The most important first step in writing a grant proposal is to review the sponsor's guidelines. Too often, researchers do not have the time necessary to carefully review the sponsor's guidelines and instead make assumptions that are not accurate. This is where a Research Administrator can assist. The guidelines can answer almost any question that arises about the nature of the projects that will be funded. As a Research Administrator, you can help by identifying some of the basic process information and pointing out important parts of the guidelines to your faculty researcher.
For example, here are just a few of the important issues that have little to do with the science of the project, but still need to be addressed before spending time writing a grant proposal and which are usually answered in the sponsor's guidelines for a grant.
- When is the proposal due? If the PI decides to pursue the grant, what can be done to prepare for the internal paperwork while the proposal is in development? Once the deadline is determined, help your faculty by creating a timeline for the process aspect of the submission. For example, when will you need the materials/information for the internal paperwork?
- Is MSU an eligible institution? If not, move on to another opportunity.
- Does the sponsor require cost share? If so, how much? Where will this money come from? Is the faculty member aware of this requirement?
- Does the sponsor allow indirect cost recovery (IDC)? If not, is the Department Chair in support of pursuing a grant that does not provide IDC?
- How does the grant need to be submitted? For example, NIH grants (and all other federally sponsered grants) must be submitted through grants.gov. Further, all NIH grants must be submitted according to specific requirements related to the application page associated with the grant opportunity.
- What type of budget is required?