Common Elements of a Proposal

Face Page or Cover Page

The face/cover pages typically include the following:

  • Principal Investigator's name, address, phone number, email address
  • Title of the proposal
  • Sponsor name and address
  • Period of Performance
  • Amount requested
  • Institutional information
  • Signature of institution's authorized official


The abstract is a general outline of the proposed research, including the objectives, methodology, and significance of the research to be conducted. This should be in laymen's terms.

Scope of Work or Research Plan

One of the most critical elements of a research proposal is the Scope of Work. This should provide a full and detailed explanation of the work to be conducted, which typically include project goals, deliverables, and investigator's responsibilities.

Project Budget and Budget Justification

The project budget is a reasonable estimate of the estimated financial support required to conduct the project, including justification of all proposed budget expenditures.

Typical budget categories include, but are not limited to:

Direct Costs

  • Salaries
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Equipment
  • Materials and Supplies
  • Travel
  • Publication Costs
  • Consultants
  • Subcontractors
  • Other

Indirect Costs

  • Facilities and Administration Costs (F&A): F&A Rates are negotiated with the University of Pittsburgh cognizant federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. Current Indirect Cost Rates should be used in every proposal. Facilities and Administration costs are also referred to as indirect costs or overhead costs.

Cost Sharing

Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Biographical Sketch

Other Support


Additional Information (sponsor specific)

Sponsors may require additional information/documentation. Please refer to the sponsor guidelines for this information.  Additional information may include the following:

  • Letters of support
  • Compliance certifications
  • Evidence of 501(c)3 designation

Checklist (NIH Only)