Proposal Submission Guide


Proposal Content and Format

How do I determine what formatting guidelines to use for a proposal?

Most sponsoring agencies have specific format guidelines for preparing proposals, including the required forms for cover page, text, biographical data and budget.   IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH GUIDELINES, the following format, including a cover/title page, abstract, table of contents, introduction/statement of need, description of proposed research, biographical sketch, current and pending, facilities and equipment, and budget, may be useful.

Cover/Title Page:

The cover or title page should include the following:

  • The title of the proposed research;
  • The name and address of the sponsor to whom the proposal is submitted;
  • The name and address of The Research Foundation for SUNY:  Office of Sponsored Programs, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794-3362;
  • The University department where the work will be conducted;
  • The proposed period of performance;
  • Total requested support;
  • Name and title of the principal investigator/project director (PI/PD);
  • Signatures of authorizing official.


While an abstract, or project summary, is not required by all sponsors, it is a highly effective means of presenting a project to a reviewer or review board.  The abstract should highlight the scope of the proposed research, including its objectives and the intended methodology, the anticipated results, a statement of potential significance, and the time span of the project.  Abstracts should be approximately 200-250 words, unless otherwise noted in the application instructions.

Keep in mind that many program directors and review panel members will not read much more than the abstract. Program directors also use abstracts to select appropriate reviewers.

Table of Contents

The table of contents should list major sections of the proposal and give the specific page location where each section begins in the narrative.  It need not include all subheadings but should be detailed enough to allow reviewers to find the section or sections of interest, without having to search through the entire proposal.

Introduction/Statement of Need

While usually brief, the proposal introduction or statement of need is one of the most important parts of the grant application.  The introduction should engage the reviewer’s attention, encouraging a full reading of the proposal.

Description of Proposed Research

The description is a detailed extension of the proposal abstract.  Indicate how the research will relate to and reflect the current state of the art.  Explain project goals and methodology carefully.  The research plan should include the project objectives, results of preliminary studies relevant to the application, procedures, and time frame.

Biographical Sketch

If no format is requested, the format of the NIH four page biographical sketch is recommended.  In its current format it includes a personal statement as well as current and pending support.  If the sponsor requests these items separately you can use the older template.

Current and Pending Support

This section should include current and pending support with the sponsor name, title of the project, your percent of effort, amount of the award and the period of support.   Some sponsors may require you to note any overlap and how it will be addressed if funded (total effort cannot exceed 100%).

Facilities and Equipment

List the facilities where the project will take place, indicating the availability of equipment and laboratory or research space. Include separate listings for all partners or sub awardees if at different locations. 

Budget and Budget Justification

Detail the direct costs and indirect costs that are being requested to conduct the project (see Budget Development for additional information).  It is important to substantiate your budget with an explanation or a budget justification.  The budget justification is used to clarify various line items such as the percentage of inflation, fringe benefits, difference in cost shared effort vs. salary requested, the type of equipment you plan to purchase, travel, etc.

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