Proposal Preparation

How Do I Start the Process?

If you plan to seek a grant or contract – individual research or university-related programs – you should discuss your ideas with your department chair. Contact the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) as early in the planning stage as possible. The OSR will research the area of interest and provide you with potential funding sources available within your area of interest. Submittal of the On-line Research Request form of your proposed project early on will allow the OSR to build your ideas into a viable research endeavor.

Working Together

The OSR will provide ongoing funding opportunities to the various Department Chairs, Institute Directors and Faculty Majors as they are announced by various funding sources and are related to the individual academic and research programs at the university. The OSR constantly monitors all forms of funding sources and projects on a daily basis to best inform you. Whether it's just an idea, your own source or related to another project, please open the line of discussion so that we may help you bring your project idea to fruition. The sooner we can begin communication and project development, the better.

Components of a Proposal

As you begin to draft a proposal it will be helpful to consider the following questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this important to me and to the university?
  • What will the impact of my work be?
  • What are the qualities or elements that Mercyhurst University has that will make this project unique?

Each funding source will have its own proposal format and instructions, so it is very important to read the application instructions before beginning work on a proposal. The instructions and format can vary from agency to agency, and some will be very simple and others may have very specific guidelines. Most proposals do contain the following general elements:

  • Abstract/Executive Summary: This brief summary must capture the attention of the reader, explain the essence of your proposed project and state the requested amount targeted for the project.
  • Proposal Narrative: This includes an in-depth description of your project, your goals, your methodology, procedures, resources available, resources needed, a timeline, and your evaluation process.
  • Budget and Budget Narrative: The resources needed section of the proposal narrative should provide the basis for your budget. This is where you state what you need to achieve, your project goals and why you need it. Often you include what Mercyhurst University is adding to the proposal in equipment or personnel already present.
  • Appendices: The supporting documents for your proposal can include a description of Mercyhurst University, a brief history, a financial statement, our IRS status, certifications and assurances the OSR maintains and registers (SAM), and the CV of the principal investigator on the project.
  • Cover Letter: The President, Dean of your School, or the Director of OSR may have to write a letter endorsing your project and providing information beyond the scope of a faculty member or student.
  • Assessment/Evaluation: Accountability for funding is a large emphasis of many agencies and foundations. They want to know how effective the programs they fund will be and the potential impact they may have on the community. It is in this section that you will discuss how you are going to assess and evaluate the success of your proposed project.

Remember, the program officer from the funding source or agency is often the best source of information about the details each application may require. Making contact with the program officer will often provide more details about how to best present your case in the proposal and will establish your proposal in the mind of the officer.

Additional Resources

There are various websites and print resources to help you craft a proposal. Please contact our office for help with any or all of the elements your application requires. We will be happy to help you in any way that we can. Here is a brief list of grantwriting (both federal and foundation) sites you can peruse for guidance in building a successful application: