Submitting a Proposal
It is essential to know the rules of the road for submitting a proposal at Stanford.
Use the PDRF to Route a Proposal
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.
Timeline for Submitting a Proposal
To create a timeline that ensures the proposal is submitted to the sponsor on time, learn about the routing and institutional review procedure and timeframes for your school.
Keep in mind, reviews do not have to be sequential. If you know a proposal will require a special approval, e.g., an indirect cost waiver or waiver for PIship, initiate those requests as soon as possible. Remember Stanford’s internal deadline is a critical element. Understand what is required by reading the Non School of Medicine and School of Medicine Internal Proposal Deadline Policy and FAQs below.
- OSR Internal Proposal Deadline Policy Memo 2015
- Q&A Clarifying the University Proposal Deadline Policy
- School of Medicine Internal Proposal Deadline Policy and FAQs
Suggested Timeline for Proposal Routing
The PI and support staff prepare the proposal in time for routing through department and school channels for approval.
30 days or more to prepare the proposal budget
RMG (Research Management Group) requests a 30-day or more advance notification (School of Medicine only).
Check eProtocol for panel schedule
If the proposal has an extremely high probability of being awarded soon, request a protocol approval by Stanford compliance panels when the research involves human subjects, stem cells, animal subjects, or hazardous substances.
Request a PI waiver for procedures specific to your school.
Check with your school for time required to request a waiver of F&A costs
The Dean of Research will consider requests for F&A cost waivers in very limited circumstances. The PI should initiate the request for approval first to her department chair and school dean's office. If approval is obtained, the request must be sent to the Dean of Research Office for approval.
For projects administered within the School of Medicine, the request must be sent to the Dean of the School of Medicine through the Research Management Group once it is approved by the PI’s department chair.
10 days prior to sponsor deadline
The PI routes the completed proposal to her school department and dean for review and approval. The proposal must be accompanied by a PDRF (Proposal Development Routing Form). The PI and department and school officers sign and route the PDRF electronically within the SeRA (Stanford Electronic Research Administration) system.
5 days prior to sponsor deadline
The school routes the approved proposal and PDRF to the institutional official.
By the sponsor's deadline date and time
The IO (Institutional Official- OSR, RMG, OTL) will review, endorse and submit the proposal to the sponsor via the sponsor's requested method. Remember that the proposal may be due by a set time in a different time zone from ours (e.g., MST, EST, foreign country timezone, etc..)
Who is My Preaward IO (Institutional Official)
The IO (Institutional Official) is an individual named by Stanford, who is authorized to act for the institution, and to assume the obligations imposed by federal, state and local laws, regulations, requirements and conditions, as well as Stanford policy that applies to a proposal and award.
The IO reviews, endorses, signs and submits proposals to the sponsor on behalf of Stanford. In signing a proposal and in accepting a corresponding award, this individual certifies that Stanford will comply with the assurances and certifications referenced in the application.
This individual's signature further certifies that Stanford will be accountable both for appropriate use of funds awarded and performance of the sponsored project activities resulting from the application.
OSR (Office of Sponsored Research)
RMG (Research Management Group)
ICO (Industrial Contracts Office)
|All Stanford University proposals except the School of Medicine||School of Medicine proposals||None|
|All awards except those handled by RMG and ICO||Basic grants, fellowships and industry sponsored clinical trials for School of Medicine||Industry sponsored contracts except clinical trials|
|All, except those under industry sponsored clinical trials||Industry sponsored clinical trials||None|
Stanford Proposal Preparation Resources
The Office of Sponsored Research and School of Medicine Research Management Group along with your school based research administrators can help you with your proposal.
In addition Stanford offers support for your proposals from the following offices:
Stanford's OSO helps faculty engage in science outreach -- organized activities targeted at youth, school teachers, and general public that will increase their interest, understanding, and involvement in math, science, and engineering.
The OSO serves faculty throughout the University by assisting them in creating outreach project ideas and proposals, identifying potential partners for them (both within Stanford as well as externally), and facilitating information and resource sharing among all of the University's science outreach programs.
They can brainstorm/suggest outreach ideas to incorporate in your proposal, review and give feedback on a draft proposal, find a specific audience/partner for your project, or write/acquire letters of support from project partners/participants. OSO also provides programs faculty members can tap into to fulfill outreach requirements while continuing to conduct research and perform teaching duties.
Spectrum is a Stanford University independent research center funded in part by an NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). Its goal is to accelerate and enhance medical research, from basic discovery to improved patient care.
Are you planning travel abroad to study, research, or volunteer? Will you be collaborating with international visitors either here at Stanford or abroad? If so, you must be aware of your individual responsibilities for understanding the laws, regulations, and requirements that apply. Prepare for your international academic activity with the wealth of tools and services available to you.
Data management is emerging as a key component of funding agency requirements. Stanford University Libraries offers tools and services to help researchers comply with funding agency provisions on data management and to improve the visibility of their research.
The Data Management Planning Tool provides templates, Stanford-specific guidance, and suggested answer text for creating a data management plan for your next grant submission. The Stanford Digital Repository provides long-term preservation of your important research data in a secure, sustainable stewardship environment, combined with a persistent URL (PURL) that allows for easy data discovery, access, sharing, and reuse.
The Dean of Research Office provides supplemental and complementary assistance to faculty for support in preparing a center grant proposal.
The Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL) promotes and advances the vibrant, intellectual endeavor of teaching and learning at Stanford — and beyond.
VPTL collaborates with departments, faculty, and instructors to advance learning at Stanford—and beyond.
Sponsor Agency Proposal eSubmission Systems
Many federal and private sponsors accept and even require you to submit applications through their online submission system.
- 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.
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.
Sponsor Proposal Preparation Guidelines
Before you prepare a proposal, study and follow the current specific agency/sponsor guidelines to understand your responsibilities. Proposal Preparation Guidelines for key agencies.
Grant Making Agencies
- U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)
- U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
- U.S. Department of Education (ED)
- U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)
- U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
- U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
- U.S. Department of State (DOS)
- U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
- U.S. Department of the Treasury (TREAS)
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
- National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Social Security Administration (SSA)
- Other Grant-Making Agencies
Major Foundations/Non-Federal Sponsors
A central university office that helps to foster relationships between Stanford University and companies and private professional foundations. Part of the Office of Development, we help faculty and external funding partners connect and collaborate to advance mutual goals that align with the university’s research and teaching mission