Research Proposal Submissions

A typical proposal process often consists of the following steps:

  • Target a sponsor to support your research, such as a federal agency, corporation, foundation, state agency, or a consortium
  • Inform the Office of Research Administration by completing a Proposal Information Form indicating your intent to submit a proposal
  • Identify collaborators who will be working with you on your project
  • Work with the Office of Research Administration to establish a budget and determine proposal requirements
  • Submit the proposal
  • Award is negotiated through the Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Awards are made to Penn State

Proposal Development and Submission

Researchers must complete a series of steps and meet certain requirements to effectively develop and submit their proposal.

Proposals that involve responses to Requests for Proposals or Requests for Quotes usually require certifications, representations, and special terms and conditions that may require additional review time. Any proposal to a foreign agency will need to have an export review completed prior to submission.

The average interval between the submission of a proposal and the award of a grant from Federal agencies ranges from six to ten months. Principal investigators should take this delay into consideration in planning for the submission of proposals as well as in setting start and end dates.

  • Proposal Prep Guide - A useful guide for new investigators that summarizes the proposal process
  • Office of Research Protections - This site provides information and resources on human subjects research protections (IRB), conflict of interest declarations (COI), radioisotopes (UIC), and other resources that protect human subjects, students, and faculty involved in the project.
  • Office of Technology Management - This site provides the specific policies, guidelines, intellectual property agreement (IPA) forms, and additional information needed for technology development and invention protection.
  • Conflict of Interest System - This site is used by all Penn State individuals to electronically complete and submit their Significant Financial Interest Disclosures on a yearly or as-needed basis as required by Penn State’s Disclosure and Management of Significant Financial Interests Policy (RA20).

Types of Awards

IST researchers can secure funding for their projects through several types of awards. Each award type has a different purpose and use requirements.

Gifts to the University support a variety of faculty activities. Gift characteristics include:

  • A letter stating it is a gift
  • A check in advance
  • No statement of work
  • No formal financial reports are required
  • No formal technical reports are required
  • No deliverables are required for the activities supported

Sometimes industrial sponsors or donors send the check directly to the faculty member which is then processed via the Office of Research Administration.

Unrestricted grants to faculty support a multitude of research activities. Unrestricted grant characteristics include:

  • A check in advance
  • No statement of work
  • No restrictions on publications
  • No restrictions on intellectual property
  • Less than $50,000 per fiscal year

Grants and cooperative agreements are employed when the principal objective of the sponsor is the transfer, rather than the acquisition, of project results and outcomes to accomplish a public purpose. Grant characteristics include:

  • Sponsor’s principal objective is the accomplishment of a public utilization
  • Project usually has stated goals and objectives
  • Substantial sponsor involvement is not expected
  • Sponsor has expectations about how the funds will be spent
  • Grant deliverables may include formal technical reports
  • Financial reporting and/or accounting are required

Contracts are used when the principal objective of the sponsor is the acquisition of property or services for the direct benefit of the sponsor. Contract characteristics include:

  • Specific deliverables are stipulated in negotiations
  • Project performance is monitored by the sponsor
  • Technical reports are required
  • Detailed financial reports are required

Master agreements are emerging as a favored type of administrative structure and are most common with industry. These are umbrella agreements that support faculty activities through task orders and are negotiated via the Office of Sponsored Programs.


Office of Research

411 Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub
State College, PA 16801
(814) 863-6801