Please read each section carefully as you prepare your REF proposal. If you have questions, please email email@example.com for assistance.
PI Limitations for all REF projects: A PI may only submit one proposal per category (RS or SCG). Any faculty or staff member (full or part-time) may serve as co-PI or collaborate on a REF project; however, please note the intention of the REF program is to support the advancement and sustainability of the eligible PI’s scholarly activities; thus, that benefit should be clear in the rationale provided for any planned collaborations. There are no restrictions on the number of proposals on which an individual may serve as co-PI, consultant, collaborator, etc. PIs may not have an active REF award at the time of application for a new award. In all programs, priority is given to the support of first-time, tenure-track REF applicants.
Principal Investigators who moved into their current role at Michigan Tech after 12/1/2020 are required to either be enrolled in or to have completed the New Researcher Responsible Conduct for Research course in order to be eligible for a REF award.
REF-RS: REF-RS grants are designed to provide research faculty (including research scientists, engineers, and research assistant professors) and untenured, tenure-track academic faculty who have been in their current position with Michigan Tech for less than six years with additional resources to develop an externally supported research program. PIs in these positions are eligible to submit REF-RS proposals as the principal investigator. Other collaborators, including other eligible PIs and tenured faculty or research faculty/staff who have been employed for more than six years (i.e., those not eligible to be Principal Investigators for REF-RS awards) may be included as Co-Investigators on REF-RS proposals. PI's in their last probational year pre-tenure are ineligible to apply. PI’s must be permanent employees of the University (e.g., visiting faculty are ineligible). Due to the limited funds available, PI’s are limited to one REF RS award during their eligibility period.
REF-SCG: SCG awards are available to tenure-track, tenured, and teaching faculty at any level; however, proposals that help junior faculty (untenured, tenure-track) launch their professional careers will receive priority. PI's cannot have an active REF-SCG grant at the time of submission. PI’s must be permanent employees of the University (e.g., visiting faculty are ineligible).
All proposals must include a completed Required Elements Checklist as the first page of the proposal package, to ensure all necessary documents have been submitted. Please review this checklist and these instructions prior to writing your proposal. When putting together your proposal package, follow this required format and order:
- A proposal must be created in Cayuse and certified by the PI and co-PIs (if applicable) by the internal deadline (1 week prior to the final deadline). Authorizing signatures must be completed within Cayuse as well prior to the final deadline. In section II (Project Budget), check “yes” for the question “Are F&A costs limited by the sponsor, RFP, and/or solicitation?” and type “0” in the box to indicate the limited rate. All other applicable sections should be completed. Your final proposal (single PDF) must be attached in Cayuse by the program deadline.
Completed Required Elements Checklist
- Include a copy of the completed checklist as the first page in your proposal.
Abstract (1 page)
- Include a project title and list of all investigator(s), including the principal investigator (PI) and any co-investigators (Co-I) names, departments, and email addresses. Provide up to 300-word summary of the proposed project. The word count does not include the title or PI information listed above and will be strictly enforced. Adding additional text anywhere on this document (headers and footers) that adds more information (other than the title and PI information outlined above) may result in the proposal being returned without review.
Proposed Project (Up to 4 Pages Total)
- Succinctly describe the proposed project, including goals, approach, and methods. Provide sufficient detail to evaluate the likelihood of project success.
- Describe the contribution your proposed project is expected to make toward developing the PI’s research program. If a collaboration involves multiple eligible PIs collaborating on a single project, the impact on the co-PI’s research program(s) should be clearly outlined as well.
- Funding for new equipment should not be the main focus of any proposal. If you include a request for funding a new piece of equipment, justify why you need it for the project. If the same or similar equipment exists elsewhere on campus you must justify why you cannot use that equipment.
- If the PI has had a prior REF award, briefly describe the results, outcomes, and impact of the prior funding.
- Include a clear explanation of how the proposed project will enhance your progression on a defined career trajectory. What will this project lead to and how will that help you? What outputs will the project enable that will position you for future success? (For RS) How will this project enhance your ability to get future externally-sponsored funding?
- Describe the contribution your project will make toward the University and/or unit strategic plans and/or Tech Forward initiatives.
Budget (MTU Excel Sheet) and Budget Justification (1 page)
- See Budget Information section below for allowable/unallowable expenses.
- Budget review and approval by Sponsored Programs is not needed during the proposal stage; however, you must submit a budget using Sponsored Programs' official budget worksheet. If you are requesting equipment (items over $5,000 with a lifespan of over 1 year), at least one quote must be provided as an attachment to the proposal.
- A separate budget justification must be provided, outlining the details and rationale for each budget item requested. If cost share is proposed, the sources and amounts must be outlined in the budget justification.
- If cost share is provided, a completed cost share form is not needed. Provide an email or letter from each cost share provider (as an attachment to the proposal) stating the committed amount and include the cost share in the “cost share” column of the budget provided. No letter is required for PI-provided cost share; however, PI-provided amounts must be disclosed and documented in the budget and budget justification. It is the responsibility of the PI to secure and manage these cost share funds, if the REF project is awarded. REF cost share funds will not be collected or tracked centrally.
- If you have questions about budgeting or would like assistance preparing your budget, please reach out to the Research Development team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For all REF programs, describe all existing resources, including Institutional Research and Development (IRAD) funds and faculty start-up, whether or not they are available to the investigator(s) to complete the proposed work. If start-up funds were provided by the university, include an explanation of how you used or are using any start-up funds toward this or another project. For tenured faculty applying to REF-SG, simply provide a statement indicating that any funds have been used during your tenure process. Provide your startup index number, if you have an active start-up index. Remaining startup funds, if available, may be used as cost share for the REF project. If the funds are obligated for another purpose, this other purpose must be explained, with a rationale why REF funds are needed.
- If no IRAD or start-up funds are available, state this clearly in this section.
- List all references cited in the proposal.
- There is no required or preferred reference style.
Vitae for each investigator (up to 3 pages)
- Include CVs for the PI and all Co-PIs. You may use any format (i.e. Digital Measures, NSF, NIH).
- CVs can be up to 3 pages each but may be shorter.
Letter(s) of Commitment (up to two pages per letter)
- You must include a letter of commitment from any entity promising cost share to support your project, listing the exact amount of cost share they are providing. Exception: if the PI is providing cost share from their own resources (PI's IRAD account or start-up funds), no letter is required for those funds; however, all cost share must be documented in the budget and budget justification.
- Letters of commitment from other collaborators may be included, with a two-page limit for each letter. These letters should not be used to circumvent proposal page limits; all substantive aspects of the collaboration should be included in the proposal itself.
- Twelve-point Times New Roman font is required. A smaller but legible font size may be used for mathematical formulas, equations, figures, tables, or diagram captions.
- Margins in all directions must be at least one inch.
- The proposal must be single-spaced.
- Page numbers should be placed at the bottom center of each page of the proposal, with the exception of attachments (e.g., cost share/support letters, quotes)
- Page limits and word counts, where applicable, will be strictly enforced.
All REF proposals are screened for format/content compliance prior to review. Proposals that are not in compliance with REF instructions will be returned without review.
- All REF projects are 12 months in duration.
- Proposed budgets should be clear and detailed. A one-page budget justification must be provided to fully justify all expenditures. The budget justification must outline all proposed cost share amounts and sources.
- If you are requesting a piece of equipment that exceeds $5,000, you must provide a quote from the vendor. The F&A rate on all REF budgets is 0%.
- This budget spreadsheet is required to complete your budget. No other budget sheet or format is allowed.
- Cost sharing is not required; however, it is strongly encouraged and is considered by the review panel when considering funding recommendations. Existing sponsored project funds cannot be used as cost share.
- Academic faculty salary (including summer salary and academic release time). See note below regarding support for soft-money employees.
- Graduate student assistantships, stipend, or tuition. See note below for hourly graduate student support and undergraduate student support.
- Improvements in classroom instruction or efforts to improve skills to expand teaching capability, since these activities are supported by the Center for Teaching and Learning.
- Organization of symposia.
- Additions to personal professional libraries, office supplies, general purpose computers, general purpose research instrumentation, or similar items.
Student and Other Employee Support Limitations
- Undergraduate students may be hired as hourly research assistants in cases where such assistance is necessary and justified. Undergraduate student support can be budgeted during academic semesters and/or summer months.
- Hourly graduate student support is generally ONLY allowable during the summer semester. Well-justified hourly graduate support will be considered during any portion of the year for those in positions without startup packages (e.g., research scientists/engineers).
- Soft-money employees, including research scientists, research professors, and research engineers, may be supported up to a maximum amount of $5,000, not including fringe benefits.
All cost share is to be disclosed in the budget justification by source and amount and must be shown in detail in the cost share column of the required budget worksheet. External funds or sponsored research as cost share is not allowed. A Cost Share Authorization Form is not necessary and should not be included. However, you must include a letter of commitment from each Michigan Tech entity (dean/chair/center/institute/other collaborators) providing cost share that lists the exact amount of cost share they are providing. All cost share documentation must be included as part of the proposal package. If awarded, you are expected to work with the contributing entity to obtain an index number to charge for the amount of cost share promised.
While not a requirement, providing cost share shows institutional commitment and will often make a proposal more competitive; thus, cost sharing is therefore strongly encouraged.
Letters of commitment are required from all cost share providers, with the exception of the PI.
Letters of commitment from other project collaborators are optional but may be included.
Although not required, letters of support from the Department Chair, College Dean, or Center/Institute Director may be included to address the significance of the project.
All letters must be two pages or less in length.
The Cayuse proposal must be completed and certified by the PI by the internal deadline (one week prior to the proposal deadline). If you would like your proposal to undergo an optional pre-submission compliance review, the full proposal PDF is also due to the Research Development team at this time (email@example.com). Any compliance issues identified during this optional review can be corrected without penalty prior to final submission. Pre-submission compliance review is OPTIONAL and will only take place when the PI contacts the Research Development team to request it.
Attach a single pdf file of your complete proposal package, which follows the order on the Required Elements Checklist in the “Scope of Work, Narrative, or Research plan” section of the Attachments and submission notes section of Cayuse by the deadline. The single PDF proposal file must include all proposal materials (i.e., required elements checklist, proposal, budget, budget justification, vitae for all collaborators, and all supplementary materials). In addition, please attach the excel version of your budget in the “Attach the Budget” section of the Budget portion of Cayuse.
REF reviewers consist of faculty and research staff from disciplines across the University. Reviewers are specialists in their fields and knowledgeable in general research approaches and methodologies. All REF proposals therefore should be written to ensure that the significance and impact of the project is clear to those outside the writer's discipline and each proposal should provide a clear rationale for each element of the project. Please take the diversity of the reviewers into account when writing your submission to ensure your proposal can be understood by all readers. REF review committees make funding recommendations to the Associate Vice President for Research Development. All funding decisions are final.
REF proposals will be evaluated on:
- Strength of the proposal, including likelihood of meeting the goals outlined, and the match between support requested and the scope of the project.
- Contribution to the achievement of the University and/or unit strategic plans and/or Tech Forward initiatives.
- If proposers have received prior REF funding, the results of the previous REF funding need to be disclosed within the proposal and the prior REF project outcomes will be a factor in the review.
- For REF-RS: Likelihood of leading to the development of an externally supported research program, including future external graduate student funding.
- For REF-SCG: The specific end products expected from the proposed project and how they will contribute to the applicant's scholarly development. The committee will give preference to proposals led by untenured, tenure-track faculty and will consider the results accomplished with earlier SCG support, when applicable.
Funding decisions will be announced to the principal investigators by email. Awards are also announced in Tech Today. All REF projects are one year in duration. Any significant changes proposed during an award should be submitted via an internal request for modification form. Fully signed forms should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for processing.