- Systems Access
- Principal Investigator (PI) Eligibility
- Application Types
- Gift vs.Grant
- Proposal Checklists
Grants Management Application Suite (GMAS):
All Investigators are automatically given access to GMAS to sign off on their own proposals (see Review and Submission). The Department's Authorized Requestor requests GMAS access for the SRA from Financial Systems Solutions (FSS). A complete list of Authorized Requestors is available on the FSS Authorized Requestor iSite. Once access is confirmed, users log in to GMAS using their Harvard ID and PIN.
When creating the project record in GMAS, the SRA is asked a series of questions that generates a list of the internal approvals required for the project. Many of these approvals are required before the application is submitted. Therefore, it is recommended that the SRA create the GMAS record as early as possible in the application process.
Two of Harvard's biggest funders, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) require that the Principal Investigator (PI) register and maintain a profile in their application systems in order to submit proposals and reports. In order to register in eRA Commons (NIH) or Fastlane (NSF), the SRA should first contact the Department's Grants and Contracts Specialist in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). OSP is the primary point of contact for systems access (unless the application portal permits the individual to create his or her own profile).
Fastlane: All NSF proposals can be submitted through Fastlane. To get started on a Fastlane proposal, log in and click on "Proposals, Awards and Status," then "Proposal Functions." Once the solicitation for the proposal is selected, a proposal "shell" is created into which either the SRA or PI can enter information or upload attachments.
eRA Commons: The eRA Commons is not used for NIH proposal submission. NIH proposals are submitted by OSP using grants.gov and can be created in GMAS by the SRA using either System to System or the grants.gov application forms. However, an eRA Commons ID is required for application submission. Applicants use the Commons to track application status, submit Just-In-Time information (such as IRB status) and submit reports.
Principal Investigator (PI) Eligibility
For each sponsored award, it is customary to designate as PI one person who bears ultimate responsibility for academic decisions as well as for financial, administrative, and compliance matters relating to the project.
Only teaching members of the Faculty and a select number of other academic appointees are accorded Principal Investigator rights and may seek external research support on a continuing basis.
If a Harvard employee whose appointment type is not listed among those on the PI Eligibility policy page wishes to serve as PI, his or her Department Chair must submit a request to the appropriate Divisional Dean using the PI Rights Questionnaire Form.
Any appeal to a sponsor that will result in funds being awarded to the University (rather than to the PI directly) must be authorized by OSP and is subject to the Proposal Submission Policy. Submissions to sponsors typically fall into one of the following categories:
An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, facilities, and other resources. Any proposal that will be awarded to the University will require an Authorized Signature by OSP.
Proposals are routed through GMAS and approved by the Department, FAS, and OSP. They are typically submitted to the sponsor by OSP unless the sponsor instructs otherwise.
Letter of Intent (LOI)
The LOI usually includes a brief description of the proposed work and may or may not include budget information.
Letters of intent containing budget information should be reviewed by FAS and OSP.
Pre-proposals are usually solicited by sponsors and typically include a brief project summary and an estimated budget total.
The submission process for a pre-proposal is the same as a new Proposal (above).
If a proposal is submitted by a PI without review, the proposal, budget and award terms will still need to be reviewed when the sponsor notice arrives at the University. Retroactive proposals are typically more time consuming than proposals that receive review prior to submission because budget revisions and unanticipated administrative requirements can complicate award negotiations.
The original proposal and award notice should be routed through GMAS as quickly as possible and approved by the PI and Department. FAS and OSP review the proposal for compliance and work with OSP to ensure that any administrative changes are integrated into the final award notice.
Gift vs. Grant
Investigators working with new sponsors should attempt to clarify whether funding will be made available to them in the form of a gift or a grant. Gifts and grants are handled by two separate Harvard units and each carry their own distinct sets of policies and procedures that may affect the award budget, among other things. See Gift vs. Grant for a summary of the factors that should be considered when determining how to classify an award.
The instructions found in a solicitation or request for proposals (RFP) are often supplemented by the sponsor's overall grantmaking policy (e.g. the NSF Grant Proposal Guide) or in a separate guide to the application forms (e.g. the NIH SF424 (R&R) Application Guides). It may be helpful to create a checklist that includes all University approvals and sponsor requirements and confirms application roles and responsibilities. Sample checklists can be found in the Resources section.
GMAS entry provides a helpful framework for determining which internal approvals will be required (either before submission or before an award can be set up) well before final Review and Submission. The information below provides more information about common approvals and how they are administered.
Conflict of Interest
To ensure that Conflict of Interest disclosures are obtained for all key personnel, enter them into "Research Staff" in GMAS.
Interfaculty Involvement (IFI)
Proposals that involve the participation of personnel in department's or Harvard schools other than the PI's need special approvals. Answer "yes" to the IFI Involvement question in GMAS to enter the details of this arrangement.
Cost Sharing information should be entered into the GMAS request and approved during the 5-day review period.
If the project requires administrative support that is greater than what is normally supported by existing staff, answer "yes" to the Administrative Salaries question in GMAS and be sure to address it in the budget justification.
Use of Special Indirect Rates
See Indirect Costs for information about how special indirect rates should be handled during the application process.
Participation Agreement (PA)
The PA is required of all individuals who perform research at Harvard and/or who may create intellectual property through the use of Harvard resources. Harvard researchers can sign their Participation Agreements using GMAS.
Unless otherwise indicated by the sponsor, CUHS (Committee on the Use of Human Subjects) approval is not usually required until an award is pending but it is critical to identify whether human subjects will be involved at the proposal stage. Most sponsors ask for this information in their application forms and PI's should be alerted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval process.
Unless otherwise indicated by the sponsor, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval is not usually required until an award is pending but it is critical to identify whether animals will be involved at the proposal stage. Most sponsors ask for this information in their application forms and PI's should be alerted to the IACUC review and approval process.