Start by thinking generally about your research and project interests as well as the purpose of your project. There are many things to consider in the beginning/planning stage. Will your research involve undergraduate research and contributions? How might this project further the mission of our university? What agencies were you thinking of approaching with this project? What are your general budget requirements?
In order to help you organize your research and funding plan, we have developed two Research Request forms which you can utilize in order to let our office know what your interests and needs are. We will use these forms to begin seeking potential funding opportunities that might complement your project aims. You may utilize our PDF Form to print out and send to us by inter-campus mail. Please don't hesitate to let us know your research ideas, even at an early stage, so that we may begin to search for funding opportunities as soon as possible. Feel free to call us so to set up an appointment to discuss your research ideas.
We encourage you to discuss your research ideas with us whether they are your individual or departmental programs. We can be the most helpful to you in this process if you include our office at the earliest stages of your project development. It is important to let us know as soon as possible of your plans so that we can build your project needs into our schedule and give it the proper attention it deserves.
Who needs to approve my grant proposal?
Early in your process you should also discuss your project with your Department Chair and the Dean of your school, particularly if there is a commitment of college resources that may be required to fulfill your proposed project (i.e.: time of faculty and staff, matching funds, use of students and facilities). You should also be aware that you must receive approval to apply for funding of any research activity that will occur on or off campus, or that involves students or faculty. Most grant applications will require the endorsement and signature of a University official, which we will obtain for you. Many official forms showing the University’s designation as a higher-education institution, as well as reporting our approved financial status and rates are on file in our office and we will compile the necessary documents for your application.
How much time does the Sponsored Research Office need?
The more assistance you need, the further in advance we need to know about your project. If you are submitting a proposal to a public agency, please allow extra time before the deadline for our help with steps such as checking your proposal against the guidelines, completing the necessary forms, making the necessary copies and gathering signatures (many agencies will not consider applications that do not conform exactly to their guidelines). In addition, many federal agencies require you to follow special electronic submission procedures, oftentimes requiring accounts and log-in information which our office already has obtained, and we will submit these applications for you. However, these electronic submission programs can be overwhelmed at deadline times, so you need to submit your application to us well in advance of the deadline to ensure that the submittal is transmitted and accepted on time.
Time is always a factor when preparing grant applications. We have had grant requests not accepted because they were filed 20 minutes too late. In some cases many hours of work and research was wasted because we simply ran out of time.
How do I prepare a budget?
In your proposal narrative, you should have a section detailing the resources needed for your project. This will provide you with the basis for your budget. In general, ask for what you need, and explain why you need it. Avoid vague language and requests. Be sure to include a budget narrative that explains how you came up with your numbers.
In this process you may need information that is beyond your frame of reference in regards to salaries, consulting fees, sub-contractor payments, fringes and federally approved indirect rates as dictated by the University and the Grantor Agency. Our office will provide these numbers for you and work with you to develop your budget. You need to bring us as much information as you can detail, and we will work together to put the whole budget together.
Some grants require matching funds from the College or another donor. This requirement is not necessarily an impediment to your research, but you will need to discuss this request with our office and with the other officers of the College in order to formulate this part of the budget and obtain approval for your project.
It is important to note that the budget structure and elements vary with Foundations, Private Contracts and Federal or State Grants. Each budget is drafted according to the specifications in each RFP (Request For Proposal) and is unique to each research project.
The Approval and Acceptance Process
All Grants or contracts accepted must go through an approval process. OSR will coordinate the approval arrangements. This process may require, depending on the nature and amount of the award, the endorsement of the University President, Senior Counselor to the President, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Executive Vice President for Administration, Dean of the School related, Institute Directors and the OSR.
No Grant or award should be accepted by an individual on behalf of the University without the approval process. Almost all awards are grants to the University and most require the electronic endorsement of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) or signature endorsement of a University official.
Foundation Grants and Awards
All grants and awards sought from Private or Corporate Foundations and Private Individuals must be made through the Mercyhurst University Office of Institutional Advancement. Inquiries and individual requests should be made with Sheila Coon.
Under no circumstances should contact with any Private or Corporate Foundations and Private Individuals be made by anyone representing Mercyhurst University. Contact, filing and applications for funding must always be made through The Office of Institutional Advancement.