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Instructions for Preparing a Faculty Research Support Grant Proposal

It is important for applicants to read and follow all instructions as grant proposals that do not meet the guidelines will be returned without review.


Applications should be prepared in 12-point Times New Roman or 11-point Arial, single spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides.

Components of the application

Applications must include the following seven components, submitted in the order listed here. Please label each section using the headings listed below. Do not staple or bind the pages. Number the pages; the cover page is page 1.

Be sure to complete the cover page, including all required information.

  • Indicate the amount of funding requested from your dean, if applicable.
  • Indicate if summer salary or course release is being requested. Have the dean and department chair initial the cover page.
  • Indicate if the proposal is a resubmission. A proposal is a resubmission if a proposal on a similar topic was submitted to the Faculty Research Support Grants competition previously but was not funded.
  • If appropriate, provide proper information about approval to work with human participants or animals. Research with human participants or animals requires a "just-in-time" protocol. Thus, if the proposed research involves human participants or animals, approval by the appropriate committee (IRB for humans and IACUC for animals) is required prior to receiving funding. Applicants may wait until funding decisions are made to submit their protocol to the IRB or IACUC for approval. Please indicate whether the protocol has been submitted, approved, or will be submitted if the project is funded on the application cover page. Faculty will not have access to grant funds until protocols are approved.
  • Research with rDNA requires approval by the Institutional Biosafety Committee. If applicable, please indicate whether the protocol has been submitted, approved, or will be submitted if the project is funded on the application cover page. Faculty will not have access to grant funds until protocols are approved.
  • Sign and have your Department Chair or Program Director and Dean (or their designees) sign the cover page. All signatures are required or the proposal will be returned without review.

For Resubmissions Only: Response to reviewers' comments (1 page limit)

For any proposal that is a resubmission, applicants have a page in which to summarize the reviewers' concerns and describe how these concerns have been addressed in the revised proposal. If the proposal is not a resubmission, indicate that section 2 is Not Applicable (NA).

Proposal narrative (4 page limit, not including references)

The text of the proposal is limited to four pages. Because proposals are reviewed by faculty from many different disciplines, it is important for applicants to write their proposals in a way that the work to be done and the importance of that work can be understood by people who are non-specialists. The emphasis in the proposal should be on the description of what will be done during the period of the grant, described in a way that any educated reader can evaluate the likelihood that the project goals will be able to be met and that the planned work is likely to lead to future external funding for the applicant.

There are four parts to the proposal narrative, as noted below. Please label each section with the headings used here. The page guidelines are included as suggestions and are not strict page limits, but the entire narrative is limited to four pages total, including the timeline.

  1. Non-technical summary (approximately 1/2 page)

    The summary is an opportunity for the applicant to convince the reviewers of the value and significance of the project and to convey the place of this particular project in the applicant's overall program of scholarship. Include in the summary a description of the goals of the project, emphasizing the contributions that completion of this project will make to the applicant's program of research and to his or her field of study more broadly. It is important for the summary to be written in a way that people who are not familiar with the applicant's field of study can understand the goals and significance of the proposed work.

  2. Background and significance (1½ pages maximum)

    In this section, the applicant explains the importance of the project, using current literature or creative work and clarifies to the reader how the proposed research contributes to the field and to the applicant's own program of scholarship. Citations are included in the text, but footnotes are not used; instead, the list of references or works cited in the text is included on a separate page at the end of the narrative and does not count in the four-page limit. This section should include a clear statement of the specific aims or objectives of the project and an explanation of the contribution that the work would make when completed. The literature review does not have to be exhaustive but instead should be selective, with the goal of helping the non-specialist understand the value of the proposed work.

  3. Project design and procedures (approximately 2 pages)

    This is the most important section of the proposal from the standpoint of the reviewers. In this section the applicant convinces the reviewers that he or she has a clear plan of work that is achievable within the timeframe of the grant period. The reviewers want to know what is to be done and how it will be done. The methods and significance of the work must be described in a way that can be understood by scholars from other disciplines.

    Particular considerations in this section for specific disciplines include the following.

    Creative artists must explain their plans and procedures and how these relate to ideas and/or studio and performance practices in their proposed works.

    Humanists must identify the primary materials to be interpreted, where they will be obtained (i.e., from museum collections, libraries, archives, people, field sites, etc.), and how those materials will be used or interpreted.

    Librarians must xxxxx.

    Professional projects , such as those from faculty in Kogod, must identify sources of data and how they will be collected. If new metrics or instruments are to be used, the applicant should explain why existing measures are not sufficient and how new measures will be validated. The applicant should describe how data will be analyzed, providing as much detail as possible. Those from the School of Communication should position themselves in the landscape of their fields, explain how this work will advance the field, make an innovative contribution to the field, and the impact of the project on its intended audiences, including strategy for distribution and promotion and evaluation.

    Physical and Natural Scientists/Social and Behavioral Scientists must identify the specific sources of data to be obtained (whether from human subjects, animals, or the physical world) and how those data will be collected. If particular measurements are being made, these should be described. The applicant should describe how the data will be analyzed in as much detail as is possible and explain the process by which the data will be reduced or integrated or interpreted.

  4. Project timeline (1/4 page)

    Include sufficient detail to demonstrate that the project can be completed within the period of the grant. Usually, a quarterly timeline is adequate. Be sure the tasks described in the Project Design and Procedures section are included in the timeline, and do not add new tasks to the timeline that are not described in the proposal narrative.

    Reference list: Include only references or works cited in the proposal narrative, and list references on a separate numbered page following the narrative. (Not included in 4-page limit.)

Other internal and external support (please use a separate page)

On this page, the applicant describes any other funding for this specific project or line of scholarship, as well as any past, current, and future projects. Please organize the information into the following three sections:

  1. Prior internal support - provide a list of support from your academic unit, e.g., dean or department chair, and the Office of the Provost, including Faculty Research Awards received in the last five years. Include type of support, title of proposal, and dates of funding for each project. Final reports must have been submitted for each Faculty Research Support Grants completed.
  2. Planned external support - include the names of any funding agencies to which you plan to submit a proposal that is related to the project for which the Faculty Research Support Grant is sought, the planned submission dates (be specific), the anticipated title of the proposal, a brief (2-3 sentences) description of the content of the proposal, and an approximate budget amount. Note that applications to funding agencies for faculty fellowships are also considered external support. The guidelines for managing this can be found at If the agency or organization is not widely known (for example, a regional or specialized foundation), provide information regarding the nature of funding provided by that agency with the application. Because a primary purpose of the Faculty Research Support Grant program is to help faculty be more competitive for external funding or fellowship applications, reviewers look favorably on submissions made after the internal funding period rather than those that are seeking concurrent funding. It is helpful to explain how completion of the proposed internally funded project will make you more competitive for the external funds you will be seeking. Plans for seeking future funding are required of all applicants; proposals that do not include this section or that do not describe concrete plans for future funding will be returned without review. Future requests for Faculty Research Support Awards will be denied if external funding is not sought between the time that one Award is made and a second is requested.
  3. Previous external support and grants submitted - include projects or fellowships currently funded from external sources, proposals submitted within the last three years but not funded, and proposals pending. For each proposal, include the investigators' names, funding agency, title of project, dates of funding received or requested, and budget amount. Fellowships and travel grants are considered external funding, but awards and prizes for scholarly work are not. Applicants who do not provide this information will have their proposals returned without review.

Curriculum Vitae (3 pages maximum)

The CV should include the applicant's education, employment history, and a bibliography of recent and/or relevant publications or creative works or activities. The CV is limited to three pages. A CV must be provided for each faculty member named in the proposal. Proposals will be returned without review if these guidelines are not followed.

Faculty Research Support Grants require a budget and a narrative justification for each item in the budget. Please use the budget summary form provided in the application materials. On a separate page, headed Budget Justification, describe what is covered in the amount for each category and the purpose of each budget request. Break down the budget only to whole dollar amounts, rounding as needed. Be specific about budget requests, especially for personnel (explaining number of hours and hourly rate, if appropriate, as well as the nature of work to be performed) and travel (explaining the reason for the travel and breaking down the request into airfare, per diem for meals, and lodging rate per day). It is not necessary to itemize small amounts spent for supplies and materials.

All AU purchasing, travel, and personnel guidelines must be followed, working with the appropriate budget officer in your school or college. Purchasing guidelines can be found at

Allowable expenses

  • Summer salary support for faculty. Summer salary will be granted at a rate equivalent to one course at the summer salary rate, i.e., one-twelfth of regular base salary for a 3-credit course, not to exceed $7,000. Award recipients granted summer salary may not teach during the summer months. An exception to this procedure may sometimes be granted. To obtain an exception, an explanation of how the recipient can manage both teaching and research during the summer must be submitted in writing to the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research. The document must be signed by the department / program chair of the recipient of the funds. Summer salary cannot be concurrently funded with an academic year course release from these funds.
  • Course release for faculty. A maximum of one course release will be funded. Support release will be provided at the rate consistent with department / academic unit polices and requires approval of the dean and department chair or program director.
  • Salary for non-AU employees or students only if AU employees or students are not available
  • Wages for undergraduate and graduate students. These wages are based on the standard wage for the department unless the applicant justifies a higher rate.
  • Fringe benefits as required according to AU policies.
  • Travel expenses necessary for completion of the proposed work, including international travel - per diem and mileage rates must meet current AU guidelines.
  • Payment to participants.
  • Supplies and equipment necessary to complete the project and that are not readily available on campus or through the applicant's department.
  • Software necessary to complete the project that is not available on campus.

Expenses not allowed

  • Travel to a professional meeting or conference
  • Travel that is not essential to completion of the research (i.e., travel to consult with a colleague or mentor is generally not considered essential and would need to be well justified to be supported)
  • Graduate or undergraduate wages or assistantships that are not directly related to the project
  • Subcontracts to other universities or organizations
  • Materials or equipment already available on campus or generally provided by departments or via inter-library loan.
  • Software normally provided on campus

Fill in your name and campus address. The acknowledgement will be returned to you by campus mail when your application is received by the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research. If you do not receive the acknowledgement within a few days of submitting your proposal, contact Anita Brown (, 202-885-6333).

Submit one copy of the full proposal and three copies of supporting documents (e.g., CDs, DCDs, photographs, or artwork) considered essential for reviewers to understand the proposal.

Additional materials in support of grant applications are discouraged. Reviewers have limited time and expect all necessary information to be included in the proposal itself. The only supporting materials considered necessary are letters from cooperating agencies where the applicant plans to recruit research participants or letters from museums or libraries where access is restricted.

Please do not include CDs, DVDs, photographs, or artwork unless they are absolutely essential to understanding the proposed project. Please submit three copies of these supporting documents. Letters of support from department chairs, colleagues, or experts are not to be included and will be removed from the application prior to review. All necessary details of methods and procedures and other information regarding the work to be done should be incorporated into the body of the proposal and not included as an appendix. Appendices, other than letters verifying access to research participants or materials and support letter from the Dean, will be removed from the application prior to review.

Budget Information

The budget for the Faculty Research Support Grants must be expended within the allotted grant period. Money that is not spent within the grant funding period will be forfeited by the researcher and will be absorbed back by the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research.

Final Report 

A final report is due to the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research by November 1 in the year following the award.