Electronic Proposal Submission

Internal Routing for Review, Endorsement and Submission

Proposals are submitted to external sponsors by the designated Stanford Institutional Officer (IO) after they are reviewed and endorsed. Notify your IO when your application is ready for institutional review. 

In the School of Medicine, the Research Management Group (RMG) reviews, endorses and submits proposals. Research proposals are stored, routed and tracked in eSubmit.

In  all other schools, the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) reviews, endorses and submits proposals. Proposals are attached and routed to OSR via the SeRA system using the Proposal Development Routing Form (PDRF).

By 9:00 am at least 5 business days before the deadline, the final completed application must be routed to the IO via eSubmit (in the School of Medicine) or as an attachment to the PDRF (in all other schools). Be sure required forms have been completed. Your IO will review the application, notify you if errors are found, and submit the application to the sponsor once errors are corrected.

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The electronic PDRF (Proposal Development and Routing Form) is used to collect and route all the proposal documents, approvals and waivers necessary for review and endorsement by Stanford University. Department Administrators (RPMs in the School of Medicine) should initiate the PDRF at the beginning of the proposal development process. PIs and administrators are required to use the PDRF which is accessed through the SeRA (Stanford Electronic Research Administration) system. 

Review and Approvals

The Principal Investigator’s review and approval collected in the PDRF provides certifications required by government agencies, and an agreement to comply with Stanford and sponsor policies.

Departmental review and approvals confirm financial commitments made in a proposal, and that stated personnel and facilities are available to carry out the project. Other required special approvals are also documented.

Review and Endorsement

The (IO) Institutional Official reviews the information contained in the PDRF to endorse the proposal. The IO submits the endorsed proposal to the sponsor on behalf of Stanford University.

View PDRF resources


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About eSubmit

eSubmit is Stanford's drop box for storing, routing and tracking electronic research proposals. It is primarily used in the School of Medicine.

eSubmit allows multiple users to share and access an application package for editing. Each time someone uploads or downloads a version of the proposal during development, a date and time stamp are recorded in the eSubmit record, which will help mitigate overwriting files. Each person who logs in (using their SUNet ID and Password) will see all proposals for which they have authority (files they have uploaded as well as other people's files they have been given access to). Features include:

  1. Share files between multiple people for editing and reviewing

  2. Allow multiple people access Grants.gov application packages for editing and reviewing

  3. Create consistent naming and version control of files

  4. Notifying and routing the completed grant application package to an Institutional Official for review and submission to Grants.gov

Do not use eSubmit if you are not submitting through the RMG in the School of Medicine. First time users are asked to view a six-minute online tutorial. You can also read a print version of the the instructions.

eSubmit User Tips

eSubmit automatic Naming Convention: "PI Name_Sponsor_FOA_Version" 

Problem: When I download files from eSubmit for editing, my settings place the file in a download folder that will be difficult to locate.


Save the file to a known location on your computer such as your desktop or a proposal development folder.

Problem: If someone has "checked out" the Grants.gov application fire and is absent from the office, no one else can edit or route it.


At the end of each day, upload all checked out Grants.gov application files. (To enable others to access them.)

Login Problem: Incorrect SUNet ID message 


Everyone has one SUNet ID. Some people set up aliases and they won't work for the eSubmit login. If you cannot remember your correct SUNet ID, please check your Stanford You record.

Login Problem: Message "Your SUNet ID and password are valid, but your user information is not available"


Many faculty and staff have more than one Employee ID in the system. If you receive this message when logging into eSubmit: "Your SUNet ID and password are valid, but your user information is not available", do the following:

  • Check your Stanford ID Card for your current Employee ID number
  • Submit a HelpSU ticket
  • Request Type: E-Submit
  • Request Category: Administrative Applications
  • In the Request Description section, please enter the following information: Prevented from logging into eSubmit because of duplicate Empl ID, current ID is XXXXXX [enter number].
  • We'll include this information to a login script that will allow you to get into eSubmit
  • You receive a message that your SUNet ID and Password are invalid: This can usually be resolved by resetting your password in Stanford You.  You can "update" your password to the same value as it is currently. Once this is done, you should be able to log in.

Go to eSubmit

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Grants.gov is where to find and apply for most Federal grants. Grants.gov replaces paper applications with electronic portable document format (.pdf) forms and requires electronic submission of all applications.

Getting Started

View  Grants.gov a Guided Tour. The video skips the first chapter on registration as Stanford is already registered in Grants.gov.  You can maximize the size of the video by selecting the full screen icon  in the lower right corner of the screen  [  ].


Grants.gov is where to find and apply for most Federal grants. Grants.gov replaces paper applications with electronic portable document format (.pdf) forms and requires electronic submission of all applications. Helpful tips are listed below:

  • There is no logon for Grants.gov, and only Stanford Institutional Officials (IO) within the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) and the Research Management Group (RMG) are allowed to submit applications through Grants.gov.

  • Do not create an account with Grants.gov. The Institution (Stanford) submits on your behalf and is the only account holder.

  • Do not re-register Stanford in the Central Contractor Registry (CCR); Stanford has already been registered.

  • Use the specific application package and instructions linked to each FOA (Funding Opportunity Announcement). Note that an FOA might have multiple sets of instructions and forms.

  • If you need to share the file, the best practice is to either use a flash drive, eSubmit, department server, or attach to the PDRF in SeRA.

  • Each solicitation must have a Funding Opportunity Number (FON) - check your agency website for general numbers for investigator-initiated or "unsolicited" or "investigator-initiated" proposals.

  • Review the FOA, instructions, and the application package. Note that many large sponsors have "general Grants.gov" instructions, and some sponsors create special instructions for each application. Be familiar with the instructions of the sponsors to whom you submit so your application will be completed properly. Crucial information can be buried in the FOA or instructions!

  • Never copy or reuse an old package on resubmissions, even if all the information is the same! The proposal package file can only be submitted once! (Note: any PDF attachments that have not changed may be reused for other applications).

Download Applications & Instructions

After you click the Apply for Grant Electronically button within the FOA, you will be prompted by an “Important Note to All Applicants”; note Stanford registration in the System for Award Management (SAM)  is active and managed on an Institutional level.

To download the application package and instructions, click the Proceed to Grants.gov to Download Application button under the notice.

This will open the Download Application Package page. After confirming you have selected the correct opportunity, click on the download link:

  1. Enter email addresses into the field provided. This is used to notify you of any changes to the package that might require you to download a new application package, not to add your email to any SPAM or unwanted distribution lists. Multiple addresses can be added, and should be added for every application as the notifications are application specific.

  2. Download BOTH the application instructions and the application package.

Please note the following important points.

  • When you download the application package, save the file onto your computer. 

  • The package is one electronic file – it cannot be broken up or merged.

  • Only one person can work on the application package at a time; changes cannot be merged.

  • Do not discount information contained within the program announcement, as some sponsors use generic instructions for all of their applications. The program announcements may have different instructions for each individual FOA which will override any general instructions.

  • Each solicitation will have a unique Funding Opportunity Number (FON). Check the agency website for general numbers for investigator-initiated or "unsolicited" proposals.

  • Resubmission: Always download a new application package as a package can only be submitted once. Never reuse grant application packages to resubmit, even if you believe all the information is the same. You can reuse PDF attachments that have not changed if they are still relevant to your proposal.

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Grants.Gov SF424

The SF424 Research & Related (R&R)

Every grant application contains some version of the standardized SF424 form. This form should be completed first, because information you enter here feeds into some of the other form pages within the application package. The SF424 provides specific information about the application (type, title, etc.), the Institution (Stanford), the PI, and the IO.

The following sample information is not a substitute for reviewing the specific FOA application instructions. Always review both the instructions and the solicitation for the correct information.

NSF Grants.gov Application Guide

 SF424 (R&R) Applicant Guide for NIH and Other PHS Agencies ( this changes often make sure you are using the appropriate Guide)

Stanford Instructions for Completing the SF424 R&R

SF424RR Instructions

SF424 RR Instructions for NIH K Career Awards

SF424 RR Instructions for NIH NRSA

The Stanford Institutional Facts required in the SF424


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Grants.Gov - Receipt

Grants.gov Notifications

Grants.gov will send three email notifications to the IO to indicate application status:

  1. "Received" indicates that Grants.gov has received the application, but the application is awaiting validation (sent to IO).
  2. "Validated" indicates that Grants.gov has validated the application and it is available for the agency to retrieve,
  3. "Rejected with Errors" indicates that Grants.gov was unable to process your application because of error(s) and cannot accept the application until you correct the errors and successfully resubmit the application. You will receive email notification with information on how to address the error(s).  

Received by Agency

Once your application is successfully validated, Grants.gov notifies the sponsor and once the sponsor retrieves the package, Grants.gov sends the "Received by Agency" email. Once the application is retrieved by the agency, all further communication is with the agency. Each granting agency has a unique process for notifying you when your application has errors or is accepted.

  • Some granting agencies send email notifications to the IO and possibly the PI to verify receipt and report errors that must be corrected.

  • Keep in close contact with your IO to monitor your application.

  • Be proactive! Agencies will accept corrected applications up until the formal deadline listed in the FOA. If you wait too long to check on your application, you might miss your opportunity to submit a corrected application. 

  •  Best Practice: If you have not heard from the funding agency within three days of submitting your application, contact your IO to check the status. 

  •  If your application is an NSF application submitted via  FastLane,  the system has a built in validation process that detect most errors prior to submission.

  •  If your application is an NIH application, the PI will receive a notice from NIH; go to eRA Commons to view and/or print your application. Warnings should be reviewed, but will likely not prevent your proposal from being assigned for review; errors must be corrected. 

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Many federal and private sponsors accept and even require you to submit applications through their online submission system.

 Federal Agencies

  • NSF FastLane is the National Science Foundation online systemthat supports all functions of the proposal process: submission, review, award, and reporting. Effective March 18, 2013 NSF Fastlane system will perform  automatic compliance checking for all GPG (Grant Proposal Guide) required sections of proposals.  View the NSF presentationNSF FAQs on automatic compliance checking 

  • Grants.gov is the official grant announcement and proposal submission system for the federal government.

  • NASA NSPIRES - NASA utilizes this online system to announce NASA funding opportunities. In some instances, pre-proposals and/or full proposals are accepted via NSPIRES.

  • NIH ERA Commons is an investigator registration system that works in conjunction with Grants.gov to insure receipt of applications by the National Institutes of Health. All investigators must be registered in the Commons prior to submitting proposals to NIH and other Public Health Service agencies.

Private Agencies

  • Proposal Central supports a variety of non-profit funding agencies in proposal submission. Agencies that utilize this system include the American Cancer Society, the Arthritis Foundation, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

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Cayuse 424


Cayuse 424 is a web-based system-to-system solution that allows users to create, review and submit Grants.Gov proposals to OSR or RMG for submission further submission to the sponsor.

You can find online training for the Cayuse 424 system

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