Please read each section carefully as you prepare your REF proposal. If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
PI Limitations for all REF projects: A PI may only submit one proposal per category (see FAQs). There are no restrictions on the number of proposals on which someone 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.
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. Tenured faculty or research faculty/staff (who have been employed for more than six years) are not eligible to be Principal Investigators for REF-RS awards but may be included as Co-Investigators on REF-RS proposals. PI's in their last probational year are ineligible to apply. PI’s must be permanent employees of the University (e.g., visiting faculty are ineligible).
REF-SCG: SCG awards are available to faculty at any level, but proposals that help junior faculty (untenured tenure-track) launch their professional careers will receive priority. PI's cannot have been awarded an REF-SCG in the previous REF round or have an active REF-SCG grant. 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:
- Completed Required Elements Checklist (1 page)
- 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.
- Proposed Project Description, with the following required sections (up to 4 pages total)
- Succinctly describe the proposed project, including goals, approach, and methods.Provide sufficient detail on each to evaluate the likelihood of project success.
- Describe the contribution your proposed project is expected to make toward developing the PI’s and Co-Is’ research programs.
- 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 and, if it exists elsewhere on campus, why you cannot use that equipment in another lab.
- Budget (1 page) 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 that is more than $5,000, quotes must be provided.
- 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 awarded. REF cost share funds will not be collected or tracked centrally.
- Existing Resources (1 page)
- Describe the existing resources, including IRAD and faculty start-up, available to the investigator(s) to complete the proposed work.
- For REF-RS, include an explanation of how you used or are using any start-up funds toward this or another project. Provide your startup index number, if you have an active index. Remaining startup funds 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.
- References (up to 2 pages)
- List all references cited in the proposal.
- Two-page vitae for each investigator
- Include for the PI and all Co-Is. You may use any format (i.e. Digital Measures, NSF, NIH).
- 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.
A transmittal form, signed by the PI, co-PIs, and authorizing signatures, must be completed and submitted with the proposal package as a separate file attached to the same submission email. 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.
The proposal must be formatted according to the following guidelines or it will be returned without review:
- Twelve point Times New Roman font. 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 with the exception of attachments.
- Page limits and word counts, where applicable, will be strictly enforced.
With an expectation of a heavy volume of submission for this competition, please adhere to all guidelines.
- All REF projects are 12 months in duration.
- Proposed budgets should be clear and detailed, and must fully justify all expenditures.
- All proposers must identify and discuss sources of external funds for conducting research and creative activities in their field, even if access to such funds is limited or unusual.
- If you are requested equipment that is more than $5,000, quotes must be provided.
- The F&A rate on all REF budgets is 0%.
- Please use this budget spreadsheet to complete your budget.
- External or sponsored research as cost share.
- Academic faculty salary (including summer salary and academic release time). 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.
- Graduate student assistantships, stipend, or tuition, etc. Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowed during the summer semester.
- 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, computer purchases, research apparatus, 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. The level of support must be proportional to the work required.
- Hourly graduate student support is ONLY allowable during the summer semester.
- 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 and shown on the budget worksheet. External or sponsored research as cost share are not allowed. A Cost Share Authorization Form is not necessary. However, you must include a letter of commitment from the entity (dean/chair/center/institute) providing the cost share, listing the exact amount of cost share that they are providing. If awarded, you are expected to work with that entity to obtain an index number to charge for the amount of cost share promised.
Cost share is strongly encouraged but not required.
Letters of Commitment
Letters of commitment are required from all cost share providers, with the exception of the PI.
Letters of Support are optional. 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.
Proposal Submission Requirements
Submit one pdf file of your complete proposal package, which follows the order on the Required Elements Checklist, along with a separate PDF signed transmittal file, to email@example.com. The single PDF proposal file must include all materials (i.e., required elements checklist, proposal, budget, budget justification, vitae for all collaborators, and all supplementary materials). Because the signed PDF transmittal file cannot be combined with the proposal file, it should be submitted as a separate file attached to the same submission email. Do NOT submit the transmittal separately to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review Process and Evaluation of Proposals
REF reviewers consist of faculty and research staff from disciplines across the University. The members are specialists in their fields and general research and methodologies. The proposals therefore should be written to ensure the importance of the project is clear to those outside the writer's field and provide a rationale for each functional element of the project. Please take this into account when writing your submission to ensure your proposal can be understood by all reviewers. These committees review the proposals and make 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 precedence to junior faculty proposals and will give full weight to the results accomplished with earlier SCG support.