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Factors to COnsider when developing a proposal

Sponsor Requirements
Most funding opportunities come with specific instructions on how to apply. Please read these documents (e.g. Request for Proposals, Request for Application, Terms and Conditions, Evaluation Criteria, Eligibility Criteria, etc.) carefully and address all requirements. SFU Research Grant Facilitators and Research Services staff can provide assistance if needed.

Strategic Research Plan
Does the project align with the Strategic Research Plan of Simon Fraser University, the Vice-President, Research, and your department?

Terms and Conditions
Does the sponsor have terms and conditions that the University can accept? If the sponsor requires SFU to agree to specific terms and conditions in the application stage, please contact Research Services ( to review these terms.

Matching on Funded Project
Are there matching requirements that require department or Faculty approval?

Will you be able to comply with research compliance requirements such as human participants, animal care and biohazards? Did you contact Research Ethics to initiate your compliance certificate, or renewal?

Do you have sufficient access to facilities to conduct the proposed research? If not, will you be able to document a commitment to obtain the necessary facilities?

Indirect Cost (Overhead) Rate
Does the sponsor require an indirect cost rate different from the University's negotiated rate? Did you include indirect costs in your budget additional to your direct costs? Failure to do so may reduce the budget available for direct research costs.

Research Personnel
Will you have sufficient and highly qualified research personnel to conduct the proposed project?

Ramp up Period
Will you need to front-load the budget to cover initial activities, or will you need to build in a ramp up period to allow for hiring, sample acquisition, etc.?

Project Management
Do you have the staff-power to respond to all administrative requirements for the sponsor? Does the sponsor allow charges for project management, administration and reporting in the budget?

Collaborators and Co-Principal Investigators
Do you need additional expertise for a successful project? This support can come from collaborators, consultants, or co-principal investigator(s).

Open Access Requirements
Many granting agencies, including the Tri-Agency, require research results to be made openly available via open access publishing. SFU Library can assist with planning to make your work openly available. 

Research Data Management Requirements
Funding agencies are beginning to put in place requirements on the management of research data, to assist with the development of research excellence and future discovery. SFU Library provides support for data management planning at each stage of the research process. 

Plans for Transferring Funds
Will a big portion of the funds you apply for be transferred to another institution? If you plan to transfer funds to non-SFU institutions, please contact Research Services ( to help your project planning. SFU must minimize risk from acting as a “pass-through entity” for research funds.


Common elements of research proposals

Proposal requirements vary depending on the funding sponsor. Most research proposals contain the following common elements.

Cover Page
Most sponsors specify the format for the cover page and provide special forms to summarize basic administrative and fiscal data for the research.

Abstract or Project Summary
The purpose of the abstract is to summarize the project background, specific objectives, and methods to be used and expected results. A project abstract is typically limited to one page or less but it should catch the interest of the reader with a powerful impact and benefit statement.

Detailed Project Description
The project description is the heart of the proposal and provides detailed information to help reviewers judge the originality of the research and its probable impact and potential to advance knowledge in the targeted field. Make sure that all evaluation criteria are clearly addressed.

Detailed Implementation Schedule
The implementation schedule breaks down the research into small tasks and describes name, duration, start date, completion date and other information of each task. Many sponsors ask for a GANTT chart.

Detailed Budget
Budget is a key element of grant proposals and serves as a blueprint for spending the project’s funds. It must give an accurate assessment of all cost items and cost amounts that are deemed necessary and reasonable. It consists of a spreadsheet or table with the budget details as line items and a budget narrative (also known as a budget justification) that explains the various expenses. The budget must be detailed enough for the sponsor to understand what activities, resources and equipment will be used, and why, to support project objectives over the lifetime of the project.

Knowledge Mobilization
Knowledge mobilization plan describes the ways in which you will let the wider community know about the outcomes of your project. Sponsors want to know the impact of your project beyond the project period. The more people who learn from your project, the more interesting and valuable your project is to a sponsor. SFU Library can provide support with knowledge mobilization planning.

Team Members
Reviewers need to be convinced that the research team is capable of carrying out the research project and providing the proposed training activities. Evidence for this includes education and training, professional affiliation, specific expertise, publication, and current and previous funding.

HQP Training
Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) training plan describes your past contributions to HQP training and future plan for training HQP. A good HQP training plan should provide details on the activities or projects in which HQP will be involved and how these relate to achieving the objectives of your proposed research project. Sufficient details should be provided to demonstrate that the activities are appropriate to the level of research personnel involved (e.g., undergraduate, Masters, PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellows, etc.).

Suggested Reviewers
You may be asked to identify at least three suggested reviewers who will review your proposal.

Supplementary Materials
Such as, curriculum vitae, resources and facilities, letter of support, letter of intent, etc.

There are other elements that you may need to provide depending on the request for proposal including intellectual property terms, data management, equity and diversity, business plan, etc.