What are the common components of a proposal?
Where do you find information about sponsor requirements?
RAS has developed some basic information on each of the major sponsors.
Where do I find information on sponsor requirements?
This is the critical first step in preparing a proposal. Check the sponsor’s website for solicitation guidelines and correct forms. For federal sponsors, use www.grants.gov. Be sure to confirm that the principal investigator (PI) has the current, accurate program solicitation. Refer to Finding Funding.
My PI is responding to an RFP. Are there special requirements for a contract proposal?
Yes, there are often additional requirements for government contracts. Read the RFP carefully and contact your RAS administrator with questions.
What issues should be considered when preparing the proposal budget?
What are MIT procedures for review and submission of revised budget or the statement of work.
How do I know which F&A rate to use for a non-research activity when the sponsor does not have an approved rate or a rate in the program announcement/funding information?
When the sponsor does not have an approved rate for non-research activities, the DLC should contact the Provost Office to discuss whether the F&A objective should be equivalent to the current fund account overhead and fund transaction fee or to some other rate.
What is the MIT internal routing and review process?
Will the PI or DLC be required to fund the underrecovery of the fund account overhead and fund transaction fee on non-research sponsored projects?
This may be required. Anticipated underrecoveries should be reviewed with the DLC’s RAS Contract Administrator.
How long in advance of the Sponsor's deadline should the proposal reach RAS?
Proposals must reach RAS five working days before the Sponsor's deadline. Given the growing complexity of the proposal submission process, it is critical that principal investigators adhere to these internal deadlines in order that staff members in the Departments, Labs and Centers and RAS have time to work through the many issues that arise before submitting a proposal by the sponsor's deadline.
Should cost sharing be included in a proposal?
Unless the sponsor guidelines mandate cost sharing, MIT policy discourages voluntary cost sharing. Refer to the Cost Sharing section for more details on cost sharing.
How do I know when to budget as a subaward and when to budget as a vendor?
It is important to understand the distinction between subrecipients and vendors.
- Provide goods and services as part of their normal business operations
- Do not participate in the intellectual direction of the project and, therefore, would not be included as authors on publications.
- Provide similar goods and services to many different purchasers
- Operates in a competitive environment
- Are not subject to compliance requirements
My PI’s project involves fabricating a new piece of major equipment. How do I treat this in the budget if the final equipment is made from many materials and supplies?
Many research projects include the design, development, and building of equipment that is not available commercially. Equipment that cannot be purchased “off the shelf,” and is built by the research team, is fabricated equipment. There are instances where the whole research project is the fabrication of equipment.
The act of assembling a CPU, monitor, and keyboard does not meet the definition of a fabrication, since the computer system is not unique.
The Property Office is responsible for determining whether budgeted items meet the definition of “fabricated equipment.”
Can a Post Doc Fellow be charged to a research account?
Postdoctoral fellow appointments as referred to in 5.3.3 of MIT Policies and Procedures are not appropriate costs to organized research activities (research project WBS) of the Institute. The primary purpose of the postdoctoral fellow appointment is the development of the individual and not the advancement of a research project. See Policy reference below.
Non federal awards in particular could mention the term Fellow in the context of recruiting post doctoral level staff to work in their research programs. When we do have major agreements where the sponsor is supporting both an organized research program and a fellowship award program (two distinct purposes), RAS creates a research WBS for the organized research program and a fellowship WBS for the fellowship award program.
Please note, however, that where grants are made for the primary purpose of postdoctoral research training (e.g. NIH T32 training grants), consistent with A-21, the grant is established in an organized research account and postdoctoral fellow appointments are allowable charges to the research account.
MIT Policies and Procedures | 5.3 Academic Research Staff Appointments
What special reviews may be necessary?
Special review is required if the project includes any of the following:
- Use of human subjects
- Use of animals
- Recombinant DNA
- Radioactive materials
- International commitments
- Rental of space, construction or renovation of MIT property
- Sponsorship from a private foundation
If your project includes any of the above, please visit the Special Review section for additional details.
Is there a difference in the rates used for research versus non-research activities?
Research activities will be established in Research WBS elements (numbers 6xxxxxx and greater), and should be proposed at the current negotiated research F&A rate.
Non-research activities will be established in Fund WBS elements (numbers between 2xxxxxx and 3xxxxxxx), and should be proposed at the sponsor’s approved rate. Examples of non-research activities at MIT that receive sponsored program support include:
- Educational service
- Public service
- Student service
- Professional (non-research purpose) travel
- Professional (non-research purpose) conferences
- Graduate and postdoctoral fellowship awards
How do I find the information about MIT that the sponsor is requesting?
How do I prepare a research proposal for industry consideration?
In cases where there is no pre-defined proposal format, the Office of Strategic Alliances & Tech Transfer (OSATT) recommends you use the Common Components of a Proposal for guidance. However, there are additional elements that should be included in an industrial proposal that will assist OSATT in putting together a contract. The proposal should spell out:
- What is the research you will be conducting?
- What is the research the company will be conducting, if applicable?
- Will you or anyone in your lab be conducting any of the research at the company?
- Will the company be sending any personnel to MIT to participate in the research?
- Will you be receiving any materials or data/databases from the company to conduct this research?
- Will you be sending any materials or data/databases to the company as a part of the research effort (as opposed to sharing the research results in a summary report)?
- Will you be using any material or data/databases from a third party in this collaboration (i.e. will you need to use material/data/databases you received from another university, company or other institution)?
- Will you be collaborating with any third parties (i.e. Broad, a local hospital, another university)
- Do you have any Background IP that you will be bringing to this research effort? If yes, can you identify that BIP or provide us with the name of your Licensing Officer at the TLO.
- Do you anticipate any patentable inventions arising from this research?
OSATT will provide the sponsor with an MIT Industrial Agreement for their review that reflects the research, as we understand it. Please contact OSATT as early as possible regarding industrial agreements.
The sponsor is requiring that the proposed personnel effort be shown in man-hours. How do I do this?
If MIT is responding to a competitive solicitation requiring man-hours, proposals sometimes include estimated man-hours conversion rates, with the following statement: MIT’s accounting system does not support estimating, accumulating and reporting personnel costs on a man-hour basis. Estimated man-hour conversion information is provided for sponsor proposal evaluation purposes only. If an award is made, costs will be accumulated and reported on a man-month basis.
Are pre-proposal submissions considered to be part of MIT’s proposal?
Pre-proposal submission instructions determine whether binding commitments are required. While most pre-proposals are non-binding, any that include binding commitments should be reviewed by the RAS Contract Administrator.
Federal proposals require certifications from MIT and the investigators. What do they mean?
RAS has developed some basic information on each of the major sponsors. Please refer to this section.
How do you set up Whitehead Institute and MIT Biology Department Proposals?
Whitehead Institute (WIBR) is a separate entity from MIT but the MIT/WIBR affiliation agreement allows WI Faculty to submit proposals via the Institute as they also have appointments in the MIT Biology Department. These proposals would be for awards they would not be eligible to receive if they were to submit directly through Whitehead i.e. solicitations that must be submitted by an educational institution.
MIT accepts the proposal which is budgeted with WIBR direct and indirect costs using WIBR’s current rates but with an additional line item defined as “Subaward-first $25,000 subject to F&A”. MIT enters its own current F&A rate on $25,000 on that categorical budget line and submits the proposal. (e.g. in FY 2014 MIT would enter $25,000 x .56 = $14,000 on the budget line)
When an award is received in MIT the account is set up for the WIBR PI in the Biology Department who will process a requisition to issue an award to WIBR to allow for the pass through of funds from MIT to WIBR. The Research Subaward Team then writes the subaward to the WIBR for the total funding minus the “Subaward-first $25,000 subject to F&A” line item amount.
WIBR submits regular invoices to MIT for payment, as well as whatever reports are required by the terms of the award.
If you have questions about this process please contact your Contract Administrator at RAS.