Reviewing the Solicitation

Most funding agencies issue one of the following types of proposal solicitations: 

  • Request for Proposals (RFP)
  • Request for Applications (RFA)
  • Program Announcement (PA)
  • Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)

Whichever term the agency uses, the solicitation is a researcher's point-of-reference for the entire proposal development process. Most solicitations include a variety of items, including but not limited to 

  • Goals and objectives of the agency
  • Scope of the project
  • General and specific topics to be addressed
  • Budget requirements
  • Outcomes
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Timelines and deadlines
  • Review criteria

Most agencies require clear compliance with every element of the solicitation in order to justify review of the proposal. Many proposals are rejected by agencies even before evaluation, due to non-compliance with the solicitation criteria. If aspects of a solicitation are unclear, please contact your OSP representative; in addition, if the question is more scientific in nature, the investigator can often communicate with a designated program officer or another individual responsible for addressing questions at the sponsoring agency. 

Some solicitations may limit the number of proposals that an eligible institution may submit. This limitation can be enforced in a variety of ways: 

  • Limiting the number of proposals from any given entity
  • Requiring a preliminary proposal or letter-of-intent

Investigators wishing to apply for limited submission opportunities should first visit VUMC's "Limited Submissions" website, coordinated by the Office of Research. An internal deadline for submitting an abstract will be listed on this website. If you do not see a funding opportunity listed, contact Susan Meyn, Director for Research Resources and Planning, and include a link to the funding announcement in the email body. 

These solicitations requiring a preliminary proposal (usually a shorter version of the full proposal) normally impose a deadline months in advance of the full proposal deadline. Sponsors review submitted preliminary proposals and reduce the number of applications selected for full proposal submissions. 

For non-federal submissions, please include a copy of the guidelines as part of the internal submission package. This information will then be used by OSP to ensure the application meets the sponsor's requirements.