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Northwestern University

Proposal Submission

The following internal deadlines apply to all submissions:

5 working days prior to submission deadline: Budget and administrative materials

2 working days prior to submission deadline: Complete proposal

Step 1. Find funding opportunities

It is up to the graduate student to identify appropriate funding opportunities. We have provided a resource list to help you get started. You may also want to reach out to your advisors and fellow graduate students.

Step 2. Identify your department’s research administrator (RA)

Notify your RA as soon as you identify a funding opportunity you plan on submitting to, ideally at least 6 weeks before the deadline.

Your RA will guide you through the entire grant development and submission process.  The role of the RA is to take care of the administrative aspects of proposal preparation (such as budget preparation) so you can focus on the research plan.


Step 3. Read the solicitation

The development of a successful proposal requires a thorough reading of the solicitation or funding announcement. There are many different kinds of sponsors and funding programs, not only with their own proposal requirements, but also their own specific review criteria. Take note of these review criteria and keep them in mind as you write.

Step 4. Initial development stage

Provide your RA with project dates, title, and let them know if human subjects are involved. Also let your RA know what you will need in the budget. The RA will create a budget spreadsheet with the appropriate fringe and F&A (indirect) costs, and also a budget justification.

With this information, your RA will set up a proposal record in InfoEd, which is Northwestern’s internal proposal tracking & development system. Your advisor will be listed as Principal Investigator on the proposal record.

Step 5. Develop the administrative shell - 5 days before the deadline

The Admin Shell consists of the remaining administrative items—basically, anything other than the research/project description sections. While specific items will vary with the funding agency, you will generally need to provide the following:

Refer to your checklist or solicitation to identify the specific items needed. These items go through an initial internal approval for compliance with Northwestern’s policies. Your advisor will get an email from the InfoEd system with a link and explanation on how to approve the record.

If you are applying to a federal agency, you will need to complete a Conflict of Interest disclosure.

Once these items are completed, the Office for Sponsored Research (OSR) can do their initial review for compliance.  Your RA will let you know if any of the documents need revision.

Step 6. Final proposal documents – 2 days before deadline

Provide your RA with the final version of your research plan, bibliography and other research-related documents according to the solicitation specifications.

Once the submission package is complete, the proposal will be routed to OSR for final review to ensure that the proposal is compliant with solicitation guidelines and Northwestern policies.

Step 7. Submit proposal

Once you and OSR approve the submission package, OSR will submit the proposal to the sponsor.

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