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What do you want to know?

As your go-to college resource for research development and administration information, we strive to maintain a useful and informative website that meets your needs. If you don't see your question listed below, please email us. We will answer you directly, and then add the question to our FAQ file. 

 

Submitting Your Proposal

 

Who can help me with a proposal submission? 

For Researchers: Many departments and units within CNS have a dedicated Research Administrator (often titled Grants & Contracts Specialist, Program Administrator, or Administrative Associate), and others have administrative staff that can provide guidance regarding the proposal preparation process. We can help you identify these individuals, and provide additional support for larger, multi-PI proposals – contact us at CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu for more information. 

For Admin Staff: If you are a CNS administrative staff member with questions, we are here to help you, too! We can answer specific questions via phone or email, and we will come out to your office to provide guidance on more complicated issues. You can contact us at CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu or 512-475-6570. 

 

How do I get PI status? 

If you are a UT Austin tenure-track faculty member, you are automatically given PI status by OSP. Other employees (e.g. Research Associates) must request permission to be granted PI status from OSP before OSP will submit a proposal with the employee named as the PI. The employee's supervisor or unit director must confirm approval of the request to OSP.  

Note: Researchers in the College of Natural Sciences are not required to obtain Dean's Office approval for PI status requests and may submit these requests directly to OSP.

For more information, see https://research.utexas.edu/osp/prepare-submit-proposal/pi-eligibility/.

 

How long does it take for OSP to review a proposal?

A number of variables affect review time, including the volume of proposals currently under review and the size/complexity of the proposal (for example collaborative proposals and those with subawards may take longer than single-investigator proposals). As long as you have made all of your proposal documents available to your OSP specialist at least 4 business days before the proposal deadline, your proposal will receive a complete review. 

 

What is financial conflict-of-interest (FCOI) training, and who on this proposal needs to complete it before we can submit?

The University of Texas at Austin Objectivity in Research (OIR) policy requires completion of financial conflict of interest (FCOI) training and submission of a financial interest disclosure (FID) form by all individuals responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research. Such people, referred to as "covered individuals," include all PIs and Co-PIs (or Co-Is), sometimes research staff and postdocs, and rarely graduate students. If you are not sure who needs to complete the training, OSP can help you determine this. 

FCOI training and FID submission are required not only by the university but also by the federal government. The intent is to ensure that research is conducted ethically and without bias by ensuring accountability and transparency regarding the use of research funds.

FCOI/FID are administered centrally by UT's Office of Research Support and Compliance (RSC). Visit RSC's Conflict of Interest webpage for more FCOI information and resources including background, training and FID submission, and FAQs.

 

What is Cayuse, and how do I use it? 

Cayuse is a web-based proposal submission interface that UT Austin uses to submit proposals to NIH, the Department of Energy and several other federal sponsors. Cayuse allows you to interface with NIH’s grants.gov so that you do not need to work directly in grants.gov to prepare a proposal. Each PI must set up their own Cayuse account, which must be linked to UT Austin. SRI offers one-on-one Cayuse training to researchers and departmental research administrators. For more information and online resources, click here or contact CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu to arrange for individualized training.

 

What is Fastlane, and how do I use it? 

Fastlane is the required online interface for submitting anything to the National Science Foundation (NSF). To get a login, speak to your departmental administrator, who will work with OSP to secure for you an NSF ID and password affiliated with UT Austin. This may take a few days to generate, and so should be done as soon as you know you’ll be submitting your first proposal. 

Note: Eventually Research.gov will replace FastLane. However, that is years away. FastLane will continue to be available to NSF grantees in the foreseeable future, as its capabilities are moved to Research.gov.

 

Budget FAQs

 

How do I put together a budget? 

Assembling a budget requires navigating requirements of both the sponsor and UT Austin. Detailed information about funding ceilings and restrictions can be found in the sponsor’s specific Request for Applications (RFA) or Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). UT Austin’s requirements include things like incorporation of institutional overhead, fringe rates on salary, and tuition for graduate students (see questions below for more detail).

Excellent resources for navigating these elements while calculating your budget include:

 

What is UT Austin’s F&A rate? 

UT Austin’s F&A (Facilities & Administrative) rate, also known as IDC (Indirect Cost) or overhead rate, is currently 56.5% of direct costs for organized research occurring on-campus. Per the University's negotiated rate agreement, the on-campus organized research rate will increase to 58.8% effective 9/1/2020. Download the full rate agreement here.

Major equipment (>$5,000), participant support costs, tuition, and subcontract budgets beyond $25,000 are exempt from F&A. This budget calculator will automatically apply F&A to only those costs that it should be applied to, saving a lot of time and math. 

 

What is fringe? 

Fringe, short for "fringe benefits," is a direct cost to a sponsored project calculated as a percentage of an employee’s base salary and pays for benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. Because these benefits are afforded to all UT Austin employees, fringe is mandatory.

Historically, sponsored projects have been billed for the actual cost of fringe benefits. Effective September 1, 2018, the University transitioned from the actual cost model to a flat rate model for fringe costs. Under the flat rate model, sponsored projects will be billed a flat percentage of each salary to cover employee benefits according to pooled rates. Effective September 1, 2019, the University will move from three pooled rates (full-time, part-time, and benefits ineligible) to two pooled rates (benefits eligible and benefits ineligible). The flat rates are established by agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

 

Is there a mandated minimum salary for postdocs in the College?

YES. Effective September 1, 2016, a College-wide minimum annual salary for all postdocs will be enforced. For all proposals (including renewal proposals) submitted on or after April 1, 2016, postdocs must be budgeted at the minimum rate or higher. The minimum annual rate and a copy of the full policy notice may be viewed here: https://utexas.box.com/UTpostdocsalary. You should check with your departmental staff to confirm the postdoc rates for your department.

  

Does the college have mandated stipend levels for graduate research assistants (GRAs) paid on grants?

The College has minimum recommended stipend levels for GRAs supported on grants. These vary across graduate programs and are established by the Office of Graduate Education. In addition, University policies govern what costs must be covered when one hires a GRA (tuition, for example). For more detailed information on GRA stipend levels, contact us at CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu. 

 

If I am paying a graduate research assistant (GRA) on my grant, must I also budget for their tuition in the grant?

Yes. UT Austin policy mandates that GRAs supported on grants must have tuition expenses incurred during their GRA appointment period paid by the grant. Read more about tuition remission here.

If the sponsor forbids tuition expenses, then you must specify to OSP at the time of proposal submission an alternate source of funding for the student's tuition. You will use a cost-sharing form to specify the amount of tuition to be paid and the alternate source of funding.

 

What is the current tuition rate for a Natural Sciences graduate student?

Tuition rates for UT Austin are posted here. Tuition is listed per credit hour and varies among the Colleges. For Natural Sciences, a full-time graduate student must be enrolled for 9 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester, and 3 credit hours each summer. Note that the University has a separate tuition fee chart for Summer semesters than for Fall/Spring semesters. Be sure to consult both the Fall/Spring and Summer charts when calculating 12 months of tuition for a graduate student. You may also need to take into account whether a GRA is a subject to in-state or out-of-state tuition.

For 2019-2020, a reasonable estimate for Natural Sciences graduate student tuition and fees for a Texas resident (in-state) over a 12-month period (2 long semesters plus 1 summer) is $10,950.

 

What is cost-sharing, and how do I cost-share? 

Cost-sharing occurs when a sponsor requires that the PI contribute some amount of time/money/materials to the proposal, that they agree will be funded by internal sources (i.e., the contributions cannot come from another grant). This often takes the form of a percentage of the PI's salary contributed from internal funds. For proposals that include cost-sharing, OSP will require the completion of a cost-sharing form to be submitted with your proposal. For large-scale, multi-investigator proposals, the College may contribute to cost-share requirements through resources such as staffing, space, cash or otherwise, but the PI is expected to leverage departmental/ORU resources first. Learn more about requesting cost-sharing support from the Dean's office here.

 

Does the Dean’s office provide matching funds for grants? Under what circumstances? How do I request matching funds? 

Under certain circumstances, the Dean's office provides matching funds for proposals such as those supporting a large number of College researchers or when required by the sponsor. Matching funds commitments must be secured before your proposal is submitted. To request matching funds, the PI should email CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu at least 3 weeks before the proposal is due. The email should contain the information and attachments outlined on our cost-sharing policy page

 

I need an institutional commitment letter from the Dean’s office or from the VPR. How do I get one?

Send a draft of the institutional commitment letter, along with a copy of the proposal RFA, draft budget and list of involved faculty/key personnel, to CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu at least 3 weeks before your proposal is due. If you need a commitment letter from the Vice President for Research (VPR), you should send this same information to SRI, and we will review and route your request to the VPR. The VPR asks that any institutional commitment requests be routed through the PI's Dean's office. 

 

Funding Opportunities

 

Where can I find funding opportunities? 

Visit our Find Funding page for funding opportunity resources of broad interest to CNS faculty. You can also conduct advanced searches for funding opportunities related to your work through Pivot, an online funding opportunity database to which the University subscribes. Pivot uses the most comprehensive, editorially maintained database of funding opportunities, allowing you to search for federal and private funding all in one place. Learn how to get started with and tips on using Pivot here

 

What is a CNS Catalyst Grant, and how do I apply for one? 

CNS Catalyst Grants are a College of Natural Sciences internal funding mechanism meant to inspire new interdisciplinary research collaborations that will seed efforts for securing external funding. Two award cycles are being offered each calendar year, with proposal deadlines of April 1 and October 1. Read the full guidelines and download application instructions here.

 

Can someone help my student/postdoc with their fellowship application? 

Yes! We can help identify staff in your department with experience to guide grad students and postdocs through the application process. With enough notice, we can provide training for both staff and students. Contact CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu, and we will work out a plan. 

Additionally, we offer a workshop designed to coach graduate research assistants and postdoctoral researchers through the process of compiling and writing the application components for NRSA F31 & F32 fellowship applications. Learn more about this workshop here.  

 

There’s a grant or award I want to apply for, but the guidelines say only one proposal can come from UT. Can I submit? 

These kinds of opportunities are referred to as "Limited Submission" opportunities. The Vice President for Research (VPR) office frequently holds internal competitions to select nominees for Limited Submissions. We maintain a calendar of upcoming internal competition deadlines. Check our calendar first, to see whether an internal competition is being held and to make sure the deadline has not already passed. If the opportunity you're interested in is not listed there, then you will need to seek permission to submit. To seek permission email CNS_SRI@austin.utexas.edu; SRI will contact VPR on your behalf for permission to submit. Learn more about the Limited Submission process at UT.

 

 

Proposal Content Guidance

 

What should I write in a Postdoc Mentoring Plan?

Check out our Student/Postdoc Mentoring resource page for tips on how to construct a compelling mentoring plan. The College also offers support to help your graduate students and postdocs create and maintain individualized development plans (IDPs).

 

What should I write in a Data Management Plan?

In addition to reviewing the list of UT-specific data management resources, you can reference, check out DMPTool (EID required), an online tool that will walk you step-by-step through creating a data management plan tailored to fit your desired funding agency.

 

What do the College and UT offer for me or my students/postdocs to fulfill Responsible Conduct of Research (ethics training) requirements?

Visit the CNS's Office of Graduate Education's Responsible Conduct of Research webpage for information and resources on responsible conduct of research (RCR )training.

 

I need to write a Broader Impacts or outreach plan. Where can I get ideas about how to do this?

Visit our Education and Outreach webpage for a list of college and university level educational outreach initiatives that may inspire you or perhaps be leveraged for your next grant proposal. Our Education and Outreach page refers faculty to a list of outreach efforts geared toward engagement with the broader community beyond UT campus. You may wish to reach out to the program coordinators identified in the listings to discuss potential collaborative opportunities as a component of your Broader Impacts or outreach plans. 

 

This RFA requires “program evaluation,” with metrics. Can someone give me advice?

In today’s increasingly competitive funding environment, sponsors across the board are focusing more and more on proposals having a strong program evaluation component, and simple surveys no longer make the grade. Program evaluations must be heavily customized, and we encourage you to visit our Program Assessment webpage for guidance and resources. In addition, the College's Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science (TIDES) focuses on designing assessment tools for STEM education programs. Contact TIDES to consult with their researchers about your program evaluation needs.

 

 

 

 

NOT WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

Try these pages:

Proposal Development Resources

Research Administrator Resources

College Research Policies