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Preparing a Successful Grant Proposal

A Summary of 
the GSAC Colloquium
on Sept. 4, 2001
Presented Jointly by

Aaron Bertram, Graeme Milton,
Cindi Phillips & Anurag Singh

Comments from the Audience

Please follow the above links to see each speaker's portion
of the presentation or the comments from the audience.

Portion presented by Cindi Phillips

Funding Agencies

Find funding agencies on your own.  Network with senior colleagues/researchers having interests related to yours.  It is strongly recommended that you also approach funding agencies other than the NSF since some of them have much larger budgets than the NSF mathematics budgets and there may be less competition for sponsorships from these other agencies.  Some possible funding agencies are:

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Funding Opportunities

    This web address provides a complete list of NSF programs and their target dates and deadlines.  Information regarding NSF awards, general information and policies and a practical step-by-step guide is also available at this web address.  (If you wish, please contact Cindi for a printout of this page.)
  • The University of Utah, Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP)

    This contains links to web-based resources and materials you can use to find funding opportunities, develop proposal material and submit electronic proposals at sponsor web sites.  You can search databases for locating funding announcements or opportunities for federal, commercial and private non-profit sources.
  • Federal Commons

    The Federal Commons site is in its early stages of development.  In the future, this site will expand the Grant Transactions secion, offering the capability to search for grant funding opportunities across the Federal Government, and to apply for and report on federal grants.


On writing an NSF Grant Proposal

Brevity will assist reviewers and Foundation staff in dealing effectively with proposals.  Therefore, the Project Description (including Results from Prior NSF Support, which is limited to five pages) may not exceed 15 pages.  Visual materials, including charts, graphs, maps, photographs and other pictorial presentations are included in the 15-page limit.  Conformance to the 15-page limit will be strictly enforced unless a deviation has been specifically authorized.

Reference information is required.  Each reference must include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article title, book or journal title, volume number, page numbers, year of publication, and web site address if available electronically.  Proposers must be especiallly careful to follow accepted scholarly practice in providing citations for source materials relied upon wen preparing any section of the proposal.

Where there is no established page limitation for the references, this section must include bibliographic citations only and must not be used to provide parenthetical information outside of the 15-page project description.

Biographical sketches are limited to two pages each and are required for senior project personnel. 

NSF FastLane

FastLane ( is a web-based proposal preparation and submission system developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and all NSF proposals are now submitted electronically via FastLane.

Access to FastLane is controlled through the use of a password.  Anyone who needs to work on an NSF proposal, including Principal Investigators (PIS), research assistants, college and department business officers and support staff, and graduate students should get his or her own password.  Your logon set up by the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP).

    New features of FastLane:
  • You no longer need to create pdf files;  FastLane now supports uploading files in other formats (i.e.  Microsoft Word, text files, TeX/LaTeX).
  • The electronic signature process, effective July 1, 2001.


The Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) of the U. of Utah

Internal U. of Utah Procedures

All requests for project support at the University of Utah must be submitted to the sponsor through the OSP.  The OSP will review the sponsor request and approve all proposals PRIOR to submission to the sponsor.

All sponsored project accounting is established by the OSP and Research Accounting after acceptance of the award or contractual agreement.

If you are planning to submit a proposal this year, please let Cindi Phillips know as soon as possible.  Cindi will help prepare grant budgets (budgeting involves the systematic itemization of costs that will be incurred if a proposed project is awarded funding --- major categories of direct costs, indirect costs, restricted costs, etc.) and initiate required internal network.

Per current policy, the OSP must receive all application no later than 3 working days prior to an agency deadline.  However, you are strongly encouraged to provide that application even earlier (say, 5 working days prior), if possible.   In any event, the OSP must have ample time to review proposed budgets to ensure the most efficient use of university resources.

Note:  Effective July 1, 2001, the U. of Utah negotiated overhead rate has increased to 50% for new on-campus research.  The other rates have not changed (i.e.  34.1% for on-campus sponsored training and 27.5% for other on-campus sponsored activities) 

The Research Handbook
The Research Handbook provides background information, policy and procedures.

Deadlines and Target Dates

Please visit the following NSF page:

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Department of Mathematics
University of Utah
155 South 1400 East, JWB 233 
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0090 
Tel: 801 581 6851, Fax: 801 581 4148