One of the questions most frequently asked of Research Administrators is: “What’s the last possible day/hour/minute I can get the proposal to you and have it go out on time?” There is rarely a simple or correct answer to this question; usually the truth is, “It depends.” If you are collaborating with another school at UVA, another institution of higher education or any outside agency, it increases the time needed to pull together a final proposal and complicates the approval process. The Office of Sponsored Programs will not approve collaborative proposals without a clear indication of the collaborating party’s willingness to participate in the project as it has been described.
Certain times of the year are busier than others for sheer numbers of proposal submissions. For example, the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) has two major deadlines every year, one in late June and one early in mid-September. For each of these deadlines we have had as few as four and as many as twelve separate proposals, and IES is usually not the only sponsor with a deadline at those times. In 2015 and 2016, the Curry School submitted over 50 separate proposals between July and September alone. That would not have been a good time to bring something to us at the last minute.
Deadline dates and proposal requirements vary from sponsor to sponsor and program to program. Once you have identified possible funding sources, we recommend that you review the sponsor’s requirements and submission due dates. The Research Administrator can help you formulate a schedule for finalizing specific portions of the proposal so that it is compliant with all applicable guidelines and arrives at its destination on time. The Curry School has a long tradition of conducting significant research that contributes to solving pressing problems in educational policy and practice, and the research project for which you plan to seek funding may well be of vital importance both to Curry and the region. Nevertheless, as the Office of Research Administration needs sufficient time to read, carefully review, and provide feedback on your proposed budget and narrative, it is imperative that you notify us in advance of your plans to submit a grant application. If circumstances do not permit you to give us advance notice (e.g., because a solicitation provides only a limited time frame to prepare a submission), we will do our best to accommodate you. However, please be apprised that depending upon the complexity of the proposal and the number of other applications in the queue at the time of your request, we may not always be able to oblige you in a timely fashion.
Principal Investigators should submit all proposals and pre-proposals to Catherine Thompson, the Curry School’s Pre-Award Research Administrator. Catherine will work with the Curry Chairs and Deans and the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) in submitting your proposal to the granting/funding agency. Sufficient time is needed so that OSP can:
- Review the proposed budget to ensure accuracy and completeness
- Check that all sponsor requirements are fulfilled and all necessary accompanying documents are routed to the appropriate University offices for required endorsements, signatures, and certifications
- In the case of paper proposals, ensure that all documents are returned promptly to Curry in sufficient time that copies can be made for mailing to the sponsor, or
- In the case of electronic proposals, ensure that the submission is made in a timely fashion.
In October 2008, because of several problems experienced with electronic proposal submissions, OSP revised its guidelines for electronic proposal submissions. They now require that complete, final proposals arrive in OSP no less than two business days (48 hours) in advance of the submission deadline. You can see a copy of the memo setting out their rationale and procedures. For all paper submissions, final grant proposals must be submitted to OSP five business days prior to the sponsor’s deadline. Regardless of who prepares your budget, all proposals must also go through the Curry Pre-Award Research Administrator. She will help obtain signatures in the Curry School (and other UVA Schools, if needed) as well as submit your proposal to OSP for their review. Because of changes in sponsor and OSP policies, it is now policy at the Curry School that ALL proposals be complete five business days prior to the deadline. If you have questions, please contact Catherine Thompson, 924-3841.
Caveat scriptor: One potential pitfall in proposal submission is “completeness”. With federal sponsors, particularly with NIH and/or grants.gov submissions, instructions reside in more documents than the actual call for proposals. Although NIH Program Announcements will contain much of the information you need, if your proposal is to be submitted through grants.gov, then the SF424R&R submission guide must also be consulted on questions of formatting, whether and/or where particular forms are attached to the application, etc. We are aware of instances when proposals were rejected not on scientific grounds but because administrative or formatting guidelines were not followed. This is most likely to happen if insufficient time is allowed for preparation and review.