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Develop Proposal

The staff of Research Services is committed to providing the very best service possible to assist faculty members providing institute endorsement and submitting proposal, and for accepting awards on behalf of the GSURSF.

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for preparing the proposal and working closely with their Grant Coordinator through the proposal preparation and submission process.

Review the PI Checklist to provide an outline of activities to complete the proposal and application process.

The following steps should be taken by investigators to facilitate proper processing of all proposals:

Step 1: Contact your Grant Coordinator and Review the Guidelines

You should contact your Grant Coordinator early in the proposal preparation process to register the proposal and to provide necessary programmatic information regarding the funding.

Schedule an appointment with your Grant Coordinator to establish proposal timeline for internal routing and deadline for submission of final proposal documents to Research Services. Send web address and/or copy of the funding opportunity to your Grant Coordinator before the scheduled meeting.

Thoroughly review the proposal guidelines for deadlines, specific requirements, cost sharing obligations, detailed budget and proposal information, or special terms and conditions, and create a list of questions to discuss with your Grant Coordinator.

Step 2: Provide Budgetary Information

You should submit all budgetary information to your Grant Coordinator and review sponsor requirements for allowable costs to the budget; identify budget restrictions (e.g. minimum/maximum), dates of performance, and F&A limits/restrictions.

Step 3: Research Integrity

Research Integrity

Financial Conflict of Interest Screening & Training must be completed before all proposals are submitted to the sponsor
Responsible Conduct of Research Training must be completed for proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation before an award will be set-up
Human Subjects (may require IRB protocols and approvals)
Laboratory animals (may require IACUC protocols and approvals)
Biological materials (may require IBC protocols and approvals)

Step 4: Develop Proposal

The core elements of almost any proposal you write are the same. Even a science research proposal will cover these topics, albeit under different headings. The topics are: Objectives, Problem Statement, Activities/Methods and Evaluation (OPSAME). Developing an initial outline around these elements will provide a logical well-conceived framework that can be developed further into a proposal.


Describe what you want to accomplish: 50% of currently homeless population will be in permanent housing after two years. What outcomes will we be able to say we’ve achieved at the end of the project? What will have changed?

  • Objectives arise directly out of the needs or issues identified (and are backed up by data analysis and research). Generally, each problem you describe is associated with an objective. Don’t overestimate what you can accomplish.
  • Objectives describe who or what will change in terms of a behavior, attitude, condition, knowledge, or status (BACKS). Outcomes can be expressed in terms of enhanced learning (knowledge, perceptions/attitudes or skills) or conditions, (increased literacy, self-reliance, certifications) or behavior (lose 10 pounds, increase study time by 20%).
  • Objectives are measurable; they are often framed using verbs such as increase, decrease, improve, and expand. Think ahead to what types of data you can collect to evaluate whether you have achieved your objective. This is also a way of checking whether your objective is realistic.
  • A well-worded objective addresses the who, when, what, and how of measurement. For example: By the end of the 2018-2019 academic year, 23% of the faculty will have improved their proposal writing ability as demonstrated by an analysis, using ORSSP proposal review criteria, of the changes between their draft proposal and the final proposal. AND/OR By the end of the 2018-2019 academic year, 10% of the faculty will have obtained new external funding.
  • An objective can be described as the “then” in an “if…then” statement. If we do this (methods/activities), then this will happen (objectives). For example, say your objective is to increase the number of students who get an A. If students attend all the classes, do all the readings, and satisfactorily complete assignments then they will receive an A.

Problem Statement (Need)

The problem section of a proposal makes a case for the relevance of your project and explains to the funder why your proposed program is important. Therefore you must give some compelling reasons about why the program is necessary and outline the specific needs the program will address. Support the needs you write about with citations from research and reliable sources. Use the most recent information available. Always describe the problem in terms of the people you intend to serve. DO NOT describe the need in terms of the financial needs of the organization requesting the funding.

  • Start with the largest manifestation of the problem and work down to the population you will serve. (Across America, because children watch too much TV, there is a growing (no pun intended) obesity problem. This is no less a concern for the children in grade 5 at Atlantic Elementary School in the underserved neighborhood of Someplace where 65% of kids are overweight.
  • Cite sources of information.
  • Describe briefly what needs to change to address the need/solve the problem.
  • Remember to describe the problem as a glass that is half full, not half empty! Do not paint a picture so bleak that it makes the funder think the situation is hopeless.

Activities/Methods (Work Plan)

In this section you describe the work you will undertake to achieve your objectives.

  • Remember that there are often many different activities you could conceivably undertake. Select those that are most appropriate and can realistically solve the problem and/or achieve your objective.
  • Activities can include: workshops, seminars, classroom coaching, mentoring, classroom visits, holding a poetry contest, etc.
  • A well described activity will give you a general idea of who the participants are, how often the activity will take place, and some idea about the content of the particular activity. For example: We will hold a graduate seminar to improve students’ ability to develop proposals for education programs. 20 graduate students in education will attend the class which will meet four times over the course of one semester. Class content will include: 1) An overview of proposal elements: Executive Summary, Problem Statement, Objectives, Methods, Evaluation, Personnel, Organizational Background, 2) An analysis of proposal style and criteria 3) an overview of budget preparation including hands-on exercises 4) Finding a funder for projects. Each student will complete a proposal and 80% of the students will improve their proposal writing skills.

Remember: Your budget will basically describe with numbers the methods and activities you describe here in words.


What will you do to assess progress and determine if you your program is working well and you are successfully achieving your objectives? Evaluation activities should be both formative (assessing progress while project is still underway) and summative (assessing outcomes.)

  • Formative evaluation helps you to determine if you are moving toward your objective or if you need to make adjustments to your methods or other program components. Use it as a management tool to make modifications in service delivery or make decisions about priorities.
  • Think about evaluation in terms of the data you will or can collect as a measure of progress toward (or success in) attaining an objective.
  • Describe the evaluation activities and plan. Link these back to specific objectives.
  • Evaluation tools often include pre- and post-tests and surveys, specific “off the shelf” assessment tools, standardized tests, focus groups and interviews, participant reports, structured observations.
  • Data analysis often includes studying results of tests and surveys (sometimes using rubrics for assessment), transcripts from interviews and focus groups, written logs and reports.

Step 5: Cloud Express

Internal approval is now processed through the Cloud Express system. Click on tutorials to learn how to use Cloud Express. For more information, please contact your grant coordinator.

Click to enter the Cloud Express system (you must be logged in to the CAS through the MyGeorgiaSouthern portal in order to access the Cloud Express dashboard).

Step 6: Academic and Administrative Review and Approval

All proposals must be routed within Cloud Express for academic and administrative review and approval before being submitted to a funding agency. Research Services must receive the completed proposal materials at least 5 business days in advance of the submission deadline.

After departmental and collegiate approval has been granted, the proposal is submitted for final review by the Executive Director, Georgia Southern University Research & Service Foundation for completeness and compliance with institutional and federal regulations. Upon completion of the review, the proposal is submitted.

Last updated: 4/1/2022