Initial Development of the Research Idea
Sponsored research projects stem from research ideas. The process of producing a proposal for a research project begins with having a research idea/goal(s), then setting objectives for reaching the goal(s) and having methods to carry out the objectives. As the Principal Investigator (PI), you should have also thought about the following questions:
- What do you want to do?
- Why do you want to do it? The perceived need for the project?
- Why is it a good thing? The importance of the project to you/your organization and community?
- What you and/or others have already done?
- How are you going to do it?
- Who is going to benefit from it?
- What are the expected outcomes and impact of the project?
- Plans for its long-term sustainability, if applicable?
AUC's office of sponsored programs can assist with developing the research idea and writing the proposal. Additionally, we can work with the PIs on preparing the budget, indicating who will be responsible for resourcing different cost components (i.e. the sponsor, the university, other parties). Direct and indirect costs should be detailed; and any AUC policies pertaining to the budget should be explained. (See Indirect Cost and Fringe Benefit Rates.)
Identifying Sources of Research Funding
A critical aspect of the proposal development process is matching research goals with appropriate sources of funding. Potential funding sources can include international organizations, government agencies, foundations, and corporations.
AUC's office of sponsored programs can assist in identifying applicable and eligible funding opportunities. It also regularly receives announcements of research funding opportunities, and distributes the announcements to faculty according to areas of interest. The staff can also assist you in reviewing sponsor announcements, application guidelines, and instructions for proposal submission.
One of the tools we rely on is the Community of Science (COS) Database that we subscribe to. This is a database that includes up-to-date announcements on a wide range of funding opportunities such as grants, fellowships and others in all disciplines not only Science. COS is also available for you to access by simply having a username and password.
Contacting Potential Sponsors
Once there are a clear research goal and potential sponsors identified, the next step is to contact potential sponsors to discuss the research idea. This interaction can help in writing an effective proposal. AUC faculty are encouraged to alert the office of sponsored programs about informal contacts with donors, and should be extremely careful in discussing budget matters. Contacts with potential sponsors should be coordinated with AUC's office of sponsored programs. In some cases, university approval is needed before making initial contact.