SOW/Research Plan


The Project Description/Research Plan describes the project work to be performed on a research project or sponsored activity.  On a subagreement, a similar document is known as the Statement of Work.  Each sponsor has specified guidelines for these sections.  

Statement of Work (SOW) 

One of the most critical elements of a Harvard proposal that is a subaward, is the Statement of Work (SOW).  At a minimum, the SOW should provide a full and detailed explanation of the proposed activity, typically including project goals, specific aims, methodology, and Investigator responsibilities. It should be no shorter than a paragraph in length.  

Sponsor Specific Requirements  

Research Plan 

Source: NIH 

A description of the rationale for your research and your experiments.  Your Research Strategy is the nuts and bolts of your application, where you describe your research rationale and the experiments you will conduct to accomplish each aim. Information you put in the Research Plan affects just about every other application part. This section will vary in length determined by the sponsor and the particular RFA to which you are applying. You'll need to keep everything in sync as your plans evolve during the writing phase. 

Read complete NIH instructions 

Project Description 

Source: NSF  

The Project Description must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a section labeled “Intellectual Merit”. The Project Description should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and must include the objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance; the relationship of this work to the present state of knowledge in the field, as well as to work in progress by the PI under other support.  

The Project Description should outline the general plan of work, including the broad design of activities to be undertaken, and, where appropriate, provide a clear description of experimental methods and procedures. Proposers should address what they want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified. These issues apply to both the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions.  

 The Project Description also must contain, as a separate section within the narrative, a section labeled “Broader Impacts”. This section should provide a discussion of the broader impacts of the proposed activities. Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to the achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the U.S.; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.  

Plans for data management and sharing of the products of research, including preservation, documentation, and sharing of data, samples, physical collections, curriculum materials and other related research and education products should be described in the Special Information and Supplementary Documentation section of the proposal (see Chapter II.C.2.j for additional instructions for preparation of this section). For proposals that include funding to an International Branch Campus of a U.S. IHE or to a foreign organization (including through use of a subaward or consultant arrangement), the proposer must provide the requisite explanation/justification in the project description. See Chapter I.E for additional information on the content requirements. 

Read complete NSF instructions 

GMAS Requirement 

The SOW/ Project Description/ Research Plan must be uploaded to the GMAS request document repository.