4c. Preparing, Routing, and Submitting a Proposal

  1. Who can help?
  2. Who is eligible to apply for external funding?
  3. What resources are available for proposal preparation?
  4. What are my specific roles and responsibilities in proposal preparation?
  5. What is the routing process and who can help?
  6. What are my specific roles and responsibilities in the routing process?
  7. What is the proposal submission process and who completes it?
  8. Tips for ensuring the application process goes smoothly
  9. Additional guidance

1. Who can help?

2. Who is eligible to apply for external funding?

University of Iowa policy permits regular faculty members, qualified professional & scientific staff members, postdoctoral fellows, and, in some cases, graduate students to apply for research grants and other types of external support, serving as Project Director or Principal Investigator on a project supported by external funds. Retired faculty members are eligible with the permission of the departmental executive officer, collegiate dean, and Vice President for Research. Those not employed by the UI or with an adjunct or visiting faculty position are generally ineligible to serve as PD/PI, requiring special approval from the Vice President for Research.

Additional Information, Resources

  • UI Operations Manual, Part III, Division III, Chapter 17.17(4), Employment on Grants and Contracts Administered by the University, Sections (d) and (f).
  • UI Research Administration Handbook, Chapter 3, Project Director: Eligibility Requirements

3. What resources are available for proposal preparation?

The DSP website details the Application Process, including

Each sponsor sets its own application requirements, outlining the required content, format specifications, budget allowances, and submission procedures and dates. It is critical to review and follow all program guidelines, ensuring a complete application in accordance with sponsor requirements. Failure to follow program guidelines is the most common cause for rejection without review, but, with care, can be avoided. 

4. What are my specific roles and responsibilities in proposal preparation? 

The UI proposal preparation process requires significant contributions from the Project Director, department/college, and Division of Sponsored Programs. As PD, you are responsible for ensuring the proposal packet is fully completed and adheres to sponsor guidelines, confirming that:

  • All components of the application are completed in accordance with sponsor specifications – including all required content; adhering to sponsor-imposed page limitations; and complying with all font, margin, and other format specifications. 
  • The budget is accurately calculated; reflects and meets project needs; follows sponsor guidelines for limits/allowances; and requests facilities and administrative cost reimbursement at the maximum level allowed by the sponsor. 

5. What is the routing process?

Each sponsored project application and proposed contract requires a UI Proposal Routing Form to accompany the application/contract through departmental, collegiate, and central institutional channels (i.e., the Division of Sponsored Programs) for review and approval, authorizing the application/contract before it’s submitted to an external funding source. The routing procedure is most commonly completed electronically, obtaining electronic approvals through the UI Workflow system, but can also be completed on paper, obtaining inked signatures on a printed routing form. In the case of a sponsored project application, the fully routed proposal must reach the Division of Sponsored Programs – the final step in the routing process – at least five working days in advance of the sponsor's submission deadline, allowing sufficient time for review, possible administrative revisions, and submission to the funding source. While there is no internal deadline for routing contracts or other types of agreements, the process should be completed as soon as the agreement is available, avoiding any delay. Agreements, by nature, can require a great deal of time to negotiate and finalize, so it is critical to initiate the process as soon as possible. 

Additional Information, Resources

6. What are my specific roles and responsibilities in the routing process? 

As is the case in proposal preparation, proposal routing requires a collaborative effort involving the Project Director, department/college, and Division of Sponsored Programs. As PD, you are responsible for ensuring the application is properly routed for review and authorization prior to submission, confirming that:

  • The DSP Proposal Routing Form or, when applicable, the MTA & Non-Monetary Agreements Routing Form is fully completed and accurately reflects the proposed project. The PD’s approval of the Routing Form – through electronic authorization or an inked signature, as the case may be – certifies the information therein is correct. While the PD can authorize a designee to initiate a Routing Form on his or her behalf, The University does not allow the PD to delegate his/her responsibility for reviewing and approving the Form; the PD must personally review and approve each Routing Form. 
  • The Routing Form and corresponding application are channeled – electronically or on paper, as the case may be – for departmental and collegiate review and authorization, meeting any internal deadlines established by the department and/or college.  
  • The Routing Form and completed application reach the Division of Sponsored Programs – electronically or on paper, as the case may be – for final review and authorization at least five business days in advance of the sponsor submission deadline.
  • Any proposed contract is routed for departmental and collegiate approval and reaches the Division of Sponsored Programs for review and negotiation as soon as the contract becomes available. 

Additional Information, Resources

7. What is the proposal submission process and who completes it?

Each sponsor establishes its own application process, be it electronic and/or paper, so it is critical to review and follow the sponsor-specific guidelines. Some systems require the PD to complete the submission once obtaining institutional approval, while others require the sponsored programs office to complete the submission following review, signifying the institution’s approval. Do not submit applications or contract proposals directly to an external agency or organization, even if it’s technically possible to do so. The routing process is always required in advance of the submission, allowing the department, college, and Division of Sponsored Programs to review and authorize the application. Once the application/contract has been reviewed and any concerns have been addressed, the PD or DSP officer will complete the submission, according to sponsor guidelines and the specific instructions provided on the DSP Proposal Routing Form.

Additional Information, Resources

  • Cross-Campus Courier Service: A daily courier between the College of Medicine Dean's Office and the Division of Sponsored Programs’ Gilmore Hall location, facilitating the transfer of information across campus.
  • Copying Service and UPS Shipping: Services offered free of charge through the Division of Sponsored Programs when the applicant has allowed sufficient time – i.e., the routed application reaches DSP at least five business days in advance of the submission deadline.

8. Tips for ensuring that the application process goes smoothly

  • Work with your department early in the submission process and plan to complete your application at least 7 days in advance of the sponsor’s submission deadline.
  • Follow the sponsor guidelines exactly, observing all content guidelines, font/margin specifications, and section limits.
  • Make sure budgets are correct, meet sponsor guidelines, and cover all project needs.
  • Make sure the application packet is fully completed and includes all required forms and signatures.
  • Leave enough time for the routing procedure, allowing the Division of Sponsored Programs at least five business days to review, finalize, and, if applicable, submit your application. 
  • Ensure the Routing Form information is accurate, reflecting the application in question, and includes clear instructions to DSP.

9. Additional guidance

The Quick Guide to the External Funding Process addresses the major aspects of proposal preparation, routing, and submission.