About Pre-Award

The best preparation for a successful funding decision is the solid planning and preparation on the variety of issues needed to submit a high quality competitive proposal. The work of pre-award research administrators prepares the way for successful implementation of the funded project. The Pre-Award Certificate provides instruction in the broad scope of responsibility for research administrators who work with investigators to plan, develop, and prepare grant proposals for submission, and who trouble-shoot with various agency personnel, institutional administrators, and investigators to ensure all issues are clarified before an award is made. The program features workshops and sessions on finding and disseminating funding opportunity information, proposal development and submission, budget preparation, award review and acceptance, post-submission communications, the responsible and ethical conduct of research, electronic research administration (eRA) systems, and other relevant topics.

Certificate Course Requirements

The Pre-Award Certificate is comprised of two half-day workshops, four required sessions and one elective session. The required courses are listed below; the electives will vary meeting-to-meeting.

Required Workshop

Must take both.

Proposal Management Process

When research administrators in pre-award offices help new investigators learn how to apply for grant funding and more experienced investigators update their grant skills and knowledge, they must be able to assist investigators to understand the different types of proposals and how to write each effectively; how to read and interpret proposal guidelines; how to plan the proposal, involving timelines, partners; what proposal parts or sections are expected, how to address them, and the need to relate the various sections to each other.  In addition, this workshop will focus on sections of the proposal: goals and objectives, problem/need statement, methodology/project description, evaluation, and abstract.  It will also include incorporating timelines and budget justifications; using charts and tables to explain complicated data and save space; instruction on clear and effective writing; editing for formatting, grammar, and content; and tips on proposal writing style to make proposals more fundable.

Proposal Budgeting Fundamentals

This workshop will serve as a primer for budgeting fundamentals across the spectrum of grant applications and proposals. It will address concepts of comprehensive budgeting construction as well as afford practical advice for identifying budget components and how to assemble them. The application and calculation of Facilities and Administration (F&A) costs will be reviewed, as well as advanced topics such as per-patient costs, cost sharing, salary caps, subcontracts, participant support costs, fabrication costs, and consultants. Participants are expected to bring a calculator and will engage in a budget development exercise.

Required Sessions

Must take four.

eRA Tools and Systems

Content Level: Beginner

This session offers an overview of electronic research administration (eRA) systems that assist in locating and submitting to funding. Funding development tools such as,, National Institutes of Health (NIH) RePorter,, etc. will be discussed. Common electronic submission systems such as and NSF Fastlane will be overviewed in some detail with additional discussion of other systems such as Proposal Central, NSPRIES, e-Grants, etc. A historical overview of eRA will be provided and system-to-system interfaces will be touched on. Integration of sponsor guidance, representations, and certification will be outlined. Strategies and tips for successful submissions will be provided.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify key features of common electronic proposal submission systems and standard compliance issues relevant to pre-award processes.
  2. Review expectations of major federal electronic submission programs such as, NSF Fastlane, e-Grants, and Proposal Central.

Prerequisites: None

Finding Funding Opportunities 

Content Level: All Levels

The aim of this session is to demystify the identification of funding opportunities by providing tips and techniques as well as an overview of various types of electronic search directories, engines, services and databases. Key considerations such as application due date, funding limitation, eligibility and other restrictions will be covered. Additionally search strategies using a wide range of funding programs, sources and opportunities applicable to specialty are provided. Participants will also review email alert services and the use of social media, particularly twitter streams as an optimal tool in funding development and dissemination of funding trends and opportunities in a global context. Tracking funding trends utilizing agency funding databases, new award reporting and forecasting via are also outlined. Other approaches to finding funding such as attending professional meetings to connect with program officers as well as interact with peers with similar interest will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify funding opportunities utilizing electronic, social media and interpersonal mechanisms.
  2. Examine best practices in communicating funding opportunities and programs of significance to investigators and interested parties.

Prerequisites: None

Pre-Award Preparation for Post-Award Success

Content Level: Beginner

Winning a grant award requires preparation at many levels, as does the administration of an award. In this session attendees will learn how to guide the investigator through the in-depth planning required for a successful series of proposals. This includes both scientific and practical preparation such as researching sponsor priorities. On the organization level, preparation and management involves a wide range of compliance issues. Attendees will leave the session with resources for planning and managing proposals and awards. This session will be most useful for newcomers to research administration and administrators at smaller institutions.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Knowledge of the many levels of investigator and institutional compliance.
  2. A framework for guiding investigators to successful proposal activities.

Prerequisites: None

Award Review and Acceptance

Content Level: Beginner

The pre-award office is responsible for dealing with a variety of issues that arise after proposal submission and lead to acceptance of the award. The pre-award administrator should be able to deal with publication restrictions, intellectual property, indemnification, facilities and administrative costs questions, and know how to address such special situations as international agreements and JIT requirements. The session will identify troublesome clauses and discuss how to determine what to accept and what to reject, and other difficult contract review topics.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Review different types of award terms and conditions, including Federal Acquisition Regulations and different grants policy manuals.
  2. Negotiate acceptance of awards.

Prerequisites: None

Elective Sessions

Must take one.

Electives vary from meeting to meeting.