How to submit a successful NSF proposal

Faculty members who want to work with the National Science Foundation should sign up for the organization’s email and become familiar with the NSF’s Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), representatives of UNM’s Faculty Research Development Office (FRDO) told audience members at a recent workshop.

The workshop, held at Advance at UNM Sept. 13 is part of a series of workshops designed to help faculty maneuver through the procedures for creating and submitting proposals.

The speakers discussed the types of proposals and funding opportunities that are available through the NSF. Subscribing to newsletters from the NSF means recipients can get information on specific topics as well as find out about the availability of proposals or upcoming events. Users also can also search for open opportunities directly through the NSF website.

Another source of information and support is the UNM Faculty Research and Development Network. Users may enroll through a listserv in order to find out about future events and available opportunities, much like the NSF newsletter. You may also request for help by submitting a ticket directly through the FRDO website.

There are several websites for submitting proposals, such as, Fast Lane, and These are known as application submission web services. Once you select your preferred web application (FRDO tip:, you must request a login username and password from UNM. After completing a submission, users may check on the status of their proposal directly through the website of their choice. Proposals can also be edited within these web applications.

One major benefit of these sites is that incomplete proposals cannot be submitted. The application first verifies that all required fields have been completed. However, the website cannot catch any errors inside your documents. If the NSF cannot find all of the required items inside your submission, then your proposal will be declined and returned without review.

The FRDO can help UNM faculty through every step of the proposal submission. Regardless of how much or how little help you may want, the FRDO has plenty of resources readily available, including but not limited to, templates required by the NSF.

Applicants must also be aware of any additional requirements, such as those established by the Office of the Institutional Review Board (OIRB) at UNM. If your proposal must go through the OIRB, they also offer workshops and consults to support applicants.

Checklists, templates and other forms can be found at the FRDO and OIRB sites.