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Office of Research Administration

Proposal Components

Technical Components of a Proposal

Each Funding Opportunity Announcement (FoA) will have its own specific requirements; please always read the FoA thoroughly to better understand what is exactly needed.

In general, however, proposals have the following components as part of the application:

Abstract/Executive Summary
The abstract provides a brief summary of the project, and in most cases, has to be written within a space limitation specified by the sponsor. It is important to use words economically and efficiently in writing the abstract. The abstract should be clear and should accurately reflect and parallel the content of the proposal without exceeding the sponsor's page limit.

It should include the problem to be addressed, the objectives to be achieved, the approach to be used, and the total cost of the project. Although it appears first in the proposal, the abstract should be written last with the thought that it may be the only part of the proposal that is read by some agency reviewers. It should be clear, succinct, and effective in generating interest for the project.

This section of the proposal allows the investigator to briefly sketch the background for the proposal; demonstrate knowledge of the field by critically evaluating existing knowledge; specifically identify gaps the project is expected to fill; and persuasively and concisely state the importance of the project. It is useful in this section to relate the aims of the project to the broad long-term goal.

Goals & Objectives
In this section the PIs/PDs state the broad long-term goal and the expected outcome(s) of the proposal. This should be followed with a listing of specific objectives that should be clear, brief, realistic, and measurable.

Having stated what is to be done in the specific objectives, the sponsor must now be told how these objectives will be achieved. The discussion should relate the specific approach to specific objectives and explain why the ones proposed are best suited to achieve the project objectives. In some proposals, this section may include the projected sequence or timetable for the project.

Key Personnel
This section answers the question: "Who will do what is being proposed?" It should include a brief description of the qualifications, relevant experiences, and specific roles of all the key personnel, listing the Principal Investigator first. Personnel critical to the successful completion of the project should be included even if no salary is requested. In the appropriate section, relevant publications of key personnel must be listed.

Most sponsored projects, especially training programs or demonstration projects, may require an evaluation component. The narrative in this section should relate the evaluation to the stated objectives; describe evaluation method and data to be used; give time frame and describe resources and personnel that will be involved; and discuss the intended use of the evaluation results.