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Proposal Development

Ready to put together an effective research proposal? Here, we've compiled resources and tools you'll need to prepare and submit one. This includes helpful guidelines, budget templates and necessary information on the following:

Funding Opportunities

Use text searching tools coupled with filters to tailor searches for funding opportunities. You can also set up daily or weekly alerts of new or modified opportunities with the SMARTS™ automation tool.

Access SPIN to get started. To save search results and set up automated alerts, log in using your SSO (institutional credentials).

Refer to the training videos through SPIN to get the most from the site. We recommend the following videos, which each run from 30-90 seconds long:  5. Exploring the Primary SPIN tabs, 6. Conducting a Basic Search, 7. Configuring your Preferences Filters, 14. Saving Searches, 15. Managing Saved Searches, and 16. Managing SMARTS funding alerts.
Launch SPIN™

A limited submission is a funding opportunity in which a sponsor restricts the number of proposals an institution may submit. An internal competition among prospective applicants ensures that SDSU submits its most competitive proposals. Internal letters of interest and pre-proposals for limited submissions are reviewed by the Associate Deans for Research or members of the University Research Council.

If you find a limited submission opportunity of interest, check with the Division of Research to review the opportunity and determine if an internal selection process is warranted. Current opportunities are listed on the university's InfoReady platform.

Internal funding opportunities for the university-wide community, including the RSCA Challenge Fund, will also be posted on InfoReady. Watch for announcement of internal funding opportunities through email and other university channels.

Launch InfoReady Search all federal funding opportunities on The site lists posted, forecasted, closed, and archived funding opportunities from all award-granting federal agencies. Users can filter searches by criteria such as eligibility, category, and agency.  

Learn more about which federal agencies provide grant funding.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA): NIFA provides leadership and funding for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences. The agency supports research, educational, and extension efforts in a wide range of scientific fields related to agricultural and behavioral sciences. Learn about USDA NIFA grants and processes.

* Search all NIFA RFAs

* NIFA list of competitive RFAs and calendar of upcoming RFAs.

* Subscribe to USDA NIFA news.

* View the USDA NIFA YouTube channel.


National Institutes of Health (part of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services): NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing more than $32 billion a year to enhance life, and reduce illness and disability. Learn about grants and processes at NIH.


National Science Foundation

As described in the foundation’s strategic plan, NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. With an annual budget of $9.5 billion (FY23), the NSF is a funding source for approximately 25% of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing. (source)

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): NEH offers a variety of grant programs to individuals and organizations that do the highest quality work to promote the humanities.


National Endowment for the Arts (NEA): The NEA is the only arts funder in the United States—public or private—that provides access to the arts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. jurisdictions. Each year, we award thousands of grants nationwide, including grants to first-time applicants.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Internal Funding Opportunities

The RSCA Challenge Fund is supported by the Division of Research and Economic Development and the Office of Academic Affairs with advisement from the university RSCA Committee. The annual program serves as a seed grant for faculty and professional staff with responsibilities in research, scholarship, and creative activity (RSCA). The RFA is released in fall semester with a deadline in spring semester. Visit Inside State for previous RFAs and award history.

Check with your college or department for internal funding opportunities, as well.

Review the SDSU InfoReady platform for current funding opportunities, including limited submissions.

South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) Research Affairs releases calls for applications annually for the Competitive Research Grant (CRG) and others.

South Dakota Community Foundation – SDCF Grants Page

South Dakota Humanities Council - Grants Page

South Dakota Arts Council – SDAC Grants Page

State agencies often work with SDSU faculty and staff in funding research and programming. Agencies include the SD Game, Fish and Parks, SD Department of Health, and the SD Department of Transportation, among others.

Application Submission

Application Guidelines

for sponsored projects at South Dakota State University 

[ ] Review funding opportunity announcement (e.g., RFA, RFP, NOFO, FOA, solicitation, etc.)

  • Are you and SDSU eligible to apply?
  • What is the deadline?
  • What is the budget limit?
  • Is cost share required?
  • What is the project period?
  • Does the F&A rate vary from SDSU’s negotiated rate?
  • Is submission by PI or AOR?
  • Do you need to register with the sponsor?

[ ] Visit with the unit director or department head regarding your effort, budget, and support needs.

[ ] Gather your team, including project personnel, advisors or consultants, and support specialist(s).

[ ] Meet with a grant analyst or specialist to review budget guidelines and draft a budget.

[ ] Do you require contracts or agreements? Learn more at

[ ] Will you require human subjects (IRB), animal subjects (IACUC), or biosafety review?

[ ] Prepare the application per sponsor guidelines. Required items may include:

  • Personnel Documents: Biographical sketch or CV, current and pending support, COI or collaborators & other affiliations.
  • Project summary or abstract (NIH: abstract and narrative)
  • Project description (NSF), narrative (USDA), or research methods (NIH)
  • References cited or bibliography
  • Budget and budget justification: Review sponsor guidelines for requirements.
  • Supplementary documents: Data management plan, project management plan, facilities and equipment, post-doc management plan (NSF), logic model, and similar.
  • Letters of commitment, collaboration, or support: Review sponsor guidelines for requirements.

[ ] Gather subaward documents for SDSU administration, in addition to sponsor requirements.

  • Budget and budget justification
  • Letter of commitment addressed to SDSU (see
  • Statement of work from subaward personnel.
  • Subaward v contractual form (available in the routing form; also required for the contractor).

[ ] Submit your project for administrative approval (aka routing or funding routing request)

  • PIs must submit for approval at least 7 business days before the submission deadline.
  • Information and documents you need:
    • Project title and abstract
    • SDSU personnel information and fund numbers
    • Application FOA/RFA
    • Guidelines for F&A limit or cost share/match
    • Subaward documents for SDSU
    • Cost share/match source
  • Tip: You can save the form to complete later.
  • For smoother approval, review the budget with the grant analyst or specialist prior to submitting routing.

[ ] Notify AOR Authorized Organization Representative in the Division of Research when the application is ready for submission. We highly encourage submission at least two days before the deadline.

Applications on

Register for an ID with

Affiliate your profile with SDSU as an Organization Applicant. Use SDSU UEI DNZNC466DGR7 when requested. 

How to create a workspace

Note: Federal agencies are shifting to credentials for sign-in. 

USDA NIFA application guidance

The USDA NIFA Grants Application Guide (Oct. 2022) lays out instructions for applying to USDA NIFA. The agency uses Workspace within for application submissions. A ID and affiliation to SDSU is needed to prepare a Workspace.

The Grants Application Guide serves as the umbrella guidance for USDA NIFA. Always refer to the funding opportunity announcement (e.g. RFA) for specific requirements. The RFA instructions supersede the instructions in the Guide.

NIFA Application Support Templates include those for conflict of interest (COI), project summary, and current & pending support.

Personnel documents: Refer to the application guide for the biographical sketch (page 47), current and pending (page 48), and conflict of interest (page 81). USDA does not have a required template for the biographical sketch.

If a logic model is required, see Logic Model Planning: and refer to the NIFA Generic Logic Model example

A Data Management Plan is required for all competitive grants programs.

National Science Foundation guidance

NSF Policy and Proposal Preparation Guide (PAPPG): issued nearly annually

Submit applications using NSF also accepts applications via, however, we recommend using for smoother compliance checks.

Register for an account at Affiliate your account with SDSU via ‘My Profile’ then ‘My Roles/Add a New Role’ You will select the ‘Add Investigator’ or ‘Authorized User Role’. Use UEI DNZNC466DGR7 to affiliate with SDSU

Grants Application guide: How to Apply - Application Guide |

NIH Submission: Use ASSIST (preferably) or

To register with eRA Commons ID, contact the Division of Research at 605-688-6696

Routing for Admin Approval

A routing form is a shorthand for our online form that you submit for administrative approval of sponsored projects. If you are applying for grant funding or are working with a sponsor for a funded project, you are required to submit a routing form.

Submit project details via the SDSU routing form (InsideState). Applicants are to initiate this approval process at least seven (7) working days prior to submission deadlines according to the university's research policies and procedures. Find instructions on the Division of Research page (InsideState).

The routing is reviewed by your department head or director, your college's associate dean for research, the Grants & Contracts Administration, and the Division of Research and Economic Development. Depending on project details, the form may also be reviewed by Facilities & Services (construction & remodeling), Office of Information Technology (software or computing needs), or the vice president for research (research & scholarship incentive plan).

The routing form also provides specific details about the project that Grants & Contracts Administration will use to set up your project once awarded.

Key Information and documents needed for a routing form:

  • Project title and abstract
  • SDSU personnel information and fund numbers
  • Application FOA/RFA
  • Guidelines for F&A limit or cost share/match
  • Documents from subawardees - letter of commitment, budget & justification, and statement of work
  • Cost share/match source
  • Your project's completed budget and budget justification
  • The grant guidelines (e.g. RFA, RFP, solicitation, funding opportunity announcement, etc)
  • Contractor vs Subaward form (linked in the routing form; if the project has a contractor or subaward)

Tip: You can save the form to complete later.

For smoother approval, review the budget with a college grant specialist or a grant analyst in the Office of Grants & Contracts Administration.

Routing Form (Internal)

The incentive plan encourages faculty and eligible professional staff to secure externally-funded sponsorship for research, scholarship, and creative activity and rewards them for their successes. The program offers a one-time incentive payment if the grant budget includes base salary and fringe benefits (not summer salary) and generates indirect (F&A) costs. See the policy for greater detail.

To be considered for the program, personnel must indicate as such on the Key Project Personnel compliance questions from the routing form. This is then reviewed for eligibility during the administrative review process.

View the Policy

Research Compliance

Contracts and Agreements