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Proposal Preparation and Submission

These are the steps involved in preparing a grant proposal.
  1. Find Grant Opportunities
    Finding a funding source to support your research ideas is your first step in preparing a grant proposal.  The Funding Opportunities tab of this website offers a wealth of information.
  2. Read Funding Opportunity Guidelines
    Read guidelines to ensure eligibility and  that you meet the agency requirements.
  3. Contact Office of Research Administration
    Contact the Office of Research Administration at (212) 772-4020,  for guidance with budget and submission process.  The Office of Research Administration will help you determine how much lead time is needed.

    The Office of Research Administration strongly advises that a PI be prepared to submit a proposal a minimum of two weeks before the actual deadline so that the submission can be scheduled.  That will allow the needed time to deal with error messages from Grants.gov and/or the funding source’s proposal processing system.  Many deadlines at different agencies coincide.  All proposals must go through the Office of Research Administration, and the staff wants to be able to provide the needed attention to each proposal, without the logistical problem of too many people leaving submission to the same late afternoon.
  4. Contact  Department Chair and Dean
    Sign-off is required by both Department Chair and Dean on the Research Administration proposal routing form Some externally-funded projects require additional space, modification of space, or matching funds.  There may be limitations on the number of proposals that can be submitted by Hunter College or the City University of New York.  Released time must also be approved.  Such hurdles should be cleared before the proposal writer invests too much time in the development of the grant application.
  5. Writing A Proposal
    Proposal writing is the crux of the process.  Writing assistance and tips are listed below:


    • Depending on the size of the proposal, you may have more than one person writing the proposal.  The more people that engage in writing the proposal, the more different writing styles are going to be in the final draft.  It is less jolting to the reviewers if the style does not vary from section to section.

    • Find someone, preferably not connected to your field, to read your proposal.  That person must be honest with you.  If that person has questions or criticisms, so will a reviewer.  Remember not to over-use the jargon of your field of study, as some of the reviewers may not be as familiar with your field as you might think.


    • Don’t make claims that you cannot substantiate.  Remember that besides review of your printed proposal, there could be a site visit.

    • Have a final editor.  You want perfect grammar.  You want consistency between the project description and the budget.  For example, if in the review of the budget, you determine you must change the number of students or the number of trips, you must make sure this is also reflected in the project description.  A single change might require a revision in the project description, a budget modification, the addition or deletion of a CV, etc.

    •  Don’t dress up the proposal too much and don't use too many  adjectives.  Many readers are given a large number of proposals to review – they are looking for substance in the proposal.  They will decide whether your project has the potential for achieving great things.


  6. Submit Grant

Many grants are now being submitted electronically.   Many federal grant applications now must be submitted through Grants.gov, which itself is going through a software transition, resulting in periods of time when it is not accessible.  The Grants.gov portal will bounce back with error messages any submission that does not meet certain criteria.  There is a limited window for dealing with the error messages.  Failure to correct the errors will result in the proposal not being accepted for review. 

Even after clearing the Grants.gov portal, an electronic proposal then goes to the funding source’s own electronic system (such as Fastlane at NSF or ERA Commons at NIH).  At that time, there may be additional error messages and warnings, to which the applicant has two weekdays to respond, and which requires Hunter to pull back the application, make the needed changes, and re-submit through Grants.gov.  The proposal submission process is not complete until there are no error messages at the agency’s electronic system.

Please see  the Grants.gov link for further information.




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