Pre-Proposal Planning

Coordinating Your Submission with the Office of Research 

Planning is a key element of successful proposals. The Office of Research needs to know the deadlines of all proposals under development as soon as possible. Schedule a meeting with Sponsored Programs staff to go over the program’s guidelines, set up a timeline for finishing all the required sections of the proposal, plan for technical support, review the budget, and coordinate the final proposal submission. Research involving foreign nationals or travel outside the United States must follow federal laws restricting the export of technology and information. Proposals with subawards require additional time for the Office of Research to coordinate with the subawardee’s sponsored research office. Contact a staff member to set up the initial meeting. 

  • One of the goals of the initial meeting is to determine how much support you will need to assemble your application package. Those who are new to the process typically need editorial support, help with budget development, and technical support with electronic proposal submission.

    Please refer to the proposal submission timeline for additional information. 

Components of a ProposalProposal Development

The proposal development process includes reading the guidelines, developing a timeline for completing the proposal, budget development, revision and editing of the narrative and other documents, submission of the final version, and submission of any updates required or allowed by the sponsor. The Office of Research staff will provide assistance throughout the process. In nearly every instance, the Office of Research is responsible for submitting the final proposal, usually in an electronic format.

All proposals will require some legal and financial information from the requesting institution. The Institutional Information page contains commonly needed information such as financial identification and compliance assurance numbers, indirect cost and fringe benefit rates, and authorized institutional representatives. Additional information for applications can be obtained from the Office of Research.

Most proposals include an abstract, a project narrative, a budget, a budget justification, and additional documents, such as letters of support from Kennesaw State University or collaborators, and price quotations.

If a foundation, government, or industry sponsor does not provide a proposal outline for applications, the following format can be used.

  • Unless a form is provided, the initial page of the proposal, written on Kennesaw State University Research and Service Foundation letterhead and addressed to a specific person, a) indicates why you have written, b) briefly describes the project, c) states the amount requested, d) states how funds will be used, e) contains contact information, and f) is signed by KSU / KSURSF’s authorized representative.

  • An abstract is a short summary, often 200-500 words, typically written after the project narrative has been completed. Funding agencies usually give specific instructions regarding the abstract’s content, length, and order. If no instructions are given, the abstract should identify the applicant institution, establish credibility, state the main objectives and the activities to be conducted, and amount requested. A well-written abstract is critical because some reviewers may read only this part of the proposal.

  • The narrative describes the proposed project in as much detail as is permitted by the guidelines. Most sponsors prescribe the format and limit the length of the narrative. Clarity and focus are essential in a good narrative. Members of the Office of Research staff are available to review agency guidelines with faculty, provide editorial support, and ensure compliance with the sponsor’s requirements.
  • Represents a reasonable estimate of projected costs of the proposed project. Standard line items include salary, fringe benefits, travel, consultants, subcontracts, materials, equipment, and indirect costs. A justification or budget narrative explains how the overall cost for each element listed in the budget was formed. The project must be realistic for the amount requested and must be within the funding agency’s range. The Office of Research staff will assist researchers in preparing their budgets and justifications.
  • A current curriculum vita (CV) is typically required for the Principal Investigator and all co-investigators. Some organizations (e.g., the National Science Foundation) specify the maximum lengths of CVs and what information must be included. Researchers must follow the required format if one is specified. Exhaustive curricula vitae are rarely expected. In most cases 2-3 pages of the information most relevant to the proposed investigation will be appropriate. The Office of Research has templates available upon request.
  • Appendices are included only if allowed or required. Appendices are generally used to expand on information in the narrative, not to add information essential to the project. The proposal’s table of contents should contain a list of the appendices included.
  • Most application packages consist of more than the project narrative and budget. Documents such as financial statements, letters of support, and various appendices require time to assemble. The Office of Research can help you gather the required documents, but your timeline must be known in advance of the submission date.

    • Tax Exemption Letter – Many proposals require a copy of a letter from the Internal Revenue Service stating that the Kennesaw State University Research and Service Foundation is not subject to federal taxation.
    • Annual Financial Report / Audit – The Office of Research will provide the financial information required by sponsoring agencies.
    • General Letters of Support – Sponsors may require letters of support for projects involving multiple organizations. Program announcements sometimes specify the necessary content of such letters. When not specified these letters should explain the relationship of the sponsor to the primary investigator or the university, why the project is being supported, and specifically what will be done to assist and support the program. Letters of support are usually addressed to the projector’s director, not the sponsor or reviewers. Letters of support are evidence, not testimonials. Letters of support from the Office of Academic Affairs must be coordinated through the Office of Research.
    • Letters of Support from the Kennesaw State University President – Letters from the President in support of proposals are arranged by the Office of Research. Requests for these letters must include evidence that the project has the approval of the faculty member’s Dean, a draft of the proposed letter of support, and the proposal guidelines. The Office of Research must receive the these documents at least 15 calendar days prior to the submission deadline in order to refine the draft and receive the President’s signature. Exceptions to this procedure are rare.

    The draft letter must include the following information:

    • The specific information required by the proposal guidelines
    • How the project advances the mission of the University
    • How the project relates to similar work being done at the University

    Letters that do not follow these guidelines will be returned to Principal Investigator(s) for completion. The Office of Research does not write the letters but will edit them to meet the requirements of the President’s office.

Research Compliance at the Proposal Stage

  • For research involving human subjects, most sponsors require the investigator to provide specific information about protection of human subjects at the time of proposal submission. However, most sponsors do not require certification of Institutional Review Board approval or evidence of training until they are ready to recommend an application for funding.

    Similarly, proposals involving the use of vertebrate animals normally require some description of the animals, proposed procedures, care and, use; however, certification of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval is usually not required until the agency is considering making an award. This is known as the "just-in-time" concept. Thus, investigators should expect to describe their proposed use of human subjects or animals as part of their proposal, and should be prepared to certify that approvals are in place later, as a condition of receiving an award.

    Instructions for submitting a protocol for review can be found at KSU Institutional Review Board.

  • KSU has a uniform policy for financial conflicts of interest in research. Reporting requirements vary by research sponsor, but our annual disclosure requirements are the same for all researchers, to ensure that we comply with all potential sponsor’s regulations. The FCOI policy for research only fulfills the reporting requirements of research sponsors, and will not communicate any outside activities to your Chair or Dean (this is done through OwlExpress). As part of our conflict of interest policy, we require that faculty with outside support for their research and a COI reporting requirement complete training. Our training is available through CITI, and is valid for 4 years.

  • As a recipient of Federal funds, Kennesaw State University supports and complies with the provisions of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 and the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Kennesaw State University’s policy can be found here.