Proposal Submission Process
VCU School of Medicine proposal submission process for conducting research
Administrators: to request department-wide access to the RAMS-SPOT proposal submission system, please have your Department Administrator email SOMPROPOSALS@vcuhealth.org and include the Fiscally Administering Unit for which you are requesting access.
Submit a Proposal
After deciding to apply for funding for research or another type of project, first notify your department administrator and/or department chair/center director and get in contact with the Research Administrator assigned to assist you.
PI Eligibility Review VCU's policy on PI eligibility and discuss questions with your administrator or department chair/center director. To request an exception to VCU’s PI eligibility policy, see SOM Guidance for PI Eligibility Exception Requests for more information.
You and your Research Administrator will then develop a submission timeline ensuring that you will meet both the School of Medicine and the Office of Sponsored Programs internal deadlines:
- VCU's web-based proposal system, RAMS-SPOT, will automatically calculate an internal submission deadline five (5) working days prior to the sponsor’s submission deadline. This allows the Office of Sponsored Programs to thoroughly review the proposal.
- The School of Medicine Dean's Office requires two (2) working days to complete review of a proposal prior to routing it to OSP in RAMS-SPOT.
- This means the submission should be routed at least seven (7) working days prior to the sponsor deadline. At this time, draft science portions of the proposal are allowable.
- OSP requires three (3) working days prior to the submission deadline to review the final science portions of the proposal (i.e., research strategy, specific aims) and to ensure a successful submission.
Be realistic in considering whether you can adhere to the above timeline without compromising the quality of your proposal submission. There are many individuals at VCU available to help you submit a successful proposal but advance notice and adherence to timelines is essential.
Both you and your Research Administrator are responsible for carefully reading the solicitation or sponsor funding announcement. There are many different kinds of sponsors and funding programs, each with their own set of proposal requirements. It is extremely important to be aware of your particular proposal guidelines and communicate with your Research Administrator on any issues as early in the process as possible.
Other steps in planning the project:
- Develop content
- Discuss cost share options, if applicable, with your department chair/center director and administrator. If cost share is required, complete the Cost Share Budget in RAMS SPOT (see RAMS SPOT Get Started Guide - Cost Share Budgetand Cost Sharing Demo for more information). This includes NIH over-the-cap salary cost sharing.
- If this is a limited submission proposal, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs well in advance of any internal deadlines and review OSP’s instructions for applying to limited submission opportunities
- Identify key personnel
- If you are including a subaward to another institution in your proposal, gather the following documents, at minimum, from the subawardee. These materials will be uploaded to the Funding Proposal in RAMS-SPOT:
- Signed AOR Authorization (on cover page or consortium letter)
- Signed VCU Entity Form for non-FDP Expanded Clearinghouse Subrecipients (only when applicable)
- Copy of subrecipient's negotiated rate agreement (only when applicable)
- Scope/statement of work
- Line item budget (if using SF-424 forms, please see the RAMS-SPOT Get Started Guide – Importing Subawards and Importing Subawards Demo)
- Budget justification, and
- CV/biosketch for key personnel
The Research Administrator will create a new Funding Proposal record in RAMS-SPOT. Refer to the RAMS-SPOT training guides for assistance. If submitting to an agency that utilizes the Grants.gov platform, RAMS-SPOT allows you to select a funding opportunity. The system will then import required SF-424 forms, as well as optional forms (see Get Started Guide - Creating an SF-424 Package). Use these to create your proposal based on the solicitation requirements.
- Administrators: to request department-wide access to the RAMS-SPOT proposal submission system, please have your Department Administrator email SOMRESADMIN@vcuhealth.org and include the Fiscally Administering Unit for which you are requesting access.
The Research Administrator will assist you with preparing a budget. If applying to NIH, determine whether you will be using an R&R detailed budget or a modular budget. The following documents may assist you in developing your budget:
- Internal budget projection worksheet
- Current fringe benefit and facilities and administration rates
- What F&A rate do I use?
- Percent of time and effort to person months interactive conversion table
- NIH salary cap summary
- Postdoctoral benefits
- Postdoctoral salary guidelines
You may find using the federal government's per diem rates to be a helpful tool when budgeting for travel costs:
You may need to gather updated Biosketches, CVs, and/or current and pending support documentation from all key personnel on your project, depending on the sponsor’s guidelines. Be aware that NIH has issued a new biosketch format effective May 25, 2015.
Note: All individuals on the project designated as “Conflict of Interest” or COI Investigators (including youeself as PI) must use the financial conflict of interest reporting system, Activity and Interest Reporting System (AIRS), to report their financial interests. Office of Sponsored Programs will not submit your proposal until all COI investigators have completed this task. The Office of Research has posted instructions on how to use the VCU AIRS. Investigators can log in to AIRS with your VCU eID and password. Not sure if who should be designated as a COI Investigator? Refer to question D.5 on NIH’s COI FAQ for a definition of a COI Investigator.
Simultaneously to developing the budget and other documents you will be preparing the scientific portions of the proposal.
- All final science documents need to be completed and uploaded to RAMS-SPOT three (3) working days in advance of the proposal deadline. Once OSP has locked down the proposal, the reviewer will request final science from the PI. The PI should coordinate with thir Research Administrator to upload final science documents to RAMS-SPOT.
Data management plan: NSF requires that all proposals include a supplementary document of no more than two pages labeled Data Management Plan. Instructions can be found on NSF's website. Examples can be found on various universities' websites, such as University of California, San Diego.
The PI should prepare and/or submit their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or Institutional Review Board protocols for review. Depending on your sponsor, you may need to obtain approval or submit the IACUC and/or IRB protocol forms prior to your proposal submission.
Only the PI is able to click the “Route for Approvals” button in RAMS-SPOT to initiate the internal review process. Refer to the RAMS-SPOT guide on Routing for Approval for instructions on how to start the proposal routing process. RAMS-SPOT will first send your funding proposal to the School of Medicine (and any other collaborating School’s) for review.
The Office of Sponsored Programs cannot submit the proposal without approval from all collaborating Schools.
NOTE: Please allow at least two (2) business days turn-around time for the School of Medicine to review and approve the proposal prior to routing to Office of Sponsored Programs to meet their five (5) business day in advance of any sponsor deadlines.
It is expected that the principal investigator in conjunction with their department chair/administration has reviewed or completed the following items accurately and completely prior to routing the proposal for School of Medicine review in RAMS-SPOT:
- Coordinated financial reporting by all designated COI investigators on a proposal
- Completed any required training for systems submission and/or requested any user IDs if required by sponsor
- Ensured that a basic review of scientific/technical considerations has occurred at the department level
RA or PI has:
- Uploaded a complete subrecipient mini-package in RAMS-SPOT for all proposed subawardees
- Requested internal subaccounts in RAMS-SPOT as applicable/agreed upon by participating departments and schools (most departments require that a subaccount be requested when their personnel are budgeted on a proposal)
- Prepared proposal in accordance with sponsor application terms and conditions as well as sponsoring agencies’ rules and regulations
- Ensured the entire proposal meets the administrative requirements outlined in the application instructions
- If VCU Health System employees are involved in the project, included a completed VCUHS Employee Approval Form
- Confirmed that a current, fully-executed MOU exists for any involved faculty conducting sponsored research that have a joint appointment with a veterans affairs medical center. See SOM Guidance for Joint Appointment MOUs. Investigators and administrators are encouraged to utilize the VA MOU Template.
If submitting a proposal that involves clinical research or a clinical trial, PI or RA has included, at minimum:
Submitting incomplete or inaccurate proposals for review will result in delays in review, return of the materials for correction, and could jeopardize timely submission to the Office of Sponsored Programs for approval and submission to the sponsor.
At this stage, work together with your Research Administrator and your Office of Sponsored Programs in RAMS-SPOT to ensure that the proposal follows the guidelines set forth in the solicitation. If any documents need to be updated prior to final submission, you can provide these documents to your Research Administrator to be replaced in RAMS-SPOT.
The Research Administrator will provide a PDF copy of the final proposal to you for confirmation that everything is ready to submit. Then, the Research Administrator notifies the Office of Sponsored Programs team that the proposal is ready to submit to the sponsor.
In RAMS-SPOT, under General Proposal Information, question # 4, the Research Administrator will indicate how the proposal will be submitted to the sponsor. Please select "Electronic via Grants.gov" if the proposal will be submitted to a federal agency using the SF-424 form set via Grants.gov. Please select "Other" for all non-Grants.gov applications. For multi-project submissions submitted through NIH ASSIST or applications submitted to NSF via Fastlane select "Other."
Only the Office of Sponsored Programs team can submit federal agency proposals to Grants.gov or through FastLane. Office of Sponsored Programs will provide updates and confirmation in RAMS-SPOT as the proposal is submitted to the sponsor.