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Overview and Checklists

There are many sources of funding for sponsored projects and each sponsor has unique proposal requirements.  Some popular application types are:

  • Standard research proposals
  • Fellowships – visit our Fellowship webpage for additional information
  • Training Grants
  • Supplements (e.g. Diversity supplements, Research Experiences for Undergraduates, etc.)
  • Transfers to MSU - visit our Transfer webpage for additional information.

It is important to review the proposal guidelines when developing and submitting your application.  For Federal funding, the government uses a submission interface called for most proposal submissions.  OSP transmits these applications directly to the Federal government using System-to-System (S2S) transfer inside the MSU Kuali Coeus (KR) system. For more information about submitting a proposal through KR, please see the KR Prepare a Proposal Development webpage; for a broad overview of, visit the About webpage; for sponsor specific information, visit SPA's Sponsor Information webpages.

OSP has developed the following checklists to assist with preparing proposal applications:


Cover Page / SF424 (R&R)

Most proposals include a form that requires institutional information such as address, DUNS number, EIN number, etc.  You can find much of the requested information on the Frequently Required Budget and Proposal Data page.  For many federal sponsors, this form is called the SF424 (R&R).  Other sponsors may refer to this as the Cover Page.  It will usually require the name of the project, project start and end dates, total proposed budget, and contact information for the Primary Investigator(s) and the MSU Authorized Official, among other items. Many sponsors have required cover page templates.

Project Summary/Abstract

The project summary or abstract is often limited by number of pages or word count. Be sure to adhere to the instructions in the solicitation or proposal guidelines.

Project Description

The project description is typically the "meat" of the proposal and outlines the research strategy and plan. The solicitation will usually include specific questions to be addressed in this section, so refer back to the solicitation to ensure each topic is discussed. The project description is likely to be highly technical and review by a faculty peer is suggested prior to submission.

References Cited

Provide a bibliography of any references cited in the Project Description.  Typically includes the names of all authors, the article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication.

Budget and Budget Justification

The budget and budget justification are integral parts of a proposal.  Visit the Develop Budget webpage for detailed information in creating a proposal budget.

Data Management and Sharing Plans

Proper data management and sharing is essential for improving rigor and reproducibility in scientific research data.  Benefits of sharing scientific data include: expediting the translation of research results into knowledge, products and improvements to human health and the environment.  Federal agencies have implemented requirements at the proposal and award stage in order to promote the sharing of scientific data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials.   View the Data Management Plans – Sponsor Requirements webpage, which outlines the requirements by federal agency.

Biographical Sketches

Biographical sketches of key personnel are sometimes required in a specific format identified in the solicitation or sponsor guidelines. Typically, the bio-sketch will include education, appointments, research experience, publications, and collaborators.  For additional, sponsor specific information, please visit the Biographical Sketch Requirements by Sponsor page.

Facilities and Other Resources

The facilities and other resources section should include discussion of the MSU resources available for use on your project but not associated with direct costs on the project budget. This may include lab or office space, library resources, equipment, or unpaid personnel (i.e., personnel paid from other sources). This section should not quantify resources in terms of dollar amounts or percentages.

If the project needs additional space on or off campus, the "additional space" question on the Proposal Development document in Kuali Research should be marked "Yes" and MSU's Institutional Space Planning and Management office should be contacted as soon as possible for review/approval.

Current and Pending Support

Current and Pending Support, also known as Other Support, is a form typically used by federal sponsors to request information for the PI(s) and Senior Key Personnel’s current and pending research projects. Most federal agencies require Current & Pending Support documents to be submitted with the proposal or just before an award is issued. If applicable to your proposal, please remember to include ALL support including gifts, grants, and contracts from all non-U.S. and domestic sources, including MSU project support. The format of this requirement varies by Sponsor. For additional, sponsor specific information, please visit the Current and Pending / Other Support Requirements by Sponsor page. It is the responsibility of the Investigator/Key Person to make sure that all projects and affiliations are disclosed and that the document is completed in its entirety. If you have any questions, please contact your OSP Proposal Team.

Recently the federal government has been looking into foreign influence on research. This additional scrutiny may impact the guidelines for completing Current and Pending Support forms. Please use due diligence to understand and follow new requirements.

Attachments and Supplemental Materials

Attachments or supplemental materials, if required, are listed in the solicitation or sponsor guidelines and may include letters of collaboration, examples of informed consent forms for human subjects, postdoctoral mentoring plan, data management plan, etc. Review the solicitation to ensure required materials are included in your proposal. Generally, you should not include supplemental materials not explicitly requested in the solicitation or guidelines as some sponsors will return the proposal without review.

Proposal Systems

Some proposals are developed and submitted through unique systems that require special access. For example, National Science Foundation (NSF) proposals are submitted through FastLane following specific guidelines outlined in the NSF Grant Proposal Guideline. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a post-submission system, eRA Commons, where PI's have two days to review their submitted proposal prior to the proposal being sent for review (as long as the two day window is prior to the proposal deadline date). The majority of NIH proposals are submitted in KR using the System-to-System functionality, however large center grants, or grants that require the use of multiple components must be submitted through NIH ASSIST.  Principal Investigators must be set-up in NSF Fastlane or eRA Commons in order to apply.  Please contact OSP  to be set-up in these systems.

MSU as a Subrecipient

When MSU is included as a subrecipient on a proposal, the following documents are generally requested by the direct sponsor:

  • Commitment Form – The MSU Commitment Form should be used for submission to the Direct Sponsor.  Some Direct Sponsors may request that we complete their subrecipient commitment form, but will usually accept the MSU Commitment Form in its place. 
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • Scope of Work
  • Biosketches
  • Current/Pending Support (not required at the proposal stage when NIH is the prime)
  • Any other documents requested by the Direct Sponsor  


If you have questions about developing your proposal, contact your department or college research administrator, if applicable. When contacting OSP, please email the appropriate OSP group email address according to your department or college.  If you are submitting a proposal to an industry sponsor, please contact MSU Business Connect.

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