FAQs: Proposal Preparation & Submission

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.

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. 

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:

  • Instruction
  • Educational service
  • Public service
  • Student service
  • Professional (non-research purpose) travel
  • Professional (non-research purpose) conferences
  • Graduate and postdoctoral fellowship awards

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.”