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The generation of a good, fundable idea is an essential step in the proposal writing process. Even the most well-written proposals are rarely funded if they lack the foundation of a good idea. OSP is available to help JCU investigators:

  • Discuss ideas and create funding strategies
  • Lead brainstorming sessions with other faculty, staff, and administrators to conceptualize and refine project plans.
  • Initiate or extend collaborations and capitalize upon appropriate institutional resources.
  • Prepare for meetings with funding agency representatives, including the development of customized materials, so they gain the most from an agency visit and learn how to present their research in a dynamic, easy-to-understand format.

Investigators should develop a general knowledge of potential funding sources for their work and the likelihood of receiving funds in their discipline. OSP assists with this effort by:

  • Supporting an institutional subscription to SPIN, an extensive research funding opportunity database. SPIN contains over 40,000 opportunities from more than 10,000 sponsors.
  • Conducting targeted searches to help investigators locate funding sources for specific projects or lines of research.

All proposals, after review and approval, are submitted by an authorized official (Director of OSP) on behalf of JCU. All proposals must have a designated Principal Investigator.

All proposals must be submitted to OSP for review and transmittal to the sponsor in advance of the sponsor’s published deadline.  Please allow as much time as possible for:

  1. Internal routing of draft information, budgets, and Proposal Approval Form (PAF)
  2. OSP to review the complete proposal package and provide feedback on any necessary or recommended changes
  3. Investigators to implement changes and return revisions to OSP
  4. OSP to recheck and submit the proposal

Note: Most electronic systems now require time for proposal validation before the proposal is considered received. On heavy deadline days, this can range from a few minutes to several hours.

The proposal budget should be developed in accordance with sponsor and JCU guidelines. Before the submission or negotiation of any budget, the budget and Facilities and Administrative cost rates (“F&A” rates or “indirect costs”) must be reviewed and approved by OSP. An initial review of the budget should be scheduled early in the proposal-writing process to ensure that an investigator’s plans are in accordance with agency and university requirements.

Steps for budget preparation:

1. Review the sponsor’s guidelines for budgets, including:

  • Allowable and unallowable costs
  • Required costs (funds for annual PI meetings, etc.)
  • Required cost-sharing
  • Limits on the total amount requested
  • Facilities and Administrative cost restrictions
  • Required budget forms and format

Please note that even if the sponsor does not require an itemized budget, a detailed budget for the project must still be provided to OSP along with the Proposal Approval Form (PAF) for review before proposal submission.

2. Download the most recent copy of the JCU budget template, available at the forms and templates link. Identify the costs associated with conducting the proposed project (e.g., personnel, equipment, supplies, etc.) and enter them into the budget template. The budgeted costs must follow the sponsor’s guidelines and must match the work to be conducted in size and scope.

3. Consult with OSP to confirm typical rates for undergrad students, graduate assistants, and other project personnel. OSP will assist in developing your budget.



  • Please remember when building your budget that personnel time is a major cost of doing research and other sponsored activity at the university.  Whenever allowed by the sponsor, funding for faculty time, regardless of the type of appointment, should be requested in proportion to the time committed to that project. 
  • If funding for faculty time will not be requested in the budget, it is important not to quantify the amount of time that the faculty member will commit to the project anywhere in the proposal. Quantified time committed to a sponsored project in a proposal submission that is not compensated by the sponsor is considered committed cost share. It is the university’s practice not to include committed cost share when it is not required by the sponsor. 
  • If faculty will not be requesting funding for their time in the budget but would like to demonstrate their commitment to the project to the sponsor, the following language can be included: “The PI will devote the time necessary to complete the project objectives.”  Since this language does not describe a specific quantity of time being committed, it is considered uncommitted cost share and is not required to be tracked or reported.

Principal Investigator (PI)

  • Files annual conflict of interest disclosure
  • Conceives idea, writes proposal
  • Files project-specific Financial Conflict of Interest Form
  • Files Proposal Approval Form with draft budget and project summary
  • Requests and receives approval from appropriate compliance committees

Department Chair, Dean, and Provost

  • Approves the Proposal Approval Form with draft budget and project summary
  • Approves any promised cost share and/or requested course releases

OSP/Authorized Official

  • Reviews the proposal for conformance with university and sponsor requirements. Works with PI to ensure compliance.
  • Submits the proposal according to sponsor requirements

JCU Forms

  • Proposal Approval Form
  • Financial Conflict of Interest Form
  • Subrecipient Commitment Form

Budget and Budget Preparation

  • Budget Template
  • Sample NSF Budget Justification
  • Sample NIH Budget Justification

Proposal Preparation Guidelines

Sponsor Forms and Guidelines