Types of Proposals
Research proposals are the most common type of proposal submitted by investigators. They may be submitted by an individual principal investigator (PI) or by groups of PIs and Co-PIs. Research proposals are typically submitted for anywhere from one to five years. They ordinarily include both direct and indirect costs (see The Costs of Conducting Research for a definition of these terms).
Proposals for the support of individual undergraduate and graduate students are also included in this category.
Research is defined as studious and critical inquiry and examination aimed at the discovery and interpretation of new knowledge. For university purposes this designation applies to all activities organized to produce research outcomes. The term “research” also includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function. Organized research includes all research and development activities that are externally sponsored by federal and nonfederal agencies and organizations, as well as internally-funded university research that is project-based, proposal-driven, competitive and separately budgeted and accounted for. The three broad categories of research are:
- Basic Research — Research undertaken primarily to acquire new knowledge without any particular application or use in mind. (Ex. A researcher is studying the properties of molecules under various heat and cold conditions)
- Applied Research — Research conducted to gain the knowledge or understanding to meet a specific, recognized need. (Ex. A researcher is investigating the properties of particular substances under various heat and cold conditions with the objective of finding longer lasting components for highway pavement)
- Development — The systematic use of the knowledge or understanding gained from research directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems or methods, including the design and development of prototypes and processes. (Ex. A researcher is working with state transportation officials to conduct tests of a newly developed highway pavement under various types of heat and cold conditions)
Instruction is defined as teaching, giving instructions or commands, and/or providing information. This designation applies to any sponsored project where the primary activities are included as part of the institution’s instructional program. It includes all teaching and training activities such as: credit courses, noncredit courses, academic instruction, occupational and vocational education, Extension courses and personal and family improvement instruction.
Public Outreach/Service is defined as furnishing or supplying a benefit or service to the public or a specific segment of the public. This designation applies to sponsored projects where the primary focus is to provide noninstructional services beneficial to individuals or groups external to the institution (not just to a specific company — see applied research). It includes performance of work other than organized research and instruction such as: conferences, institutes, general advisory services (e.g., taxpayer clinics), reference bureaus, testing services, radio and television, consulting and similar noninstructional services to particular sectors of the community.
Fellowship proposals are typically for stipend support for postdoctoral fellows. The postdoctoral fellow’s faculty sponsor serves as the PI on the grant, unless the sponsor’s policy requires otherwise. Please note that fellowship proposals for which the award will be made directly to the postdoctoral fellow do not need to go through the Office of Sponsored Programs for approval.