Proposal Development Resources

The Research Development (RD) office offers a variety of tools and resources to assist with proposal development. The RD staff are available to individually meet with faculty to assist with finding funding opportunities, discuss topics such as communicating science and broader impacts, develop proposal checklists, assist with putting together a proposal package, and editing proposals.

Many other offices and services are available at NDSU to provide assistance with resources needed for sponsored projects.  See the topics and offices described below.  If you do not see what you are looking for, send an email to

NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) changes
(effective May 20, 2024)

The NSF has made a number of changes are across various areas including Mentoring Plans, Biographical Sketches, Current and Pending Support, and Approval for Proposals that Impact Tribal Resources or Interests. 

Learn more >>

Funding Priorities

It is important to understand the missions and strategic priorities of the funding agencies to which you are applying.  Listed below are some common federal agency strategic plans and funding priorities.


USDA Strategic Plan

USDA Research and Science Priorities

USDA Mission Areas

You can also see what USDA-NIFA has recently funded by searching for awards in the Current Research Information System (CRIS), or explore the NIFA award data page


NSF Strategic Plan

10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments

You can also see what NSF has recently funded by searching for awards in specific areas. 


NIH Strategic Plan

Getting to Know Federal Funders and their Research Interests

You can see what NIH has recently funded by searching for awards by location and organization, or by using criteria such as success rates for different programs and institutes.  


NEA Strategic Plan
NEH Strategic Plan

Standing Together: promoting understanding of the military experience and supporting returning veterans
Protecting Our Cultural Heritage: projects on lost or imperiled cultural heritage

You can also see what projects have been recently funded by the NEA and NEH

Contacting a Program Officer


  1. Identify a program officer.
  2. Prepare a concept paper / abstract.
  3. Make contact with the program officer. 
  4. Talk / meet with the program officer.
  5. Follow up after the meeting.


To plan for the visit, prepare a brief 1-page concept paper that you can provide to the program officer prior to a phone call or in-person meeting. You should be ready to discuss a specific proposal. The format is flexible, but include:

  1. Overall goal and objectives of the proposal.  SMART objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  2. Describe the problem to be addressed. Use Heilmeier’s Catechism -
  3. Refer to your unique personnel, resources, collaborations, whatever strengths will stand out in your proposal
  4. To the extent possible, use the agency’s format, style, and terminology.
  5. Use headings, color, and institutional branding, and employ meaningful graphics to assist in telling your story.
  6. Ask others to review and provide feedback.


  • Well before meeting, send an email to introduce yourself.  Attach your concept paper & biosketch in agency format.  Ask to set up a ½ hour meeting. Try to avoid peak review panel season if possible, a busy time for them.
  • Prior to the meeting, confirm the date, time and location. 
  • Be on time.  At the meeting, listen closely for his/her advice and recommendations. Program officers will sometimes be willing to advocate for your proposal or refer you to other programs if appropriate, or even find other pockets of funding at times.  This type of ‘inside information’ can be invaluable to you.
  • Plan to keep the meeting within the planned time constraints, but take your cue from the program officer.
  • To keep communication open, follow up with a thank you note to the program officer, including a brief written summary of the conversation.  Also share this with university administrators and any collaborators.


  • Do your homework on the grant agency beforehand so you have a good understanding of how it works.
  • Though 1-on-1 is best, if a face-to-face ‘live’ meeting is not possible, Skype, Facetime, or even a phone call is a good alternative, better than no contact. Proposals are too much work to be submitted as ‘a shot in the dark.’
  • Customize questions for the funding agency and program to which you are applying.
  • Do NOT ask who is on the review panel, but it’s appropriate to ask about the types of expertise of reviewers who will be on the panel.  Do NOT ask if a Congressman can help or provide a letter of support.
  • Do NOT ask for a copy of a funded application, or if a particular person got funded - that information is available elsewhere.  
  • DO ask how proposals from early career applicants are handled, if applicable to you.   For other appropriate questions to ask program officers, as well as other good advice, see Can We Talk? Contacting Grant Program Officers       

IT and Research Computing

Information Technology Services include:

  • Access to research and education networks 
  • Data Management
  • Data Storage
  • ECI Server Hosting
  • IT Security
  • Technology Learning and Media Center
  • Video Conferencing
  • Web Hosting options

Research Computing:  The Center for Computationally-Assisted Science and Technology (CCAST) provides high-performance computing (HPC) including onsite hardware, software and filesystems for researchers and their private and public secotor partners, as well as help in utilizing leadership-class national HPC resources.  Since HPC applications can be found in almost any field, CCAST computing systems are a shared resource designed to accommodate everyone's computation needs.

National research computing networks are accessible to NDSU researchers, which allow for connections with more than 300 member institutions through high-capacity global research and education networks via Internet2.  Also, CCAST serves as an "on ramp" to national advanced computing environments such as the Open Science Grid (OSG) and Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE).

Institutional Research and Analysis

The NDSU Institutional Research and Analysis Office is a centralized data source and monitors NDSU as an institution, collecting data and conducting research regarding students, organizations, institutional resources and performance, and finances.  It includes those activities directed at empirically describing and evaluating the educational, administrative, and support functions of North Dakota State University. 

Statistical Consulting Service

Provided through Information Technology, NDSU's Statistical Consulting Service is available to all faculty, staff and students at every stage of the research process.

The Statistical Consulting Service currently provides assistance to clients at various stages of the research process.

Planning Phase. Consultants will discuss:

  • your research goals and assist you in identifying aspects of your research that may benefit from the application of statistical principles
  • the design of experiments; e.g., identification of response variables, factors, and type of statistical design appropriate for your research.
  • mechanisms for collecting, entering (e.g., Excel) and handling data prior to statistical analysis. 

Data Organization and Analysis Phase. Consultants will:

  • assist in managing and processing data.
  • suggest appropriate statistical methods for data analysis.
  • obtain data from client, perform appropriate statistical analyses.

Communication of Results Phase. Consultants will:

  • recommend methods of data presentation, portrayal of results.
  • facilitate graphical display of data by pre-processing your data and generating transportable output such as GIF or PNG.
  • generate presentation graphics for clients as needed.

Print Resources

Some general proposal writing resources are listed below. They include writing guides from agencies, foundations, and other grant writing groups. 

Video Resources

Some general proposal writing video resources are listed below. 

Research Operations and Facilities

Equipment and Recharge Center

The Research Operations Recharge Center provides access to an extensive set of state-of-the-art tools and labs located in the NDSU Research and Technology Park.  The tools are available for use by NDSU faculty, staff, and students to support their research activity and for laboratory sessions as part of academic lab courses.  The capabilities are also available to external academic and industry users. 

The Research Operations equipment is available for users both within and external to North Dakota State University.  For internal university users, the process is described in the Procedures for Using the Recharge Center document.  In addition, a billing authorization form is to be filled out prior to using the equipment to facilitate electronic billing to your project.  Users that are external to the university can contact the Director of Research Operations or other staff members to initiate discussion about using the equipment and capabilities that are available.


The Research Operations laboratories were established in 2002 at NDSU under the Office of Research and Creative Activity for the purpose of conducting large-scale, multidisciplinary research for government and industry. These resources are now located in two state-of-the-art research buildings that have been constructed in the NDSU Research & Technology Park. 

The 75,000 square foot Research 2 (R2) facility was opened in 2004 and includes cleanroom, laboratory, and office space. The cleanroom includes Class 100 and Class 10,000 bays encompassing a total area under filtration of 12,000 square feet.  The R2 building houses the research operations focus areas in microfabrication, device packaging, device testing, and reliability/failure analysis.  The installed equipment investment is approximately $10M.

The Research 1 Addition (R1A) was opened in 2013.  This building was constructed to easily facilitate public-private sector partnerships.  It is a 35,000 square foot facility connected to the research administration building at NDSU (R1).  The R1A facility houses a comprehensive set of tools for materials synthesis, processing and characterization.  The tool set includes the ability to conduct combinatorial materials research using robotic machines and software.  A complementary capability was established to support rapid biological test and screening for anti-fouling, anti-microbial, and other coatings.  The overall equipment set investment exceeds $20M.

The R1A and R2 buildings have laboratory and office space that may be available to NDSU departments or external entities.  Availability is dependent on current occupancy and university priorities.  An external entity wishing to locate in these buildings should have some connection with or intend to have some connection to the university.  For information, contact the Executive Director of Core Research Facilities.

Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)

The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) is an online portal for training in topics related to research integrity and compliance.  Topics include programs on Responsible Conduct of Research, Human Subjects Research, Animal Care and Use, Biosafety, Export Controls and Conflict of Interest.  CITI records from previous institutions can be transferred to NDSU.

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