The following manual was prepared

  1. to help faculty and others prepare research proposals for submission to external organizations and
  2. if the proposal is selected for funding, to provide guidance in the administration of the grant.

Faculty seeking support for their research, including sabbaticals and junior leaves, should contact Nancy Ball, Director of Sponsored Programs, well in advance (typically a year) of the date by which funding is required. For sabbaticals and junior leaves, faculty should concurrently contact Emily Schneider, Executive Assistant to the Provost, to discuss materials that need to be submitted to the Committee on Promotion, Tenure, and Review.

The Director of Sponsored Programs will assist faculty in identifying potential funding sources, clarifying grant guidelines, reviewing proposal drafts, preparing budgets, and determining institutional approvals that are needed (e.g., Institutional Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, liability, equipment, and staffing). The Director of Sponsored Programs will submit proposals that require institutional endorsement (i.e., most proposals to government agencies and research proposals to corporations and foundations) and assist faculty with proposals to organizations (e.g., National Endowment for the Humanities for fellowships and summer stipends, American Council of Learned Societies, Fulbright for fellowships) that require faculty to submit as individuals. Once a proposal is funded, the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Controller’s Office will work with the faculty members to assure proper management of the grant.





Applicants should keep in mind that organizations adhere strictly to deadlines. Very rarely are extensions given. Thus, it is important that faculty be thinking about their project well in advance of the deadline; talk with the Director of Sponsored Programs about the proposal and set up a schedule for preparing and submitting the materials; and, especially if the submission process is electronic, plan to submit at least a day or two before the deadline. Being prepared to submit prior to the official deadline date, not only makes the submission process less stressful, it also provides time to address problems that may arise. Although the Director of Sponsored Programs is aware of many of the problems that cause difficulties when attempting to submit a proposal electronically, there are times when input is needed from the funding organization’s helpdesk. The closer the deadline, the more difficult it is to reach the helpdesk.

Most federal agencies (National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, Department of Energy, etc.) require proposals to be submitted by an authorized institutional representative (AOR). At Lafayette, that person is the Director of Sponsored Programs. Organizations that provide fellowship support (NEH, ACLS, Guggenheim, and Fulbright, for instance) usually require individual applicants to establish personal accounts and submit their proposals themselves. Those accounts should be created at least one week before the application deadline.

Faculty whose proposals must be submitted by the College’s authorized institutional representative should submit draft materials to the Director of Sponsored Programs ideally at least seven business days prior to the date by which the faculty member wishes to submit the proposal.

Faculty who are collaborating with colleagues at other institutions on a proposal should keep in mind that the “lead time” for administrative approval at other institutions is often at least two weeks and, in some cases, official letters of collaboration and other documentation are required. It is therefore important that the sponsored research offices at both Lafayette and the other institution(s) be made aware of the intent to apply for a grant well in advance of the deadline.

Note: NEH, NSF, and NIH often seek faculty to serve as proposal reviewers. Faculty who are considering applying for funding from these agencies are strongly encouraged to volunteer to be a reviewer. Reading and critiquing proposals in your discipline and discussing with other faculty the strengths and weaknesses of those proposals can provide valuable insight into what makes a strong proposal. It also gives you with the opportunity to meet the program officer.   To submit your name to NEH (“Become a Peer Reviewer” on cover page of the website,, (email the program officer with a note expressing your interest and attach a bio sketch that is in NSF format), or NIH (contact the program officer).


Proposal requirements (format, page length, font size, font style, etc.) vary considerably from organization to organization. It should also be noted that guidelines may vary – sometimes in critical ways – from year to year for the same program, thus, it is imperative that applicants read the guidelines carefully and follow them exactly.

Fellowship proposals

Fellowship proposals (National Endowment of Humanities, Fulbright, Guggenheim, American Council of Learned Societies, American Philosophical Society, Newberry Library, Institute for Advanced Study, etc.) tend to be relatively brief, three to five pages for the project description. The proposal narrative typically includes an introduction, background information on the proposed topic and the applicant’s interest/expertise in the subject, a discussion of the work accomplished to date and the work that will be undertaken during the fellowship, a description of the final product (if it’s a book, the proposed chapter titles, etc.), and a statement about the significance of the project.

In addition to the proposal itself, faculty usually need to submit a one-paragraph abstract, a curriculum vita (two to five pages), bibliography, appendices (guidelines are very specific as to what may and may not be included), and the names of two or three references. Planning in advance allows the faculty member time to share a draft of the proposal with his/her references in order to obtain input which could be very helpful in revising the draft. It also gives the references a chance to think about and compose a well written reference letter.

Research proposals

Research proposal (National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, etc.), tend to be more lengthy – a one-page summary, 12-15 page project description, one or two page bio sketch, references, a detailed budget and budget justification, current and pending support forms, facility forms, and appendices/supplementary documents (sub-award materials, Research at Undergraduate Institution Impact Statement, and/or letters of support). Guidelines are very specific as to what may and may not be included as appendices/supplementary documents. Data management plans, project management plans, and postdoc mentoring plans may also be required.

Applying for a fellowship or a research grant

faculty should review copies of successful proposals. Reading these proposals, even if they are not in the faculty member’s area of expertise, can be very helpful in determining the detail, format, etc. that is required. The National Endowment for the Humanities posts copies of funded proposals on its website ( Abstracts of NSF grants are accessible on the NSF website; full proposals can be requested from the faculty recipients. Non-government organizations (ACLS, Guggenheim, etc.) do not provide copies of funded proposals. The Director of Sponsored Programs may also be able to provide copies of funded proposals.

Finally, when preparing a proposal, remember to write clearly, do not use jargon, define acronyms, and proofread carefully for spelling errors, garbled sentences, etc. Try to have two people read your draft – someone in your area of expertise who can read for content and someone who can read it for clarity and adherence to guidelines and assist with proofreading. The Director of Sponsored Programs usually fulfills this latter role.


Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina Gillis

On the Art of Writing Proposals: Some Candid Suggestions for Applicants to Social Science Research Council by Adam Przeworksi and Frank Salomon{7a9cb4f4-815f-de11-bd80-001cc477ec70}.pdf

These publications offer good “universal” advice for preparing fellowship proposals; although written specifically for American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, the guidance is appropriate for proposals submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Advanced Study, Fulbright, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions – important information can be gleaned by read the FAQs (if available) on the funding organization’s website.



Fellowship proposals usually fund the difference between the faculty member’s sabbatical or junior leave salary and their regular salary. For example, if the faculty member’s salary is $60,000 per year and the faculty member is eligible for a one-semester junior leave at full pay, the College will provide $30,000 in salary for the year and the funding agency will typically fund the other $30,000. The American Council of Learned Societies, Guggenheim Foundation, and other organizations that award fellowships usually ask for a budget estimate at the time of proposal submission and, once the proposal is selected for funding, contact the faculty member to negotiate the final budget. The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright Commission are two notable exceptions. NEH provides a monthly stipend for fellowships and a set amount for summer stipends. Fulbright monthly stipends are dependent upon the country; Fellows also receive a travel allowance and support for family members who accompany them.

For assistance with budget questions relating to fellowship proposals, faculty should contact the Director of Sponsored Programs.

Research proposals usually require a detailed year-by-year budget and budget justification. The budget typically includes the following components: senior personnel, other personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, materials and supplies, publications, consultant services, computer services, subawards, other, and indirect costs. Sometimes cost share is encouraged or required. If the faculty member is collaborating with a colleague at another institution, that person’s expenses would be included as a subaward if Lafayette is the lead (submitting) institution. If the other institution is submitting the proposal, the Lafayette faculty member’s expenses would be listed as a subaward.

For guidance when preparing a budget for research proposals, faculty should contact the Director of Sponsored Programs.


Information about the following topics (with forms attached) is provided below:
Capital Project Process Policy (for contemplated equipment purchases), Certifications, Conflict of Interest Policy, Institutional Review Board Policy (for research involving human subjects), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Policy (for research involving animals), and Lafayette Information Form (contains basic information about Lafayette that is often required for proposals).

Faculty should familiarize themselves with the aforementioned policies and procedures. Please read through them carefully and contact the Director of Sponsored Programs or other designated individual. Faculty are strongly encouraged to meet with the Director of Sponsored Programs well in advance of the proposal deadline to review pre-award policies.

Capital Project Process for Individual Faculty: Faculty planning to request equipment (individual items that cost $5,000 or more) should review the attached document to determine what approvals are required. More detailed information is available at the following website:

Capital Project Process/Form:

Certifications: When submitting proposals to federal agencies, the College must certify that the principal investigator and other faculty and senior personnel involved in the design of the project will abide by various government requirements (i.e., Drug-Free Workplace policies, proper scientific and technical conduct and reporting), have disclosed any lobbying related to the proposed project, and are not debarred or suspended from receiving from federal funding.

In addition to the aforementioned, applicants to NIH and other organizations that fall under the purview of PHS must certify (1) that the information submitted within the application is true, complete and accurate to the best of the PI’s knowledge; (2) that any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or claims may subject the PI to criminal, civil, or administrative penalties; and (3) that the PI agrees to accept responsibility for the scientific conduct of the project and to provide the required progress reports if a grant is awarded as a result of the application.

When multiple PIs/Co-PIs are involved in a proposal, assurances must be obtained from each individual.

Certification Form for NSF and Other Federal Agencies (excluding NIH and Other PHS Organizations): _____

Certification Form for NIH and Other PHS Organizations: _____

Conflict of Interest: Lafayette’s Conflict of Interest Policy is designed to assure objectivity in research conducted by our faculty and their research students. The full policy is available in the Appendix V of the Faculty Handbook.   Faculty must submit signed Conflict of Interest forms to the Director of Sponsored Programs prior to the submission of proposals to NSF, NIH, and other federal agencies.

Conflict of Interest Policy (Appendix V in the Faculty Handbook):

Conflict of Interest Form for NSF and Other Federal Agencies: _____

Certification Form for NIH and Other PHS Organizations: _____

Institutional Review Board Approval: Lafayette College and its faculty have an obligation to protect the welfare of human subjects as participants in research. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is charged with reviewing research which involves the use of human subjects. Proposals for research involving human subjects in disciplines where there is no code of ethics must be reviewed by the IRB prior to the research taking place. Proposals in departments which have one or more disciplinary codes of ethics must be reviewed either through the approved departmental process or the IRB. Lafayette’s IRB policies and procedures are detailed in Appendix P in the Faculty Handbook.

IRB is required for all research, including surveys, involving human subjects. The IRB will accept proposals at any time during the academic year and act on them at least monthly. Faculty or students who will need to begin their data collection during the summer or early in the fall should make sure that their proposals are reviewed by the IRB before the end of the proceeding spring semester. Only under exceptional circumstances will proposals be reviewed during the summer. Completed Review Forms should be returned to the designated administrator listed on the Provost Office’s website.

IRB Policy (Appendix P in the Faculty Handbook):

IRB Form:

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Approval: Lafayette College and its Faculty are committed to ensuring the humane treatment of animals in research and adherence to applicable federal and state guidelines for their care and use. It is the responsibility of the College’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to review all proposed research protocols involving the use of animals and to regularly inspect animal facilities. The IACUC must review all proposed research involving animals (defined as warm-blooded vertebrates) regardless of source of funding (internal, external or unfunded), prior to the initiation of the research. The IACUC may withhold approval for the use of animals that, in its opinion, is in violation of the law. Lafayette’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Policies and Procedures are detailed in Appendix O of the Faculty Handbook.

The Committee will accept proposals at any time and review them at least monthly. Proposals to be submitted to outside agencies must be reviewed prior to submission. Completed Review Forms should be returned to the administrative official listed on the Provost Office’s website.

IACUC Policy (Appendix 0 in the Faculty Handbook):


Lafayette Information: Institutional information (DUNS, EIN, Congressional District, etc.) that is sometimes required for fellowship and research proposals is available from the Director of Sponsored Programs.