Conceptualize your Research Idea

Even at the very early stages of conceptualizing a research idea, it is a good idea to think about reviewers expectations and use these questions to guide the formation of your research project:

  • What is the main research problem? What hypothesis will you test?
  • Why is this research question important?
  • What is the current understanding in the field?
  • What gap in knowledge will this fill and how will this project add to the knowledge in your field?
  • What are the best methods to use to address this research question?
  • Who is your competition? What methods are they using and why are you choosing a different tactic?

Identify Collaborators

Many research proposals benefit from or require collaboration with others including faculty outside your discipline, researchers at other institutions, community organizations, local educators, or industry. The Office of Research offers faculty consultations to discuss collaboration options and can set up meetings of interested researchers to discuss cross-disciplinary research topics.

Identify Potential Sponsors

The Office of Research offers many resources to find funding suited to your research proposal.

  • Fundamentals Newsletter
    This monthly newsletter lists about 100 new funding opportunities targeted to UCSB researchers in all disciplines, as well as campus and agency news and monthly contract and grant awards. Sign up to receive it by e-mail or view the current and archived newsletters.
  • Funding Databases
    Pivot Both aggregates thousands of funding opportunities from federal, local, and private sources into a searchable database. Visit our funding page for more detailed instructions or contact Kelly Pillsbury in Research Development to set up individual or group training sessions.
  • Consultations
    Meet with Research Development team, to discuss funding strategies for particular research projects at any stage in the proposal development process.
  • Funding Searches
    Research Development can conduct one-time funding searches for specific research projects. Contact Kelly Pillsbury with information about your research to receive a targeted listing of possible funding opportunities.

Check for Limited Submission Status

Check the guidelines to see if the agency limits the number of applications that UCSB may submit. If the number is limited, the Office of Research will conduct an internal review and selection process to choose the campus candidate(s). If you become aware of a funding opportunity with limited submission requirements that is not listed, please contact immediately.

Decide which department/research unit will process your proposal

UCSB is structured with traditional academic departments as well as a variety of research units. The staff in the departments and research units are the primary point of contact for a PI in the proposal submission process. These staff, called liaisons, work with the Office of Research to assist you in the preparation and submission of grant proposals. As a PI, you often have a choice whether to submit a proposal through your home department or through affiliated research units.

For science and engineering, PIs usually have a choice whether to submit a proposal through their home department or through an affiliated research unit.

For the social sciences, most proposals should be submitted through the Institute for Social, Behavioral and Economic Research (ISBER). See information about submitting a grant through ISBER.

For humanities and fine arts, most proposals should be submitted through the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC). See information about submitting a grant through the IHC.

If you are uncertain about where to submit your proposal, you should discuss the options with your department chair.

Contact Your Liaison

As soon as you decide to prepare a research proposal, contact your department contract and grant liaison and provide them with a link to the agency guidelines, which they will provide to Sponsored Projects. The liaison will assist you with proposal preparation including budget creation and submission of Office of Research forms.

Review Agency Guidelines

After you have selected a funding agency and program, review the guidelines provided on the agency website and familiarize yourself with the requirements. Meet with Research Development team, for assistance with particular aspects of agency requirements including mentoring, outreach, and evaluation plans. Your Department Liaison and Sponsored Projects team can assist with budgets, etc.

See Agency Specific Resources for information about agency missions, application structures, submission requirements, and review processes.

Information on Federal Agencies

We've pulled together information that may be of help with select federal agencies.