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Proposal Preparation

If your PI is planning to submit a new proposal, take the following key actions as early as possible in the proposal preparation development process:

Plan ahead for proposal elements that require special consideration

Key administrative components include: Formatting and submission requirements, budget, external collaborations, compliance, and special requirements. Identify those elements that may require additional support, review, or approval and/or require additional lead time (e.g. if Northwestern intends to subcontract to another organization, you will need to submit a request for a new subcontractor.)

To request endorsement of proposal materials that require the signature of the Vice President for Research (VPR), use the VPR Signature Request Form for Proposal Related Materials.

Create a proposal record in InfoEd

Creating a proposal record in InfoEd with an accurate (sponsor) due date is the best way to inform Sponsored Research of your intention to submit a proposal. A proposal should always be setup in InfoEd even if the proposal does not end up being submitted. Sponsored Research uses this basic information to track upcoming proposals based on deadlines entered in the system and balance workload appropriately among staff. Check out our InfoEd: Getting Started job aids for additional guidance.

PI Eligibility and Appointment Considerations

Applicant Organization and Submission of Proposals

Northwestern University faculty members holding regular or research faculty appointments on a full-time or part-time basis submit proposals for research or sponsored programs through Northwestern University as the applicant organization with the following exceptions:

  • Faculty associated with the Veterans Administration (VA) submit their Merit Review and other VA program proposals through the VA system.
  • Faculty based at either Lurie Children’s Hospital or Evanston Hospital submit proposals through the hospital or, with the approval of the hospital, can submit through the University.
  • Faculty holding contributed service appointments may submit proposals either through the University or through one of the affiliated hospitals.

Proposals involving faculty from several University departments, schools, or centers, or affiliated hospitals normally will identify the University as the applicant organization.

For proposals submitted through the University, the following is understood:

  • The University is responsible for oversight of regulatory and other administrative matters that affect research activities.
  • It is not the intent to increase the overall cost of a research effort or to decrease the recovery of reasonable cost to an affiliated hospital. The affiliated hospitals will be reimbursed for reasonable, allocable, allowable, and auditable direct and indirect costs through the mechanism of a subcontract or purchase order.
  • It is the responsibility of faculty applicants and their department chairs to insure that the appropriate costs, both direct and indirect, are recognized and budgeted, and that budgets are approved in advance by the University and any third party, including an affiliated hospital.

Principal Investigator Eligibility

Any individual who holds one of the following positions can be identified as a PI and submit proposals to external sponsors:
  • tenure-track faculty (full, associate, and assistant professors)
  • non-tenure-track research faculty (full, associate, and assistant professors)
  • non-tenure-track clinical faculty (full, associate, and assistant professors)
  • instructors
  • adjunct faculty
  • emeritus faculty
  • senior research investigators
  • librarians
  • curators
On a case-by-case basis, an individual who holds one of the following positions can be identified as a PI upon approval from the Vice President for Research or his delegate:
  • visiting faculty
  • visiting scholars
  • lecturers
In general, research associates may not serve as PIs, but may seek approval from the vice president for research. In almost all cases, postdoctoral fellows and research assistants (graduate students) may NOT serve as PIs; however,  postdoctoral fellows who have no more than four (4) years of postdoctoral research experience may serve as PIs for NIH K99 applications.  See NIH FAQ on eligibility.
 

Process to Request Principal Investigator Status

When an individual without one of the above-listed automatically PI-eligible positions considers submitting a proposal as a principal investigator, a formal request must be prepared setting forth a rationale for the individual to serve as principal investigator. This request should be submitted via the Change Request module in InfoEd. Please note that approval for principal investigator status is on a proposal-by-proposal basis.

Statements for Grant Applications for PIs with Joint Appointments

For PIs with joint NU/NMG appointments, cut and paste applicable sample text into your application forms:

For NU/NMG PIs without VA appointments

Dr. ___________ has an appointment with Northwestern University (NU) and with the affiliated Northwestern Medical Group clinical practice plan (NMG). The institutional base salary used in this application represents the combined salary from both NU and NMG, which is paid by NU under a common paymaster. The number of person months in this application represents NU effort on the proposed project in relation to professional effort encompassed by the dual NU and NMG appointments.

For NU/NMG PIs with VA Appointments

Dr. ___________ has an appointment with Northwestern University (NU), with the affiliated Northwestern Medical Group clinical practice plan (NMG), and with the Veterans Administration (VA). This arrangement is defined in a formal NU-VA Joint Appointment Memorandum of Understanding. The institutional base salary used in this application represents the combined salary from both NU and NMG, which is paid by NU under a common paymaster system; it does not include salary from the VA appointment. The number of person months in this application represents NU effort on the proposed project in relation to professional effort for the dual NU and NMG appointments.

Continued Principal Investigator Status Following Formal Separation from a Tenured Faculty Position

Applicability: This policy applies to Northwestern faculty members who have formally separated from their tenure track positions and are interested in continuing their externally funded research. Normally, they will also have been granted emeritus status.

Institutional Rationale: To facilitate the transition into research track positions for tenured senior faculty members with active research portfolios who wish to retire as faculty members.

Applicable Title: Senior research investigator

Qualifications: Separation from tenured faculty position plus current or guaranteed on-going external research support. (According to IRS guidelines, "separation" means: relinquishment of tenure, change in duties, reduction in time worked, and term-limited new activity.)

Institutional Support Requirements: Recommendation by department chair for a term-limited research appointment; approval of the appointment by the dean and vice president for research; and a commitment of laboratory and office space from the department chair and dean. No institutional financial support will be provided for salary or ancillary research costs.

Percent Appointment and Applicable Benefits: Senior research investigator appointment cannot exceed 48 percent FTE (Full Time Equivalent). Benefits associated with this appointment are equivalent to benefits provided to temporary staff employees.

Salary Consideration: Salary earned on grants and contracts will be based on an FTE salary which is not greater than the salary earned at the time of formal separation from a tenured position plus standard annual percentage increase for specific discipline/division/school.

Duties and Responsibilities: To serve as PI on externally supported research project(s). There are no institutional/departmental duties or teaching responsibilities associated with this appointment.

Length of Appointment: Upon recommendation by the chair, from one to three years, based on external funding commitment, Northwestern commitment to internal space and other resources, and approval of the dean and vice president for research. The appointment may be renewed.