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Discovery Grants Corner December 2001
Main Page On the Web Grants Corner Featured Stories In Focus


by Leslie Schmidt

What is a sponsored project

The term "sponsored project" typically refers to monetary awards including grants, contracts, subcontracts and agreements that are funded by external sponsors such as the National Science Foundation or the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct specified research, training or public-service projects. Sponsors expect that work conducted with their funds will be in accordance with the proposal that was submitted and any negotiated award that resulted from the proposal. External sponsors can be state or federal agencies, foundations, nonprofit groups, or private enterprises including businesses.

How do I submit a proposal? The first step in submitting a proposal to a potential funding agency, once the proposal is written, is to complete the MSU Proposal Clearance Form. Forms can be found on the Grants & Contracts web page.

This form is used for internal purposes only and provides the basic information regarding projects. As it is an internal form, handwritten forms are acceptable and are requested to be in the Grants & Contracts office at least 24 hours prior to the due date at the agency or sponsor. The Proposal Clearance Form signifies that certain regulatory obligations have been taken into consideration such as conflict of interest, human subjects or animal use, data rights and other approvals prior to the proposal being submitted to the external agency. Signatures need to be obtained from the department head and dean prior to submission to Grants & Contracts.

What is the difference between a grant and a contract?

Grant - "A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities."

Contract - "A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals." (Sources: National Council of University Research Administrators and the University of Minnesota.)

The difference between a grant and a contract is basically a determination by the funding source as to the type of funding mechanism they prefer.

Grants are awarded to the organization for research programs and typically are less restrictive than a contract or "co-op" agreement. A sponsor will typically issue a contract or cooperative agreement when it anticipates more involvement or wishes to have more control over a project. Hence, contracts are more restrictive in nature with specific deliverable products spelled out in the contract.

Anyone with questions regarding these or any other grant and contract topics should feel free to contact our office at 994-2381.

Leslie Schmidt is director of the MSU Grants and Contracts Office.



© 2000 Montana State University-Bozeman
Discovery is published monthly during the academic year by the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research, Creativity and Technology Transfer, 207 Montana Hall. AnnetteTrinity-Stevens, editor.
Illustration by Robert Rath.
For more information, call 994-5607.

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