Prepare Proposal

Below is information to help you prepare grant proposals. There is information helpful to preparing grants in general as well as information specific to some of the major (e.g., tri-council) funding agencies.

Proposal Format

  • Presentations: Many of the funding agencies provide downloadable tips and power point presentations to assist applicants with proposal formats. The Research Office can assist in locating these documents or can provide answers to specific questions. These resources will provide applicants with information on format(s), budget preparation, and proposal tips. 
  • Sample applications: Researchers can request past successful applications to be used as invaluable templates for their own applications. To request an application, please contact the Office of Research Services.
  • Writing services: Some faculties employ writers to assist applicants with their proposals. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Dean's Office to seek information on available writing assistance.

Grant Instructions 

A number of granting agencies provide electronic reference guides and/or demos on their website. These are provided to assist potential applicants with forms and other related documents. Examples of grant instructions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • CIHR: to access the instructions, log into ResearchNet, click on the desired application, and consult the 'Support' section at the bottom of the screen.
  • NSERC: online application instructions
  • SSHRC: to access the instructions, log into the SSHRC Portfolio and click on the "edit form" button for the desired application. Select 'Instructions' at the top of the webpage.


Preparing the Budget

Preparation of the budget is, for many applicants, the most difficult section of the proposal. It is important that the budget section of the proposal accurately reflects the funding needed to carry out the proposed research. The applicant should neither overestimate the funds required nor underestimate budgetary needs as either might lead to proposal rejection. An accurate budget strengthens the total proposal and increases the likelihood of funding.

A fully-developed budget includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Direct Costs

  • Salaries
  • Payment to Research Participants
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Consultants
  • Capital Equipment
  • Expendable Equipment and Supplies
  • Printing Costs (see Obtaining Printing Services)
  • Publication Costs
  • Travel
  • Computer Time and equipment installation
  • Subcontracts / Sub-recipient Agreements
  • Other Direct Costs

Applicants are encouraged to contact their respective Dean's Offices or the Research Office to obtain information on policies and/or agreements. All applicants are also strongly encouraged review the application guidelines to ensure their budget and research plan reflect appropriate use of agency funds.

Indirect Costs

  • Indirect costs are those expenditures incurred by the University in the conduct of research that are not readily identifiable as specific expenditures. See the Research Cost Recovery Policy for more information.

Matching Funds

  • If the sponsor guidelines require cost-sharing or matching funds (i.e., cash contribution or in-kind funding), applicants are strongly advised to complete the respective budget sections in the proposal and provide appropriate letters of commitment from third-party sources.
  • All matching funds or cost-sharing commitments must be approved in advance by the Principal Investigator's Department Head and Dean as well as the Research Office.


Electronic Applications

Electronic submissions must be reviewed by the Office of Research Services, and a copy of the application and signature form must be forwarded to the Office of Research Services prior to submission to the funding agency. In some cases, the proposal is submitted online and the designated staff member in the Office of Research Services will review and complete the online submission to the funding agency. Please follow eApplication instructions carefully. A Notification of Intent to Apply for a Grant form and a Funded Research Approval Form should still be submitted to the Office of Research Services for electronic applications. 

**Note** Although some agencies that accept electronic submission do not require a signature page with the physical signature of the institutional signing authority (the act of submitting the application by the Office of Research Services is considered the electronic approval of the institution), the signatures of the Dean and Department Head are still required before institutional approval to submit the application can be obtained by the Office of Research Services. Applicants should obtain the appropriate signatures using the Funded Research Approval Form and submit it to the Office of Research Services when they are ready to have their application reviewed.