Office of Sponsored Programs and Research

Red Square Clark University Worcester MA

Glossary of Terms

abstract - that section of the proposal, which provides a brief summary of the proposed project, emphasizing its major objectives and procedures.

appropriation - the sum of money that the Congress decides should be devoted to a specific purpose in a given fiscal year. (usually much less than the authorization).

authorization - the amount of money that could be spent for a program that has been legislated.

bidders/offerors conference - a meeting between representatives of institutions interested in responding to a request for proposal (RFP), and agency representatives, who provide background information about the RFP, and answer questions.

budget - a management plan for a project, expressed in financial terms.

categorical grants - funds restricted to a certain category of interests, such as child-care, or services for the handicapped.

continuation funding - a non-competing request for additional funding.

contract - the instrument for support an activity that is initiated by the funder such as a government agency or a foundation. The activity performs a specified service or will yield a particular end or product for the sponsor. The funding agency exercises considerable direction and control over the performance and timing of the work.

cooperative agreements - undertakings in which research and training projects are jointly administered by the funding agency, and the recipient institution. The institution has less discretion over the scope and direction of work than in a grant, and more than in a contract.

cost-sharing - the difference between the amount of funding needed to complete a sponsored project, and what the sponsor is willing to provide. Cost-sharing can be either in direct costs, or indirect costs.

deadline - a fixed date by which a proposal must be either sent or received by the sponsoring agency. (cf. target date) Instructions regarding deadlines should be read carefully. Some agencies require a proposal to be postmarked by a certain date, while others mandate that a proposal must be in hand by a given date.

direct costs - costs that are easily identified and charged to a specific project. These may include such items as salaries and wages, travel, equipment, and supplies.

federal acquisition regulations (FAR) - procurement regulations which govern the terms and conditions of federal contracts (not grants). These regulations are subject to negotiation as certain provisions in a contract may not be compatible with university practices.

grant - the instrument for providing support for an activity initiated by the applicant, that falls within the guidelines and priorities of the funding agencies.

indirect costs - costs incurred for common or joint objectives which cannot, therefore, be readily identified with a specific project. Typical indirect costs include library expenses, depreciation, plant operation and maintenance, and administration.

matching funds - funding contributed by the recipient institution that is mandated by the sponsor to match its contribution in support of a project. Matching fund requirements can often involve multiples of the amount provided, that is the awardee must provide two or three times - or more - of the amount awarded.

planning grant - funds allocated to support planning, and developing the means for carrying out the project. Often a planning grant will include the resources necessary to write a proposal for funding the project itself.

principal investigator - the person who has overall responsibility for carrying out the project. There can only be one principal investigator, but there can be several co-principal investigators.

renewal - a competing continuation request for funding. Renewals generally include new work based on the results of the existing grant and are subject to peer review.

resubmission- an effort to secure funding for a proposal that has been revised in response to critical comments from reviewers.

solicited proposal - submitted in response to a request by a sponsor for a specific research or educational project. Often solicited proposals are found in Requests for Proposals (RFP). A Request for Application is a solicitation for investigators who are interested in working with the agency to collaborate with the funding agency to design and carry out a specific project.

supplement - a request to a sponsor for additional funds for an existing project to cover unanticipated expenses.

target date - the date by which an agency must receive a proposal in order for it to be reviewed for a given funding cycle. If the proposal fails to arrive at the agency by the target date, it is moved for consideration to the next funding cycle. In contrast, an proposal which fails to meet an agency deadline, receives no further consideration.

under-recovery - the difference between what the University should obtain in indirect if the appropriate rate is applied, and what it actually will receive from the sponsoring agency.

unsolicited proposal - a submission based on the subjects of interest to investigators in the field rather than to the agency.

wired - an informal process in which RFPs nominally open to competitive bidding are targeted for a specific bidder.