Oregon State University recognizes an increasing trend for funding agencies to fund larger, more complex, often multi-disciplinary projects. The Office for Research Advancement (ORA) provides strategic support with university-wide research development services to teams who are preparing multi-million dollar and/or complex proposals in areas of strategic importance to the University. These services include coaching teams to strategically align with solicitations, program management and strategic partnering with colleges and center and institutes on large and complex proposals, overseeing limited submissions and administering university-wide research programs, coordinating internal reviews to leverage institutional knowledge and improve proposal competitiveness, and providing seed funding opportunities to PI teams for proposal development.

Request Support

Principal investigators pursuing multi-million dollar and/or complex proposals should reach out to ORA as early as possible by submitting a Support Request  or email to research.development@oregonstate.edu to schedule a consultation.  In addition, investigators pursuing large proposals to foundations should check this list of foundations with special instructions or restrictions under the guidance of the Oregon State University President.

Note that the ORA services are tailored to the unique circumstances of each grant solicitation and may include the following:

ORA staff can facilitate early strategy sessions to discuss alignment with solicitation goals, key partners, identify key “win strategies” that highlight team strengths and differentiate this team from its competitors.  Broader impacts or approaches to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion with research goals can also be planned at this stage.  When possible, competitive intelligence data will be considered.  

ORA can help to plan kickoff meetings that initiate the team, answer questions about the funding opportunity, assign proposal tasks and timelines, and engage relevant University partners (OSRAA, ADRs, Capital Planning) when relevant.

When writing a grant proposal, it is easy to lose track of the sponsor priorities and requirements. Our office can:

  • Work with principal investigators to create a meeting agenda around the project narrative solicitation requirements to elicit team feedback on the full proposal before writing begins.
  • Create templates for your project description annotated with review criteria.
  • Review of draft project description to ensure alignment with sponsor guidelines and priorities.

In collaboration with College research development and pre-award research administration staff, ORA Large Proposal Specialists can create a flexible proposal schedule that works for your timeframe, and then track internal deadlines and progress.  We also work with teams to ensure that systems are in place for communication and file sharing.

ORA can organize internal University reviews of the draft proposal.  These reviews typically are offered 3 weeks prior to a proposal deadline to enable teams to refine their message and increase competitiveness.  ORA Staff will also contribute to these reviews with suggestions to help you demonstrate the benefit of your approach to funders. We invite faculty from other universities to join in when they are part of the collaboration.  Outside consultants may also participate.

ORA can provide templates for key organization figures such as ORG charts, Gannt charts, and Logic Models.  We can advise on the development of key figures that illustrate the main concepts of the message.  We can also provide lists of illustrators or graphic designers that teams can contact.

Some proposals have numerous ancillary documents.  ORA Staff may assist PIs in the writing of non-technical and institutional proposal sections such as Management Plans or Facilities and Other Resources.  ORA will coordinate with pre-award research administrators to ensure that the team is aware of all of the documents needed to complete the full proposal application.

Our offices maintains a list of outside contractors that work with grant proposal teams, such as science illustrators and program evaluators.  We can help you to find someone who has skills to match your teams' needs.

ORA is occasionally able to facilitate access to other types of support for PI teams writing large, complex grants.  Please reach out with your needs and questions to research.development@oregonstate.edu

This support could come in the form of: 

  • facilitated discussions and bringing the appropriate University units into contact with the PI teams to discuss the potential for additional resources that may provide adequate new research space, funds for space renovations, additional equipment, or support for additional faculty, student and post-doc, and staff hires
  • consideration of additional dedicated staff within various support offices (i.e., OSRAA) to provide dedicated project support

The exact nature of the considered support will be catered to the needs of the individual projects, emphasizing specific support that will help make the proposal successful.  In these cases ORA thus will facilitate discussions and negotiations of desired support with the VPR and the Provost. Critical attention will be paid to the amount of support provided by home Colleges or Centers/Institutes and the amount of F&A dollars generated by the project. However, the mechanism for support will not be a re-distribution of generated F&A. Rather, the support will be in the form of direct and explicit institutional investment in the endeavor by central administration.

How do you define complex proposals?

Complex projects, in this context, are defined by a number of potential attributes, including (but not limited to) projects that:

  •  Require long-term, large-scale projects with multi-million dollar budgets.  Planning proposals leading to these projects will also be considered for support.
  •  Involve the establishment of a prestigious program or Center in a signature area for OSU as defined by university-wide initiatives and strategic priorities
  •  Require strong evidence for such institutional support (e.g., space, staffing, equipment, or faculty hires) at the proposal stage
  •  Involve complex relationships with partner entities, such as multiple sub-awards, contracts, lease or purchase agreements, procurements, or other financially complicated arrangements
  •  Are associated with a large amount of cost-share
  •  Involve a large number of collaborating investigators or external partners at various institutions

When should I reach out for research development services?

Successful large, complex proposals take significant time to develop.  It is never too early to reach out for support if you have an idea for a large proposal. Even after a solicitation is identified, our staff may engage with teams as much as a year ahead of a proposal deadline. 

  • Pink Team reviews are most useful 3-6 months ahead of a proposal deadline and generally require 2 weeks notice to our office to schedule.
  • Red Team reviews should be scheduled 3 months before a proposal deadline and generally held 3-4 weeks before the proposal is due to the sponsor.
  • All other services should be arranged based on an initial consultation as far ahead of a proposal deadline as possible.


Which proposals will be eligible for proposal development services from ORA?

Principal investigators should reach out to Office for Research Advancement for a consultation.   We will consider:

  • Grant size and complexity
  • Importance of topic and/or sponsor to University strategic goals
  • Need for central coordination (e.g., facilities)
  • Support already available in College, Unit, or OSU Foundation relations
  • Capacity (contact us early at research.development@oregonstate.edu)