Agency Guidance

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National funding agencies provide a number of resources to assist faculty in the proposal writing process. Visit the following sites for helpful information, or find funding here.

National Science Foundation

From time to time, Lehigh's Research office invites faculty to attend workshops designed to help further their research and prepare competitive proposals to Federal agencies. To discover tips from former NSF program officers who were on the inside, see Lehigh's research blog at:

The NSF is moving proposal submissions from Fastlane to some time in 2018. More information to come.

Some common errors to avoid in complying to guidelines include:

  1. Single Copy Document: Collaborators and Other Affiliations:  For each senior person, an EXCEL spreadsheet template must uploaded. See for the template.
  2. Project Summary: MUST be submitted in the three text boxes if no special characters are included. If a PDF upload, must still include the three categories (overview, intellectual merit, broader impact).
  3. References: MUST include all authors (no "et al.")
  4. Data Management Plan: MUST be comprehensive. See data management plan tools.
  5. Biosketch: MUST be in exact NSF format (i.e. location of educational institutions; max of 10 products; 5 synergistic activities).
  6. Budget Justification: All travel must be justified and relevant to the project. 5 page limit (new for 2018)
  7. Project Description: MUST NOT include URLs. MUST include section "Broader Impacts" and (new for 2018) "Intellectual Merit."
  8. Project Description: MUST include all items mentioned in the GPG in the Results for Prior NSF Support section for grants with start dates in past 5 years.
    (a) the NSF award number, amount and period of support;
    (b) the title of the project;
    (c) a summary of the results of the completed work, including accomplishments, described in two separate sections, related to the Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact activities supported by the award;
    (d) publications resulting from the NSF award (if none, state "No publications were produced under this award");
    (e) evidence of research products and their availability, including, but not limited to: data, publications, samples, physical collections, software, and models, as described in any Data Management Plan; and
    (f) if the proposal is for renewed support, a description of the relation of the completed work to the proposed.
  9. Letters of Collaboration:  Letters should only include the standard paragraph: “If the proposal submitted by Dr. [insert the full name of the Principal Investigator] entitled [insert the proposal title] is selected for funding by NSF, it is my intent to collaborate and/or commit resources as detailed in the Project Description or the Facilities, Equipment or Other Resources section of the proposal.”

The complete text of the NSF application guide is available on the NSF website.

National Institutes for Health

  1. Commons registration is required for all individuals participating in an NIH-funded project.
  2. Resubmission Applications: following one unsuccessful resubmission application, applicants may submit the same idea AS A NEW APPLICATION.
  3. Cover letter: Address cover letter to the Division of Receipt and Referral.
  4. Biosketches: per the new format, there is now a 5-page limit. Graphics figures and tables are NOT ALLOWED in a biosketch. Also, under research support, briefly indicate overall goals of the project and responsibilities of senior/key persons. DO NOT include person months or total project costs. See this link for the biosketch format template and sample:
  5. Research Strategy: new talking points are recommended. See PDF link above for some details. Scientific rigor is a key focus.
  6. Vertebrate animals: 4 scientific assessment criteria: 1) description of procedures; 2) justifications; 3) minimizationof pain and distress; 4) euthenasia.
  7. Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources: If using biological and/or chemical resources, a new document is required called "Authentication of Key Resources Plan" to be uploaded under "Other Attachments." See and
  8. Projected postdoc stipend levels to meet the Fair Labor Standards Act:

Wondering where your proposal topic will fit within the NIH program structure? To find the correct program manager in your research area, go to

Other helpful information:

National Endowment for the Humanities

Department of Energy