Getting Started

The resources on this page are a starting point to help a good idea become a successful proposal. Probably the most important tip given by nearly all sponsor representatives is to follow the announcement guidelines. (Also referred to as the Request for Proposal or Funding Opportunity Announcement.) Stellar ideas, sound science and superior writing skills may go unnoticed if, for example, page length, format requirements, or deadlines are not met.

Numerous books, articles and web sites offer advice on planning and writing grant proposals. Sample letters are available for letters of inquiry,cover letters, intent to submit and letters of support.

Proposal guidance is available for principal investigators. These resources include an information sheet of indirect cost rates, benefit rates, ID numbers and travel rates, a manual of guidelines for and requirements of Principal Investigators / Project Directors, information on where to find application forms for federal agencies, and definitions of commonly used acronyms and a glossary of terms used in research administration. A discussion of budget basics can be found here. A budget template is also available to develop your budget - .xls and .xlxs, along with guidance on preparing your Budget Justification/Narrative. Here are Procedures for unallowable costs.

Most federal grant programs are transitioning to electronic submission of proposals through  Many proposals to the National Science Foundation are still submitted using FastLane.  Check your funding opportunity announcement for guidance an how your proposal will be submitted. 

Grantsmanship videos - Short videos explain the components of, writing a successful grant application, peer review, and managing your grant and more.

How does NIH review proposals? Watch this 30-minute video of an actual review panel. Tips on how to get good scores from federal grant review panels.

If you need background information that describes MSU, go to MSU's Mission and Goals and other statistics. Look here for MSU's research funding growth chart, FY12 expenditures by sponsor, and for a summary of research expenditures in 2013 by department and college. Try this link to learn where our research volume ranks nationally.

For information about Montana, try the Census and Economic Information Center.