Proposal Tools

Proposal Guidelines

NIH Proposal Guidelines

See the NIH Application Guide (updated August 5, 2022) and NIH Policy Changes for submission requirements for proposals. Researchers should check particular programs for requirements.

Note: Policy Change Update: The NIH Data Management and Sharing Plan, which goes into effect on Jan 25, 2023, is applicable to all applications with receipt dates on or after Jan 25. The data management and sharing plan should be placed within the “Other Plan(s) field on the PHS 398 Research Plan or PHS 398 Career Development Award Supplemental Form. Additionally, a brief summary and associated costs should be submitted as part of the budget and budget justification 

NIH Proposal Checklist

NSF Proposal Guidelines

Frequently visited NSF Guidelines:

 Initiating a New Proposal
 Sharing Proposal and Proposal File Update/Budget Revision Access with SPO/AOR
Submitting Proposal File Updates/Budget Revisions
Prepare and Submit your Annual Interim and Final Report 

See the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG 2023) for proposal development and submission requirements.

NSF Note on Deviations from NSF Proposal Preparation and Submission Requirements:

Unless specified in a program solicitation, all proposals must comply with the proposal preparation instructions contained in Part I of the PAPPG or the NSF Application Guide. Conformance will be strictly enforced unless a written deviation authorization is received in advance of proposal submission from the cognizant NSF Assistant Director/Office Head or designee. Such deviation authorizations must be uploaded as a single-copy document and include the name, date, and title of the NSF official, and the nature of the deviation authorized. (See section C.1 below for additional information.)

Except as noted above, NSF will not accept or will return without review proposals that are not consistent with these instructions. See Chapter IV.B for additional information.

The following includes a quick guide to the PAPPG 2023:

Pagination (Chapter II.B.1)

  • Each section must be individually paginated prior to upload (FastLane). 
  • If is used, the system will paginate.

Font, Spacing and Margins (Chapter II.B.2)

  • Fonts: Arial, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype font size of 10 points or larger; Times New Roman font size of 11 points or larger; or Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger.
  • A font size of less than 10 points or other fonts not specified, such as Cambria Math, may be used for mathematical formulas or equations, figures, table or diagram captions, and when using a Symbol font to insert Greek letters or special characters. PIs are cautioned, however, that the text must still be readable.
  • Margins: Must be at least an inch in all directions, no proposer-supplied information in margins.

Cover Sheet (Chapter II.C.2.a)

  • Enter USF's Standard Institutional Info.
  • Choose the Funding Announcement #, NSF Unit of Consideration, and fill out remaining items.
  • Choose the type of proposal being submitted…i.e. Research, EAGER, Conference, etc.
  • Requested start date should allow at least 6 months for NSF review, processing, and decision.
  • If foreign travel is budgeted, check the "International Activities" box and list the activity country names.
  • If foreign country is unknown, use the "worldwide" option.
  • If foreign organizations are involved, in addition to providing justification in project description, the box for “Funding of a Foreign Organization, including through use of a subaward or consultant arrangement” must be checked on the Cover Sheet.
  • If funding is budgeted for an international branch campus of a U.S. IHE, the box for "Funding of an International Branch Campus of a U.S. IHE, including through use of a subaward or consultant arrangement" must be checked on the Cover Sheet.
  • Do not list more than 5 countries in Activity Country Names section.

Project Summary (Chapter II.C.2.b)

  • Limited to 1 page.
  • Three separate, distinct sections with headers:
    • Overview
    • Intellectual Merit
    • Broader Impacts
  • Only Project Summaries which must use special characters may be uploaded in the Supplementary Documents Section.

Project Description (Chapter II.C.2.d)

  • Limited to 15 pages, unless otherwise noted in the solicitation.
  • Should provide a clear statement of work.
  • URLs must not be used in the Project Description.
  • The Project Description must include separate sections within the narrative entitled “Intellectual Merit” and “Broader Impacts”. Do NOT deviate from these header titles.
  • May use up to 5 pages to discuss results of prior PI/Co-PI, NSF-funded work with an award end date in the past five years; or any current funding, including no cost extensions (unless otherwise stipulated in solicitation).
  • Results from Prior Support must include distinct headers for separate sections on "Intellectual Merit" AND "Broader Impacts".
  • No more than 1 award from each PI/Co-PI can be listed. If a PI/Co-PI has not had NSF support in the last 5 years, that must be stated.
  • If using the same prior award for PI and Co-PI, separate sections must be provided for each.
  • Prior NSF results should always be described from the individual's role on the prior project.
  • Include prior NSF results for each PI/Co-PI who has filled any sort of role on an NSF-funded project that began within the last 5 years (regardless of whether they were a PI or Co-PI).
  • Publications resulting from each award must be included. A complete bibliographic citation for each publication must be provided either in this section or in the References Cited section of the proposal.
  • Referencing back to the reference cited page is the suggested method as it saves the most space.
  • If there we no publications under the award listed, state "No publications were produced under this award".
  • Include a description of the work to be performed by any sub-recipients.
  • If funding to an International Branch Campus of a U.S. IHE or to a foreign organization (including subaward or consultant), justification for why a project cannot be performed in the U.S. must be provided in project description.

References Cited (Chapter II.C.2.e)

  • This section must include bibliographic citations only.
  • No page limits, unless otherwise noted.

See Documents Required for Senior Personnel

NSF Biosketches 

NSF requires a biographical sketch for each individual identified as senior personnel. See PAPPG Chapter II.D.2.h(i) for complete coverage on the content and formatting requirements for the biographical sketch.

This 3-page document outlines an individual's education and training, their appointments and positions, and other information that helps NSF assess how well qualified the individual is to conduct the proposed activities.

What to include in your biographical sketch
Refer to PAPPG II.D.2.h(i) for the full biographical sketch requirements. A brief outline of the information you will need to include is provided below.

Identifying information.
Organization and location.
Professional preparation.
Appointments and positions.
Synergistic activities.

Senior personnel are required to certify that the information is current, accurate and complete. This includes, but is not limited to, information related to domestic and foreign appointments and positions. The certification language is included on both the NSF fillable PDF and SciENcv template.

Additional information:

Disclosures required in your biographical sketch:
This table provides helpful reference information regarding pre-award and post-award disclosure information in the biographical sketch and current and pending support proposal sections. It identifies where these disclosures must be provided in proposals and in project reports.
How to format your biographical sketch
NSF has partnered with the National Institutes of Health to use SciENcv: Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae as the NSF-approved format for use in preparation of the biographical sketch section of an NSF proposal. Adoption of a single, common researcher profile system for federal grants reduces administrative burden for researchers. 

Proposers must use SciENcv to prepare their biographical sketches for proposals to NSF.

SciENcv will produce an NSF-compliant PDF version of the biographical sketch. Proposers must save this document and submit it as part of their proposal via or

Frequently asked questions on using SciENcv


Collaborators (Chapter II.C.1.e)

  • Must use NSF Collaborators & Other Affiliations (COA) Template.
  • Collaborators & Other Affiliations information must be provided for each individual identified as senior project personnel.
  • Both the lead and non-lead institution(s) must separately provide Collaborators & Other Affiliations documents.
  • Do not list Postdoctoral Scholar sponsors.
  • COA required for conference proposals in excess of $50,000.

Budget (Chapter II.C.2.g)

  • Human subject incentives (payments) must be listed on line G6 of the NSF Budget and should be included in the calculation of F&A.
  • If no person/months and no salary are requested for any individual listed as senior personnel, that individual should not be listed on the budget.
  • Budget must be consistent with the proposing organization’s (USF’s) policies and cost accounting practices.

Budget Justification (Chapter II.C.2.g)

  • Justifies the inclusion of ALL items listed in the budget.
  • If requesting compensation in excess of 2 months for senior personnel, justification must be included acknowledging this in the budget justification.
  • In the Senior Personnel section of NSF budget justification, include the following statement: To meet the NSF PAPPG requirement “Defining of a Year”, USF has defined a “year” as a calendar year for senior personnel and will apply this term “year” consistently across all NSF-funded grants.
  • Unless otherwise stipulated in the solicitation, travel is allowable if it is necessary to the proposal objectives or to disseminate results.
  • All travel (both domestic and foreign) must be itemized and justified.
  • Computer equipment under $5k may be budgeted under materials and supplies. The computers must be essential and allocable.
  • Neither voluntary committed cost sharing nor voluntary uncommitted cost sharing should be included in the budget justification.
  • The F&A rate(s) applied, approved base(s), and total amount of F&A must each be specified in the budget justification.
  • Speakers and trainers are not considered participants.
  • Participant Support cost cannot be used to cover room rental fees/catering costs/supplies related to NSF-sponsored conference or incentive payments to research subjects.

Current and Pending Support (C&P) (Chapter II.C.2.h)

  • Include for all senior personnel.
  • C&P includes all project support, including internal funds, allocated toward specific projects.
  • Include current proposal in the C&P.
  • Ensure that the dollar amount entered on the C&P (for the proposal in development) matches the requested amount on the cover page.
  • C&P must be uploaded separately for each individual identified as senior personnel.

Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) (Chapter II.D.6)

  • This section of the proposal implements the U.S. Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern.
  • PIs/Units are responsible for identifying NSF-funded life sciences proposals that could potentially be considered dual use research of concern.

Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources (Chapter II.C.2.i)

  • Narrative of USF and Collaborator resources. Does not include any quantifiable financial information.
  • Any substantial collaboration with individuals not included in the budget should be described in the Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources section of the proposal.
  • Facilities, Equipment, and Resources should be uploaded as one document.
  • If no facilities will be applicable, a statement(s) to this effect must be uploaded.

Data Management Plan (Chapter II.C.2.j)

  • Limited to 2 pages. Address the 5 points specified by NSF.
  • Detail how the proposal will conform to NSF’s policy on the dissemination and sharing of research results.
  • Simultaneously submitted collaborative proposals, and proposals that include subawards, are a single unified project and should include only one supplemental, combined Data Management Plan.

Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan (if applicable) (Chapter II.C.2.j)

  • Limited to 1 page. Details of mentoring plan, when applicable.

Single Copy Docs, Special Information, and Supplementary Documentation (Chapter II.C.2.j)

  • If submission will be late due to nature or anthropogenic cause, a single copy document must be attached explain the nature of the event.
  • Authorization to Deviate from NSF Proposal Preparation Requirements (if applicable).
  • Letters of collaboration should not contain endorsements or evaluation of the proposed project, unless specifically required by the solicitation (FOA).
  • Lists of suggested reviewers should include the email address and organization affiliation of persons who it is believed are well qualified to review the proposal.
  • Proposers may designate persons they would prefer not to review the proposal, indicating why.
  • Special Information and Supplementary Documentation, if requested by the solicitation (FOA).

Collaborative Proposals (Chapter II.D.3)

  • Collaborative proposals may be submitted in 2 different methods:
    • Single proposal, single award request (subawards will be distributed)
    • Simultaneous proposals from organizations, separate award requests
  • Either way proposal is submitted, lead organization must contain all the requisite sections as a single package.

NSF Proposal Checklist

The Proposal Preparation Checklist (Exhibit II-1) may be used to assist in this review. The checklist is not intended to be an all-inclusive repetition of the required proposal contents and associated proposal preparation guidelines. It is, however, meant to highlight certain critical items so they will not be overlooked when the proposal is prepared.