UW Research

Write Proposal


Plan Proposal

Investigators and scientific personnel should work with their department research administrators to identify technical and business elements that need to be submitted as part of their research proposals. Requirements will vary depending on the source of funding, or sponsor of the research.

Before preparing your proposal, carefully read the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)/Sponsor Instructions. This will help guide your proposal development.

Sponsor instructions can be found on the:

  • Program announcement (PA)
  • Request for Application (RFA)
  • Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)
  • Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)
  • Sponsor website
  • Sponsor-specific Proposal Instructions, e.g. SF424 (R&R) Guide, NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)

In addition to these instructions, sponsors often have general policies and guidelines that must be followed.  Federal sponsors also adopt Uniform Guidance and agency-specific regulations that may impact proposal preparation. Review select sponsor requirements as well as the hierarchy of federal regulation to understand what these requirements are and where they come from.

Make sure to use current sponsor-provided templates and pay attention to sponsor notifications on updated application requirements.

Review additional considerations guidance for topics such as Human Subjects, Subawards, Industry Clinical trials and more.

Develop Proposal Content

Identify and plan for internal deadlines related to the technical and business components of your proposals. Business components often must be finalized ahead of associated technical components. Consider using project management tools, such as the Collaborative Proposal Resources. Adapt the Annotated Workplan to help keep team members accountable for completing required sections by deadlines; use the checklist to ensure you have all your bases covered.

Prepare all UW and sponsor required forms including UW institutional information.

At a minimum, proposals must contain a scope of work, budget, budget justification, collaborator letters of intent, biosketch, and other sponsor-required documentation, as applicable.

If you have not already done so, verify:

  • PIs/Senior Key Personnel committed to or identified for the project have not been debarred or suspended.
  • Vendors are not considered a covered telecommunications equipment or services supplier.
  • Vendors for procurement purchases under $35k are not listed within the SAM.gov exclusions list.

Coordinate letters of support or commitment from any other investigators or research locations to ensure final copies are received and incorporated into your proposal in time for internal and sponsor deadlines.

Early review and planning to include biosketches and collaborators information such as current and pending or other support can help with budget preparation and prevent delays in proposal routing.

There are other unique considerations depending on the scope of work and who is participating on the project.

Scope of Work

The Scope of Work or Research Plan describes the research to be conducted and may include a timeline, milestones, and deliverables. Consult sponsor guidelines and any relevant funding opportunity announcements for guidance. The level of detail will vary depending upon the proposal/award type (grant or contract) and sponsor and should be adjusted appropriately. Generally, it is best to provide as much detail as required to meet the potential sponsor’s needs, but not so much as to restrict your ability to adjust the scope if necessary during the project. Provide enough details about the purpose and aims so your UW administrative and compliance reviewers have the information needed to carry out their review.

Budget Preparation

The budget is a financial reflection of the scope of work. Follow internal and external sponsor guidelines as well as UW policies when preparing proposal budgets.

SAGE Budget is the recommended tool for preparing proposal budgets at the UW. This tool provides streamlined, efficient entry, and reliable calculations leveraged from institutional data (UW salaries, benefits, and F&A rates). Budgets created using this tool also provide an easy-to-read summary view for reviewers and PIs.

Review more guidance on:

Budget Justification

The budget justification accompanies your budget and describes to the sponsor how each cost will support the award. Review budget justification guidance for preparing your proposal.

Collaborator Letters of Intent

Collaborators can be subrecipients, consultants, or other significant contributors. Review more information on formalizing collaborations.

Keep in mind, that incorporating letters of intent from individuals or entities outside the University can take more time. Projects with outside collaborators should allow for this in the timeline.


Most sponsors use biosketches to assess the qualifications of the PI and other key personnel on a project. Biosketches often include education and training background, positions held, research support and publications, as well as honors or other recognition received in the individual’s field of study.

Federal sponsors typically have specific templates or required formats to such as the NSF-approved biosketch formats or the NIH biosketch format template.

All personnel should keep their biosketches up to date and easily accessible, for proposal preparation.  There are tools available to develop and update your biosketch, including SciENcv.