Routing and Submitting a Proposal

Western Michigan University’s Office of the Vice President for Research and a research program officer will work with the principal investigator to ensure that a quality proposal that meets University and sponsor guidelines is submitted to the funding agency.

In most cases, the University, and not the individual PI, is considered to be the applicant on a proposal. Proposals must be approved by the appropriate WMU officials prior to submission if any of the following apply: 

  • The proposal will be submitted on behalf of the University.
  • The project described in the proposal will be performed by a University employee as part of a University appointment.
  • The project described in the proposal will require the use of any University resources.

This approval is completed using the Proposal Approval Form, or PAF, also known as the bucksheet.

Routing a Proposal

Proposal Approval Form

Why complete a PAF?

A PAF captures the information necessary for the Office of the Vice President for Research and any relevant units on campus to review and approve a proposal. It ensures that proposals are in compliance with University and federal regulations and is also a record of the commitment of University resources necessary to carry out a project if it is funded.

Image depicting the proposal routing process at WMU.

Note: The PAF can be recycled for changes at any point in the approval process. After changes are made the PAF will be reissued through the approval process. In some cases, adjustments can be made without recycling; contact the research program officer to see if this is an option.

How to complete a PAF

The PAF is completed and routed electronically within the Proposal Management Center.

When to complete a PAF

  • A PAF is required prior to submission for any proposal to any type of sponsor.
  • Allow at least five business days for PAF routing. This will give each person that must approve the PAF time for review and clarification.
  • At any point, recycling the PAF returns the form to the beginning and requires it to move through all approvers a second time. Contact the research program officer to see if adjustments can be made rather than recycling the PAF.
  • A letter of intent or pre-proposal to a sponsor requires a PAF if it includes a budget or proposes cost share.
  • PIs who are unsure if they need to complete a PAF should contact a research program officer.

Submitting a proposal

A research program officer will work with the principal investigator to submit the proposal to the sponsor once the PAF is approved.

Many proposals include documents that must be signed by the University’s official signatory or authorized representative. The vice president for research or the associate vice president for research can sign most proposal documents as the authorized representative. The principal investigator is not an official signatory and is not authorized to act on behalf of the University. See WMU’s Policy for Signature on Grants and Contracts.