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RCAF Guidelines and Forms

Title Description
RCAF/JFSRP Proposal Guidelines Download a word version of these guidelines
RCAF/JFSRP Grant Application Form Fill-in application form and acquire approval signatures
RCAF/JFSRP Reviewer Evaluation Form Fill-in first two lines and submit with proposal
Budget Form Fill-in budget on spreadsheet and give justifications
RCAF Powerpoint 2017 RCAF Powerpoint Presentation

Sample Proposal Fine Arts

Sample Proposal Science and Engineering

Sample Proposal Science and Engineering 2

Sample Proposal Liberal Arts

View samples of successful RCAF proposals

RCAF Proposal Guidelines


The purpose of the TCU Research and Creative Activities Fund (RCAF) is to provide financial support to enable full-time, tenure-track and tenured faculty members to engage in research or pursue artistry that will make a significant contribution to the individual’s discipline. The concepts of research and creative activity are viewed in a broad scope and the intent of the RCAF is to support meritorious projects from all divisions of the University.

The major goal of the program is to provide initial seed money that enables the investigator to:

  • Do the preliminary work that precedes proposal submission for extramural funding;
  • Sustain ongoing research for which external funding was sought but not received; or
  • Pursue research and creative activities for which external funding is limited.



RCAF Investigators must:

  1. Hold a full-time tenure track or instructor appointment to TCU; and
  2. Have filed a final report on all previously awarded RCAF grants (except for active award).

The grant period is June 1 through the following May 31.

Awards are limited to a maximum of $4,500 (not including faculty salaries for the Junior Faculty Summer Research Program). Funding requests for less than $500 are not encouraged as they are better funded from departmental resources and may not be competitive.

Only one proposal can be submitted by an individual in any given year.

Multiple proposals for the same project may receive only one award, regardless of the number of faculty involved.



Proposals are to be prepared according to the guidelines. One pdf file containing the complete submission should be submitted electronically to Laurie Heidemann at in the Office of Sponsored Programs by the deadline specified in the call for proposals. Note: If you cannot create a PDF file, contact Laurie Heidemann for assistance at least two days before the submission deadline.

PDF document includes these items in this order:

  • RCAF Grant Application Form—this serves as the cover sheet and includes appropriate chair and dean approvals
  • Reviewer Evaluation Form—fill out with name, department and project title and include in proposal
  • Project Narrative—prepared according to guidelines and no more than 10 pages
  • Budget Form—includes spreadsheet and justifications
  • Appendices

Proposals must be reviewed and approved by chair and dean of applicant’s unit before submission.

Applicants should be sure to address each section of the narrative completely and concisely.

Reviewers are instructed to score a missing section with 0 points.

Proposals are reviewed by colleagues from a variety of disciplines. You must present the details and importance of the research and artistic activity in language that will be clear to a well-educated individual outside your field of specialization. Remember that reviewers may be from any college in the University and may not understand jargon-laden terminology specific to your area of specialization.

Consult the Reviewer Evaluation Form for more detailed guidance on the section contents and how they will be scored.



The project narrative is completed using the sections described below. See the Reviewer Evaluation Form for more detailed information about expectations and point distribution for project assessment. Project narrative (not counting appendices, and budget form) should not exceed 10 pages.


Abstract (200 words)

Provide a summary statement that covers 1) the main point of the project; 2) the problem you intend to solve or question you intend to answer; 3) relevant background; 4) expected methodologies; and 5) intended contributions to the discipline.


Purpose/Goal of Project

In a brief opening paragraph, clearly state the purpose and goals of your project—what do you intend to accomplish and/ produce from this work?


Background, Significance and References

1) Provide an adequate review of pertinent previous work or literature to define how your project fits into the current state of research, knowledge or artistry.

2) Explain why the project is needed. For example, does your project demonstrate a novel approach or new techniques, explores previously unknown source material, fill a major gap in the knowledge base of your discipline, and/or make substantive contributions to or advance the field of study or area of artistry?

3) Provide references/bibliography using a format appropriate for your discipline. Include a list of all references cited in the application and any additional key sources that have informed your main argument.



What means, procedures, techniques will you use to accomplish your goals (e.g. experimental method, archival data collection, interpretive reading, interviews, surveys, comparative method etc.)? For whatever method you employ, justify your method and explain in detail how you will conduct your investigation or creative activity. Explain how the proposed approach is expected to lead to the achievement of your project goals and what you expect will result from the work. Important: If your work involves animals or human subjects, you must address the ethical and regulatory issues related to your project and whether or not you have obtained IRB and/or IACUC approval. No funds will be distributed without relevant IRB and/or IACUC approval.


Professional Development

Describe how this project will contribute to your scholarship and/or artistic development. For example, the project will:

  • Enable you to competitively seek external funding to support future work;
  • Lead to a publication, exhibition, presentation, performance and/or other appropriate scholarly product or creation; and/or
  • Produce specific professional outcomes that are beneficial to your scholarship and/or creative activity.


Record of Scholarly/Artistic Activities

1) Provide a record of your scholarly activities (publications, presentations, performances, exhibitions, external funding) for the previous three to five years. Reviewers expect to see a history of active engagement in artistry, scholarship and/or evidence that experience sufficient for accomplishing this project, whether as a continuation of your current line of inquiry or as a new line of inquiry (this should tie back to your Professional Development section).

2) If you have had prior RCAF/JFSRP support in the past five years, briefly describe the project/s. Does the proposal you are currently submitting tie into earlier support or is it independent of previously supported RCAF/JFSRP projects? If so, how? (NOTE: If you have not had any prior RCAF/JFSRP support, please also state that. It will not count against you in the scoring.)


Budget and Budget Justification

Your budget should be clearly described. Each area of expenditure should be described. If pricing seems out of the ordinary, please explain. Each area of expenditure should clearly relate to the proposed activities and be clearly necessary to those activities. The overall cost of the project should be reasonable. This information goes into the Budget Form, which includes the Budget Spreadsheet and Justification.


Appendices (Optional)

You may provide up to three appendices of pertinent supporting materials. These materials should clarify important aspects of the work, but not duplicate the narrative. They should not be used to circumvent length restrictions on the proposal. Examples of appendices would be such things as survey instruments, letters of collaboration from co-investigators, copies of catalog pages or vendor bids for high-cost items in your budget, and the like.




  • Expenditures must be justified in no more than 250 words.
  • When possible, include cost estimates from intended vendors, especially for high-cost items.
  • Requests for equipment (including computers) must be documented and include:
    • An explanation of why the equipment is vital to the proposed project;
    • Why equipment available on campus is not sufficient to meet the needs of the project; and
    • A plan for disposition of the equipment at the end of the project.
  • Requests for publication costs must be documented and include:
    • a letter from a publisher and a justification for associated publication costs as it pertains to research, or
    • documentation of author fees assessed by an open-access journal.
  • Funds will not be provided for:
    • Travel that is not directly related to the conduct of the proposed research or creative activity, for example, travel to attend a conference;
    • Completion or publication of dissertations;
    • Faculty salaries (Except pre-tenure, tenure-track faculty salaries for the Junior Faculty Summer Research Program); and
    • Support of graduate students who are already receiving fellowships or assistantships.




It is the ultimate responsibility of the principal investigator on each project to assure that available grant resources are used judiciously to accomplish the objectives specified in the proposal and that expenditures remain within the approved budget.

Funds approved for one purpose may not be used for another purpose without prior approval of the Director of Sponsored Programs.

The Office of Sponsored Programs must be notified if whole or partial support is received from other sources for approved budget items.

Grant recipients are required to submit a one-page final project report to the Office of Sponsored Programs by August 31st after the grant period has ended. The report should describe in detail the progress made and the relevance of the project. The report should also include a listing of any publications, presentations or proposals to external funding agencies that were an outgrowth of the project. The status of submitted proposal(s) should also be included.

Funds not spent before the termination of the grant period revert to the RCAF account. However, purchase orders executed just prior to the end of the grant period will be honored even though requested items may be not be received until after expiration of the grant. Investigators are encouraged to make purchases early in the grant period to avoid this situation.

Manuscripts submitted for publication, performances and/or exhibitions, etc., resulting from a project supported wholly or in part by the TCU/RCAF should include acknowledgement of that support. This statement is suggested: “This work was supported in part by a grant from the TCU Research and Creative Activities Fund.”