by Sponsored Program Services.

Further, University employees may participate in projects, which are carried out with University facilities, only in their capacity as employees of the institution. That is, University facilities may not be used by an employee in his or her capacity as a consultant to an outside entity. Consulting is an activity carried out on personal time with personal, rather than institutional, resources.

Oversight Committee Approval

The Research Compliance Services (RCS) can assist you in obtaining appropriate review and approval of research areas that will need the consideration of an oversight committee. Many times a sponsor will require a signature from a compliance office at the time of submission while other sponsors only require compliance review and approval upon award. If your research will use any of the areas listed below, please contact RCS.

Animal Subjects

The University of Connecticut has established, and must maintain, policies and procedures to ensure the humane care and use of live vertebrate animals involved in research and teaching activities. The University’s animal program, facilities, and procedures are overseen by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). All plans for research, teaching or training activities involving the use of animal subjects must be submitted for review and approval to the IACUC. See the IACUC home page  for forms, policies and contact information.

Controlled Substances

Controlled substances are regulated by the CT Department of Consumer Protection Drug Control Division (DCD).  The Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) maintains a database of personnel who are licensed by the DCD to use controlled substances on any of the University’s campuses.  Individuals with valid needs to utilize controlled substances for University-sanctioned research protocols and related project work must complete a DCD registration form.  In addition, researchers must also register with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Contact Stefan Wawzyniecki, Chemical Health and Safety Manager, for further information on procedures for obtaining a license prior to the use of any controlled substance in research-related activities on University property.

Human Subjects

All plans for research, teaching and training activities involving the use of human subjects must be submitted for prior review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research to ensure that no research done under the jurisdiction of the University exposes persons who participate as subjects or respondents to unreasonable risks to their health, general well-being or privacy. See the IRB home page for forms, policies and contact information.

Environmental Health and Safety

The Division of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) establishes policies, programs and procedures and delivers mandatory training related to research safety.  Various university committees, including the Chemical Hygiene, Radiation Safety and Laser Safety committees, oversee the safety programs administered by EHS and review/approve certain research protocols or SOPs. Please visit the EHS webpage for training schedules, program requirements, committee information, regulated waste management procedures and other pertinent safety requirements and contact information.

Recombinant / Synthetic Nucleic Acid (rsNA) Molecules and Biological Agents

The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) reviews all research and teaching activities that involve recombinant / synthetic nucleic acid (rsNA) molecules, biological agents, and toxins.  The purpose of the IBC review is to ensure that University activities comply with local, state, and federal regulations. The IBC also ensures that appropriate safeguards are in place for human health and the environment.  For each research or teaching project, an IBC Registration must be submitted by the faculty member, or designee.  The  IBC website provides links to applicable regulatory information (e.g. guidelines from NIH and CDC), more information on the registration process, as well as additional biosafety resources. To begin the registration process, or for further assistance regarding the IBC, please contact Danielle Delage, IBC Coordinator at (860) 486-1838 or via email at For biosafety related issues contact David Cavallaro, Biological Safety Officer with Environmental Health & Safety, at (860) 486 3180.