RSO Internal Submission Deadlines for Proposal Request Institutional Approval

Under the UAPPOL Research Administration Roles and Responsibilities Procedure, the Research Services Office (RSO) is responsible for approving and signing research proposals (applications) on behalf of the University, where RSO approval indicates the proposal meets applicable University policies and procedures and sponsor requirements. 

RSO requires that all research proposals be submitted to our office 5 business days in advance of the sponsor deadline unless an earlier deadline is communicated (exceptions include Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Canada Research Chairs).  This internal deadline applies to proposals submitted to both internal and external sponsors. Departments and faculties may have their own earlier internal deadlines for application review and approval.  Contact your Research Facilitator if you have any questions or concerns about internal deadlines.

Proposals submitted in advance of the RSO internal deadline will receive an in-depth review as part of the institutional approval (i.e. sign off). 

An in-depth review of a research proposal includes, but is not limited to: 

  1. checking that the proposal is complete and conforms to sponsor guidelines;
  2. reviewing the budget pages, including the budget justification section in detail; 
  3. reviewing eligibility of partner organizations and contributions, if applicable;
  4. reviewing letters of support to determine if they contain the required information;
  5. identifying unique and/or complex terms and conditions (e.g. terms that would prevent students from being able to work on the project for thesis-based work, publication restrictions, or limits on future use rights) and working with applicant and sponsor, as required, to address any issues prior to submission of the proposal;
  6. checking that the proposal meets relevant University policies and procedures; and
  7. providing additional feedback based on our knowledge and experience with particular funding opportunities

Proposals received after the internal RSO deadline will be reviewed for compliance with U of A policy and sponsor compliance requirements (e.g. FCOI, certifications and declarations) as it relates to the institutional approval only. Proposals will not receive the in-depth review noted above it they are received after the 5 business day internal deadline. If this occurs, the proposal will receive a basic compliance review.

A basic compliance review involves: 

  1. verifying the sponsor and institutional eligibility of applicants (PI, Co-PI, etc);
  2. ensuring compliance with the UofA Indirect costs of research policy;
  3. checking for sponsor compliance (eg: FCOI, certifications & declarations);
  4. ensuring we have appropriate backup for U of A commitments (financial or otherwise); and
  5. ensuring that all required signatures/approvals are in place (Sponsor and U of A).

Examples of What Can Go Wrong When an Application is Not Submitted Prior to the RSO 5 Business Day Internal Deadline:

Example 1 - Submitted to RSO on Day of Sponsor Deadline - Rejected due to Sponsor System Traffic after Necessary Revisions

A proposal arrived at RSO on the day of the sponsor deadline and received only a basic compliance review. It was noticed that the matching funds listed in the proposal did not align with the funds outlined in the U of A support letter. After the proposal was returned and the error corrected, the PI attempted to re-submit the proposal in the sponsor online system with minutes to spare.

Due to system traffic because of high volume, the proposal did not upload until after the sponsor deadline and was rejected. If the PI had submitted the proposal prior to the RSO 5 business day internal deadline there would have been sufficient time to make the necessary revisions. 

Example 2 - Submitted to RSO on Day of Sponsor Deadline - Rejected due to Incorrect Indirect Cost Calculation

A multi-million dollar proposal was received by RSO on the day of the sponsor deadline and received only a basic review. The sponsor had a complex calculation for indirect costs and it was determined that the PI did not calculate them correctly. Due to lack of time prior to the sponsor deadline, the PI could not correct it and the proposal was submitted as-is. The proposal was rejected prior to being sent for peer review because of the incorrect indirect cost calculation. If the PI had submitted the proposal to RSO prior to the 5 business day internal deadline there would have been sufficient time to adjust the indirect costs accordingly.

Example 3 - Submitted to RSO a Few Days before Sponsor Deadline - Rejected due to No Time to Make Changes Before Sponsor Deadline

A proposal was submitted to RSO a few days before the sponsor deadline. Due to the high volume of the funding opportunity, the proposal was not reviewed until the following day. Issues were flagged, however, the PI was traveling and was unable to make the necessary changes in the sponsor online system to make the proposal compliant for submission. By the time the PI was able to make the changes the sponsor deadline passed and the proposal was not able to be submitted. If the PI had submitted the proposal prior to the RSO 5 business day internal deadline there would have been more time to make the changes.

Example 4 - Submitted to RSO Three Days before Sponsor Deadline - Rejected due to Ineligible Expense

A proposal was submitted to RSO three days before the sponsor deadline and received only a basic review. After the proposal was submitted, the sponsor did an administrative review and noticed an ineligible expense which subsequently lowered the eligible budget request below the required minimum request. This made the proposal ineligible and it was rejected. A detailed review of the proposal would have resulted in RSO identifying this specific requirement.

Example 5 - Submitted to RSO on Sponsor Deadline - Rejected by Sponsor because Application was on an Older Template

A proposal was received at RSO on the day of the sponsor deadline and received only a basic review. The sponsor guidelines indicated that the proposal template had to be watermarked with the most recent version and that without it the application would be rejected.  The proposal submitted by the PI was on an older template and thus was rejected by the sponsor. A detailed review of the proposal would have resulted in RSO identifying this specific requirement.


Request for Proposal (RFP) Submissions

RFPs typically involve accepting unique and/or complex terms and conditions by virtue of us submitting the RFP. U of A researchers who are interested in submitting proposals tied to RFP calls should reach out to their research facilitator as early on as possible so we can review the terms and conditions in advance allowing time to address any potential issues during the proposal development stage.


What is the Benefit In Meeting the RSO Internal Deadline?

RSO staff have a great deal of knowledge and experience with U of A policies and procedures and requirements of the different sponsors and programs. The benefits of submitting your application to RSO prior to the 5 business day deadline ensures that we have adequate time to conduct an in-depth review of your application, check that the application is complete, conforms to relevant U of A policies and procedures and meets sponsor requirements.

For applications received after the internal RSO deadline, we will only review for compliance with U of A policy and sponsor compliance (e.g. FCOI, certifications and declarations) as it relates to the institutional approval only.

Submitting your application/proposal to RSO prior to the 5 business day deadline also gives you time to revise your application based on comments provided as a result of the more detailed review.