Title Line

Guide to Preparing Proposals

Initial Contact with Sponsor

A key element of successful proposal writing is establishing a relationship with your potential sponsor early on in the process. The purpose of the initial contact is to confirm the common areas of interest of the sponsor and the PI. Having a contact at the funding agency can greatly facilitate writing the full proposal, serve as a resource for answering questions, and shepherd the proposal through the review process.

Components of a Proposal

The format or presentation of a particular proposal will depend on the requirements of the sponsor to whom you are applying. Most sponsors have developed policies and procedures for the submission of proposals and may require the use of specific application forms. Other sponsors are less directive. In any case, PIs should obtain most recent versions of guidelines and should follow the required proposal format.

The following may be used as a guide to components of the proposal, when requirements are not specific:


Title Page– includes the title and duration of the project, amount requested, name and address of the PI and of the institutional contact (in most cases, G&CA).


Abstract or Proposal Summary – describes the objectives, methodology and significance of the proposed project. The abstract should be able to stand alone and should provide the reader with a first impression of the request.


Introduction– should specifically and concisely state the importance of the research being proposed.


Description of the Project– is the heart of the proposal and should describe what is to be undertaken and how it will be accomplished. You may wish to explore the general background of the current or previous research as well as describe the proposed program of work.


Bibliography– a listing of references cited in the body of the proposal


CV/Biographical Sketch – should be submitted for all key personnel, indicating background, professional interests, research capabilities and publications.


Budget and Budget Justification – should reflect a reasonable estimate of expenses necessary to conduct the project [see model budget and budget notes link on left for a sample]. The fringe benefit/tuition/indirect cost chart (see link on left) should be consulted for the most recent fringe benefits, graduate student tuition and indirect cost rates.


Facilities and Resources – describes equipment or other relevant resources that will be available to the project and that may be advantageous to the proposed project. Examples of such resources include: laboratory and office space, library resources, animal facilities, computer services or equipment.


Transmittal Letter– if the sponsor does not provide a form asking for an institutional signature, G&CA may provide a cover letter to accompany the proposal which indicates Yale’s approval of the application/proposal.