Research & Economic Development

Office of the Vice Chancellor

White Paper Review Guide


Full proposal preparation and review are costly for both applicants and sponsors.  White papers provide researchers with a beneficial method for communicating an abbreviated (or brief) description of the concepts and can be used by sponsors to quickly identify potential projects of high interest.  The service is not required, but highly encouraged.

Sponsor-requested white papers often prescribe a set of elements to address for initial review, while unsolicited white papers can be reviewed internally against our internal review questions.  In either case, a white paper should communicate the research concept in light of the programmatic needs. If the idea is of interest, the sponsor will ask for more information or may suggest you submit a full proposal. Only if requested in a solicitation, should the applicant indicate their qualifications, prior experience, or available infrastructure; it is the idea and its alignment with the program that is most important to convey in a white paper.

White paper writeup and submission to UMKC-ORS Pre-Award allows for one to receive technical and/or non-technical feedback, whether to simply vet an idea, prior to unsolicited submission to a sponsor, or before formal submission as part of a broad agency announcement.

Elements that should be considered for most white papers include:

(1) a clear description of the programmatic need or problem to be solved;
(2) the objective of the proposed work and it’s connection to the programmatic need;
(3) the specific aims of the proposed work that will enable or meet the objective(s);

Additional elements for consideration may include:

(4) highlighting deficiencies in prior-art solutions, how your work builds from prior work, or how your concept overcomes the deficiencies in the prior-art;
(5) the risks and challenges associated with this proposed work;
(6) how and why the proposed work is innovative and new;
(7) how the proposed work advances the field and/or has impact beyond the field.

Instructions for Review Services

If you (the investigator) would like formal and quick (within 1-week) feedback from a technical or non-technical reviewer on campus, or, prior to submitting your white paper off to a program solicitation or unsolicited to a program officer, this service may be for you. The white paper should be less than three pages (preferably one page), including at least the essential elements listed above. NSF project summaries, and NIH specific aims papers, may also be submitted under this review process.

White paper submission and review instructions may be found here.

White Paper Examples

Based on your choice, the proposal will undergo either a non-technical or technical review, or both. The technical reviews are provided by three university faculty, while the non-technical reviews are provided by the pre-award office. In both cases, Pre-Award manages the reviews and will be your point of contact. Below is an example guide of questions the reviewers will use to evaluate your work.

Non-Technical White Paper Review Template (PDF)

Technical White Paper Review Template (PDF)