Do's and Don'ts of Proposal Development
These are helpful tips for proposal preparation. We hope they will provide you with easy reference points when developing proposals for submission to sponsors.
- Contact your ORPA rep with proposal details, solicitation number or URL to information as soon as PI informs you that s/he is interested in submitting a proposal.
- Carefully read sponsor requirements for specific items such page limitations, budget limitations, formatting requirements, etc.
- Verify whether the researcher is eligible to be a PI or co-PI and, if not eligible, submit the request for PI status approval to the University Research Board (URB) prior to proposal submission.
- Submit to ORPA for review/submission the full and final proposal five business days prior to sponsor deadline.
- Make sure that the budget matches and is consistent with the statement of work.
- Use Princeton’s full federally-negotiated indirect cost rate unless the sponsor has a published policy prohibiting this.
- Obtain proper documentation for a subaward (when the University is the prime) before a proposal is submitted. This includes a completed and signed Subrecipient Commitment Form, statement of work, budget, budget justification, and any other sponsor-required documentation.
- Submit the full and final proposal documentation in Coeus. The submission should be as close as possible to what is actually sent to the sponsor.
- Verify with ORPA that the system-to-system (Coeus to Grants.gov to Sponsor) proposal you are preparing can actually be submitted system-to-system.
- Start the special review process (IRB, URB, IACUC, etc.) with enough lead time to ensure approval is gained before the award is granted.
- Secure the proper institutional approvals and source accounts for any required cost sharing before the proposal is routed for approval in Coeus using the Cost Share Commitment Detail Form. Remember, Princeton discourages voluntary cost sharing.
- Submit your proposal to ORPA less than five business days before the proposal is due.
- Wait until the last minute to obtain cost-sharing commitments.
- Include cost sharing in your proposal unless the sponsor requires it.
- Neglect to submit special review protocols (for animal subjects, human subjects, or biosafety) prior to the award funding arrival to the University.
- Include quantified financial commitments outside of the proposal budget and/or justification.
- Include unbudgeted academic year effort commitments for faculty in a proposal without appropriate cost sharing approvals.
- Include alcoholic beverages in any proposal budget or justification.
- Include clerical or administrative salaries with the exception of unusual circumstances as allowed per the University policy.
- Include names of graduate or undergraduate students in a proposal budget justification, since these names can change during the award lifetime.
- Include more information than is needed to have a complete application.
- Assume that emails and conversations are binding in any way. Everything must be in writing.
- Assume that all employees at a sponsoring agency know all of their policies. Refer to a written policy whenever possible.