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You are here: Home Research Handbook CHAPTER TWO: Pre-Proposal Activities and Support

CHAPTER TWO: Pre-Proposal Activities and Support

Finding Funding Opportunities


The Office of the Vice President for Research maintains a comprehensive website with links to an array of information designed to support all of the research and creative activities within the University community.  The site offers direct links to all the service units under the SVPR and a list of staff who are responsible for these various services.   Also found on this site are links useful in locating funding opportunities, electronic forms, workshop schedules, research-related policies, and compliance support.  Located at this website are links to research centers and institutes at the university.

2.1 Search Process & Resources

Sponsor agency grant programs and program priorities change from year to year; therefore, the Office of Sponsored Programs Development (SPD) has the responsibility to remain current in its knowledge about possible funding sources.  Its website contains links to several searchable databases under the “Funding Searches” section.  This site contains a variety of information concerning public and private funding agencies, agency application forms, proposal writing information, and grant deadlines.


The most comprehensive of these databases is the Sponsored Programs Information Network (SPIN).  SPIN is a grant program database of over 6000 programs covering all disciplines that makes searching for funding sources convenient. Searches for information can be performed using keyword, program type, sponsor, and deadlines as search drivers.  The search results consist of pertinent information necessary in approaching a funding agency with a request for financial support.  SPIN also allows researchers to save specific search criteria and have these searches automatically run at specified time intervals, e.g. every two weeks. The results of these automatic searches are then emailed directly to the investigator. This is a subscription service that is domain protected; therefore, access is limited to computer accounts registered within the University.


Grant-related information is available in the SPD office, located in Jouett Hall, Suite 100.  Maintained at this site are print references, such as the Annual Register of Grant Support, the Foundation Directory, Directory of Research Grants and guides to graduate fellowships and assistantships.  Much printed information is being supplanted by on-line information, but these resources are available for faculty, staff, and student use.


2.2 Faculty Interest Survey and Databases


The Office of Sponsored Programs Development maintains a database of University faculty scholarship interests.  This database allows the staff to match faculty with funding opportunities as they become available.  It also assists the staff with identifying possible collaborators, consultants and mentors for developing more comprehensive programs.  The Faculty Research Interest Survey can be utilized by University researchers to identify other members of the University research community interested in similar areas.  To be included, access and complete the Faculty Research Interest Survey form. 


In addition to the Sponsored Programs database, University faculty have access to a number of databases where they have the ability to profile their research expertise in order to receive automatic updates when grant programs become available that match their identified areas of interest.  Faculty can enter their information in any of the available databases or SPD will extrapolate the Faculty Interest Survey to the databases in which the investigator wishes to be included.


2.3 Potential Funding Sources


The compatibility of proposed research and agency interests should be considered in reviewing possible funding sources.  These interests are usually described in detail in the guidelines of the program.  Potential applicants should call the program manager and discuss ideas prior to submission of a proposal.  Subtleties that are not apparent in the guidelines and a slight adaptation in the method in which the project is presented can greatly increase the chance of it being received favorably.


The following is a checklist of questions to consider while researching a funding agency:

·  How competitive is this program? What is the typical number of proposals received for a particular program or solicitation, and what is the number of grants awarded annually by the agency?

·  What are the agency’s eligibility requirements? What types of institutions and investigators does this agency fund?  Are there geographical restrictions connected with its program?  Are there citizenship requirements?

·  What is the maximum and average award amount? How much total funding will be distributed through the granting process? 

·  What is the agency willing to support with funding?  Will the agency allow researchers to offset salary for the time dedicated to the project?  Will they allow equipment purchases?  What activities, such as research, training and community service, do they specifically fund?

·  Will cost sharing be required if an award is granted?

·  What is the duration of the grants it supports?  Are those grants renewable?

·  Are there formal guidelines and application procedures? Is a preliminary proposal necessary or required? Are there application deadlines for grant programs or can proposals be submitted at any time?

·  What does the agency expect in return for its funding? Are periodic updates required in addition to a final report?  Are there terms the University cannot accept, such as restrictions on publications or intellectual property rights?

·  Will the proposal be reviewed by an individual who is proficient in the subject of the research (peer reviewed) or by others with a principal role in the foundation/agency? 


2.4 Types of Funding Sources


Government Agencies


Federal, state, and local government agencies constitute the primary source of external funding for grants and contracts at the University of Louisville. Major sources of federal funding at the University have included the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, and Justice and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Links to these agencies can be found on the Federal Agency Home Page.


Most government agencies have a legislated mandate that restricts the types of programs they can fund and the rules are usually detailed in their guidelines.  Most will use a peer review system to make funding decisions.


While individual federal agencies may inform their constituents via newsletter, website or other means of communication, the federal government in general uses two primary publications for advertising financial assistance programs.  The Federal Register is a daily newsletter outlining the business that is being conducted by the federal government.  It includes new policies and regulations pertaining to government grants, as well as requests for applications.  The Commerce Business Daily is a listing of contract solicitations published to seek bids on activities that the federal government wants to complete or products that it wants to purchase.  Abridged versions of these two documents containing information pertinent to institutions of Higher Education are prepared for SPD by the Grants Resource Center and are available three times a week as an email update.  To be added to this distribution list, contact SPD .  In addition, the federal government now operates a clearing house web site for all federal grants ( This site offers search capabilities based on keyword and agency. Researchers also have the option to sign up for email notification of funding opportunities based on keyword or agency criteria.


Foundations and Other Nonprofit Organizations


There are over 37,500 foundations in the United States that give grants. It is important, however, to carefully target those foundations most likely to be interested in the project topic.


As many as 80 percent of all applications to private foundations are inappropriate or misdirected, largely as a result of the presumption that all private foundations share a common purpose.  Approaching a funding source is a highly individualized process and what may be appropriate to one sponsor may not be suitable to another.


When targeting a private foundation, be aware that these nonprofit organizations fall into several categories.  National foundations, such as the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, have highly competitive, nationwide grants programs.  Special-interest foundations restrict their grants to programs within a single field.  For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funds only health projects.  Corporate foundations prefer grants that benefit company employees or the corporation’s interest and often are restricted to locales where they have a corporate presence.  Family foundations often are restricted in geographical area and usually make small grants for projects in areas of family interest.  Community foundations are public organizations that serve a specific geographical area, such as the Community Foundation of Louisville.  Other nonprofit organizations that award grants include associations for industrial or other special groups, fundraising organizations, and professional societies.  Some of these organizations run formal grant programs and issue Requests for Proposals while others operate informally.  Information on some of the organizations described can be found through the Council On Foundations or the Foundation Web Center.


Business and Industry


Corporations may give by means of a company-sponsored foundation or by means of a separate corporate giving program. In either case, corporate giving is almost always limited to programs of benefit to the shareholders, the employees, their families, or residents of specific locations where the company conducts business.


Since most industry sponsors do not run formal grant programs or issue Requests for Proposals, collaborative projects tend to originate through informal networking or prior contacts such as consulting relationships.  Some nonprofit industry associations, such as the Electrical Power Research Institute, do make grants through organized research programs.


When approaching corporate grant makers, always consider the self-interest of the potential sponsor. A proposal to a corporation should emphasize how its support of the project will benefit the corporate goals.


2.5 Limited Submissions


For those programs where there is a limit on the number of applications that may be submitted by the University, the Director of Sponsored Programs (or designee) will monitor the process to make certain that this restriction is met.  Faculty applying for such a program should make their intentions known in a timely manner to Sponsored Programs Development. 


Each college within the University can submit up to the designated limit on the number of proposals. The Dean of each college is responsible for determining the priorities as to which submissions will go forward.


2.6 Executive Vice President for Research Institutional Grant Programs


Collaborative Planning and Development Awards - (CPDA) - Unfortunately due to budget cuts the Collaborative Planning and Development Awards have been discontinued for the unforeseeable future. Updated information will be posted when available.

·  Intramural Research Incentive Grants (IRIG) This program is funded by the University and administered by the Associate Vice President for Research. Competitions for these grants are held twice a year with deadlines in the Spring and Fall, with the exception of the Competitive Enhancement Grant (CEG).  Full- and part-time faculty of the University of Louisville may apply for a grant from the Research on Women program; all other programs are open only to full-time faculty.  A principal focus of the program is to provide funds for projects for which the director intends to seek external funding; however, special consideration is given to projects in disciplines in which there is limited opportunity for extramural support.  Grants are offered in the categories listed below.

Competitive Enhancement Grant (CEG): The primary purpose of a CEG is to provide support for research that will improve opportunities for extramural grant funding by being responsive to grant reviewers' comments and suggestions. CEG support is for projects with a good potential for extramural funding if certain specific research is done. Usually this is evidenced by written evaluations from granting agencies, which give a high but not funded ranking. Copies of these evaluations, together with the original grant application, must accompany the CEG application. If a granting agency does not normally provide a formal evaluation, but there is some evidence of positive feedback, a proposal for CEG will be accepted and reviewed internally. CEG funds may be used for equipment, supplies, and travel necessary for the conduct of the research, partial support for assistants or release from teaching duties. Investigators who have evidence that a new award will be made and who are in need of bridge funds until the new award is paid may also apply. Grants are provided up to a maximum of $15,000, but not more than 20% of the direct cost of the proposal to the extramural funding agency exclusive of the PI/PD's salary. Proposals can be submitted at any time and will be reviewed monthly. 


Multidisciplinary Research Grant (MRG):   The primary purpose of an MRG is to assist faculty members in the initiation of new projects that involve crosscutting multidisciplinary research.  Funds may be used for equipment, expendable supplies, travel necessary for the conduct of the research, student wages, release from teaching duties, or other reasonable and appropriate research expenses.  In general, priority is given to collaborations between researchers with no prior collaborations or to existing multidisciplinary collaborations that have so far not resulted in extramural funding.  The research must target an extramural multidisciplinary funding agency with a proposal at the end of the MRG.  Grants up to $10,000 are provided.    


Project Completion Grant (PCG):   The primary purpose of a PCG is to assist faculty who are nearing the end of a scholarly project and need some ancillary support to bring it to completion. PCG funds may be used to cover the costs of travel required to complete the project, manuscript preparation, library computer searches, release from teaching duties, or other reasonable and appropriate research expenses. Grants up to $4,000 are provided.


Research Initiation Grant (RIG):  The primary purpose of an RIG is to assist faculty in the initiation of new research projects. Funds may be used for equipment, expendable supplies, and travel necessary for the conduct of the research, student wages, release from teaching duties, or other reasonable and appropriate research expenses. In general, priority is given to new faculty, those entering new areas of research and scholarship and others who have not previously received an RIG. Grants up to $5,000 are provided.


Research On Women Grant (ROW): This grant is available to full- and part-time faculty. The primary purpose of an ROW grant is to provide support to stimulate scholarship on women and encourage research on women's issues. Funds may be used for equipment, expendable supplies, and travel necessary for the conduct of the research, student wages, release from teaching duties, or other reasonable and appropriate research expenses. Grants are provided up to $4,000.


Undergraduate Research Grants (URG):  The primary purpose of a URG is to enhance the research environment of a unit by involving undergraduate students in research in collaboration with a faculty mentor.  Special consideration will be given to projects in which the student is intellectually involved in design and execution of the research.  Students will be expected to provide a written report on their project participation and have it evaluated by faculty.  Students are encouraged to co-author scholarly research papers with their mentors. Priority will be given to projects involving University of Louisville undergraduates and no awards will be made to projects in which students provide just "another pair of hands."  URG funds may be used for undergraduate student stipends and supplies.  They may range from a 10-week summer project to a full year.  Grants up to $3,000 are provided. 


General Information about IRIG Programs:  The University must comply with government statutes pertaining to the use of humans as subjects, experimental animals, pathogenic organisms, ionizing radiation, radioisotopes, toxic, carcinogenic, and mutagenic agents, or recombinant DNA.  Women and members of minority groups should be included in any IRIG-supported project involving human subjects, unless a compelling reason is given that inclusion is not appropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.


The usual maximum period of any grant is one year from the proposed starting date, however under the University's current budgeting practices; it is possible to carry funds over to the next fiscal year. Investigators who have received prior funding from IRIG must submit a report on prior grants in order to be eligible for additional funding. Grants from these intramural funding programs may not be used to fund travel to professional meetings, symposia, workshops, etc., and any deviations from the proposal budget must have the prior approval of the Office of the Vice President for Research.


Guidelines and applications may be obtained from the IRIG website.  Questions about the nature of the grants or how the awards are made should be directed to Dr. Pamela Feldhoff at ext. 7136.  Completed applications must be submitted by the deadline date given on the application forms. They will be reviewed by a faculty advisory committee, which will make recommendations as soon after that date as possible.

Other Institutional Grants programs are offered through individual units.  Individual dean’s offices should be contacted for information about these opportunities.


2.6 Information for Student Researchers 

The University of Louisville recognizes the value of creative research and scholarship to the educational process.  Therefore, there are several programs aimed at promoting both Graduate and Undergraduate participation in these activities:


Vice President for Research Undergraduate Research Scholar Grant (URS)


The primary purpose of a URS grant is to enrich the research, scholarship or creative arts experience of the undergraduate student by involving the student in research collaboration with a faculty mentor.  The student is expected to become intellectually involved in the design and execution of the research project.  The undergraduate student prepares the URS proposal after he or she has identified a faculty mentor with interest in the student’s endeavors.  The faculty mentor is expected to make arrangements for the student to receive up to three (3) credit hours for the research or creative activity and provide a grade for the work completed by the student. Students are encouraged to present a poster at the Undergraduate Research Day.  The student may request up to $300 for supplies and expenses required for conducting the research or creative activity.   

Graduate Assistantships

The Graduate School awards assistantships on a competitive basis, both for research and teaching.  These assistantships provide a stipend and full tuition in exchange for 20 hours of University service. Information about deadlines and qualifications can be obtained in the graduate department of the school or program to which the student is applying for admission.

Student Support and Fellowships

Students seeking support for University research projects have access to the resources in the Sponsored Programs Development office.  Students with a valid University e-mail account will have access to the on-line databases in order to conduct their own searches.  The Student Financial Aid Office provides information and counseling on a variety of loan, grant, and scholarship programs for students seeking direct financial assistance for educational purposes.




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