Frequently Asked Questions
Vice President for Research
Who is on a review committee for internal awards?
Dependent upon the number of proposals received, there may be up to two review committees. Each committee will consist predominantly of faculty.
Is faculty summer salary allowed on REF Awards?
No - faculty summer salary is not allowed for REF Awards.
What are REF Infrastructure Grants intended for?
REF Infrastructure Enhancement Grants are designed to provide Departments/Schools and Research Centers/Institutes with resources to develop the infrastructure necessary to support sponsored research and graduate student education. Funded projects will typically focus on acquisition of equipment, enhancement of laboratory facilities, or enhancement of administrative support structure to expand the research capability of the unit.
Who can submit REF Infrastructure Enhancement Grants?
Submitted proposals must each have a Chair, Dean, or Research Center/Institute Director as Principal Investigator. Co-investigators may include academic or research faculty, or research staff
What are REF Research Seed Grants intended for?
REF Research Seed (REF-RS) grants are designed to provide untenured tenure-track academic faculty with resources to develop an externally supported research program. Typical REF-RS projects will develop preliminary data to be used in subsequent proposals to outside funding sources, support pilot studies developing new research methods or procedures, or support other activity leading to the development of an externally recognized and funded research program.
Who can submit REF Research Seed Grants?
Untenured tenure-track academic faculty members in any academic unit are eligible to submit REF-RS proposals as the principal investigator. Teams of untenured faculty in one or more academic units are encouraged to submit joint proposals. Tenured faculty, research faculty, or research staff are not eligible to be Principal Investigators for REF-RS awards, but may be included as Co-Investigators on REF-RS proposals.
Is undergraduate support allowed on REF Research Seed Grants?
Undergraduate support is allowable and needs to be clearly justified in the proposal.
What are REF Scholarship & Creativity Grants intended for?
The REF Scholarship & Creativity Grant (SCG) provides support to encourage faculty to engage in scholarly research, learning, and creative activities to enhance professional development.SCG awards primarily support scholarly projects undertaken by faculty in disciplines identified by NSF as “non-science and engineering fields.” These are primarily within the humanities, social sciences, arts, education, and business, with fewer opportunities to secure external support.
What types of projects are supported for a REF Scholarship & Creativity Grant?
Scholarship & Creativity Grants allow faculty to undertake the following activities:
- Initiation of a new scholarly or creative activity, or completion of such a project, whether for individual investigator projects or collaborative teams.
- Travel support for research related activities, educational workshops and training programs related to the scholarly interests of the proposing faculty.
- Acquisition of databases and other computer software and research equipment if justified for the specific project.
- Art performances, exhibits, or other creative and artistic activities within the applicant’s field of study.
- Efforts to initiate collaborative research teams.
- Grants will support other activities contributing to personal scholarly research and development, such as publication costs.
What are REF Mentoring Grants intended for?
REF Mentoring Grants (REF-MG) are designed to provide newly-hired, untenured tenure-track faculty with resources to work with established, nationally-known, off-campus researchers to develop competitive proposals supporting the initiation of an externally recognized and funded research program
What are REF Technology Commercialization Grants intended for?
REF-TC Grants are designed to provide faculty, staff, and students with resources to support the initial steps toward commercialization of technologies developed at the University. In particular, REF-TC Grants are intended to fund activities that are outside the scope of existing academic research funding programs but that are too early in the development process for commercialization funding programs such as SBIR
What types of activities are supported by REF Technology Commercialization Grants?
Funded projects typically focus on early state commercial development, such as for example, proof-of-concept, or otherwise developing a technology to a point where it can be the focus of a competitive SBIR Phase I proposal. Activities related to testing and validation of the market need or interest in the technology may also be supported, as might other activities that are beyond the scope of internal support resources and are designed to lead to successful commercialization, licensing, or creation of a start up company
Can REF Technology Commercialization Grants be extended?
REF-TC Grants may be up to $25,000, are limited to a one-year award period, and can not be extended. Unexpended funds at the end of the project period will revert to the REF pool.
Are matching funds required for REF Technology Commercialization Grants?
Matching funds are not required; however evidence of a third party commitment to participate in commercial development of the technology needs to be clear in the proposal. Such commitment can be in the form of matching funds, follow-on funding, or in-kind support. Reasoning for a lack of such commitment should be provided if none is present.
When submitting a REF Technology Commercialization Grant proposal, do I need to include an Invention Disclosure Form?
Yes, an Invention Disclosure Form must be submitted as per the Required Elements Checklist - TC. A copy must also be submitted to Jim Baker (email@example.com).
What is the duration for a REF Scholarship & Creativity Grant?
Normally, SCG awards will be for one year duration, but in exceptional circumstances, awards may be made for longer periods of time. All projects which are expected to last longer than the standard one calendar year must be clearly requested and justified within the original proposal.
Sponsored Programs Accounting
Once I receive notification that my proposal has been awarded how do I know what my Michigan Tech index/account number is?
The Sponsored Programs Office will send an email notification that your proposal has been funded. Within five business days, Sponsored Programs Accounting will assign an index number or numbers for the project account and email you with the index number(s) and budget.
How do I pay myself for the work I performed on this project?
A portion of your Michigan Tech salary/wages will be charged to the research account. The percentage is based on the sponsor agreement and the amount of your effort spent on the project. Please refer to the payroll section of the award management link.
How do I get reimbursed for travel related to my research project?
Travel that directly benefits your research project, and was included in the proposal budget, is reimbursed from the research account. Fill out a travel expense voucher and submit it to Accounts Payable for reimbursement.
How do I charge expenses such as supplies or services to my account?
This may vary, depending on the expense. There are several sections of the website for you to review: non-salary expenditures, allowable/unallowable expenditures, and “expenditures exceeding the award amount." You may also want to review the “what form do I use?".
What do I do if I review my monthly account statement and determine that there are expenses charged to the wrong account?
In this case you need to fill out a reallocation of expenditures form. Keep in mind that reallocations must be made within 90 days of the original charge (unless there are extenuating circumstances). Please review the guidelines for reallocation of expenditures.
How do I get the money from the sponsor once I have started performing work? How does the sponsor get invoiced?
The Sponsored Programs Accounting office prepares and submits invoices to the sponsor to collect the funds. Please do not submit anything financially to the sponsor yourself. We will contact you if your assistance is needed in preparing invoices or other financial documents.
What do I do if part of the award terms and conditions state that I must fill out a financial form either during the project or at closeout?
The university is required by federal regulation (OMB Circular A-21) to verify an employee’s percent of effort on a project and verifies this with after-the-fact payroll certifications. The certifications are done on a semester basis for faculty and monthly for staff and students. It is essential to review these forms for accuracy and return the signed form to Sponsored Programs Accounting. If you notice a discrepancy between the percentage of effort on the certification and the actual effort for the various accounts, see the next question. See for more information.
The far right column on the payroll certification form includes the budgeted percentage of time worked on a project. Please review this column to verify that the percent of effort listed represents the actual percent of effort. Percent of effort is defined as the verification of the ratio of payroll charged to sponsored agreements in relation to the employee’s effort on that project.
What do I do if my payroll certification is inaccurate?
If there is an error on your payroll certification, complete a payroll reallocation form to correct the error. Attach a copy of the reallocation to your payroll certification with an explanation of why the reallocation is necessary.
I keep getting notices that my account is overdrawn or expired from Research Accounting what do I do with these?
These are overdrawn expired notices that are sent to principal investigators once a month to assist with the financial administration of the project. The financial reports section describes these notices in more detail.
What do I do if my project has expired or I have spent all of the funds, but there are additional funds and/or a time extension on its way to Michigan Tech, and I need to continue working on the project?
In order to continue spending when your account is overdrawn or has expired, you will need to request an advance of funds and/or time. This is done on the Request for Advance form. Submit the request to the Sponsored Programs Office.
What do I do if my project has expired or is about to expire, but I need additional time to complete the research or prepare the final report?
You must fill out a Request for Modification form requesting a time extension and submit this form to the Sponsored Programs Office. SPO will determine if the request can be internally approved for if sponsor approval is required. Once approved, your end date will be adjusted.
What do I do if I need to purchase something that was not in the budget I sent to the sponsor in my proposal (i.e. if you need to travel but travel was not in the proposed budget, or if you need to purchase equipment but equipment was not in the proposed budget)?
You must fill out a Request for Modification form stating the reason for the change in the original proposed budget. Submit the form to the Sponsored Programs Office. SPO will determine if your request can be internally approved or if sponsor approval is required. Once the request has been approved by SPO and the sponsor (if required), Sponsored Programs Accounting will modify your budget to accommodate the purchase.
What are the University’s current approved fringe and overhead rates?
My project is ending. What do I need to do?
If the end date of your project is approaching you need to work with Sponsored Programs Accounting to ensure all of the charges related to this project are processed in a timely matter. Typically, projects require all final documents 90 days after the end date. However, it is not uncommon for final documents to be due 30 to 60 days after the end date. It is important to anticipate that your end date is approaching. Sponsored Programs Accounting will send you notices that let you know your account is about to expire and advising on a plan for close-out. Visit the for additional information.
Another aspect of project close-out is the technical reporting and final deliverables. If you feel that the deliverables may not be completed by the end date, a time extension may be required.
Sponsored Programs Office
Who can help me with preparing the proposal budget?
Sponsored Programs Office staff are trained in preparing proposal budgets and are willing to assist you. For assistance please contact the following:
- Government sponsors, call 487-2226.
- Associations, Foundations or any other non-Government sponsor, call 487-2225.
- Industrial/Corporate sponsors, call 487-2228.
What are the current Facilities & Administrative (F&A) indirect cost rates and fringe benefit rates?
I have never registered in NSF FastLane, how do I get an account set up?
To register in NSF FastLane, please contact Jennifer Bukovich, Staff Assistant, in Sponsored Programs Office, at 487-2226, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
Department Name, phone number, fax number and email address
Highest Degree Earned
Year you earned that degree
I need to request a no-cost time extension, how do I go about this?
The Sponsored Programs Office requires that you fill out a Request for Modification form. This form is used for a no-cost time extension on research projects that require additional time to complete your project. Please be sure to include a brief technical description specifying what work will be accomplished during the extension period.
Can I submit proposals myself?
The Vice President for Research approves all proposals before they are submitted to the potential sponsor. The VPR's signature or designated official must appear on the transmittal form and all appropriate proposal forms, certifications, and contractual documents.
The VPR must also approve all proposals and contracts containing provisions for University cost-sharing or University matching funds. Proposals and contracts containing provisions for reduced overhead rates, financial contributions not covered by accounts within the academic departments, colleges/schools, or implied commitment of University equipment or facility for which the University is not adequately compensated, must have the approval of the Vice President for Research or designated official.
Can I submit a proposal to multiple sources?
Research directions often fit the requirements of multiple solicitations. However, each funding agency has its own proposal guidelines and funding priorities. Therefore, a grant writing for NASA will look different than a grant written for NSF. Refer to the solicitation and reframe the proposal for each submission. While you can submit to different agencies, you can often only receive funding from one agency for a particular research project.
Sponsored Programs Enhancement
Who do I get help from in writing my proposal?
Peter Larsen and Jodi Lehman in the Vice President for Research Office are available to assist principal investigators and students with all aspects of proposal development. Depending on the sponsor (federal, state, foundation, corporate) other people may also be available to assist; however contacting Pete or Jodi is a good place to start. They can provide samples of successful proposal, examples of outreach and education plans, collaboration ideas with existing campus resources for project enhancements and guidance for new investigators on navigating the internal research process at Michigan Tech. Pete and Jodi are also available to help coordinate logistical aspects of large, interdisciplinary proposal development. In order to enable Pete and Jodi to help you the best, please contact them early on in the proposal development stage. Pete can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 487-2906. Jodi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 487-2875.
How long does it take to write a proposal?
A competitive proposal, whether it is new or a resubmission, takes several months to pull together. Start early and contact Sponsored Programs Enhancement. In particular, proposal with external partners (universities, corporations, schools, etc.) require additional documentation and lead time. Keep the internal deadlines in mind when determining the timeline for finalizing your proposal documentation.
What are Michigan Tech's internal requirements for proposals?
These documents along with all documents required by the funding agency must be turned in two working days before the proposal deadline. If possible, please work ahead of time with the Sponsored Programs Office to have your proposed budget checked and approved. Please note that proposals will not be submitted if they are received after the internal proposal deadline.
Additional internal forms may be required depending on proposal type, please check. For example, if cost sharing or subcontracts are involved, additional forms will be needed.
Will a proposal be more competitive if I include cost sharing?
This is a common misconception among proposal writers. In some cases cost sharing can help make your proposal more attractive to a sponsor; however, in many cases this is not necessarily true. In fact, most federal agencies either 1) do not allow cost sharing to be shown unless it is specifically required, or 2) strongly discourage cost sharing. It is Michigan Tech’s policy to only allow cost sharing when required by the sponsor and, in those cases, only at the minimum level required by the sponsor.
Is the quantity or quality of proposal submission more important?
Because finding funding is a process that relies on established relationships and competitive proposals, there are many reasons not to take a shotgun approach – both for the proposer and the University. We strongly encourage proposers to work closely with Sponsored Program Enhancement staff to develop a strategic plan to meet funding goals.
Should I send a proposal to NSF or NIH?
If your research is primarily “medical” in nature, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will likely be your primary agency of support. The National Science Foundation (NSF) does not fund clinical research or research aimed at addressing specific diseases. Likewise, animal testing, or research or testing on the development of drugs is not eligible for NSF support. However, NSF does fund basic science and engineering research that may ultimately have medical applications. Biomedical engineering work is also funded by NSF. Additional guidance can be found at the NIH and NSF websites. If in doubt about the appropriateness of fit between your research and an agency's mission, always contact a program officer for guidance prior to submission.
I am only a junior undergraduate. Why should I think about a graduate fellowship?
There is only a short window during which students are eligible to apply for certain fellowships like the NSF GRFP . It usually takes 6 months to draft a competitive proposal and another six months to see if you receive funding.
What are the new 2010-11 guidelines for NSF proposals?
The National Science Foundation has released a new Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide that will be in effect for all proposals submitted on or after January 18, 2011. The new guide can be found here.
A summary of the significant changes can be found here.
In particular, investigators should note:
• In the cover sheet section, you will now be required to provide a primary project/performance site location. If a project will be performed at a location other than the site of the awardee, additional geographic information must be provided.
• Plans for Data Management and Sharing will now be required of all proposals. This plan (up to 2 pages) will be required as a supplementary document. The Data Management Plan will describe how the proposal conforms to NSF policy on dissemination and sharing of research results and will be reviewed as part of the intellectual merit and/or broader impacts of the proposal. A valid Data Management Plan may include only the statement that no detailed plan is needed, as long a clear justification is provided. FastLane will not permit submission of a proposal that is missing a data management plan.
• Changes have been made to NSF’s cost sharing requirements. The National Science Foundation now explicitly prohibits voluntary cost sharing (a practice already prohibited by Michigan Tech policy). However, investigators are encouraged to document the availability of resources that will assist with the successful completion of their proposed project in the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal. This section should provide a comprehensive description of all resources (both physical and personnel) necessary for, and/or available to, a project. Note that these descriptions must to be made without reference to cost, date of acquisition, and whether the resources are currently available or will be provided upon receipt of the grant.