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Limited Submission Frequently Asked Questions

The Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research (VPDoR) coordinates the review and selection of applicants and nominees for university-wide limited submission programs. Limited submission programs with a clinical or biomedical research focus are facilitated by the Research Management Group on behalf of the School of Medicine. Investigators must obtain institutional approval before submitting limited submission applications to the external sponsor.

Please contact limitedsubmissions@stanford.edu with any questions about university-wide limited submission programs or the internal application process.

Limited submission programs with a clinical or biomedical research focus are facilitated by the Research Management Group on behalf of the School of Medicine, additional information is available here. Please contact rmg_communications@stanford.edu if you have questions regarding clinical or biomedical programs.

Details on current and archived competitions are available on the 

Stanford Limited Submissions Opportunities Portal

About limited submission opportunities

What is a limited submission?

“Limited Submission” describes funding opportunities in which the sponsor (e.g., NSF, NIH, Keck Foundation) limits the number of applications that an institution may submit. An internal selection is required if the number of faculty who wish to apply exceeds the allowable submission limit.

Why is an internal selection process necessary?

Applications or nominations submitted without institutional approval may cause a return without review of the proposal or automatic exclusion of all Stanford proposals to a given opportunity. 

Identifying and applying to a limited submission opportunity

How can I tell if an opportunity is limited?

Application or proposal submission limits are usually specified in the sponsor's program guidelines or solicitation. Some agencies publish a clear limit while others do not. Please contact limitedsubmissions@stanford.edu for help determining if an opportunity is limited.

Where can I find information on/apply for a limited submission?

A list of university-wide and VPDoR-managed limited submission programs is available on the Stanford Limited Submissions Opportunities portal.

The materials required for each competition will vary by program based on the sponsor requirements and time until the sponsor's deadline. In all cases, we aim to have the internal competition materials to be informative for selection and as useful as possible for the Principal Investigator to prepare a full submission while limiting the burden. Please review the individual competition page for specific details on the required Stanford internal proposal elements.

Limited submission programs with a clinical or biomedical research focus are facilitated by the Research Management Group on behalf of the School of Medicine, available here.

Want to learn about new limited submission opportunities? We invite you to  subscribe to the weekly limited submissions newsletter.

What is the VPDoR LS Newsletter?

The VPDoR Limited Submissions (LS) Announcements Newsletter is available to interested staff who would otherwise not hear about ongoing internal LS competitions, and anyone who wants to receive announcements directly from the VPDoR Limited Submissions Program Team. Faculty will continue to receive timely LS announcements through their school channels.

This new sign-up list is for the weekly digest of new and other active limited submission program announcements managed by VPDoR. We invite you to subscribe here. For a listing of current and past competitions, visit the Stanford Limited Submissions Portal.

VPDoR LS complements RMG LS which covers NIH and biomedical opportunities.

When is the internal application due?

In most cases, the internal application should be submitted by 11:59 pm on the deadline date. Please see the limited submission opportunity’s competition details, as the submission timeline may vary by program to accommodate the sponsor's deadline.

What if a limited submission funding opportunity is not posted?

We cannot guarantee we will find and announce every limited funding opportunity.

Investigators interested in submitting a concept or proposal to a limited submission funding opportunity not listed on the VPDoR limited submission programs page must fill out the VPDoR Limited Submission Notification Form as soon as possible. We will determine if an internal competition is necessary and contact you regarding next steps for securing institutional approval.

Who is eligible to apply to a limited submission opportunity?

Unless otherwise stated, investigators with PI eligibility (members of the University's Academic Council or UML faculty) are considered eligible by Stanford policies. The policy on Principal Investigator Eligibility and Criteria for Exceptions is available here.

The internal review process

What is the limited submission process?

A normal selection process begins with an announcement from VPDoR defining the timeline and internal proposal elements. Prospective PIs submit internal applications through the Stanford Limited Submissions Opportunities portal and if the number of submissions exceeds the sponsor's limit, then applications are subsequently reviewed by the Limited Submissions Faculty Review Committee. Applications are selected and approved to submit on behalf of the university based on the merit of the project and PI's potential to be successful with the sponsor. When a high proposal volume is expected, a separate selection process at the school level may precede the VPDoR-led selection process.

Only approved investigators should complete a SeRA Proposal and must submit to OSR or RMG according to the University Proposal Deadline Policy. Proposal Preparation and Submission guidelines are available here.

What is the Stanford Limited Submissions Portal and where can I get help using it?

Stanford uses a third-party internal proposal portal called InfoReady Review to manage the limited submissions competitions. The InfoReady support team has some helpful videos for applicants here. While in the portal, you can also access help topics in the top right corner of the window. If you have Stanford/program-specific questions, please email limitedsubmissions@stanford.edu.

Who reviews internal proposals for limited submission opportunities?

As of August 2021, Tim Stearns, Senior Associate Vice Provost of Research, chairs the VPDoR Limited Submissions Faculty Review Committee. Internal proposals are reviewed by principal committee members, who are typically Senior Associate Deans (SAD), or their proxies, from the STEM Schools. The committee might invite reviews by additional faculty or SADs when a specific disciplinary expertise is required. Current committee members are as follows.

  • Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences: Jonathan Payne, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
  • Engineering: Ken Goodson, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs
  • Humanities and Sciences: Peter Michelson, Senior Associate Dean for the Natural Sciences
  • Schools of Medicine: David Kingsley, Professor of Developmental Biology

How are proposals evaluated and selected?

The standing selection committee is experienced at evaluating proposals and candidates based on the sponsor eligibility and selection criteria. In addition to the proposed project, this may include the quality of the applicant’s academic record and research, evidence of exceptional creativity and productivity, and the candidate’s potential. They may also take into account past university nominations as well as other prestigious programs they select for. In terms of diversity, the committee aims for a portfolio of nominations that over time is balanced based on gender, background and discipline.

Information for applicants

What does a competitive campus application look like?

The campus announcement will only provide basic instructions, so we strongly advise applicants to carefully review the funding opportunity solicitation and program criteria. In general, a competitive campus application will:

  • be accessible to a general scientific audience (unless the sponsor’s program as a whole has a very narrow disciplinary focus);
  • address the funding priorities of the sponsor (i.e., align the proposal with the program);
  • explain the significance and impact of the research;
  • provide clear research goals and objectives; and
  • propose realistic and feasible methods.

May I submit late if I miss an internal deadline?

If the internal deadline has passed and interest did not exceed the program limit, then the VPDoR Limited Submissions Program Team may grant additional approvals to apply to the sponsor on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please contact limitedsubmissions@stanford.edu if you are interested in submitting after the internal deadline has passed and we will follow up regarding the process and next steps.

What if my internal proposal is selected, but I no longer intend to submit to the sponsor?

An approved applicant who needs to decline the selection must contact limitedsubmissions@stanford.edu as soon as possible. VPDoR may permit another investigator to submit if there is still time to prepare a competitive application.

Created: 09.15.21
Updated: 05.13.22