Applying for sponsored projects 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.
Investigators are expected to write their own proposals and prepare their own submissions. The proposal development assistance provided by the OVPR includes resources to make process more efficient and effective.
The Office of Research Services (ORS) provides administrative and management services for sponsored projects as well as budgeting assistance to researchers submitting proposals. ORS is the final submission mechanism for the university. ORS also offers a variety of training opportunities, including a research orientation, as well as workshops on budgeting, Cayuse SP and 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 sponsored project 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. This section outlines the responsibilities of various participants in the research award process. A quick view of roles and responsibilities of the research administration process has been created for your convenience.
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:
- Provides access to federal funding opportunities through the Funding Resources Web page
- Has established the Office of Research Development to provide support for large-scale, center-like proposals
- Provides resources for researchers to assist them with proposal development
- Manages technology and invention disclosures and licensing
- Administers Limited Submissions
- Provides Responsible Conduct of Research oversight and training, including conflict of interest, laboratory/studio safety, animal care and use, human subjects, environmental health and safety, and various institutional safety and compliance committees
- Provides a number of proposal development opportunities including the Faculty Proposal Development Workshop Series, a hands-on workshops to improve competitiveness; the Proposal Support Program, which provides funds to support collection of pilot data; and the Proposal Review Program that provides expert feedback on a proposal before it is submitted.
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:
- Review of sponsor and university requirements that must be fulfilled by the PI
- Preparing and submitting internal forms and materials for ORS proposal services review and approval, following the requirements of the sponsor and of the university
- Preparing appropriate letters of intent for the sponsor or for the university in the case of a limited submission
- Submitting any additional information a sponsor might request
- Managing the project in accordance with sponsor and university requirements
- Managing the agreed-upon budget; over-expenditures are the responsibility of the PI's department
- Submitting time and effort reports according to university policy
- Submitting conflict of interest notifications as appropriate
- Working with the Human Research Protection Program, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Environmental Health and Safety or the Institutional Biosafety Committee as appropriate
- Reviewing and following all export control rules as appropriate
- Submitting and retaining documents as required by the award
- Completing award requirements as stipulated by the sponsor
- Following sponsor and university rules upon completion of the project or if a researcher leaves the university for any reason
Office of Research Services
The Office of Research Services (ORS) is a part of the OVPR. ORS provides pre-award, contract negotiation and other award services. ORS responsibilities include:
- Training faculty and staff to access and use local and agency-provided on-line program information
- Responding to faculty requests for specific information
- Assisting with budget preparation and completion of assurances and other forms
- Ensuring that agency and university requirements are met
- Coordinating with the export control office
- Submitting electronic proposals and proposals requiring hard copies by mail
- Maintaining files of active proposals and awards
- Providing regular reports to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB,) Board of Regents, vice presidents, deans and other administrators concerning proposal and award activity as appropriate
- Responding to requests for information or special reports
- Negotiating the business aspects of grants and contracts on behalf of the university
- Reviewing all award documents prior to acceptance by the university
- Processing all awards for acceptance
- Award extensions, continuations, renewals, and modifications
- Changes in principal investigators/key personnel
- Sub-award agreements
- Advance FOPs
- Assuring that human subject, animal care, hazardous material, and financial conflict of interest compliance approvals have been granted, as appropriate
- Assisting and advising principal investigators, project directors and project staff
Office of Research Development
The Office of Research Development (ORD) cultivates new and innovative initiatives that increase competitiveness by
facilitating collaborations and coordinating catalytic research events. ORD will meet
one-on-one with new faculty to assist with setting up automatic grant opportunity
announcements tailored to faculty research expertise and interests; identifying the
resources and tools available in the OVPR.
ORD offers early-stage proposal development for large-scale, center-like proposals and for new faculty/first-time submitters by:
- Developing timelines, checklists and managing the proposal development process
- Organizing, managing and attending team meetings
- Assisting with coordination and communication between the project team and the Office of Research Services, as well as the project team and external partners
- Providing strategic proposal review and feedback to ensure that all sponsor requirements are met
- Connecting faculty with editors knowledgeable in grant writing to assess the readability, clarity and organization of the proposal. Please contact email@example.com for assistance.
ORD helps researchers develop strategic concept papers in order to connect with their program officers and gain valuable feedback. For any level of grant proposal, ORD will review it in its near-finished state (1/2-2/3 complete) and provide strategic feedback to the researcher. Our high-level review will focus on the solicitation's review criteria and the agency's expectations.
If you have a proposal rejected, ORD will meet with you to discuss the reviewer comments for your declined proposal and help you strategize for a successful resubmission. To find out more about any of these services, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accounting Services (AS) supports the research mission of TTU by providing training and education, financial
administration, compliance, and other research support services to faculty and staff.
AS has responsibility for most post-award administration functions.
A dedicated grant specialist within AS 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. AS responsibilities include:
The grant specialist will provide the following services throughout the term of your project:
- Award Setup – establish all project and cost share FOPs and budgets in Banner
- Award Management – process budget revision requests, work with ORS for budget modifications requiring sponsor approval, approve procurement of federally-funded equipment and items over a given threshold, review higher risk project expenditures, review cost share commitments, address all questions and issues related to the financial administration of projects, and obtain sponsor approval as needed
- Award Closeout – coordinate the submission of all required closeout documents
Accounting and Reporting
A separate group within AS will perform the following post-award financial and accounting activities:
- Billing – submit invoices and/or draw down project funding
- Reporting – submit required financial reports
- Collections – follow up with sponsors to collect amounts owed
- Audit management – serves as the point of contact for all sponsored project audit requests
The invoicing and reporting for some projects may require some departmental coordination. To the extent possible, AS will work through your grant specialist to meet the billing and reporting obligations.
Cost Accounting and Compliance
AS 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.
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:
- Assisting in the preparation of the budget by assuring all salary rates are correct, and appropriate university rates have been used for fringe benefits, tuition and F&A costs; these details can be obtained from the ORS website and proposal development modules
- Ensuring all departmental and college approvals are secured prior to submission.
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:
- Is awarded through a request for proposals (RFP) or other similar competitive process
- Has designated principal investigator(s)
- Commits the university to specific conditions and requires that the principal investigator follow a specific plan of research or meet stated goals
- Has specific financial accountability that will include regular budget reporting; the university's F&A or indirect cost rate; equipment purchase agreements; and any salary, fringe benefits and insurance to be paid
- Has a specified end date for funding
- May require project outcome reporting reports to the sponsoror other terms and conditions for the disposition of tangible property (such as equipment, records or other deliverables)
- May include terms and conditions for the disposition of non-tangible property (such as intellectual property or rights in data)
- May require a university data management plan
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.
Sponsored Project Stages
A sponsored project has several stages:
- Pre-proposal Development – a PI determines a need in his/her field. Often a PI will need to look outside his/her area for co-PIs or collaborators with complementary skills and expertise.
- Funding Opportunities – once a PI determines a need, he/she must look for external funding opportunities. The OVPR provides a Funding Resources web page to assist faculty in finding funding opportunities. A proposal may require a letter of intent or may have a limited submission rule. The PI is responsible for knowing deadlines. All limited submissions are managed through the OVPR. A Request for Proposal will state specifically if it limits the number of submissions. Texas Tech manages all limited submissions through the OVPR.
- Proposal Development – The PI is responsible for assembling the proposal package, preparing a budget, obtaining pre-award review, completing the internal routing process and acquiring the appropriate approvals and departmental signatures. Faculty should check with their respective department chairs for policies and approvals specific to their department or college.
- Proposal Submission – ORS will review and submit the proposal. Faculty are encouraged to allow adequate time for ORS to check the proposal to ensure that university and sponsor requirements are complete and that budgets are correct. It is recommended that all completed proposals be submitted five business days before the agency deadline.
- Award Negotiation and Acceptance – Once a sponsor approves a proposal, the university will negotiate acceptance of the award. Once final documents are signed and budget amounts set, oversight moves from ORS to AS.
- Post-Award – AS is responsible for account setup, sponsor billing, sponsor financial reporting and other functions.
- Reporting – Many sponsors require periodic reports, generally annually and a final report at the end of the grant. All technical reporting is the responsibility of the PI.
- End of the Project – contact AS to close out grant accounts.
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 Proposal Services team can assist faculty in interpreting sponsor guidelines.
- Preliminary Proposals, Pre-proposals or Letters/Notices of Intent – Some sponsors will request a short proposal from researchers to determine interest in a project. Many federal agencies are increasingly asking for pre-proposals. ORS is using Cayuse SP in tracking effort on pre-proposals. The internal processing form does not need to be signed in this case as there are no certifications being made at the pre-proposal stage. Pre-proposals will receive a Cayuse number which will be retained if a full proposal is invited.
- Solicited Proposals – Federal, state and private entities will issue calls for proposals for funding of new projects.
- Unsolicited Proposals or White Papers – Investigators may submit proposals to a sponsor that are not in response to an RFP. PIs should consult with their department chairs, college deans, or the Office of Research Development before submitting an unsolicited proposal.
- Continuation Proposals – These are proposals asking for continuation of funding based on work delivered with the initial funding. Sponsors may request a new budget.
- Revised Proposals – These are submitted if a sponsor has indicated the project may be fundable if specific changes are made.
- Proposal Resubmissions – When a proposal is declined, the PI may wish to revise and resubmit their idea through the next competition round or to another funding opportunity. The RDT offers SCAN session (Swift Critique Appraisal and Notation Session) to discuss with you the reviewer comments for your declined proposal and help you strategize for a successful resubmission.
- Limited Submissions – Some sponsors limit the number of proposals that will be accepted from an institution. A proposal RFP will state specifically if it limits the number of submissions. Texas Tech manages all limited submissions through the OVPR. When a limit is imposed, the university will require a notice of intent from those interested in submitting a proposal in response to that particular RFP. If more notices are received than the institutional limit allows, an internal competition will be held. As with all proposals for sponsored projects, proposals for limited submission programs are not authorized to leave the university without review and institution approval from ORS.
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 proposal services 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 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.
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:
- Developing the budget alongside the narrative assures that the budget items are specifically related to activities described in the proposal.
- Reviewers often examine the budget in the context of the program narrative, evaluate whether sufficient and appropriate personnel to perform the work have been included, and match the overall budget to the work proposed.
Please note that investigators must obtain approval from their department and college before committing the university to any cost sharing prior to submitting the proposal.
Research expenses can be divided into two areas:
- Direct costs – specific line items in a budget, such as salaries, fringe benefits, equipment and travel.
- Facility and Administration (F&A costs) – costs incurred for common or joint objectives, such as building/equipment depreciation and general administrative costs. F&A is paid as a percentage of direct costs, with the amount negotiated by the university and the sponsor. The distribution of F&A costs is worked out between the colleges and the OVPR. Distribution varies by college. Check with your department chair for specifics.
Please note that investigators must obtain approval from their department and college before committing the university to any cost sharing. This must be secured before a proposal is submitted. 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, and other agencies, 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.
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 74.17 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.
International Collaborations & Export Compliance
If you will be doing any of the following in your research, you should contact the Director of Export Compliance and Security at email@example.com:
- Collaborating with a foreign company, university, or researcher;
- Conducting research abroad;
- Taking/shipping equipment abroad;
- Traveling to, or conducting TTU business in, an embargoed country, such as Iran, Sudan, Syria, Cuba, or the Crimea Region of Ukraine;
- Performing research that could be used in a military application;
- Performing research for industry and publication of results is restricted; or
- Researching in a marine environment.
Compliance with export control and federal security regulations is a matter of law. These laws are complex and change rapidly depending on the current world political situation. The Office of Export and Security Compliance tracks these changes and has checkpoints in place to assist you as you conduct research, travel, and present your research results to others around the globe.
Researchers should be aware that they could be personally liable for knowing, willful violations of export control regulations. There are criminal penalties (researchers at other universities have gone to jail) and fines (up to $1 million per violation in criminal cases and $250,000 per violation in administrative cases) that have been imposed on university researchers who ignore the laws or deliberately violate them.
An export can involve taking an item or data out of the U.S., or it can be a "deemed export" if you provided protected information or data to a foreign national in the U.S.
TTU has training available through in-person training tailored for your project or department, as well as online general training available that you can take at your convenience.
The export control website assists 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, including research funded internally or through gifts to Texas Tech. If you have questions about how the export regulations apply to specific research, please feel free to contact Jennifer Horn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 the institution's sponsored project or research services office. 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 may be required to complete the Texas Tech Subrecipient Commitment Form if not part of the Federal Demonstration Project Clearinghouse.
Research Service Providers
Research service providers (formally referred to as professional services agreements) are governed by Texas Tech Operating Policy 72.17 and should be submitted using TechBuy on the Research Service Provider form. Payment to research providers require a vendor setup and the completion of an Independent Contractor Questionnaire with TTU Vendor Services. Services exceeding $10,000 must either be procured competitively or the sole source justified. If a sponsoring agency or award documents specifically requires a formal contract for a research service provider, investigators should contact TTU Purchasing and Contracting for assistance. Exceptions to this form of procurement excludes research participants, current employees of the TTU System or former employees employed within the last 12 months, and foreign vendors. Investigators can contact Procurement Services with questions concerning this process.
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. 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:
- TTU policies for industry sponsors
- Standard agreement for industry sponsors
- Nondisclosure agreement (two-way)
- Nondisclosure agreement (one-way)
- Material Transfer Agreement
It is common for industry partners to request an opportunity to license intellectual property that is developed through sponsored research agreements. The Texas Tech Office of Research 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.
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 Texas Tech University System and must be promptly disclosed to the Texas Tech University Office of Research Commercialization (ORC). All communications with ORC must initially notify Amy Cook in the ORS.
It is advised that, when possible, researchers disclose intellectual property and meet with the ORC representatives several months prior to public disclosure in a journal article or conference presentation to prevent the loss of patent rights. ORC 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.
ORC 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.
ORS also maintains important information about the institution for your proposal.
Several agencies provide proposals guides to assist researchers, including: