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. 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.