Proposal Submission

The Office of Sponsored Programs provides a wide range of services to support the submission of a research proposal, contract, or other agreement, including:

  • Identifying funding opportunities that align with your research, scholarly, outreach, programmatic and entrepreneurial plans.
  • Providing proposal development assistance.
  • Providing technical assistance with the preparation and submission of grants, contracts, and other agreements.
  • Reviewing and accepting awards.

Typical Process

Below is the typical process for the developing and submitting proposals at UWM. For additional information, contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College.

Step 1: Identify Potential Funding Opportunity

What should the principal investigator do?
Numerous resources are available to support faculty and staff in the identification of funding opportunities, including funding databases and subscription services.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
Review the Proposal Development page to identify resources available to support grant seeking. Additional assistance is also available from Proposal Development staff.

Step 2: Review the Potential Funding Opportunity

What should the principal investigator do?
After identifying a potential funding opportunity, carefully review the sponsor’s guidelines and ask the following:

  • Does my project align with the stated goals and objectives of the grant program?
  • What is the proposed impact of the project? How is it compelling? How will I be able to demonstrate to the sponsor the need for the project?
  • Will I have sufficient time to research and review past submissions to the sponsor and/or program?
  • Does my education and experience demonstrate that I (or my team) have sufficient expertise to carry out the proposed project?
  • Will I have sufficient time to develop a compelling application? Will I have sufficient time to have the application reviewed by department, division/ school/college, and the Office of Sponsored Programs?
  • Will I need to identify collaborators for the project? If so, will I be able to provide them sufficient time to develop their components of the project?
  • Is cost-sharing required? If so, will I have sufficient time to request cost share from my department/ division/school/college?  Please also review our Cost-share Frequently Asked Questions for more information and considerations for the inclusion of cost-share in proposals.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
For guidance on a funding opportunity and your grant-seeking plans, suggestions include contacting:

  • Your Department Chair.
  • Your Dean or Associate Dean for Research.
  • The Unit Business Representative of your Division/School/College.
  • The Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College.

Step 3: Develop the Proposal and Application

What should the principal investigator do?
If the assessment from Step 2 encourages the submission of a proposal, start developing the various components. Proposals typically include the following sections:

  • A project summary.
  • A project narrative, which usually includes a description of the project’s goals and objectives, significance, methodology, timeline, evaluation, and sustainability.
  • A budget and budget justification.
  • A description of personnel.
  • Subaward documentation, including an institutional letter of commitment, statement of work, and budget/budget justification for each partner.

Other information may be required. Review the funding opportunity guidelines closely.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
For guidance on a developing a proposal, suggestions include contacting:

  • Your Department Chair.
  • Your Associate Dean for Research.
  • The Unit Business Representative of your Division/School/College.
  • The Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College.
  • Proposal Development Services in the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Additional resources for proposal development information include:

Step 4: Create a WISPER Record

What should the principal investigator do?
WISPER is the internal routing system used to obtain approval for the submission of extramural proposals to sponsors. WISPER records must be created for each proposal and routed to your Department Chair and/or Dean for review and approval. Create a WISPER record even if Step 3 is not finalized.A proposed budget and project narrative must be attached to the WISPER record; draft narratives are encouraged. All proposals must be reviewed and approved by your Department and Division/School/College before the Office of Sponsored Programs will submit the proposal.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
For assistance creating and routing WISPER records, contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College. WISPER training manuals and desk references are also available.

Step 5: Finalize the Proposal

What should the principal investigator do?
Work closely with the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College to finalize and submit the proposal to the sponsor. Perform final checks on the submission, including:

  • Are all of the necessary components available and included in the application package?
  • Is the proposal formatted properly (e.g., margins, page size/length, font)? Would a reviewer be able to easily navigate it?
  • Are the components labeled correctly?
  • Are the required documents available and included in the proposal package (e.g., letters of collaboration or commitment, financial data)?
  • Does the budget align with the project narrative and timeline?

Who should the principal investigator contact?
Contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College.

Step 6: Submit the Proposal

What should the principal investigator do?
Once finalized and approved by all administrators, the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/School will submit the proposal to the sponsor. The Office of Sponsored Programs maintains all necessary institutional electronic research administration accounts for the submission of proposals to sponsors.Work closely with your Pre-Award Specialist to submit the proposal, as additional information, clarification, and/or approval may be needed to finalize and submit the proposal.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
Contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College.

Step 7: Monitor your Email

What should the principal investigator do?
Monitor your email for a submission confirmation; it may come directly to you from the sponsor or from your Pre-Award Specialist. In some instances, the sponsor will request additional materials or information related to your proposal; please monitor your e-mail for further instructions.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
Contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College.

Step 8: Sponsor Review

What should the principal investigator do?
Proposal review varies from sponsor to sponsor. For federal sponsors, the review period typically ranges from 6-12 months. For non-federal sponsors, the review period typically ranges from 2-8 months. The program guidelines usually describe the review process and time frame.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
Contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College for additional guidance.

Step 9: Notification

What should the principal investigator do?
The sponsor will provide a notification on the outcome of the review process. If the project was selected for funding, congratulations! You will now move into the award management phase. If your project was not selected for funding, determine whether to revise and resubmit your application or identify a new sponsor.

Who should the principal investigator contact?
If funded, contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/School for information on initiating the award management process.If not funded, contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your Division/School/College for information on revising and resubmitting your proposal or identifying a new sponsor.