This guide is prepared with a focus on the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health in Compliance with the Office of Management and Budget guidance.  Other agencies such as the United States Department of Education, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and others have agency specific guidance.  The Office of Sponsored Programs is prepared to assist with proposals to all agencies and foundations. 

NSF Mission

NIH Mission

Elements of a Proposal

**** When working with OSP, please remember to use a tight version control naming convention and to always save word documents as .docx****.

NIH Instructions  -  NIH Biosketch Sample

NSF Biosketch Instructions  Sample NSF Biosketch


*Please bear in mind that generally purchases must be made through institutional processes such as eVA, which seek out minority-SWAM- vendors, not necessarily the best priced vendors.  Consideration should be given to this during the budgeting process.



Compliance Issues

Use of human subjects or animals in research proposals requires submission of a protocol to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).  Some sponsors require approved protocols, some require submission,  and some require the acknowledgement that award is contingent upon approval.  Verifying sponsor requirement is crucial. Bio-Hazards, Recombinant DNA, foreign travel and other issues require additional approvals; therefore early and often contact with OSP is key to seamless proposal approval by the institution.

University Research Oversight

Federal Compliance

Federal Awards must comply with the following Office of Management and Budget's Circulars:

Other Compliance Regulations

Institutional Approval

The Proposal Summary Form addresses institutional concerns and more.  The form is relevant to a number of parties.  It provides an abstract of the proposed work, an outline of the budget, any cost sharing or matching required as well as the authorized individual and account numbers assuming the responsibility for cost sharing or matching, and indicates if human subjects, animals, or biohazards are a part of the proposed work.  This document provides information to the necessary institutional areas, so they are apprised of and prepared for the project should it be funded. 

The Proposal Summary Form  may be completed and saved to a computer or simply printed.  The Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) signature that of their Chair and Dean are required, then the form is remitted to OSP.  

The Proposal Summary From is required at least two weeks prior to the due date of the proposal.  This ensures that all the required parties are available to review the form and approve its contents.  Once in the Office of Sponsored Programs, it is reviewed and barring questions approved and sent on to obtain the remaining required approvals. 


Preparation Quick Facts - Institutional data and basic budget information often used in preparing a proposal is found in this document. The Office of Sponsored Programs help with budgets and other forms. If planning on submitting a proposal, contact with OSP is imperative. To reiterate, the proposal sign-off process must begin a minimum of two weeks prior to the submission deadline. 

When the proposal is ready to submit, if an electronic submission is required, OSP requests that the PI be present during the submission to answer any questions that might arise. If the sponsor requires a paper submission, faculty need to arrange for copying and mailing the proposal through their department.


  • If the full proposal is awarded, OSP reviews the award documentation for any concerns of the Commonwealth of VA and CNU.  These issues include indemnification of others, compliance with United States law and the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Virginia for settlement of any disputes. 

  • OSP will review the award documents for vague, ambiguous, or subjective language and seek alternatives. 

  • As an institution of higher education OSP must ensure that publication of finding is not limited by the sponsor and that the PI’s intellectual property rights are protected.

  • OSP notifies the CNU community and requests the establishment of a Banner account.  

  • If less than the proposed amount is awarded, OSP, in conjunction with the PI negotiates a reduction in the scope of work to accommodate the reduced award amount. 

  • OSP will rely on University Counsel if additional review is required.

 Contact the CNU Business Office if there is a question or additional information concerning Post-Award Grant Management.

Not Funded   

  • If the proposal is not funded, OSP contacts the sponsor and seeks reviewer comments, if necessary. 

  • Once reviewer comments are obtained, OSP works with faculty to revise the proposal for future resubmission and/or seeks other funding opportunities for the proposal.