Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I start preparing a proposal?
Who do I contact in OSP to start the proposal process?
Who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) on a proposal?
How do you request PI status?
Can there be more than one Principal Investigator on a proposal?
What is the difference between a Co-Investigator and a Co-Principal Investigator?
What certification(s) and/or training are required prior to proposal submission?
What are the current staff benefit and indirect cost rates?
Where can I find information about Sponsored Research when working with a Commercial Company?
What if the funding agency I submit to will not pay full overhead?
Can I request funds for secretarial salary on a proposal to a Federal Agency?
What is Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) Benefit?
What can I do to expedite the proposal process for myself?
How much lead-time is necessary in order for OSP to provide a thorough review of a proposal?
Where can I find additional information on Pre-and Post-award?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: How do I start preparing a proposal?
Answer: A successful proposal starts with a thorough understanding of what the potential sponsoring agency expects. Contact your Contract Administrator (CA) or Contract and Grant Coordinator (CGC) for current guidelines and forms. If you have any questions after reading agency guidelines, the Office of Sponsored Program (OSP) staff will be happy to assist you. Return to top

Question: Who do I contact in OSP to start the proposal process?
Answer: The OSP staff is assigned to a specific center, college, and/or Major Contract. To find the name and contact information of your OSP representative click on the link. Return to top

Question: Who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator (PI) on a proposal?
Answer: Any individual who holds one of the following positions can be identified as a PI and submit proposals to external sponsors:

  • Tenure-track faculty (full, associate and assistant professors)
  • Non-tenure track research faculty (full, associate and assistant professors)
  • Instructors
  • Adjunct Faculty
  • Emeritus Faculty
  • Senior Research Staff
  • Librarians

On a case-by-case basis, an individual who holds one of the following positions can be identified as a PI upon approval from the Vice President for Research:

  • Visiting Faculty
  • Visiting Scholars
  • Lecturers

In general, research associates may not serve as PIs, but may seek approval from the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Postdoctoral Fellows and Graduate Research Assistants may not serve as PIs. Return to top

Question: How do you request PI status?
Answer: When an individual without one of the above-listed automatically PI-eligible positions considers submitting a proposal as a PI, a formal request must be prepared by the Dean or Center Director setting forth a rationale for the individual to serve as a PI. The request should be forwarded to the Director, Office of Sponsored Programs via email, and must include the following:

  • Individual’s CV
  • Individual current appointment period at UAH
  • Sponsor and funding mechanism or program
  • Abstract of research
  • Estimated budget and period of performance
  • Indication of support of the request from the Dean and Department Chair, or Center Director.

Please note that approval for PI status is on a proposal-by-proposal basis. It should be self-evident in a PI status request that a salary increase or an appointment is not contingent upon the success of any proposal. Return to top

Question: Can there be more than one Principal Investigator on a proposal?
Answer: Whenever possible, a single member of the university should be designated as the PI. Most agencies do not recognize more than one Principal Investigator. Co-Investigator's are permitted by some funding agencies, but Co-PI's are discouraged. Exceptions may be made where an agency insists, or when collegial relations require such an arrangement, but even in such instances there should be a first among equals (PI) who bears primary responsibility. There should be no doubt about where the buck stops.Return to top

Question: What is the difference between a Co-Investigator and a Co-Principal Investigator?
Answer: A Co-Principal Investigator is recognized by the funding agency as an individual who shares with the PI the responsibility for the conduct of a research project, including meeting the reporting requirements.
A Co-Investigator is an individual recognized by the university and the Principal Investigator as someone making a significant contribution to a project. The Co-Investigator is an individual that the PI relies on to assume responsibilities above those of other personnel. Return to top

Question: What certification(s) and/or training are required prior to proposal submission?
Answer: Anyone charging to a sponsored research project is required to complete the following training:

Return to top

Question: What are the current staff benefit and indirect cost rates?
Please refer to  General Information on the OSP Website for current rates. Return to top

Question: Where can I find information about Sponsored Research when working with a Commercial Company?
Answer: Information on Doing Business with UAH can be found by clicking this link.

Question: What if the funding agency I submit to will not pay full overhead?
Private Foundations and other Non-Profit Sponsors:
Answer: Many private foundations and other non-profit sponsors limit the indirect costs that will be provided in their grant awards. As long as this limitation is supported by a Sponsor's written policy, and equally applied to all grantees, the university will accept such grants.
Commercial Sponsors:
Answer: UAH policy requires commercial sponsors of research to provide for full reimbursement of its indirect costs in all awards. Return to top

Question: Can I request funds for secretarial salary on a proposal to a Federal Agency?
Answer: Yes, but only if the clerical or secretarial services are directly required for the conduct of the project. Under OMB Circular A-21 (Cost Principles for Educational Institutions), "the salaries of administrative and clerical staff should normally be treated as indirect costs. Direct charging of these costs may be appropriate where a major project or activity explicitly budgets for administrative or clerical services and individuals involved can be specifically identified with the project or activity." Any request for secretarial/clerical salaries made to a federal agency must include justification in the budget explanation.

Question: What is Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) Benefit?
Answer: UAH policy is to provide full tuition and health insurance for each research graduate assistant working on a sponsored project. A portion of the tuition and fees is charged to the grant or contract on which the GRA is working. This is paid by the sponsor as employee benefit. The current rate for the GRA Benefit can be found by clicking on the following link. The rate is applied to the student's salary charged to the sponsored project. The GRA Benefit is exempt from Facilities and Administrative (F&A) cost. Return to top

Question: How much lead-time is necessary in order for OSP to provide a thorough review of a proposal?
Answer: It usually requires a 4-day lead-time (prior to submission) in order for OSP to provide a complete proposal review.  This is due to the fact that OSP is often reviewing many proposals simultaneously for the same deadline, in addition to processing awards, miscellaneous award transactions, and assisting faculty and research staff with the foregoing.  In order to provide a clearer idea to faculty and research staff regarding what OSP can do, given certain amounts of lead time, please refer to OSP Memorandum 14-01: Sponsored Programs Proposal Submission Process, dated December 27, 2013

Question: What can I do to expedite the proposal process for myself?
Answer: The Office of Sponsored Program (OSP) should receive a proposal at least four (4) days prior to the agency due date in order to have adequate time for review of the proposal. We recognize, however, that faculty workloads do not always permit advance preparation. The following are some tips to help us get your proposal approved in a timely manner:

  • Contact your Contract Administrator or Contract and Grant Coordinate as soon as possible with the specific Broad Agency Announcement, Request for Proposal, Research Announcement, etc. so they can review the agency guidelines.
  • Provide information required to prepare a budget.
  • Review the agency guidelines to ensure compliance and seek clarification on any instructions requirements, as necessary.
  • Note: The end of the month is usually the busiest time for proposal submission. 
  • Allow time for corrections. In many cases, proposals that arrive in the Office of Sponsored Research are ready to be signed and mailed off without further correction or revision. However, there are times when corrections need to be made, particularly if a budget has not been prepared by OSP, or if a PI is applying to an agency they are unfamiliar with. Allowing time for corrections helps to ensure the proposal is at its best when it is sent out.

Question: Where can I find additional information on Pre-and Post-award?
Answer: Additional information on both Pre-and Post-award can be located on the OSP Website, under Researcher’s Resources, by clicking on this link.

Return to top