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Proposal Preparation Guidelines

Introduction

Sponsored Program Services is always available to assist you with the proposal preparation process. The SPS Pre-Award Staff can be reached at sps@uchc.edu. Our web site contains information that will be helpful to you when preparing your proposal.  The web site provides access to guidelines, policies and procedures, forms, rates, and funding sources. At Frequently Requested Information, you will find our Authorized University Official information, DUNS number, congressional district, where sponsor checks should be sent and much more.

Getting Started

The Principal Investigator (PI) initiates the proposal process. He/She is responsible for the technical content, budget, addressing compliance issues, and the quality and preparation of the proposal. It is important that the funding agency’s priorities and evaluation procedures are understood. It is a good idea to call the funding agency before submitting your proposal. The Project Officer may be able to make valuable suggestions to improve your proposal or direct you to another program whose priorities might better match your proposal.

The Department Chair or Unit Head, and in most circumstances the College Dean, reviews and approves the proposal and budget, certifying that the project is consistent with the mission of the Department and College/School, the academic soundness of the proposal, that resources will be available and that no commitments of University resources are made other than those described.

Required Signatures

Once prepared, the proposal is then forwarded to the Sponsored Program Services, where it is reviewed for compliance with Federal, State, and University regulations. The University’s authorized representative reviews, approves and signs all proposals. The signatures indicate endorsement and commitment to the project.

Eligibility for Principal Investigator Status

All externally funded projects conducted at UConn Health are expected to be consistent with the teaching, research, and service missions of the University. All projects are therefore, carried out within departments, centers or institutes, or other administrative units under the direction of a faculty member or comparable professional employee.

By limiting principal investigator status to a limited set of designated individuals and/or job categories, and by procuring appropriate dean and department head approval, the University is assured that the proposed research is consistent with its missions and that the necessary space, equipment, facilities and qualified personnel are available to conduct the proposed project. In all cases, the individual designated as Principal Investigator is judged to be qualified to conduct an independent research or other educational project.

Faculty members automatically eligible to serve as Principal Investigators include members of the emeritus faculty and those faculty members who hold the following titles: University Professor, Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Research Professor, Associate Research Professor, Assistant Research Professor, Professor-in-Residence, Associate Professor-in-Residence, Assistant Professor-in-Residence, Research Scientist, Research Scholar, and Extension Educator.

Professional staff members normally eligible to serve as Principal Investigators include staff who hold titles typically associated with independent activity, whose appointment is subject to a rigorous review of credentials, and who have supervisor approval (i.e., signature on the proposal routing form), for example: Dean, Associate or Assistant Dean, Director, Associate or Assistant Director, Extension Professor, Associate or Assistant Extension Professor, Curator, Program Director, and selected University Staff Professionals, Specialists, and Educational Assistants.

Categories of employment normally considered ineligible to serve as Principal Investigators are Instructor; Assistant Instructor; Lecturer; post-doctoral appointees; research associates, assistants and fellows; and visiting and other short-term appointees. In special cases, exceptions may be made. These special cases require the Request for Approval to Serve as Principal Investigator Form be completed by the PI Applicant, signed by the PI Applicant, Faculty Sponsor, Department Head and/or Dean and submitted to SPS for review prior to proposal submission. A Curriculum Vitae should be attached. Appeals to negative decisions may be directed to the Vice President for Research.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Cost Sharing Policy Guidance

NSF policy states that the inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited in all proposals except when required in the NSF solicitation.  SPS is available to assist you during proposal preparation and to help to ensure that applications are compliant with NSF and University policies including situations where senior personnel do not request salary for their effort on the project.

Proposal Contents

Most sponsors publish guidelines on how to prepare a proposal.  Their application package may include standard forms that will require a signature from an authorized official. Sponsor instructions should be followed carefully for content, page limitations and font size.

The Principal Investigator(s) is responsible for ensuring the proposal is complete, accurate and adheres to the sponsor’s guidelines and policies.

The following information encompasses the basic components of a proposal that can be used as a guide when sponsor requirements are not available or specific. At a minimum you will need to provide our office with the following:

  • The sponsor’s URL or a copy of the sponsor’s guidelines, in order to review your proposal and prepare it for submission.
  • An Internal Proposal Review Form (routing form). This form needs to be signed by the Principal Investigator, Department Chair, Unit Head, and in some cases Dean.
  • A project summary/abstract and a project description describing the objectives and methodology and significance of the proposed project. These sections may be provided to our office in draft form.
  • A budget and budget justification that reflects a reasonable estimate of expenses for each budget category is required. Include cost sharing/matching only if it is specifically required by the funding agency.
  • Sub-Contracts: If there is a sub-contract involved, a scope of work, a budget, a budget justification and a Subrecipient Checklist/Consortium Statement, signed by an authorized official of that organization is required.
  • Compliance Review: Federal regulations and University policies require that various University committees approve certain proposed activities.  Compliance review and approvals for Animal and Human Subjects, Radioactive Substances, Bio-hazardous Substances, Controlled Substances, and Recombinant DNA may be necessary before your proposal can be signed.  You will need to designate these areas on the Internal Proposal Review Form.  Please refer to the Compliance section of this website  for the personnel in the specific compliance office that can assist with any approvals necessary for your proposal.
  • Optional items: The proposal contents listed below are fairly standard items required by many sponsors and may be included as part of your proposal:
    • Bibliography of pertinent literature
    • Biosketches of senior/key personnel
    • Recent publications
    • List of collaborators
    • Current and pending support (generally, sponsors request information on current (active/awarded) and pending support to evaluate potential scientific and/or commitment overlaps; this list should be complete including all support whether or not that support is funded through the University)
    • Description of available facilities and equipment

University Facilities Use

In preparing proposals, PIs must be aware that University facilities are to be used only for those purposes that are part of the University’s mission (research, education and public and clinical service). In instances where research projects are supported by outside entities, any use of University facilities must be reviewed and approved by Sponsored Program Services.

Further, University employees may participate in projects, which are carried out with University facilities, only in their capacity as employees of the institution. That is, University facilities may not be used by an employee in his or her capacity as a consultant to an outside entity. Consulting is an activity carried out on personal time with personal, rather than institutional, resources.

Oversight Committee Approval

The Research Compliance Services (RCS) can assist you in obtaining appropriate review and approval of research areas that will need the consideration of an oversight committee. Many times a sponsor will require a signature from a compliance office at the time of submission while other sponsors only require compliance review and approval upon award. If your research will use any of the areas listed below, please contact RCS.

Animal Subjects

The UConn Health has established, and must maintain, policies and procedures to ensure the humane care and use of live vertebrate animals involved in research and teaching activities. The University’s animal program, facilities, and procedures are overseen by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). All plans for research, teaching or training activities involving the use of animal subjects must be submitted for review and approval to the IACUC. See the IACUC home page for forms, policies and contact information.

Controlled Substances

Controlled substances are regulated by the CT Department of Consumer Protection Drug Control Division (DCD).  The Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) maintains a database of personnel who are licensed by the DCD to use controlled substances on any of the University’s campuses.  Individuals with valid needs to utilize controlled substances for University-sanctioned research protocols and related project work must complete a DCD registration form.  In addition, researchers must also register with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Contact Dr. Ron G. Wallace, Biological Safety Officer, in Biosafety for Research (& IBC) for further information on procedures for obtaining a license prior to the use of any controlled substance in research-related activities on University property.

Human Subjects

All plans for research, teaching and training activities involving the use of human subjects must be submitted for prior review by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research to ensure that no research done under the jurisdiction of the University exposes persons who participate as subjects or respondents to unreasonable risks to their health, general well-being or privacy. See the Institutional Review Board (IRB) home page for forms, policies and contact information.

Laboratory Safety

The Laboratory Safety Committee oversees the laboratory safety program administered by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).  The Committee develops and reviews policies that help: 1) ensure a safe working environment within laboratories, and 2) maintain compliance with US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), CT Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP), and CT Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CT OSHA) regulations.  The Committee is comprised of faculty, laboratory, administration, and EH&S representatives, and meets quarterly to review laboratory safety and hazardous chemical waste issues at the University, including the Regional Campuses.  Initial laboratory safety training is required for all new professors, staff, and graduate students who will be working in laboratories; thereafter, refresher training is required every other year.

For information or assistance with issues pertaining to laboratory safety or hazardous waste storage and disposal procedures, please contact Radiation Safety at 860-679-2250.  Training schedules and other pertinent information are available on the Environmental Health and Safety website.

Laser Safety

The Laser Safety Committee oversees the laser safety program administered by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).  The Committee develops and reviews policies that help: 1) ensure a safe working environment within laboratories, and 2) maintain compliance with CT Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CT OSHA) regulations.  The Committee is comprised of faculty, administration, and EH&S representatives, and meets quarterly to review laser safety issues at the University, including the Regional Campuses.  Anyone using lasers must successfully complete the University’s online laser safety training program; please contact Dawn Kemp for enrollment information.  A laboratory-specific Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) must be developed by the Primary Laser Researcher (PLR) for each laser in use.  Specialized systems may require further training and protective equipment provided by the PLR.

For information or assistance with issues pertaining to laser safety or the development of a laser SOP, please contact Environmental Health and Safety.

Radiation Safety

The Radiation Safety Committee oversees the radiation safety program administered by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).  The Committee reviews radioactive material research protocols and develops policies that help: 1) ensure a safe working environment within laboratories, and 2) maintain compliance with US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC) regulations.  The Committee is comprised of faculty, laboratory, administration, and EH&S representatives, and meets quarterly to review radiation safety and low-level radioactive waste disposal issues at the University, including the Regional Campuses.  Initial radiation safety training is required for all new professors, staff, and graduate students who will be working with radioactive materials or x-ray producing equipment; thereafter, refresher training is required on an annual basis.  Research protocols must be reviewed and approved by the Committee before radioactive material can be ordered through EH&S.  Initial training is required for non-users who work in a laboratory where radioactive materials are used; thereafter, refresher training is provided on an as-needed basis.

For information or assistance with issues pertaining to radiation safety or radioactive waste storage and disposal procedures, please contact the Environmental Health and Safety.

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) and Biological Agents

The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) reviews all research and teaching activities that involve recombinant DNA (rDNA), biological agents and toxins.  The purpose of the IBC review is to ensure that University activities comply with government regulations and provide appropriate safeguards for human health and the environment.  The IBC home page provides links to applicable government documents (e.g. guidelines from NIH and CDC), and other information.  For more information and further assistance with biosafety issues contact Dr. Ron Wallace, Biological Safety Officer, at (860) 679-3781.