Proposal FAQs

Are there restrictions on who can serve as Principal Investigator?

Yes. Since the Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for the overall fiscal, technical and administrative management and conduct of an award, there are guidelines governing who may serve as a PI or Co-PI. Generally, PI status is limited to those with full-time faculty-level appointments. Visiting faculty, adjunct faculty, postdocs and graduate students should not be listed as PI or Co-PI. Some funding mechanisms that are intended specifically for students and postdocs, such as NIH K-series or F-series applications, require that the student or postdoc be named as PI, but they must supervised by a mentor or sponsor of PI-eligible rank who is also named in the proposal. Exceptions may be considered with the approval of the department chair and the dean.

How close to the deadline can I keep working on my proposal?

We must receive your complete and final proposal at least four full business days prior to your due date or we cannot guarantee the proposal will be submitted on time. The earlier you get the proposal documents to us, the more time we have to review for accuracy and compliance with sponsor guidelines. Also, keep in mind that sponsor portals become very sluggish and even crash on high-volume deadline days. So, our best advice is to submit your proposal documents as early as you can.  

How much effort can I commit?

In general, PIs with eight-month appointments in the Dietrich School should limit effort committed on sponsored projects to four calendar months per year.  Overcommitments can result in the need to either cost share effort using School funds or to request prior approval for a reduction in effort from the sponsor. NSF also has a sponsor-specific policy limiting the amount of salary that senior personnel can charge across all of their NSF grants to two months per year. Anything above two months must be approved in the submitted proposal budget or via a prior approval request at the award stage.

My proposal involves Human Subjects, Vertebrate Animals, and/or Biohazardous Materials. Do I need an approved protocol in order to submit my proposal?

In most cases, no. Most sponsors do not require an approval protocol to be in hand at the time of proposal submission. But since the approved protocol is required before an award account can be created, and for many sponsors before they will even issue an award, you should not wait until you find out that you have been selected for funding to start work on your protocol application. 

Do I have to commit effort on every proposal that I submit?

Yes, if you are the PI. University of Pittsburgh policy mandates that all faculty members serving as PI must contribute some level of effort to that project to provide necessary supervision/administration.

I am a graduate student submitting to the NSF GRFP. What do you need from me?

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) requires that student applicants submit their proposals individually through their own Fastlane accounts. NSF GRFP proposals do not need to be routed through the Dietrich School Sponsored Projects Administration office, the Office of Sponsored Programs or PERIS. 

Sponsored Projects COVID-19 Updates

Several federal sponsors have created websites and issued guidance with FAQs, policy updates, and other information relating to proposals and awards impacted by COVID-19: