Proposal Review & Approval Overview

Proposal Review by OSP

Each proposal is reviewed by staff in the Office of Sponsored Projects. The required pieces of the proposal should be delivered to the OSP prior to the submission deadline as outlined in the Internal Review & Deadlines page. Staff in the OSP review the proposal, looking for assurance that it complies with federal regulations, and College policies and procedures, and that the proposal adheres to the requirements/guidelines of the funding agency. The requested deadlines by the OSP provides sufficient time to ensure that all other College approvals are in order and that there is ample time to make any needed changes to the proposal.

Approval by OSP

At the end of the review the Grants Officer at OSP approves the application in RAPPORT. After this approval, the Principal Investigator will certify in RAPPORT that the proposal is ready for the OSP Grants Officer to submit the proposal on behalf of the college.  In cases where the PI is submitting application directly to the sponsor or lead institution, the PI will receive notice that OSP has approved the proposal and the application can be sent from Dartmouth.

Sponsor Reviews

Peer Review

Many government agencies sponsoring research rely on peer review of proposals and are required by law to document the review process. While a researcher will not have access to names of individuals who reviewed his/her proposal, copies of the reviewers' comments and numerical review sheets are made available. The researcher may need to request these review documents from the sponsoring agency, or, as in the case of National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the reviews will be automatically sent to the Principal Investigator. Corporate or foundation sponsors will each have their own set of rules governing access to grant review information.

Given the time and effort expended in developing and submitting a proposal, researchers are encouraged to request review documents, regardless of whether or not the project has been funded. If the project has not been funded, the evaluative reviews will assist the researcher in re-working the proposal into a fundable project. These documents also provide a wealth of information on how one's proposal was evaluated, insight into the peer review process, and potential funding opportunities for the future.

Faculty members who wish to obtain peer reviewers' comments should contact the program officer of the sponsor directly. Agencies will usually provide the name, address, and phone number of the person to contact to obtain these reviews. Many public agencies will provide reviewer comments with the letter of notification of the results of the review. Reviews of the proposal will be provide without identification of the individual reviewers. Corporate or foundation sponsors will each have their own set of rules governing access to grant review information.

Non-Peer Review

Many private sponsor organizations use their own Board of Directors or an internal review committee to evaluate proposals. These sponsors do not use a peer review system but do publish extensive guidelines on the criteria used to evaluate proposal submissions. Sometimes these sponsors will release a summation of comments or suggestions on why a particular project was not funded. These summary comments can be helpful in revising and resubmitting an application to the sponsor. However, these sponsors will usually only honor written requests for the release of this information.

Private Foundations

Private foundations' funding decisions are often significantly affected by the reputation of the applying institution, the reputation of the faculty member, or the previous experience the foundation has had with a particular researcher or officer of the institution. Staff from the OSP and the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations can assist faculty in approaching these organizations for feedback about funding decisions.

Military Review

Review of proposals submitted to the Department of Defense agencies (Army, Navy, and Air Force) are evaluated in a number of different ways varying from individual approval by the administrative head of the agency to extensive reviews by a board of peers. Faculty applying to these agencies should contact the program officer in the agency to understand the review process for that particular agency. Faculty should then contact the individuals responsible for programmatic decisions within these agencies to understand the evaluation process for that agency.

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