Texas Tech University
TTU Guide to Research

Proposal Development

Applying for grants can be a complicated and daunting task, especially for new faculty members. The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) offers resources and training to ease the process.

A nine-month Faculty Proposal Development Program is designed to help faculty members take an idea and develop it into a successful proposal. While the program is geared toward new faculty members, it is open to all faculty wishing to learn more about writing successful proposals and developing research relationships across the campus. The Transdisciplinary Research Academy is an example of the university’s efforts to build interdisciplinary research efforts.

While the OVPR does have local resources available to assist researchers with grant proposal writing and copy editing, investigators are expected to write their own proposals. Contact the Research Development Team for information. In addition, there are a number of proposal writing resources listed on the OVPR’s Faculty Development website. The RDT provides additional organizational resources for those individuals and teams preparing large multi-investigator and/or multi-institutional proposals.

The Office of Research Services (ORS) offers a variety of training opportunities, including a research orientation, as well as workshops on budgeting, Cayuse 424, the university’s electronic proposal development system, and other resources. ORS also has developed a checklist to assist with proposal preparation.

Roles and Responsibilities

While a grant is actually awarded to the university on behalf of the researcher, it is the researcher’s responsibility to adhere to the requirements of the sponsor and the university.

Office of the Vice President for Research

The OVPR provides a myriad of resources to encourage research, scholarship and creative activity across the university. The OVPR:

Principal Investigator

A sponsored project may have single or multiple principal investigators (PIs). In order to be a PI on a TTU submission, the individual must be a TTU employee who is a faculty member, instructor, post-doctoral researcher, or staff member. The Office of Research Services will examine any requests for exemptions to this rule on a case-by-case basis. A principal investigator is responsible for the research, scholarship or creative activity funded by the outside entity. While a sponsored project may be awarded based on the researcher’s expertise, the formal award is made to Texas Tech University. Once an award is accepted, the principal investigator takes responsibility for conducting the research and administering the project. The PI must follow all sponsor regulations as well as university policies.

PI responsibilities include:

Office of Research Services

The Office of Research Services (ORS) is a part of the OVPR. ORS provides pre-award, contract negotiation and some award closeout services. Most post-award services are provided by the Office of Research Accounting (OAR), formally known as Sponsored Programs Accounting and Reporting (SPAR). Those services are outlined below. ORS responsibilities include:

Office of Research Accounting

The Office of Research Accounting, formerly Sponsored Program Accounting and Reporting (SPAR), has responsibility for most post-award administration functions.

The post-award administration for sponsored projects was consolidated in June 2014 to more effectively support the university's vision to become a nationally-recognized public research university.  The overall goal with the consolidation is to improve customer service to departments and principal investigators and to maximize efficiencies in post-award processes. 

A dedicated grant specialist within ORA will assist with all post-award administrative activities and will address any and all issues, concerns, and questions you may have about the award, related compliance requirements, and institutional processes.  You will now have ONE point of contact for all post-award matters.ORA responsibilities include:

Project Management

The grant specialist will provide the following services throughout the term of your project:

Accounting and Reporting

A separate group within ORA will perform the following post-award financial and accounting activities:

The invoicing and reporting for some projects may require some departmental coordination. To the extent possible, ORA will work through your grant specialist to meet the billing and reporting obligations. Again, the goal is that you have one point of contact.

Cost Accounting and Compliance

ORA also has responsibility for the following, some of which may involve different points of contact on a less-frequent basis: facilities and administrative (F&A) rate proposal, academic service center rate development, effort reporting, sub-recipient monitoring, ePAF approval, eVerify compliance, and various other internal and external reporting.

Department’s Role

The role of a department or unit may vary. Each faculty member should consult with his/her department chair about available assistance.

Generally, departments are responsible for:

Sponsored Project Definition

A sponsored project is one in which funds are awarded to the university by an external party in support of research or other scholarly pursuits. A sponsored project typically, but not always:

The university may also receive gifts that can be used for research, scholarship and creative activity. Gifts are made by a person or organization external to the university. Your college’s development officer also can assist you. However, to receive credit for any research funding, you must submit a routing sheet to ORS for processing, even if the development of the funding occurred through your development officer.

Sponsored Project Stages

A sponsored project has several stages:

Types of Proposals

Most proposals are submitted in response to a specific request from a funding sponsor. Each RFP (request for proposal) and agency may have differing requirements. The PI is responsible for understanding and meeting those requirements. The ORS Pre-Award Services Team can assist faculty in interpreting sponsor guidelines.

Content of a Proposal

The proposal format should always adhere to the agency guidelines. Many funding agencies have moved to electronic submission of grant proposal applications.

ORS uses the Cayuse 424 electronic proposal submission system. Cayuse provides streamlined internal routing and approval of proposals, facilitates submission to sponsor systems, tracks research proposal and award activity, and stores proposal and award documents. A series of training modules are available to help researchers understand how to use Cayuse. For questions, please contact your ORS pre-award staff person.

A proposal format should always adhere to the agency guidelines. If the agency does not have specific guidelines, ORS has provided general guidance on a standard proposal format with components that are standard to most proposals.

All proposals should be routed through ORS to ensure that the proposal has been authorized by the appropriate university representatives. Proposals will utilize the new online routing capabilities of the Cayuse system. In most cases, ORS acts as the authorized office to sign applications on behalf of the university.

ORS has created a proposal checklist to help expedite review of proposals within TTU, avoid delays in rewriting and revising proposals, and facilitate planning for the initiation of the proposed project.

Budget Development

The budget is a detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant. The preparation of a budget is an important part of the proposal preparation process and should be considered as the project is developed. This is important for two reasons:

Please note that investigators must obtain approval from their department and college before committing the university to any cost sharing.

To aid investigators ORS has created a Budget Development website that includes a budget template.

Research expenses can be divided into two areas:

Cost sharing has a significant financial impact on the university. The final decision on cost-sharing is made by the vice president for research. All requests for cost-sharing should be routed through department chairs, college deans and the VP for research. A decision to cost share should therefore be carefully weighed. Commitments should be held to a minimum. The university's position is to provide cost sharing only when required by agency guidelines or delineated in specific program announcements or are necessary due to the competitive nature of the proposal. In some cases, voluntary committed cost share is prohibited by the sponsoring agency, such as the National Science Foundation, which will only accept cost share in a select number of programs.

Data Management Plans

The National Science Foundation requires that projects have a data management plan that includes permanent storage and accessibility provisions. The Texas Tech University Libraries has created a Data Management section on their website to help fulfill this requirement.

If your project requires exceptionally large amounts of space for data storage and transfer or involves complex and/or security related issues, please contact the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

Frequently Used Material

Information that may be helpful to you in preparing proposals can be found in TTU Institutional Data. This information includes the certifying official, Federal Employer Identification numbers, the most recent fringe benefit, graduate student tuition and indirect cost rates.

Required Certifications

If your proposal involves human subjects and/or animal use, review and approval by specific university boards is required. It is important to note that Texas Tech may have different human subjects and animal research policies and procedures than your previous institution. Please contact the appropriate office before submitting a grant proposal.

For human subjects, the Office for Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) or the Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews all projects involving human subjects, regardless of funding.

Any project using animals must be reviewed and approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee.

Please note that some proposals need IRB approval before submissions. If research includes genetic testing or use of the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) equipment at Texas Tech for body or brain scanning of human subjects, please contact the HRPP office.

If the proposal requires the use of radiation, lasers, biohazards, or recombinant DNA, authorizations are required from the appropriate campus committee. The Department of Environmental Health and Safety assists with these areas.

The appropriate committee will notify the researcher and ORS of its approval, once it has been obtained. As required, ORS will forward this notification to the potential sponsor. Information regarding approvals is also entered into Texas Tech’s proposal database.

All investigators must annually disclose significant financial interests to Texas Tech. The Investigator Financial Disclosure website provides forms and instructions. For those who have or plan to apply for National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other Public Health Service grants, Texas Tech follows NIH guidelines for financial disclosure. In addition, Texas Tech Operating Policy 70.37 outlines the general university regulations and procedures regarding annual disclosure of significant business and financial interests as well as the identification of conflicts or potential conflicts of interest. The regulations and procedures serve to protect the credibility and the integrity of the university's faculty and staff, as well as the institution, so that public trust and confidence in its sponsored activities are not compromised.

Subcontract and Professional Services

If any of the work on a project will be done by an entity outside of Texas Tech, the PI must provide a scope of work (technical proposal) and budget for each sub-awardee. ORS provides general subcontract information to assist PIs in preparing this section of a proposal. It also will be necessary to include a letter of commitment signed by the sub-awardee’s authorized institutional official, usually ORS. Be sure to follow any other specific instructions including form preparation required by the sponsoring agency. In addition to the letter of commitment, each sub-awardee should complete the Texas Tech Subrecipient Commitment Form.

Industry Sponsorship and Engagement

Industry and commercial organizations are a valuable source of research support. While the university encourages faculty interaction with their counterparts in industry, faculty members must recognize the potential for conflicts of interest. Faculty members engaging in discussions with companies should notify the Texas Tech University System (TTUS) Office of Corporate Engagement (OCE). Any faculty member receiving funding from industry or corporations must file disclosure documents with the Research Integrity Office of the OVPR.

If funding is coming from an industry source, ORS provides important forms for both the researcher and the industry sponsor. Those forms include:

The Office of Corporate Engagement serves as the business development arm for the system, matching university resources with commercial opportunities focused on privately funded research. OCE provides the TTUS researchers time and expertise to negotiate the best value and offers relationship management and development with industry partners.

It is common for industry partners to request an opportunity to license intellectual property that is developed through sponsored research agreements. The Texas Tech University System Office of Technology Commercialization is responsible for negotiating such license agreements for technology developed by university researchers and is available to assist with all intellectual property patent and licensing questions.

Export Control

Individual PIs can be liable for violation of export regulations and penalties range from loss of research awards to fines that can approach $100,000 per day per violation, or jail time.

Current export law controls both hardware and information concerning a range of designated “defense articles” in a way that may have a substantial impact on university research. As a general proposition, a “deemed export” (one requiring a license and imposing access restrictions) exists whenever a foreign national on U.S. soil may be exposed to or be able to access in any manner an export-controlled item of information.

ORS has compiled an Overview of Export Control Laws and Related TTU Procedures to assist principal investigators in determining whether the research they are proposing may be subject to export controls. The information is intended to promote understanding of and compliance with the regulations by all persons involved in research, whether the research is administered by the Office of Research Services. If you have questions about how the export regulations apply to specific research, please feel free to contact Amy Cook at amy.cook@ttu.edu

Data Rights

Original data produced by the research project is owned by the university. This includes any information recorded in any form by the researcher or anyone working on the project, technical data, software code, flow-charts, laboratory books, DNA sequences, viruses, cell lines, etc. The PI, along with the university, is responsible for the retention and appropriate dissemination of the data. The project sponsor also may have an impact on what is done with the data.

The Texas Tech University Libraries has created a Data Management section on their web site to help fulfill this requirement.

If your project requires exceptionally large amounts of space for data storage and transfer, please contact the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

While the university owns the data, the PI has the right to publish the data and is encouraged to do so by the university. The PI is responsible for knowing if the funding agreement with the sponsor has any limits on or special requirements for publication. If patent protection is sought, this could result in a delay in publication.

Intellectual Property and Commercialization

Intellectual property is composed of tangible property produced in the course of research including patentable inventions and copyrightable works, and intangible property such as ideas, expressions, formulas, or any other creations of the mind. All intellectual property created by university researchers made by researchers with the use of university resources or during the course of covered persons university responsibilities is automatically owned by the university and must be promptly disclosed to the Texas Tech University System Office of Research, Commercialization & Federal Relations (RCFR). All communications with OFCR must initially notify Jennifer Horn or Amy Cook in the ORS.

It is advised that, when possible, researchers disclose intellectual property and meet with the OFCR representatives several months prior to public disclosure in a journal article or conference presentation to prevent the loss of patent rights. OFCR works with faculty to identify intellectual property for patenting and licensing and will decide whether to pursue patent protection on inventions disclosed to the office.

OFCR will work with researchers to protect valuable intellectual property before publication dates where necessary.

As a public institution, Texas Tech is entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the application of intellectual property for public use and to provide an equitable distribution of interests among the creators, the university, and where applicable, the sponsoring or contracting funding source as outlined in Texas Tech Operating Policy 74.04 and Board of Regents’ Rules. OFCR has developed an Inventor’s Resources website with a step-by-step chart to help faculty understand how to patent and commercialize an invention.

Reference Material

ORS also maintains important information about the institution for your proposal.

Several agencies provide proposals guides to assist researchers, including:

Vice President for Research

Office of the Vice President for Research
169 Administration Building
Box 41075
Lubbock, TX 79409-1075
(806)742-3904 ofc | (806)742-3959 fax

Webmaster

OVPR Staff
361 Administration Building
Box 41075
Lubbock, TX 79409-1075
(806)742-3905 ofc | (806)742-3947 fax