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  • Tips for Successful Proposal Submission
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Compiled by Cindy Kinney, SOM Office of Research Administration, April 2020

In general:

Putting notes in RAMS SPOT is always helpful to reviewers. If your proposal is unusual in any way, adding a note regarding the unique situation helps expedite reviews.

If you need help with a submission prior to delivery to OSP, please email as soon as possible or reach out directly to Cindy Kinney (

Note: the SOM Reviewers do not always see public comments logged in RAMS-SPOT after SOM has "Requested Changes" on a proposal. 

Possible major issues

  • Be sure to include all required internal forms, with signatures
    • Coverage Analysis Screening Form
      • Make sure the form is completed and signed. If the PI hasn’t signed this form, the proposal will be returned.
    • VCUHS Employee Participation Approval Form
      • Any individual who is a VCUHS or MCVP employee who will be participating on the project must have an approved VCUHS employee form.
      • Remember to budget these individuals in the general cost grid – not the personnel grid
    • F&A Exemption Request Form
      • There are situations when waiving F&A costs is necessary. This situation requires pre-approval from the Dean’s office.  Make sure you begin the approval process as early as possible.
    • PI Eligibility Exception Form
      • Situations such as hospital residents, non-faculty staff, etc. being PI requires pre-approval by the Dean’s office. Please submit the form for review as soon as possible.
    • Voluntary cost share (other than sponsor-mandated salary caps)
  • Refer to SOM's Obtaining Review and Signature in the SOM Office of Research Administration guide
  • Other situations where SOM Dean support is being requested such as additional space that will be needed for budgeted equipment. Contact SOMRA as soon as possible (
  • Missing documents
    • Make sure the minimum documents are included: budget, budget justification, statement of work, and CV/biosketches.

Other items to note, not major but will hold up review

  • Salary questions.
    • Especially around salary adjustment times, salary amounts in RAMS-SPOT may be incorrect.  Try to verify Institutional Base Salary and put a comment in RAMS-SPOT indicating you’ve verified the salaries.
    • Follow the current NIH post doc minimum salary and SOM graduate student stipend amount (refer to Proposal Budgeting Tools)
  • Budget discrepancies
    • Budget amounts should agree in RAMS-SPOT, the sponsor budget, and any internal spreadsheets uploaded. Things may be off by a few dollars due to rounding but these should all agree for the most part.
    • When you change something in the RAMS-SPOT budget and have to update the SF-424 budget, make sure the total Federal request number is updated. It doesn’t automatically update.
  • Internal subaccounts
    • Make sure that the direct cost amount includes both salary and fringe. Other budget items can also be included.
    • Provide a notation for each subaccount regarding who/what is included in the direct cost amount.
  • Other
    • When budgeting in RAMS-SPOT, if you have a line item that is going to vary in amount for each budget period, you can put $1 in the unit cost field and then put the actual dollar amount you are requesting for each budget period. This way you can have one RAMS-SPOT line for a budget item that varies considerably from budget period to budget period.  Do not check ‘apply inflation’ in this case.
    • For renewals and resubmissions make sure to include the NIH identifier on the SF-424 cover page. For DoD applications, make sure to put the eBRAP log in number in the Federal identifier field in the SF-424.
    • For Federal applications, make sure to run the validation feature in RAMS-SPOT prior to routing and use the "Hide/Show Errors" function when in the RAMS-SPOT budget or SF-424 forms.
    • For Federal Applications, put the eBRAP user name, NIH Commons user name, or other PI identifier in the "agency credential" field in the SF-424 as per the sponsor guidance.

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