Proposal Review & Submission

Proposal Review and Endorsement

Acting in the capacity of the University's designated authorized institutional official, Sponsored Research staff review and approve all sponsored research proposals on behalf of the Principal Investigator and the University.  Sponsored Research provides a comprehensive pre-submission administrative review to ensure a complete and accurate proposal and compliance with sponsor and Northwestern institutional policies. At times Sponsored Research requests changes that will bring the proposal into compliance with guidelines and policies, or suggest changes to enhance funding success. When the proposal is complete, Sponsored Research provides institutional endorsement of the proposal.

Sponsored Research Review Processes

Once Sponsored Research receives all necessary documents, an Sponsored Research team (including your Grants Officer and Sponsored Research support staff members) completes the proposal review process. This involves:
  • Reviewing the solicitation, program announcement, or request for proposals (RFP) (if applicable)
  • Gathering any past related proposals or awards (e.g., for non-competing continuations)
  • Assuring that all co-investigators and the chair, section head, center director, or dean (as applicable) have signed off on the proposal
  • Assuring that all required conflict of interest certifications have been completed (when applicable)
  • Verifying appointments and salaries in the FASIS system for all Northwestern personnel listed on the proposal and ensuring that salaries for unnamed research staff are reasonable
  • Reconciling effort commitments in the proposal
  • Verifying that correct rates and bases have been applied and calculated in the budget for fringe benefits and facilities and administrative (F&A)
  • Confirming cost sharing requirements and University funding sources (when applicable)
  • Reviewing equipment quotes, subcontract budgets, protocol approvals, etc. (when applicable)
  • Reviewing the budget justification to ensure that the explanation of budget line items is reasonable and accurate, and includes only allowable costs
  • Reviewing the proposal documents to ensure that all sponsor requirements have been addressed and that page limits and other formatting requirements are accordance with the sponsor guidelines

Submission Deadlines

Timely submission of your proposal to a sponsor depends on your providing complete and accurate information as well as meeting internal submission deadlines.  Sponsored Research must frequently review and submit many different proposals for the same deadline.   Consequently, heavy proposal volume may preclude on-time submission of any proposal that arrives late.
Standard internal deadlines* are as follows:
Complete administrative shell:   5 work days prior to sponsor submission deadline
Complete proposal:                    2 work days prior to the submission deadline.
*These deadlines reference submission of proposal elements in InfoEd, the electronic research administration support system that Northwestern uses for tracking and development of proposals.  Research Administrators and Principal Investigators should ensure that they have InfoEd access well in advance of submitting a proposal to Sponsored Research.

Proposal institutional endorsement and submission to sponsor

InfoEd System-to-System proposals are institutionally endorsed by Sponsored Research's Authorized Official and submitted directly to the sponsor electronically. Non-system-to-system proposals are also endorsed by Sponsored Research's Authorized Official. The InfoEd proposal record should indicate to Sponsored Research how endorsed correspondence should be addressed and routed to the sponsor. Hard copy proposals/signature pages may be picked up at Sponsored Research after institutional endorsement for subsequent submission to the sponsor by the unit or PI.

Lead Times

The average interval between the submission of a proposal and the award of a grant from Federal agencies is from six to ten months. Principal investigators should take this delay into consideration in planning for the submission of proposals.