Proposal Process

This section contains the steps and processes involved in preparing and submitting a proposal through OSP.

If you are looking for funding opportunities, please visit the Research Development website.

To begin the process, simply complete the online request form and we will partner you with a Grants Administrator to guide you through the proposal submission.

Mason has adopted an internal deadline of four business days for all proposal submissions. PIs must provide OSP with all final documents at least four business days prior to the sponsor’s deadline.

OSP strives to submit all proposals 24 hours prior to the sponsor’s deadline to avoid missed deadlines given the complexities and challenges related to electronic proposal submission. OSP and the Principal Investigator (PI) need to work together to meet this goal.  We recommend you contact OSP as soon as you begin considering developing a proposal for external funding.

The PI is a faculty member who submitted a proposal that was accepted and funded by an external sponsor, also referred to as the project director. The PI has the primary responsibility for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work, and fiscal stewardship of sponsor funds.

Each investigator is required to disclose situations where “significant financial interests” are present through submitting an online Conflict of Interest Certification. Proposals cannot be submitted until all investigators submit their disclosures.

Confidential Information

As a part of sponsored project activities or preliminary discussions with a potential sponsor, it is often necessary to disclose confidential or proprietary information owned by Mason or the sponsor to each other. In those cases, separate nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) may be executed to specify restrictions on the use of such confidential information and the requirements for safeguarding it. Typically, NDAs require the parties to use the same reasonable efforts to protect each other’s confidential or proprietary information as they do their own and only those directly participating in the project activities are permitted access to such information. It is the responsibility of the PI to ensure that all project participants understand and agree to terms of use regarding the confidential or proprietary information. It is Mason policy for each PI to sign their NDA in a “read and understood“ capacity acknowledging their responsibilities for safeguarding the confidential or proprietary information of the sponsor.  OSP will review, negotiate and provide the institutional signature for all NDAs executed by the University.  Please contact the Contracts Team for additional information or assistance.

Cost Sharing

Cost Share is the portion of project expenditures related to a sponsored project that is contributed by parties other than the sponsor, and not directly charged to the sponsored fund.  See University Policy Number 4016.

Types of Cost Share include:

  • Mandatory Committed (tracked and reported to the sponsor) – required by the sponsor and is therefore referenced in the proposal by dollar amount and type.
  • Voluntary Committed (tracked and reported to the sponsor) – not required by the sponsor, but is still referenced in the proposal by dollar amount and type. Becomes mandatory if project is awarded.
  • Voluntary Uncommitted (tracked internally, but not reported to the sponsor) – not required by the sponsor, not mentioned or referenced anywhere in the proposal.

Cost Sharing must be proposed, approved, administered, and accounted for in a consistent and prudent manner. This includes understanding workload implications of the cost share commitment, determining when cost sharing is appropriate, and accurately recording and reporting cost share expenditures.

If a sponsored project includes cost share, use the appropriate non-sponsored organization number, with the cost share activity code provided in the project’s OSP award letter, to charge and track cost shared expenditures for the life of the award.

Cost sharing Represents Real Costs to Mason

  • Cost sharing represents a redirection of University resources from instruction or other activities to support a sponsored project. The PI, department chair, college dean or director, and other administrators should carefully weigh the cost-effectiveness and the expected benefits of cost sharing prior to making the commitment in a proposal. Effort committed may not exceed that allowed by the faculty or staff member’s appointment.

Some projects allow for pre-award expenses. However, any costs incurred prior to the award are incurred at the PI’s risk and may not be reimbursed if the sponsor does not allow pre-award spending.

Additional Proposal Resources: