Types of proposals

Pre-Proposal, Preliminary Proposal or White Paper

This type of proposal is requested when a sponsor wishes to minimize an applicant’s effort in preparing a full proposal. They are usually in the form of a letter of intent or a brief abstract of what the PI plans to do, how the PI will conduct the project and why this project has merit. A pre-proposal establishes a foundation for discussion; it does not commit the PI or the University to anything. However, since these proposals often do become the basis for negotiation for funding, if a budget is included in the submission, it should be routed for the appropriate University signatures. When requested by the sponsor, the pre-proposal may be used to determine how well the project fits the agency’s priorities. Also, the preliminary proposal may determine selection for the next stage of the application, help in the selection of possible reviewers and possibly offer a chance for feedback to the PI. After the preproposal is reviewed, the sponsor notifies the investigator if a full proposal is warranted.  Broad Agency Announcements (BAA) usually associated with DOD, refer to pre-proposals or preliminary proposals as “White Papers”.

New Applications

A new proposal is one being submitted to a given sponsor for the first time.

Unsolicited Proposal: This type of proposal is submitted to a sponsor that generally has not issued a specific solicitation but is believed by the investigator to have an interest in the subject. The unsolicited proposal is developed around general agency guidelines, within a specific subject field, where the scope of the project is not limited by specific guidelines and specifications. Unsolicited proposal may be submitted anytime, although there may be target submission dates set to meet particular review panel meetings. Many sponsors do not accept unsolicited proposals.

Solicited Proposal: Proposals in response to a specific program that should conform to the solicitation guidelines issued by the agency.

To respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Applications (RFA), Request for Quotation (RFQ), the proposed project would have to fit the needs described in the specific work statement developed by the funding agency. An RFP, RFA, or RFQ is usually specific in its requirements regarding format and technical content and may stipulate certain award terms and conditions. They usually have a “hard” deadline; if the proposal arrives late, it normally will not be considered. Also, most are one-time solicitations to fit a specific need that is not expected to recur.

Simultaneous Submissions of a New Application

Some federal agencies will not review a proposal submitted simultaneously to another federal sponsor. Others will allow simultaneous submissions but each agency must be informed of the other agency or agencies looking at the proposal either with a cover letter or on the coverpage of the proposal. Each submission to a different agency must be submitted to ORS through SPS and must undergo the same reviews as did the original proposal.

Revisions (AKA: Resubmissions)

If a sponsor does not fund a proposal, the PI may use the feedback received from the reviewers to revise and resubmit the proposal. The revision is processed as if it were a new proposal. It must be submitted to ORS through SPS and must undergo the same reviews as did the original proposal.

Continuation, Non-competitive Renewals, or Progress Reports (RPPR)

Many sponsors fund multiple-year projects. Funds will usually be awarded one year at a time, based on availability, with the expectation that the entire project will be supported. Some sponsors require that the PI submit a new proposal for each year of the project, even though all years were included in the original proposal. These continuation proposals are not subject to competitive review as was the initial proposal.

The internal review process for continuation proposals is a streamlined version of the original review. Although the proposal must be approved by ORS/ORA and must be submitted through SPS, institutional issues addressed at the time of the original proposal will not necessarily be revisited.

For example, if cost sharing commitments for each year were already made and documented, and if there are no changes in the resources committed, the original approval process for cost sharing will not need to be duplicated.

NIH Progress Reports (RPPR): NIH uses the RPPR mechanism for submission of non-competitive renewals.

  • The PI will logon to Commons and select the RPPR tab on the menu bar. The screen that appears next is Manage RPPR and has a list of all awarded grants for the PI. The grants eligible for RPPR submission are displayed as a hypertext link.
  • Click on the grant you want to submit and complete the required sections: Upload Science, Organization Information, Performance Sites, Key Personnel, Research Subject, SNAP Questions, and Inclusion Enrollment.
  • When all the information is entered, the PI can check for errors by using the Validate button and make any necessary changes.
  • When the Progress Report is complete, click on the Submit button to send the Progress Report electronically to ORS for final review.
  • ORS will send the approved Progress Report electronically to NIH.
  • Once the RPPR submission is complete, the non-competing proposal - or progress report - must be entered into SPS by the Grant Manager or PI and routed to ORS (this does not need to meet the 5 business day deadline).
  • NIH Resources

NSF Progress Reports: NSF requires that NSF-funded researchers regularly report on the progress of supported projects and the way funds are used.

  • Only Principal Investigators (PIs) and co-PIs can create, edit and submit project reports in research.gov
  • Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) staff and administrative users with read-only access can view project reports
  • NSF Resources
Competitive Renewals

Federal agencies may fund a project for an extended period of time, dividing the project into discrete multiple-year blocks, each of which is subject to peer review. Proposals for competitive renewals must be approved by ORS and must be submitted through SPS in the same manner as new proposals.

Renewal or Competing Proposals. These types of proposals are requests for continued support for an existing project that is about to terminate, and, from the sponsor’s viewpoint, generally have the same status as an unsolicited proposal. Competing continuation proposals compete with other competing continuation, competing supplemental, and new proposals for funds.

Supplements or Competing Revisions: There are a number of federal programs which provide supplements to successful research projects in order to fund auxiliary programs, such as research experiences for undergraduates. Occasionally, a sponsor may have funds available to add to the budget of an already funded project. Proposals for supplements must be approved by ORS and must be submitted through SPS in the same manner as new proposals.

Collaborative Proposals

A collaborative proposal should be used when investigators at two or more universities wish to work together on a project, but wish to receive separate funding directly from the sponsor. Each collaborator must submit a separate proposal.

  • The proposals, which must have the same title, are linked by a cover letter which accompanies each proposal and asks that they be reviewed as a unit.
  • Usually, the project description is the same in each proposal but the budgets, biosketches, other support pages, and resources are specific to each participating institution.

Federal agencies that allow the submission of collaborative proposals will provide guidelines.

Subaward Proposals

If another university is preparing a proposal which includes Duke as a subrecipient or subcontractor, it will need a subaward proposal from Duke to include in its submission to the prime sponsor. Duke's subaward proposals must undergo the same submission and review process as any other proposal.

Award Transfers for a New Faculty Member

There are two basic mechanisms for transferring a new faculty member's funded projects to Duke. The entire award may be reissued to Duke or portions of the award may be transferred to Duke through a subcontract. For further information refer to the Modify incoming awards page.