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So You're Submitting a Proposal...


As soon as you decide you're going to submit a proposal, you should begin working through the steps listed below. Steps can occur simultaneously or in a different order. Several factors may impact the amount of time required for preparation and submission of a proposal, such as the complexity of a budget, college or institutional approvals and commitments, and unique submission requirements. Begin the process as early as possible. Ideally, you will notify your departmental research administrator at least 4 business weeks and no later than 2 business weeks before the due date of a single-investigator proposal. Multi-investigator and institutional training grants may require a lead-time of 3 months (more on that here).

Visit our College Research Policies page or contact us directly for additional information regarding unique requirements and timelines for your proposal. 

Step 1: Identify a Funding Opportunity

'Funding Opportunity' can refer to either a publicly posted solicitation, or an instance where someone (a colleague at another university, or a national laboratory, for example) has approached you to ask you to perform funded research. The overall proposal preparation process will remain largely the same, whether it is an open call or a specific request to you. Visit our Find Funding webpage for tips on how to find an opportunity, if you don’t have a specific one in mind.


Step 2: Notify Your Departmental Research Administrator

Working with administrative staff or Grants & Contract Specialists in your department is not required to submit a proposal, but it is recommended. Support staff can manage logistics while you focus on the science. Departmental staff members are often able to help you navigate the additional steps below and will liaise with OSP on your behalf, translating institutional jargon, and any central office requests for document revision. Most academic departments within the College of Natural Sciences have at least one staff member who assists faculty with proposal preparation. If you don’t know who this is in your department email us: we can help you find them. 


Step 3: Confirm Authorizations

Principal Investigator (PI) Status

All UT-Austin tenure-track faculty are automatically given PI status. Some employees holding non-academic approved research or administrative titles (e.g., Research Associates), may qualify for status while others must submit a formal request for PI status before the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) or the Office of Industry Engagement (OIE) will submit a proposal naming the employee as the PI. Researchers in the College of Natural Sciences are not required to obtain Dean's Office approval for PI status requests and their supervisor may submit these requests directly to OSP. Learn more about PI eligibility by visiting:


Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) and Financial Interest Disclosure (FID)

Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) compliance is required of all Covered Individuals on a proposal. The term "covered individual" refers to anybody who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research. While Covered Individuals include PIs, Co-PIs, Key Personnel and frequently graduate students, postdocs and technical staff, an individual's position, title, employment status (full or part-time), or percent effort devoted to the project do not factor into whether a person is considered a Covered Individual. It is the responsibility of the PI to determine which personnel working on a given project are Covered Individuals.

FCOI compliance is managed by the University's Office of Research Support and Compliance (RSC). All Covered Individuals on a project must complete online FCOI training and file a Financial Interest Disclosure (FID) form with the University before OSP or OIE will submit a proposal. Learn more about the FCOI policy, FCOI training, and FID forms by visiting:


Step 4: Notify OSP or OIE

All proposals submitted for sponsored research by UT-Austin faculty or staff must be approved, and in many cases, submitted by the University's Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) or Office of Industry Engagement (OIE). Speak with your departmental research administrator or use this flowchart to determine which office you should contact. 

OSP and OIE require a minimum of four full business days before a sponsor's deadline to review your proposal materials. If your proposal is submitted to either office fewer than four business days before it is due, it will receive only a partial review, and the reviewing office will not be able to ensure that it is free of administrative errors. Letting OSP and OIE know as early as possible that you are preparing a proposal is the best way to ensure that your proposal will be comprehensively reviewed, approved, and submitted by the sponsor deadline.

Create a Proposal Review Form (PRF)

To route a proposal to OSP or OIE for required review and approval, you will submit a Proposal Review Form (PRF) containing a few key details about the proposed project via the University's Research Management System (RMS). Learn more about submitting a proposal for University review and approval by visiting:

Human Subjects, Animal Research, rDNA and Biosafety Protocols

You are required to report whether your research will involve the use of human or animal subjects, recombinant DNA, or any biohazardous materials. You will note this (yes or no) in the PRF. If the answer is “yes” for any of the above, you will need to submit a protocol to the IRB, IACUC or IBC (which are managed by RSC) and the protocol will need to be approved before you can begin your research. Some sponsors allow you to wait until you’ve been told that your project will be funded before submitting a protocol (referred to as a “just-in-time” approval), but you may submit a protocol at any time. Some PIs prefer to submit their protocols earlier to ensure that they will be approved and thus avoid delays in starting a funded project. Visit RSC's website to learn more:


Step 5: Obtain Access to Electronic Proposal Submission and Grant Management Interfaces

Most proposals are submitted online and require PIs to have access to sponsor-specific online interfaces. Access to some interfaces is granted through OSP while access to others may be handled individually. Visit https://research.utexas.edu/osp/prepare-submit-proposal/ for details about requesting authorization to interfaces administered by OSP. 

Commonly used online submission interfaces are described below.


Cayuse 424

A system-to-system interface, Cayuse is used to submit proposals to NIH, DOD and other federal agencies that utilize Standard Form 424 templates. UT-Austin PIs are required to submit NIH and DOD proposals through Cayuse. Contact OSP for access.

eRA Commons

Often referred to as Commons, this is the grants management interface for NIH tracking the status of proposals and managing awards. Contact OSP for access.

Fastlane and Research.gov

NSF uses Fastlane and Research.gov to submit proposals and track awards. Contact OSP for access.


DOE proposals are submitted through PAMS. You create your account yourself. NOTE: It may take up to a week for DOE to process your account request.


The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) uses the CPRIT Application Receipt System for proposal submission and award management. You create your account yourself.


A variety of sponsors use ProposalCentral for proposal submission, including American Cancer Society and The Welch Foundation. You create your account yourself.

Once you are authorized to use an electronic submission interface, immediately complete your account profile with your current institutional affiliation and contact information. Multiple institutional affiliations or multiple accounts within an interface can be problematic for proposal submission.

Step 6: Institutional Review and Approval of All Proposal Documents


The basic package that you should always expect to submit to OSP or OIE, no matter the award mechanism, is ‘budget, budget justification, project description/statement of work, subaward documents if applicable.’ OSP and OIE will not approve or submit your proposal without these 4 items. The deadline for submitting these documents to OSP or OIE is 4 business days in advance of the proposal deadline. Several variables affect review time, including the volume of proposals currently under review and the size/complexity of the proposal.

Often, as you begin to fill out sponsor-specific proposal applications, you will find they ask for institution-specific data, like UT-Austin's 'DUNS number', 'Congressional District', or an address for official sponsored project correspondence. The data most often requested can be found here: