Policy on Proposal Submission Deadlines: Frequently Asked Questions

1. When does the submitting office start counting the 5 days? The day it arrives or the day after?

The complete application must arrive 5 full business days prior to the application deadline. Therefore, if the application arrives to the submitting office at 2pm on Monday the first full business day is the following day, Tuesday. If an application arrives by 9 am on Monday then the first full business day is Monday.

Image of a calendar showing that for a proposal with a sponsor due date of Monday, February 14, the proposal is due to OSP by 9 AM Monday, February 7.

2. What is the definition of a complete and “FINAL” proposal?

The complete and final proposal has all of the necessary School and University-level approvals. The application is considered complete by the Principal Investigator (PI) and the dept; no further edits are occurring on the science/narrative, budget, or other forms.

3. What if the department receives the proposal with little time to review? Would the submitting office rather we take more time to get the proposal into better shape or the 5 full business days for review?

The submitting office requires the proposal with 5 full business days for review. Getting the proposal into submission ready shape will need to be a collaborative effort between the department/school and submitting office. The submitting office will still expect the department/school to complete its required approvals, forms, etc. prior to submission.

4. Will the submitting office wait until the 5th day before submitting the application?

Not necessarily. The submitting office will submit the application as soon as it is ready to be submitted. Sometimes that will be on the first day the application is received, in other instances, depending on the number of changes necessary, the application may not be submitted until the final day.

5. What if a PI receives notice from a sponsor to submit a proposal within less than five days to prepare. Would this be considered an exemption?

The PI would need to seek an exemption approval from the University Director, Sponsored Research

6. What happens if there is no set deadline from the sponsor, just “ASAP?”

The submitting department or school should mark the “due date” as 5 full business days ahead of the date it arrives in OSP.

7. Will OSP begin reviewing my proposal as soon as it is received?

The OSP representative reviewing the proposal will prioritize the review by “first come, first served” assuming the proposal was received within the 5 business days required.

8. I am a department/lab administrator and the PI I support informed me s/he needs to request an exception to the 5 day policy. What should I do?

You should work with your PI to draft the reasoning for the exception and send it directly to your OSP rep (Sr./Grants and Contract Specialist) and the University Director, Sponsored Research via email.

9. How will retroactive proposals be treated? (Retroactive: a proposal that is submitted to the sponsoring agency without the necessary dept/school/University and/or OSP level review and approvals).

A retroactive proposal will need an approved exception before it can be processed at OSP. This includes retroactive proposals that arrive with an award agreement.

10. I am a PI and would like to work on compiling data for the science portion of my proposal right up until the due date of the application. This may result in edits taking place prior to OSP’s submission. If all the other administrative forms, including budget, are submitted within the 5 day policy, is this acceptable?

A proposal is not considered complete and final until every portion is signed and marked final by the PI, dept, and/or school. If the science is not complete within the 5 day policy you, the PI, should work on requesting an exception from the University Director, Sponsored Research. While OSP is, of course, in support of submitting the most compelling proposal possible, it is important to remember that reading the science/narrative portion of the proposal is part of OSP’s review.

11. I am submitting a subagreement proposal to MGH who is then submitting to NIH. Although the NIH deadline is not for another 15 days MGH’s submission policy requires 10 days for review. When do I need to get this proposal to OSP for review?

You should assume MGH’s internal deadline is the proposal deadline. Meaning, if it is due to MGH on Feb. 10 to meet their internal submission policy, then you need to submit the proposal to OSP 5 full business days ahead of Feb. 10 to be compliant with Harvard’s submission policy.

12. I am submitting a proposal within the 5 day submission policy but it also requires Provostial Review and approval. Who should I send it to?

Send the proposal to your OSP representative and s/he will send it to OVPR for review.

13. My PI received an exception approval, when do I have to submit the application to OSP?

Open-ended exception approvals are not granted. If a PI receives an exception approval the University Director, Sponsored Research will attach a timeframe expectation to that approval. Meaning, the PI does not have until the day of the deadline to submit the proposal to OSP. Depending on the exception approval, the PI may be required to submit it 3 full business days prior to the deadline, in other cases 4 days may be required; it will depend on the nature of the exception approval.