Writing a Proposal
Information for writing a grant or research proposal.
Developing and assembling a grant or research proposal can seem intimidating. The staff at the Office of Grants and Faculty Development is here to help you through this process. If you have questions about any of these steps or if you are looking for help creating an overall professional development plan that includes grants or research, please contact our office at (920) 424-3215.
Develop a Concept Paper
One of the best places to start with a proposal is by developing a concept paper. It will help you identify potential funding sources for your project if you don't have specific funding sources in mind. A concept paper can help facilitate communication when you are talking to a program officer. Additionally, a concept paper can help you in obtaining feedback from colleagues regarding the project's uniqueness, feasibility, writing style, format, budget, etc.
Generally two to four pages in length, the concept paper is a succinct description of a project idea. It typically addresses:
- What is going to be done
- Why it is important
- How it will be done and by whom
- How much money is required and for what general purpose
Once you have finished a draft of your concept paper, the staff in the Office of Grants and Faculty Development can help with editing. (Please consult with us early to establish an appropriate editing schedule.)
Communicate Your Plan
As you begin to prepare your proposal, communicate your intentions to your chair (or equivalent), the Office of Grants and Faculty Development and your dean. Doing so will speed up the formal internal review that you need to complete before you submit your proposal. The Office of Grants and Faculty Development can also assist you in locating appropriate funding sources for your project if you haven't located funding sources.
You may also want to communicate with the Office of Grants and Faculty Development to determine strategies for meeting deadlines and to discuss compliance issues. (i.e. animal care, human subjects, etc.)
Contact the Funding Agency
Before contacting the funding agency or program official, please consult with the Office of Grants and Faculty Development.
Contacting the funding agency for a copy of the guidelines and an example of a funded proposal (or, if available, download) can help you in writing your proposal to ensure that your project is appropriate. The funding agency can help you assess the viability of your idea (funded proposals usually address the priorities of the funding agency) and/or help you decide whether refocusing your project is feasible, or whether the idea should be abandoned.
See our list of questions to ask potential funding agencies. This can help frame your conversation with the program officer at the funding agency and help you determine if the funding agency would be a good fit for your proposal.
Review the Policies
Read the UW Oshkosh and UW System policies and information about your responsibilities as a primary investigator. Please see the Responsibilities & Compliance section for a complete list of the policies and procedures that you will need to adhere to throughout your project.
Write the Proposal
For an outline and guide to writing your proposal, please download A Guide to Proposal Planning and Writing (pdf) and check out these Tips for Developing a Winning Proposal. You can find additional information about proposal writing in our Proposal Writing Resources.
While writing your proposal, pay particular attention to the methodology and budget sections of your proposal. These are key areas that funding agencies look at in detail to evaluate your proposal.
- For help with proposal development, please contact the director of the Office of Grants and Faculty Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or (920) 424-3215.
- If you need assistance with proposal editing, contact Susan Surendonk at email@example.com or (920) 424-3215. Please contact Susan early to establish an appropriate editing schedule.
- Information about budget development can be found in the Budget Development section of our website. If you need additional assistance with budget development, please contact Dawn Abraham in Grants Accounting at firstname.lastname@example.org or (920) 424-1308.
Computing and Space
Clearance for computing and space needs should be obtained before the review process is initiated. The Office of Grants and Faculty Development can help obtain these clearances. Please contact us for assistance.
All requests for extramural support that involve the University's name and/or resources must be approved through an internal review process. This includes both grant proposals and contracts. Proposals submitted without University approval are unlikely to be accepted by granting agencies and, if they are, the University is under no obligation to comply with any commitment of its resources.
Please submit your budget to the Office of Grants and Faculty Development as soon as possible. This will help expedite the process of Internal Review.
Complete the Internal Review Form with a proposal draft and circulate it for signatures to the project director, department chair or director and dean no less than five working days prior to submitting to the funding agency.
If your proposal involves human or animal subjects, toxic or radioactive material or DNA, you will need to obtain additional signatures and/or complete additional forms.
- Research involving human subjects requires approval by the chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Protection of Human Subjects. Please complete the IRB Form before submitting your proposal to the Office of Grants and Faculty Development.
- Research involving animal subjects requires approval by the Office of Grants and Faculty Development.
- Research involving toxic or radioactive material or DNA requires review by the Office of Grants and Faculty Development.
Please contact the Office of Grants and Faculty Development for more information on obtaining these approvals.
Submit your completed Internal Review Form and your attached proposal no less than five working days prior to the proposal mailing deadline to ensure adequate time for identifying any problems with your proposal and to ensure meeting your sponsor's deadline. The Office of Grants and Faculty Development will circulate your Internal Review Form and final proposal for additional approvals, if needed. If your grant requires an institutional signature, do not sign your own proposal. The only person who has legal authority to sign is the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services, Thomas Sonnleitner, or his delegates.
At this point your proposal has been written and submitted to the grant funding agency. Now it's time to wait and hear from the funding agency. Should your proposal be awarded, you'll then need to follow the process for Accepting a Grant Award.