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Guide to Research Funding


This booklet has been prepared by the staff of the Office of Grant and Contract Services (GCS) at The University of Texas at Arlington.  It is a guide for preparing and submitting proposals and provides a reference for how to handle problems encountered in the administration of awards.  The material is relevant to any kind of project and funding agency. 

   A sponsored project is defined by any or all of the following criteria:  the proposed project binds the University to a specific scope of work as evidenced by required progress, technical or final reports, or other deliverables; the project has a specified performance period or completion date; and/or a report of expenditures or billing is required. OGCS aids University faculty and staff throughout the campus in the development of proposals for sponsored projects in all areas such as research, education, training, curriculum development, equipment acquisition, public service and, occasionally, institutional and departmental activities.

   There are two basic types of proposals and four categories of awards encountered by principal investigators (PI) in search of sponsored funding for projects.



  • Pre-Proposals and Letters of Intent:  These are requested by the sponsor to be submitted by a deadline date.  They follow a relatively loose format, but usually include the project summary and estimated budget.  Additional information may be requested by the sponsor.
  • Solicited Proposals:  Solicitations, or requests for proposals (RFP), are issued by agencies or private funding sources who make requests for a specific research project.  An RFP is generally subject to open bidding by any qualified researcher, and the budget is already specified by the solicitor.  Deadlines are indicated in the announcement and must be followed.

  • Unsolicited Proposals:  Unsolicited proposals are submitted to an agency that generally funds research of the type being proposed. Most large agencies have deadlines for submittal of unsolicited proposals every year, and funding decisions are made once all proposals received in that time period have been reviewed.


  • Gifts:  Unrestricted funds provided to the University usually by foundations without any terms, conditions, or other obligations may be made in the form of a gift or donation.  The Office of Development and OGCS work together to determine whether the external support constitutes an unrestricted gift or a sponsored project.

  • Grants:  These are fiscal instruments that provide the researcher with significant flexibility to determine spending categories and research direction.  Grants are usually made in support of basic research.

  • Contracts:  In a contract, one party is buying a service or product from the other party.  Contracts assume the production and delivery of a product, which can be an instrument, device, or technical report.  Consequently, contract requirements are more specific and less flexible than grants and agency personnel tend to maintain more rigid control of the project.  All contracts are negotiated by OGCS.

  • Cooperative Agreements:  A cooperative agreement is an arrangement that involves the sponsor in the project.  Cooperative agreements generally stipulate the responsibilities of both parties.  The difference between a grant and cooperative agreement is usually the substantial level of involvement of the sponsoring agency in the cooperative agreement.


There are two stages to a sponsored project:  pre-award and post-award.

  • Pre-award:  In this stage OGCS works closely with the faculty and staff to help them identify funding opportunities and develop proposals. OGCS reviews final proposals prior to submission to make certain they conform to the current regulations of the University, the State, and the potential sponsor before they are signed by an authorized individual of the University.

  • Post-award:  Upon receipt of an award from a funding agency, OGCS initiates the internal paperwork to establish a University account. OGCS works with the principal investigators, the University administrative offices, and the sponsor to ensure that the project is carried out in compliance with the conditions of the award, and monitors the project until it is completed and the final technical and fiscal reports are submitted.

  • Accounting:  This section is responsible for monitoring the expenditures and for the actual transfer of funds from the sponsor to the University as well as financial reporting. The Office of Grant Accounting within the Office of Accounting & Business Services handles this function.  

The OGCS staff take an active role in proposal preparation and sponsored program administration.  We work with the faculty and staff to help them with this complex process. We hope this brief guide will be a useful tool and we welcome the opportunity to provide additional assistance.