Pre-Award FAQ

If there's a question you have that is not covered here, please send it to and we will get back to you with a response.

Where can I look for funding opportunities? 

Georgetown University subscribes to Community of Science, the leading global resource for funding information that is critical to scientific and scholarly research across all disciplines. COS aggregates the information allowing investigators to spend less time looking for resources. The Medical Center and the Main Campus absorb 100% of the cost of this membership so that individual faculty do not have to purchase subscriptions.

COS recently implemented a new tool called Pivot, which allows investigators to have multiple saved searches and receive weekly updates. Existing users should take the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the expanded functionality. All faculty are encouraged to establish a research profile and elect to receive weekly or monthly updates.

Instructions for NEW USERS to COS:

Complete the registration form on the COS "new user" page. Shortly after requesting to create a new account, you will receive a confirmation e-mail after which point you can login and begin searching. The registration process should take no more than a few minutes.

Instructions for EXISTING USERS:

If you are current/active user, you will continue to use your existing COS user ID and password to enter Pivot. Click on "claim your profile" to get a list of matching profiles either at Georgetown or from your former institution for those faculty who have recently transferred to Georgetown. You may also search under a "former name" if you have recently changed your name. To verify that you are the appropriate person to claim the profile, you will be asked to select an email address from the Pivot file and COS will send an email to that address so that you can verify your profile.

Can I request summer salary? And, if so, how much? 

Faculty are allowed to request up to a maximum of two months of summer salary per year on federal awards. Summer salary is computed as 1/9 of academic year salary per month for a total of two summer months per year inclusive of associated fringe benefits. However, unlike the other federal agencies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allows principal investigators to take an exceptional third month of summer salary for continuous work on a project(s) across the period of summer. A full three months of summer salary requires the approval of the Office of the Provost regardless of whether or not it is permitted by the sponsor. For additional information on summer salary approval, please refer to the Faculty Affairs page on the Office of the Provost site. Private sponsors may or may not allow summer salary, thus it is important to review the guidelines in advance of preparing the budget.

Can I combine my junior faculty research fellowship with an external fellowship to extend my period of leave to one year? 

Pending relevant decanal (unit and Graduate School) and provost approval, faculty may be able to combine a junior faculty research fellowship leave with an externally funded semester of leave. Faculty considering this as a viable option are strongly encouraged to discuss their options and research plans with their unit head and school dean in advance of submitting an external application. Some sponsors may or may not allow a period of leave in combination with an internal fellowship, particularly if it reduces or detracts from the effort on the funded project. Please contact the Science Research Administrative Services Center if you have questions and/or would like a review of the sponsor policies and regulations.

What is a "top-off" and am I eligible to receive one? 

An internal matching research award, or "top-off" provides supplemental salary and benefits to a faculty member awarded a prestigious external fellowship or grant award. A "top-off" is requested when the external award does not provide sufficient resources to support the faculty member's full salary and benefits need for the academic year. Top-offs are subject to both Dean and Provost approval and should be approved in advance, whenever possible, of an external application or award.

All of the following must obtain for consideration of matching support:

-- the amount of the external award is less than the faculty member’s base salary and benefits for the period of the requested research leave;

-- the supplement is no more than 50 percent of salary and benefits for the period of the research leave;

-- the matching research award (salary and benefits supplement) is not more than the amount of the external award (i.e., the amount of the external award serves as a maximum for the matching award);

-- a matching award may be requested only after first making arrangements to receive full salary by taking any sabbatical leave or Graduate School fellowship or other internal competitive award for which he or she is then (or very soon to be) eligible; and

-- the award or grant to be matched must be won through application to national or international scholarly competitions whose awardees are selected through rigorous peer review.

Please refer to the Matching Research Award: Research Leave Salary and Benefits Supplement (aka “Top Off”) policy on the Provost's web site. 

What is the process for requesting a "top-off?" 

Formal requests for an Internal Matching Research Award ("top-off") should be submitted to the school dean by the unit head (chair or director) in consultation with the faculty member. The school dean will then consider the request and, if applicable, subsequently contact the Office of the Provost for approval.

Departments should have ready an official award contract and budget calculating the exact match need in advance of contacting their relevant dean. Please contact Main Campus Research Services for further guidance and/or assistance.

Are graduate students required to route their applications through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) for vetting before the deadline? 

Graduate students are required to route a federal application through the Interneer external proposal routing system for internal vetting. OSP requires at least one week in advance of the sponsor deadline to fully review and vet the proposal. If the sponsor is private/non-federal, internal routing is not required albeit strongly encouraged. The reason for this is three-fold:

1) the application will receive feedback from seasoned grants professionals thereby mitigating any potential shortfalls in the proposal preparation;

2) having it internally routed will make others aware of the student's efforts at securing external awards as well as facilitate data capture on student research productivity; and, finally,

3) if the award is successful, the proposal information will already exist in the system and ultimately facilitate the process of managing the award if it is routed through the University for oversight and reporting.

Is there a CAP on my NIH salary? 

The NIH salary cap of $181,500 (Executive Level II salary) is in effect as of January 12, 2014 as noted in NOT-OD-14-052. Accordingly, summer salary charges to NIH grants are limited to a maximum of $15,125 per month; additional salary to compensate faculty member to the equivalent of 1/9 academic year salary for a full summer month's compensation should be covered by the PI's discretionary funds. As a reminder, Funded Research Incentive or "IDC" accounts cannot be used to cover summer salary.

Can I include cost share or in-kind in my proposal? 

If the sponsor requires that the faculty member/university provide cost share or in-kind--called "mandatory cost sharing"--then the institution is required to put forth the required amount if we wish to proceed with the application. If, however, the sponsor does not require cost share, then it is considered voluntary and requires the explicit approval of the school dean and the Provost before it can be committed in the proposal.

In both accounts, written approval--whether it be an e-mail or a formal letter confirming the cost share or in-kind--must be provided to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) in advance of the proposal submission. Moreover, the department or unit supporting the cost share must provide a university cost center from which the cost share or in-kind will originate. The latter information must come from the unit head (chair or director) and be sent directly to the grants and contracts administrator submitting the proposal.

Finally, all cost share or in-kind must be formally tracked by the department (on a GM cost center) for the full period of commitment and in accordance with the policies set forth by Sponsored Projects Financial Operations ("SPFO") Additional information on "cost sharing" can be found under Internal Approvals and on the "Instruction: Cost Share on Sponsored Projects" page on the SPFO site.

Do I need IRB approval before I can begin my research project? 

If the research plan includes human subjects or human material-based research--including interviews and surveys--then Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval is required before scholarly or clinical research can begin in earnest and/or any federal or private funds can be used to support any of the sponsored endeavors. The Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) is the office tasked with coordinating and overseeing the IRB process for the University as a whole. For a cursory review of the process, please refer to the Graduate School's Obtaining Regulatory Approvals page.

The ORA also oversees applications to the animal and clinical review boards and oversees the approval and use of hazardous materials. A list of the various review boards and current membership can be found on IRB Board Members page on the ORA site.

There may be instances in which IRB approval is not required, however, the research proposal and methodology must first be submitted to the ORA for consideration of a possible waiver. Expedited review also may be possible but may not always be possible during busier proposal review periods.

All IRB applications must be submitted through the ORA's eRIC system. Complete information regarding the review process and related information can be found on the ORA's Web site.

Is there an internal approval or vetting process for proposals or concept papers submitted to a foundation/corporation? 

Yes. All proposals submitted to an external sponsor, whether it be private/philanthropic, institutional, or federal, should be fully vetted by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) before it is submitted for consideration. If the submission is to a private or philanthropic organization, the OSP will liaison with Foundation Relations in the Office of Advancement on behalf of the faculty member. Please refer to the "Internal Approvals" page on our site for complete information on the OSP's internal review and vetting process.

My research will involve the use of human subjects who are minors (under age 18). Are there any additional requirements that I must meet for my study to acquire IRB approval? 

Yes, you must comply with the University's Protection of Minors Policy. See the Protection of Minors and Human Subjects Research document available on the IRB Web Site.

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Additionally, the Graduate School's senior grants administrators are available to answer any questions, facilitate preparation of the proposal, and liaison directly with the OSP and/or Foundation Relations on behalf of the faculty member/principal investigator (PI). Information on the proposal support provided by the Graduate School's senior grants administrators can be found on the "Research Offices" page.

If there's a question you have that is not covered here, please send it to and we will get back to you with a response.