Guideline RAG20 LIMITED SUBMISSIONS (Formerly RAG19)

Policy Steward:  Vice President for Research, and Corporate Controller


  • Purpose
  • Oversight
  • Process for Identifying Interest in Limited Submission Opportunities
  • Downselect Process
  • Further Information


    To procedurally respond to an increasing number of government agencies, private foundations, and corporate sponsors that limit the number of proposals, applications, or nominations permitted from a single institution. The primary objective is to stimulate the most competitive proposals, applications, and nominations based upon the criterion defined by the sponsors, and to do so in a consistent manner that does not place an undue burden on the faculty.


    The Office of the Vice President for Research has oversight for this process and makes the final decisions as to which submissions are permitted from Penn State except as detailed below. The Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Strategic Initiatives (AVPR-DSI), in close communication with the colleges/institutes, is charged with implementing the process. For specific programs that are related to undergraduate education, the Office of Undergraduate Education is charged with implementing the process and follows other procedures. The Office of the Vice President for Research also works closely with the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations when the funding opportunity originates from a private foundation.

    It is the responsibility of the faculty or their college/institute to contact if they identify a limited submission opportunity and want to pursue it. Faculty should not proceed with a response to a limited submission opportunity without their college/institute obtaining approval from the Office of the Vice President for Research by contacting and pursuing the process outlined below.


    Limited submission opportunities are identified in several ways, i.e., from invitations, funding agency announcements, national mailing lists, and faculty/research administrators. Limited submission opportunities are handled in one of two ways, depending on the likely level of faculty interest, but, as noted above, proposal submission for any limited submission opportunity requires approval from Office of the Vice President for Research.

    For those limited submission opportunities that are likely to be of interest to multiple faculty, the Office of the Vice President for Research will notify the research community and perform a downselect as detailed in the next section.

    For those limited submission opportunities that are new or are targeted at relatively narrow fields of interest, the Office of the Vice President for Research will rely on the relevant administrative units to identify the opportunities which are appropriate for their faculty. A faculty member wanting to compete for an opportunity in this category must notify his/her college research dean or institute director and the Office of the Vice President for Research at at least two months prior to the sponsor's deadline for proposal submission. This will allow the Office of the Vice President for Research to determine the need for an internal downselect and conduct one if needed. Faculty who do not notify the Office of the Vice President for Research two months prior to the sponsor's deadline will not be guaranteed consideration in an internal downselect.


    The following limited submissions process is followed in most cases where a downselect decision is required. Exceptions are made in certain situations, for example, when the deadline is short, when the program is highly focused, or when a strategic interest of the University is impacted.

    1. UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCEMENT: Website postings and e-mail announcements are issued from the Office of the Vice President for Research to the URC, or a URC subset in the case of a program that has a very specific target audience, with copies to the Administrative Committee on Research providing a brief summary of the program, website location, timeline for response, pre-proposal/ information requirements, and submission deadlines.

    2. COLLEGE/INSTITUTE ANNOUNCEMENT: URC members share e-mail announcements with their department heads and faculty.

    3. NOTICE-OF-INTENT: If a substantial response is anticipated, interested faculty are asked to submit a notice-of-intent to Office of the Vice President for Research, following the instructions on the announcement memo. This notice includes the name and title of the principal investigator and co-investigators, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and planned pre-proposal title. The primary purpose of the notice-of-intent is to enable the rapid initiation of the pre-proposal review process.

    4. PRE-PROPOSAL APPLICATION: Each faculty member who submits a notice-of-intent must submit an electronic pre-proposal application by the stated deadline, following the instructions on the announcement memo.

    5. SELECTION ADVISORY PANEL: The AVPR-DSI identifies a selection advisory panel based on the notices-of-intent to ensure the appropriate expertise is represented on the panel. For research proposals, panels are comprised primarily of research deans and institute directors representative of appropriate disciplines along with faculty identified by the research deans. In cooperation with colleges/institutes, additional faculty may be recruited to serve on the panels in order to provide specialized expertise. For individual fellowships (such as from the Packard Foundation), faculty who have previously been awardees are typically invited to serve as panel members.

    6. SELECTION PROCESS: With staff support from the Office of the Vice President for Research, selection advisory panel members access, review, and rank the pre-proposals, and may meet to discuss the combined rankings. The panel should aim to determine which pre-proposal teams will have the best chance of success in external competition, and should also consider which pre-proposals are best aligned with the University's strategic goals. The recommendations are forwarded to the AVPR-DSI, who makes the final decision for the Office of the Vice President for Research in consultation with the VPR. Panel members are encouraged to provide written feedback to be shared with faculty, along with any informal feedback that may be helpful to formulating a final decision. Every attempt is taken to ensure that panel deliberations and final decisions are completed in a timely fashion, thereby optimizing the time available to the faculty for preparation of the final proposal.

    7. SELECTION NOTIFICATION: The Office of the Vice President for Research electronically notifies the appropriate URC members who then notify the faculty of the decision. The Office of the Vice President for Research also sends the URC members written feedback as provided by the panel.

    8. FACULTY RESPONSIBILTY: Once a faculty member is selected to apply for a specific limited submission opportunity, s/he has the responsibility to submit to that program by the designated deadline and to work with the appropriate administrative units within the University to prepare the best possible proposal. If a faculty member decides to decline the selection, s/he must notify as soon as possible to permit another faculty member to compete externally.


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Vice President for Research, or the Office of the Corporate Controller.

    Effective Date: February 26, 2016
    Date Approved: February 22, 2016
    Published Date: February 26, 2016

    Most recent changes:

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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