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Limited Competitions

What is a Limited Competion? 

A number of sponsors, both private and federal, restrict the number of individuals or applications that may be submitted by an institution. The Office of Proposal Development handles the entire limited competition process for the University by disseminating information about the funding opportunity, determining whether or not an internal competition will be necessary, and managing the pre-application and review process. Candidates for limited submission programs are chosen based on the results of an internal faculty review panel.

How are Limited Competitions announced? 

Announcements are made by the OPD_OVPR email to Chairs, Deans and Center Directors for onward transmission to their respective faculty.  You can also join our  OPD Google Group  to receive all OPD messages directly.  

What is the difference between a Canvass and a Limited Competition? 

For some limited submission programs, OPD will 'canvass' the campus community to determine the level of interest in the funding opportunity. To express your interest for an opportunity announced in a canvass, simply reply to the email that you would like to submit a proposal for that competition. If the number of interested applicants exceeds the sponsor limit, OPD will coordinate a limited competition to select an institutional winner to move forward with their submission to the sponsor.  When a limited competition is necessary, OPD will send an updated announcement with specific instructions to submit a pre-application for internal review.  In some cases, OPD will skip the canvass step and announce a limited competition as soon as the solicitation is released. This most often occurs for annual competitions that are known to have more interested applicants than the institutional limit. 

What is the Limited Competition Process? 

When the campus interest in a limited submission program exceeds the sponsor limit, OPD immediately begins organizing an internal competition. Potential applicants will be asked to submit a pre-proposal outlining the concept, budget, and other factors (matching funds, participating institutions, etc.) in support of their application. Pre-proposal instructions will depend on the solicitation, and will be clearly outlined in the limited competition announcement email.

Pre-applications are sent to a review panel, which is typically made up of senior SBU faculty members with accomplished research records in fields related to the solicitation. The reviewers send their scores back to OPD, and our office analyzes the responses to choose the strongest proposal to move forward. 

OPD may allow an interested participant to move forward without the full internal review process on a first come first serve basis. This policy comes into effect in rare cases, such as when the sponsor’s deadline is too short to allow for an internal competition or if there are fewer groups interested in the opportunity than submissions allowed.

If a PI applies to a limited submission program without first notifying OPD, the University reserves the right to withdraw the unauthorized proposal. In cases where the University is asked to nominate candidates for an award or fellowship, the Vice President’s Office will contact appropriate department chairs with a request to submit a dossier on behalf of qualified faculty for consideration as institutional nominees.

What if the Limited Submission Program requies a Letter of Intent? 

LOIs, concept papers, and any other pre-application materials prepared for limited submission programs are subject to the limited competition policy outlined above. All of the procedures remain the same, regardless of the complexity of the sponsor’s application guidelines, and the PI must have OPD’s approval to move forward with the LOI submission. As such, if the number of interested applicants exceeds the sponsor limit for any type of submission (including LOIs, concept papers, and full proposals), OPD will organize an internal competition to choose an institutional winner to move forward. Similarly, the limited competition policy exceptions apply in all cases. For example, if the sponsor’s LOI submission deadline is too short to allow for an internal competition, then OPD may allow an interested participant to submit an LOI without the full internal review process on a first come first serve basis. 

What are some examples of annual Limited Competitions? 

Examples include NSF's Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program, the Searle Scholars Program, and the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. For the entire list, please click   here .

What is the difference between OPD and OSP?  How do the offices work together to handle Limited Competitions?

The Office of Proposal Development (OPD) provides assistance with all of the administrative components of your proposal and offers development support throughout the entire application process. While our staff may be involved through the submission deadline, OPD does not submit proposals on behalf of the University.  The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is responsible for the final review and approval of all proposals and officially submits them to the sponsor. OSP, in conjunction with the Office of Grants Management (OGM) also handles the post-award administration and can assist with questions that may come up if your proposal is funded.

For limited competitions, OPD manages the entire process up to and including the announcement of the internal winner. If a faculty member goes directly to OSP with a potential submission to a limited competition program, OSP will confirm that OPD has given that researcher approval to move forward.

What should I do if I become aware of a program which limits the institutional nominations or applications? 

Please contact the Office of Proposal Development at 631-632-2314 or