The School of Health and Human Sciences Office of Research (OOR) offers school-based support for researchers to address the many administrative aspects of proposal development and submission, allowing researchers to focus on science, team development and writing quality. The services outlined below assist researchers with successful, timely and efficient research proposal submission in full compliance with funding agency requirements. The OOR serves as the local resource for faculty who are developing new ideas, seeking financial support for projects and managing external funds.
To fully utilize the available support, researchers are strongly encouraged to contact the pre-award staff 3 to 6 months in advance of sponsor deadline (or earlier, if possible). Exceptions may be made for rapid turnaround requests for applications (RFA) in which the PI can demonstrate the timing of the call and the deadline necessitated a shortened timeframe (e.g., RFA with 60-day turnaround from posting). A three-month minimum is required for a proposal to be routed internally and submitted by the sponsor deadline; however, complex proposals may require more lead time. This time allows staff to develop the budget, collect supporting documentation, and enlist external reviewers. Keep in mind that, for the vast majority of cases, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is the office that actually submits the proposals. They are the official signatory for all grants and contracts, and require a minimum of five business days to process an application.
In effect since Fall 2018, OOR has issued a HHS OOR Timeline for Successful Grant Submission; please refer to this for detailed information about the timing of grant submissions through OOR.
Identify funding opportunities
Although researchers themselves typically have the most relevant knowledge of potential funders for their research ideas, pre-award staff can perform focused searches of funding databases to identify potential funding sources for research projects. Relevant opportunities are forwarded to individual faculty as they become available. Faculty members who are interested in a particular topic and who are seeking funding are invited to contact office staff with a topic, and one of the pre-award staff will conduct a focused search on that topic.
Prepare plan of action for proposal submission
During the initial meeting with pre-award staff on a project idea, the staff develops a plan of action, including a checklist of tasks and proposal documents, clarification of roles and responsibilities, and timeline for completion of the many tasks required for a successful submission. Researchers must have a clear understanding of “who does what” in this process, thus, a checklist and clarification of roles and responsibilities are critical for the smooth development of the proposal.
Ensure compliance with funding agency guidelines
Once a funding opportunity is identified, the pre-award staff ensures that the proposal follows funding agency application guidelines, such as budget constraints, cost sharing requirements, formatting, necessary forms and supporting documents.
Support budget development
Budget planning should start as soon as proposal development begins. Pre-award staff work directly with faculty and the research team to develop budgets for external funding.
Budgets must receive final approval by the department chair(s), the HHS Office of the Dean, and the UNC Greensboro Office of Sponsored Programs before the proposal can be submitted. If the research team has faculty members from other departments or schools, the budget must be reviewed and approved by their department chairs and, if outside the School, that respective Dean’s office as well.
Pre-award staff can provide an initial draft of a budget justification based on information provided by the research team. They prepare an outline for the justification that provides the sponsor with a clear picture of the scope of work, team composition, and level of commitment.
Determining faculty effort on externally funded projects
Faculty and Department Chairs have requested guidance regarding how to determine faculty effort on externally-funded research. The guidelines and procedures included in the document, HHS Guidelines for Determining Faculty Effort on Externally Funded Projects, have been written with consultation from the HHS Research Advisory Committee faculty members, other research active faculty members in HHS, the department chairs, the Dean, the HHS Office of Research Staff, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, and the Director of Contracts and Grants. These guidelines will be evaluated periodically by faculty, chairs, and the Dean’s Office to identify possible revisions and future planning.
Expedite internal processing and routing using Cayuse Sponsored Projects (SP)
UNC Greensboro policy is that all proposals for external funding must be routed for approval through the Cayuse SP in order for OSP to submit the final proposal to the funding agency. Upon the initial meeting with the researcher to discuss a plan of action for submission, OOR pre-award staff will establish a Cayuse file as a service to ensure timely submission. They will then carry the process forward while the research team is focused on developing the proposal content.
Provide boilerplate and supporting documentation
The pre-award staff provides boilerplate documentation and supporting documents for proposal applications. Typical examples include facilities and environment language, letters of support, non-profit status documentation, university financial reports, board-of-trustee listing, biosketch templates, and letters of support from relevant administrators.
Assemble the proposal application
A proposal application is normally comprised of multiple parts, including letters of support, subcontract documentation, budgets, appendices, and cover letters – in addition to the main body. In fact, the main body of the grant may form a small portion of the total application package. One of the primary functions of the pre-award staff is to “build” the application by pulling together all components into a complete application, upload the final application to Cayuse, and monitor the submission to the funding agency.