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Office of Research Development and Education

Office of Research Development and Education

Proposal Development

Resources and Tips


ORDE has developed a variety of proposal development resources and has identified a variety of helpful resources related to proposal development that are available from funding agencies and other organizations as detailed below. 




 NSF CAREER Award Toolkit

ORDE has developed a NSF CAREER Award Toolkit to familiarize early career faculty with this program in a comprehensive fashion. This document also provides tips from past CAREER Award recipients.1

 Proposal Development Checklist

​This Proposal Development Checklist has been designed to provide users with a starting point when reviewing agency guidelines, program announcements and requests for applications. Available as a Word document, the checklist can be customized for each proposal submission. (Because it is a Word document, a popup will appear asking for your login information; just click cancel and the document will then load.)2

 Proposal Development Timeline

​ORDE has devised a Proposal Development Timeline that lays out the various components and strategies associated with developing competitive proposals.3

 Proposal Development Tips from ORDE

​A one-page review of best proposal development practices is available from ORDE in this Tips document.6

 Budget Development Checklist

The ORDE Budget Development Checklist was developed for use by principal investigators to help them think through potential line items needed for a specific project.4

 ORDE Budget Justification Template

​Budget justifications are critical in the proposal review process, both to reviewers and agency staff. These documents provide insight on why line items have been requested, how they will be utilized and why they are important for the specific project. The more convincing the argument, the less likely an item is to be questioned or cut. We hope investigators feel free to use this Budget Justification Template as a starting point for their next budget justification.5




 American Council of Learned Societies Proposal Writing Tips

​American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) - ACLS offers specific advice on writing fellowship proposals for their organization. Written by former ACLS program officer and humanities scholar Christina Gillis, she provides important information about proposal focus and the audience for whom you are writing in her article, "Writing Proposals for ACLS Competitions."


 National Institutes of Health 10 Steps to a Winning R01 Application

​The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has developed a very helpful website applicable to all NIH funding components called "10 Steps to a Winning R01 Application". This 10 Steps site is described by the agency as providing "a roadmap for designing a high-impact project that will stand out in peer review." Topics covered include finding your research niche, developing specific aims for your project, identifying the appropriate institute and study section and how to approach writing an exciting (to reviewers) application.3

 Sample NEH Application Narratives

​The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) offers sample narrative sections from successful applications for review. Each NEH funding program has several available to give applicants good ideas on how successful NEH application narratives are constructed.

To review these sample application narratives, go to the web page listing all NEH grant programs ( and select the program of interest to you. In the column on the right of your screen titled "Guidelines Resources", go down to Sample Appplication Narratives and select the one(s) you wish to read.

One other note about NEH: Many NEH funding programs provide opportunities for review of your draft application in advance of the deadline. NEH program staff read your draft and provide comments to you. While this does not guarantee an award, NEH indicates that many applicants have found this service helpful. Check the guidelines for your particular funding program to see if this service is available.


 Sample NIH Applications

​The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has made available sample R01 and R21 applications complete with peer review summary statements. All the applications are currently funded projects at NIH.5


​The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has developed a database providing detailed information on all projects funded by NIH. You may search the database by keyword, by funding institute, by award mechanism (e.g., R01, R03), by the specific request for application or program announcement under which the project was submitted, by study section and many other parameters. You can use the NIH RePORTER Database to see who is doing research similar to yours in an effort to locate potential collaborators, identify best study sections for your discipline and topic or read funded research abstracts.4

 National Cancer Institute Quick Guide

​The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has published a helpful "Quick Guide for Grant Applications (September 2010)", providing helpful information on best practices when developing an application to be considered by NCI.6

 Proposal Budgeting Basics Tutorial (Foundation Center)

The Foundation Center offers insights on the budget development process in their on-line short course, Proposal Budgeting Basics.1

 Proposal Writing Short Course (Foundation Center)

​The Proposal Writing Short Course, offered by the Foundation Center, gives information on best approaches when requesting grant support from non-federal sponsors.7

 Tips for Contacting Program Officers

​Timberley Roane, Associate Professor in the University of Colorado Denver Department of Integrative Biology, served as a faculty guest expert in an ORDE Faculty Seminar and supplied helpful documents:


 University of Colorado Denver Core Facilities

​Prepared by Vice Chancellor for Research Richard Traystman, this detailed listing of University core facilities will prove helpful when seeking in-house services for your research projects.9

 University of Colorado Denver Strategic Plan, 2008-2020

This resource provides details about the University that will be helpful when writing the proposal section describing the institution. It is available at  8

 NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Tips Book

​ZJ Pei, currently a program officer at the National Science Foundation, edited a series of articles written by former NSF CAREER awardees; the book is titled "NSF CAREER Proposal Writing Tips" (2007).12

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