Prepare Your Proposal

Helping you obtain funding for your project

For help with any part of obtaining or administering your research funding, please contact one of our experienced staff members. Whether you are new to the university or are interested in exploring new funding opportunities, we can meet with you and your research team to discuss the planning and development of your research program.

Once you have identified an opportunity, our staff are available to review and provide feedback at all stages of the development of your funding proposal. Services we can provide at this stage include:

  • clarification of published guidelines for funding opportunities
  • review of draft proposals (narrative sections)
  • review of draft budgets

Your faculty may have staff to help you through this process. Check with your faculty to see who they are. We can also help you.

Information you will need

When preparing your proposal, here are some things you will need to consider:

Is this a grant or a contract?

If you’re not sure whether the proposal you are preparing will lead to a grant or a contract, find out more here: Grants Versus Contracts: What's the difference?

Inclusion of overhead in your budget

Overhead costs are those indirect expenditures incurred by the university in the conduct of research which are not readily identifiable as specific expenses to a project. They are real costs to the university which include, but are not limited to, items such as:

  • building occupancy and operating costs
  • facilities maintenance and upgrade
  • management and administration of research
  • support for regulatory requirements and research compliance
  • support for intellectual property and technology transfer activities
  • library and electronic resources
  • communications and IT support
  • faculty and departmental service to support research
  • research promotion and developmental activities

These costs are defined as indirect and are recovered through an overhead charge incorporated in the project funding and budget.

Overhead must be included in all budgets for applicable contracts and grants as a cost item. In cases where the funder has an established policy which specifies an overhead rate that is different from the university rate, the university will accept that rate provided this is verified in a way that is acceptable to the university.

Applicable rates of overhead on research funds vary according to the funder and agreement type, and are described full in the university’s Overhead on Research Funds Policy.

What happens to overhead funds collected from your project?  The funds are distributed according to the schedule noted in the university’s Overhead on Research Funds Policy.

Will your project require certification?

If your research will require human or animal subjects, or will involve biohazardous materials, consult the Responsible Conduct section of our site for full information on how to plan and apply for the necessary certifications.

Employee benefits for associated research employees

If you plan to hire employees using funds from a grant or contract, please be aware that benefits are payable to them at established rates (note: benefits are not payable on student stipends).

For more information, please see the information on Hiring Grant Paid Positions - includes Grant Paid Offer Letter Template [login required] and contact Employee Benefits in Human Resources at

Application information for US government funders

If you are applying to any of these US government funding agencies, here is key information you will need when preparing your application:

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP)

  • Pre-application: via the Electronic Biomedical Research Application Portal (eBRAP).  Enter the International Research Facilitator as the Business Contact. 
  • Full application:
    • is the Internet source used to find and apply for US federal funding.
    • Full applications can only be submitted to by an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR). At Dalhousie, AOR status is held by the International Research Faciliator in DRS. Please contact the IRF in order to arrange for submission of your application.
    • Indirect costs must be added to every budget. Check with the International Research Facilitator for Dalhousie's current US federally-approved rate.
    • Send a copy of your application, along with a signed Investigator Checklist, to DRS. The International Research Facilitator will review your application and, if appropriate, will make comments or suggestions for revisions to your application. The IRF will then electronically submit your application once an approved final draft is complete.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

  • Full application:
    • Via, as above for CDMRP. Use of NIH's new online application portal, ASSIST, is strongly encouraged.
    • Applicants require an eRA Commons username at application stage. Contact the International Research Facilitator to have your eRA Commons user name issued.
    • Indirect costs must be added to every budget. Budget for these at 8% of total direct costs.
    • Dalhousie's NIH Entity ID: 190002844A1
    • Progress reports are to be made via eRA Commons.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • Fastlane is an interactive real-time system used to conduct NSF business online. Every participating institution, including collaborating institutions, must submit via Fastlane.
  • Contact the International Research Facilitator to have a user name issued. All researchers are coded as PIs.
  • The International Research Facilitator will institutionally submit and electronically sign the application on behalf of Dalhousie.

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA)

If your grant application includes requirements related to EDI, please refer to the guidance and resources compiled on the ORS Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) – Research Resources webpage.



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