March 9, 2017

Proposal Development Services Logo
The PDS Narrative
a newsletter from
Proposal Development Services
Office of the Vice Provost for Research

In this issue of the PDS Narrative, we review the benefits of working with our Research Development Specialists. 

Proposal Development Services: What we do
At Proposal Development Services (PDS), our goal is to work with IU Bloomington faculty to maximize the competitiveness of research proposals by ensuring proposal packages are reviewed as favorably as possible by the funding agency. Sometimes a project simply needs to be connected to existing IU research resources, but sometimes the needs are greater. That’s where we draw on our team's wealth of skills and experience in grantsmanship and project management.

Here are some reasons why you might work with PDS on your next proposal:  

  • You want help organizing a complex proposal.
  • You're new to collaborating with a team as a PI.
  • You’re leading an institutional proposal of only indirect benefit to your own career advancement.
  • You're preparing a proposal that is critical to your career advancement.
  • You've got a great project, but you haven't yet convinced your reviewers.
  • You'd like an extra set of expert eyes to look over your proposal.
  • You don't have adequate proposal help available in your department.
  • You're new to writing proposals.
  • You're new to submitting proposals at IU.
  • You're unsure which funding opportunity is most suitable.
  • Your old funding sources are no longer available.
  • You'd like to improve your chances of getting funded the first time.

PDS customizes our services to be responsive to the unique needs of each project. We begin with a conversation with the PI or team to understand their specific needs.  

For the Experienced PI, PDS might provide reviewer-focused feedback on the rhetoric of the proposal narrative, as well as guidance to draft a budget that reflects the project activities.

For the Early Career PI, PDS can do the above, but we might also provide feedback on whether a funding opportunity is appropriate for the project or suggest ways to better align it with the call for proposals. We can also help plan a proposal development timeline, identify all the steps in building the proposal, and ensure the proposal components meet the sponsor guidelines. PDS can also give guidance on navigating the IU proposal development, approval, and submission process.

Complex proposals such as training grants, multi-PI collaborations, and institutional proposals may require all of the above, plus help with project management (keeping track of who is supposed to do what when...and making sure they do), but also with the nitty gritty such as compiling institutional information, and assembling and reviewing documents. We can also serve as a liaison with personnel in participating units or institutions helping to prepare the proposal. In addition, we work with the grant consultants in the Office of Research Administration who will review and submit the proposal.

Working with PDS is a habit of successful faculty at IU. (Four of IUB's five 2016-17 Outstanding Junior Faculty are PDS clients.) Whether a project is complex or relatively straightforward, the PDS team members have the expertise needed to help faculty identify appropriate funding sources, align a project to the sponsor’s mission, and build a competitive proposal in a timely and organized manner. But you don’t have to take our word for it – you can read more about your colleagues’ experiences with PDS on our testimonials page. Whatever your proposal development needs, we encourage you to reach out to us at

PDS and the Office of Research Administration

While PDS focuses on the grantsmanship of a proposal to ensure it is reviewed as favorably as possible by the funding agency, the Office of Research Administration focuses on compliance with the agency’s proposal and submission guidelines (e.g., budget adds up and is allowable) to ensure that the proposal is accepted for review. They also conduct the upload of proposal files into sponsors’ systems, and much more.

We've created this handy resource outlining the PDS and ORA proposal services available to IU Bloomington faculty to get you started, but our teams are happy to consult with you and point you in the right direction when it's unclear where to get the help you desire!

Proposal Development Services offers grantsmanship and proposal management support to IU Bloomington faculty applying for external research funding. Learn more about our services on the OVPR website, or request to work with a PDS specialist at