Review & Submission

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Grant submission always follows the process developed by sponsors. Most sponsors are requesting proposals through online portals now, but there are still some that require submission by email or even courier.

Independent of the mode of submission, the sponsor may ask you as the Principal Investigator (PI) to submit the application directly (submission by PIs) or may ask that the application to be submitted by an “institutional representative” in which case Research Services will submit for you (submission by Research Services).

In some cases, the sponsor asks you to submit directly, but requires a cover page signed by an “institutional representative”. In this case, please send the proposal, cover page, and SFU Signature Sheet to Research Services three business days before the submission deadline to secure the signature.


e-Submission refers to the process of electronically submitting a grant application to a funding agency via its online system. The e-Submission process is used for all SSHRC and NSERC’s granting programs, some of CIHR’s granting programs, as well as NIH, Michael Smith, and other agencies.

Please note that some portals require registration, which can take time. Therefore, register early and make sure you are affiliated with SFU and understand how the portal works before submission. Please also check submission deadlines and validation processes the portal uses to make sure your submission does not get timed out.

The following are common portals accessed by SFU researchers and Research Services.



Most online application portals, including the Tri-Agencies, allow you to upload and work on documents on the online portal. To make sure only final drafts get submitted, the Agencies assign statuses to your proposal (e.g. “in progress”, “completed”, “submitted”, “returned”, “approved”, “received”, etc.). Research Services can only see your proposal if you clicked the “submit” button which we call “submit mode”.

The following table describes SFU requirements for each submission method.

Submission by PIs Submission by Research Services

A PI must submit a fully signed SFU Signature Sheet and a copy of his/her application to Research Services no later than 9:30AM of the internal deadline.

Note. If your application requires an institutional representative signature, Research Services will return the signed cover page to you for submitting directly to the agency.

A PI must have his/her application in the “submit” mode on the agency’s online application portal (or in the Research Services inbox if the sponsor is not using a portal), and send a fully signed SFU Signature Sheet to Research Services no later than 9:30AM of the internal deadline.

Internal Review

Your application will require internal review if it is submitted to the funding agency by Research Services or if it requests an institutional representative signature. SFU reviews your application in order to

  • Ensure that your application meets the university and funding agency guidelines and requirements
  • Provide the final read-over to spot errors that may eliminate your proposal from the competition

SFU internal review by Research Services varies depending on the requirements of each funding agency.  In general, Research Services conducts the following checks.

  • SFU Signature Sheet: competition, grant title, grant ID, applicants and co-applicants, Dean and Chair signatures
  • Supporting documents (e.g., proposal and statement of work)
  • Submission deadline
  • Institutional signatures
  • Eligibility: ensure the applicant is eligible to hold the grant through SFU based on the sponsor policies and requirements
  • Sponsor terms and conditions
  • Overhead (indirect costs)
  • Compliance requirements (e.g., research ethics, animal care, biohazard, etc.)
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Budget period and amount: make sure it matches with the application
  • Type of grant: grant or contract

Review and Submission FAQs

I directly submit my application to the funding agency. Why do I still need to send a fully signed SFU Signature Sheet and a copy of my application to Research Services?

If your application wins the competition, there will be no delay in setting up your award, as you have already submitted the necessary paperwork to Research Services.

How does the SFU e-Submission process work like?

How will I know if my application has been e-Submitted by Research Services?

As soon as Research Services approves and e-submits your application, the primary applicant receives an automatic email reply from the relevant agency, stating that your application has been submitted. Sometimes this automatic reply email lands in a researcher’s “junk” mailbox. Therefore, you may want to check that when expecting a reply. Please write to Research Services ( in advance of the agency’s deadline
if you are uncertain about the status of your application.

Please note successful submission only means the funding agency has received your application. It does not guarantee that you will win the competition.

What will happen if I miss the SFU internal deadline?

Application submitted after the SFU internal deadline will be forwarded to the funding agency “as is” and will be in queue in order of receipt. There is a risk that submission will not be possible within the agency’s deadline if Research Services has a long queue. We try to minimize this risk, but it is a good practice to let us know if you have to submit late so we can prepare for it.

Do I need an SFU Signature Sheet for my Letter of Intent?

Some agencies have a two-stage application process involving a Letter of Intent (LOI) or Notification of Intent to Apply (NOI) followed by a full application. An SFU Signature Sheet is only required on an LOI or NOI if the sponsoring agency requires institutional signatures, or if the LOI results in an award, such as a development award to assist with the preparation of a full application. In these cases, all appropriate SFU signatures are required, including the applicant, Department/School Head, Faculty Dean, and Research Services.

The grant application I am preparing requires an institutional letter of support. How can I get one?

If your grant application requires a letter of support from the Office of the Vice President, Research, please contact the Manager of Institutional Research Support & Analysis well in advance of the agency deadline.

I would like to work with an industry partner. Who at SFU can help making my submission strategic?

For grants that involve technology transfer with industry partner (e.g., NSERC Engage, Engage Plus, I2I, and MSFHR I2C), please contact the Director of Industry Engagement well in advance of your submission.