Electronic Proposal Submission

Internal Routing for Review, Endorsement and Submission

Proposals are submitted to external sponsors by the designated Stanford Institutional Officer (IO) after they are reviewed and endorsed. 

  • In the School of Medicine, the Research Management Group (RMG) reviews, endorses and submits proposals. 
  • In  all other schools, the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) reviews, endorses and submits proposals. 

All proposals are tracked and approved via the Stanford's Electronic Research Administration (SeRA) system. An electronic form called the PDRF (Proposal Development and Routing Form) gets initiated, completed and routed together with each proposal submitted on behalf of Stanford University. For more information on the PDRF, see section below.

A complete proposal must be submitted to RMG (School of Medicine) or OSR (Other Schools) via the Stanford Electronic Research Administration (SeRA) System and released in the relevant sponsor portal as applicable by at least 5 business days (9:00 AM)  prior to the sponsor's deadline. Be sure required forms have been completed. Your IO will review the application, notify you if errors are found, and submit the application to the sponsor once errors are corrected.

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SeRA Proposal Development Routing Form

For Proposals submitted through the Office of Sponsored Research

The electronic Proposal Development and Routing Form (PDRF) is used to collect and route all the proposal documents, approvals and waivers necessary for review and endorsement by Stanford University. PIs and administrators are required to use the PDRF which is accessed through the Stanford Electronic Research Administration (SeRA) system. 

Review and Approvals

The Principal Investigator’s review and approval collected in the PDRF provides certifications required by government agencies, and an agreement to comply with Stanford and sponsor policies.

Departmental review and approvals confirm financial commitments made in a proposal, and that stated personnel and facilities are available to carry out the project. Other required special approvals are also documented.

Review and Endorsement

The Institutional Official (IO) reviews the information contained in the PDRF to endorse the proposal. The IO submits the endorsed proposal to the sponsor on behalf of Stanford University.

For Proposals submitted through the School of Medicine's Research Management Group (RMG)

the PI/ department should complete a Proposal Intake Form (PIF) in SeRA and submit to RMG for intake and processing (recommended at least 30 days in advance of the sponsor deadline). The Research Process Manager (RPM) will then follow up with a draft budget, internal deadlines, and proposal guidance as needed. 

Note: the PIF process excludes SOM postdoc fellowships and industry sponsored clinical trials.




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Grants.gov is an online system that allows organizations to electronically find funding opportunities from all federal agencies as well as apply for competitive grant opportunities. 

Effective January 1, 2018, Grants.gov retired the previously used PDF application packages for electronic proposal submission. There are now several options available to submit applications through Grants.gov to federal agencies:

1) institutional system-to-system (S2S) solutions such as Cayuse 424

2) as available, agency specific proposal preparation and submission portals such as NIH's ASSIST, NSF's FastLane and Research.gov, and NASA's NSPIRES

3) the Grants. gov proposal preparation and submission platform Workspace.  

Stanford University does NOT use Workspace, and rather recommends the below listed submission methods for federal proposals.

Submission methods by agency: 

Sponsor Method of submission as of 1/1/2018

School of Medicine: ASSIST or Cayuse 424                     

All other schools: Cayuse 424

NSF Fastlane or Research.gov
DoD eBRAP (when required) otherwise Cayuse 424
All other federal sponsors Cayuse 424 
Other sponsors (foundations, industry, non-profits, State entities) Follow application instructions in solicitation



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Cayuse 424

Cayuse 424 is a web-based system-to-system solution that allows users to create, review and submit Grants.Gov proposals to OSR or RMG for institutional review and submission to federal sponsors.

Please visit the ORA SeRA and Cayuse 424 User Guides webpage for the full suite of informative Cayuse 424 user guides.


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Grants.Gov SF424

The SF424 Research & Related (R&R)

Every grant application contains some version of the standardized SF424 form. This form should be completed first, because information you enter here feeds into some of the other form pages within the application package. The SF424 provides specific information about the application (type, title, etc.), the Institution (Stanford), the PI, and the IO.

The following sample information is not a substitute for reviewing the specific FOA application instructions. Always review both the instructions and the solicitation for the correct information.

NSF Grants.gov Application Guide

 SF424 (R&R) Applicant Guide for NIH and Other PHS Agencies ( this changes often make sure you are using the appropriate Guide)

Stanford Instructions for Completing the SF424 R&R


SF424RR Instructions

SF424 RR Instructions for NIH K Career Awards

The Stanford Institutional Facts required in the SF424


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Grants.Gov - Receipt

Grants.gov Notifications

Grants.gov will send three email notifications to the IO to indicate application status:

  1. "Received" indicates that Grants.gov has received the application, but the application is awaiting validation (sent to IO).
  2. "Validated" indicates that Grants.gov has validated the application and it is available for the agency to retrieve,
  3. "Rejected with Errors" indicates that Grants.gov was unable to process your application because of error(s) and cannot accept the application until you correct the errors and successfully resubmit the application. You will receive email notification with information on how to address the error(s).  

Received by Agency

Once your application is successfully validated, Grants.gov notifies the sponsor and once the sponsor retrieves the package, Grants.gov sends the "Received by Agency" email. Once the application is retrieved by the agency, all further communication is with the agency. Each granting agency has a unique process for notifying you when your application has errors or is accepted.

  • Some granting agencies send email notifications to the IO and possibly the PI to verify receipt and report errors that must be corrected.

  • Keep in close contact with your IO to monitor your application.

  • Be proactive! Agencies will accept corrected applications up until the formal deadline listed in the FOA. If you wait too long to check on your application, you might miss your opportunity to submit a corrected application. 

  •  Best Practice: If you have not heard from the funding agency within three days of submitting your application, contact your IO to check the status. 

  •  If your application is an NSF application submitted via  FastLane,  the system has a built in validation process that detect most errors prior to submission.

  •  If your application is an NIH application, the PI will receive a notice from NIH; go to eRA Commons to view and/or print your application. Warnings should be reviewed, but will likely not prevent your proposal from being assigned for review; errors must be corrected. 

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Many federal and private sponsors accept and even require you to submit applications through their online submission system.

 Federal Agencies

  • NSF FastLane is the National Science Foundation online system that supports all functions of the proposal process: submission, review, award, and reporting. Effective March 18, 2013 NSF Fastlane system will perform  automatic compliance checking for all GPG (Grant Proposal Guide) required sections of proposals.  View the NSF presentation. NSF FAQs on automatic compliance checking 
  • Grants.gov is the official grant announcement and proposal submission system for the federal government.
  • NASA NSPIRES - NASA utilizes this online system to announce NASA funding opportunities. In some instances, pre-proposals and/or full proposals are accepted via NSPIRES.
  • NIH ERA Commons is an investigator registration system that works in conjunction with Grants.gov to insure receipt of applications by the National Institutes of Health. All investigators must be registered in the Commons prior to submitting proposals to NIH and other Public Health Service agencies.

Private Agencies

  • Proposal Central supports a variety of non-profit funding agencies in proposal submission. Agencies that utilize this system include the American Cancer Society, the Arthritis Foundation, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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Submission methods by sponsor type/funding agency


Sponsor Method of submission as of 1/1/2018

School of Medicine: ASSIST or Cayuse 424                    

All other schools: Cayuse 424

NSF Fastlane or Research.gov
DoD eBRAP (when required) otherwsie Cayuse 424
All other federal sponsors Cayuse 424 
Other sponsors (foundations, industry, non-profits, State entities) Follow application instructions in solicitation


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