"Research is Formalized Curiosity.  It is Poking and Prying with a Purpose."
~Zora Neale Hurston



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Best Practices for Proposal Preparation

  • Plan Ahead.  Know your timeline, and be aware of possible impediments to submission: holidays, vacations (including those of your co-investigators), etc. 
  • Read the RFP carefully.  As funding gets tighter, there are more proposals submitted for each opportunity.  Weeding out the proposals that are not prepared in accordance with the submission guidelines is an easy way for reviewers to cut down their workload.  Don’t let your brilliant idea be low-hanging fruit!
  • Know your limitations. Don’t wait until you’ve invested hours and hours of your time to find out that your submission doesn’t meet the requirements for the submission of research proposals from UMCES.  Talk to your lab director and the ORAA office; there are certain things that we as a State of Maryland Institution of Higher Education are not able to do.
  • Know your audience. Contact the agency’s technical representative or program manager to discuss research ideas to ensure your project meets the mission and criteria of the agency.
  • Give everyone involved as much time as possible.  You give your proposal the best shot at funding by allowing everyone – your business office, your co-investigators, your ORAA contact – adequate time for review.  We want your research to be funded and funded adequately, so we want time to make sure all the i’s are dotted, the t’s are crossed, and that both letters are in the proper font.
  • Remember the routing chain.  If a submission is due no later than 5:00 p.m. EST, that means the last person in the routing chain has to be finished reviewing / approving the proposal, and the proposal has to be submitted by 5:00 p.m. EST.  With electronic submissions, there is no wiggle room; when the official US NIST-F1 clock ticks over to 5:00, the submission sites close.  We cannot submit past the deadline, not to be mean but because it’s not possible.
  • Don’t wait for all the details to contact us.  Fill out the Notice of Intent to Submit a Proposal as soon as you know you are planning to submit a proposal.  This lets both your business office and ORAA know that a submission is coming, and we can manage our time accordingly.  We very rarely have only one researcher submitting a proposal to any given RFP, and with the big agencies we often have 6 or more submissions due on the same day.  Even if you don’t know exactly when the submission will be due or who your co-investigator(s) will be, give us a heads up that something is coming.  
  • Take care with titles. As I’m sure you’re aware there have been instances lately of public figures ridiculing research projects as a profound waste of money, usually because they don’t understand the ultimate purpose. We have been asked by funding agencies (particularly NSF) to be aware of how project titles will read to the lay public.  You may be asked, either by someone at UMCES or by your agency, to modify your title to make the ultimate goal of your work more apparent.  This is a reflection of the times we live in, not a reflection on you or your work.  
Proposal Tools

Here are some tools to assist you in both finding funding opportunities and developing your proposal once you find one. 

Funding Source Links

  • Grants.gov  Site with search feature for finding federal grant opportunities.
  • NSF Programs
  • NOAA Research Programs
  • National Institutes of Health 
  • Office of Naval Research University Research Initiatives page
  • Federal Business Opportunities Site with search feature for federal announcements of contracting opportunities.
  • Maryland Governor’s Grants Office
    The Maryland Governor’s Grants Office site provides information on programs from over 70 different state agencies. The information is primarily on grant opportunities, but there is also information on scholarships and other financial assistance opportunities.
  • Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS)
    Funding offered to faculty throughout the University System of Maryland, MIPS funding supports research projects teaming faculty with Maryland companies to develop technology-based products.
  • Foundations
    The Foundation Center provides assistance in learning about foundation opportunities and basic information including lists of national foundations with their areas of expertise. Clicking on "Search" feature at top of page will take you to free searches.

Equipment Grants – Funding for scientific equipment

E-Proposal Submissions

  • NSF Fastlane/Research.gov (Not registered? Click here to request FastLane ID. You will need to affiliate with University of Maryland Center For Environmental Science using our DUNS number 021463831.  Role request will be ‘PI’ once affiliated, ORAA will receive a request to accept the affiliation. ).  Click for FAQs and assistance.
  • NASA NSPIRES (Not registered? Click here to register with NSPIRES)

Proposal Writing Resources


Budget Templates

Cover Pages


  • University-Industry Research Agreements
    Use this
    as a starting point for discussions with industry partners.  It gives them an idea of what sort of contractual clauses UMCES can and cannot accept, and can help formal negotiations go more smoothly.

F & A (Indirect Costs)

Electronic Routing of Proposals through Cayuse424

All UMCES proposals are to be routed electronically using the Cayuse424 system.