Proposal Preparation

Preparation and submission of proposals for sponsored funding, most commonly research, are regular, ongoing activities for faculty and therefore considered part of a faculty member's appointment. Compensation received that is associated with proposal preparation time must be charged to non-sponsored funds (see exceptions below).

Writing a Proposal and Compensation

There is no guideline or directive from the UW (or the Federal government) on the minimum appropriate effort required for grant writing.

  •  Effort devoted to proposal preparation varies broadly by faculty member and the type of proposal (e.g. new, renewal, supplement).
  • The level of effort should be based on each faculty member's individual situation and actual experience.
  • Effort devoted may vary from proposal to proposal.

Generally, any departmental/school sources including, but not limited to, indirect cost recovery, gifts, endowments and State funds may be used to fund proposal preparation time and funding should be consistent with the percent effort spent on the proposal preparation.

Non-federal sponsored funding may be used to prepare proposals if consistent with non-federal sponsor policies.

Effort related to the following types of proposals may be charged directly to federal and non-federal sponsored projects:

  • When funded under a Research Training grant or mentored K award (see Proposal Preparation and K awards below).
  • When the effort is related to the following:
    • Non-competing renewals
    • Supplemental funding
    • Requests for extension of time

There may also be times when a faculty member can prepare a proposal when they are not being compensated by the University. This may occur during a pay period when they are clearly not being paid from either sponsored funds or non-grant funds paid through the University. For instance, a faculty member with a 9 month appointment may have one or two pay periods in the summer when s/he is not being compensated by the UW.

Minimum Level of Effort

Federally funded research programs are expected to have some level of committed faculty or senior researcher effort, paid or unpaid (i.e. cost shared) and this must be noted in the application.

Most sponsors will accept the level of involvement of key personnel to reflect "as needed" except the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH defines key personnel as the PI and other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salary or compensation under the grant. Therefore, an "as needed" level of effort is not acceptable for NIH grants.

  • There is not a required minimum level of effort.
  • It is required that the effort be measurable.

NIH grants now have an "Other Significant Contributors" field available. This allows the PI to identify individuals who have committed to contribute effort to the scientific development or execution of the project but are not committing specified measurable effort. In these cases, "participate in the design of test methodologies" or "as needed" should be used in the proposal instead of dollars and/or percentages.

100% Sponsor Funded Research Faculty

Care should be taken with faculty who are funded at 100%, including cost share commitments, on sponsored projects during periods of time, e.g. FEC cycles, when they are writing a grant proposal or involved in any other non-grant activity. Discussion and advance agreement with a chair or dean prior to engaging in non-sponsored activities are important  . Department and/or college administration is responsible for assuring the provisions for funding these costs are in place once an agreement is reached. For more information concerning faculty effort, refer to GIM 35, Effort Reporting Policy for Sponsored Agreements.

Proposal Preparation and K Awards

Mentored CDA programs provide support with a goal of leading to research independence for an individual. Since research independence is achieved through applying for other research support, consistent with these objectives, it is allowable for effort devoted to proposal preparation costs for subsequent research support to be charged to a mentored CDA award. This can be considered part of the awarded effort commitment of the mentored CDA or an increase to that commitment with the allowable salary provided as applicable (per NIH Grants Policy Statement).