Research Grant Process and Administrative Activities
This diagram shows a simple representation of the process involved during the lifecycle of a typical research grant. The arrow represents time passing during the process:
This section represents the activities undertaken when preparing a research proposal in advance of the award of a research grant. The main activities include:
Writing the Research Proposal
The fundamental activity at this stage is for the researcher or research team to formulate the idea for the research and write the research proposal.
Application and Costing
In conjunction with writing the research proposal attention should be paid to the criteria for funding that is provided by the sponsor in their guidelines for the funding call. In addition, many research sponsors will dictate the format in which the research proposal should be presented and submitted. Another crucial activity that will influence the approach to and the content of the project proposal are the project costs and the price that the sponsor will pay for the University to undertake the research project (i.e. the value of the grant awarded). The University has adopted the UK TRAC approach to research costing. The University policy is that the full economic cost (fEC) of each research project must be determined in advance of a grant proposal/application being submitted to a research sponsor. The pFACT software tool enables project costs to be easily calculated on the basis of fEC. The Research Finance Office can provide advice and support in many aspects involved in grant application and project costing.
The University policy is that all research grant applications must be approved by the Head of School in advance of a grant application being submitted to a research sponsor. A record of approval is captured on the Research Grant Application Summary Form (RGAS).
It should be noted that there are many and varied methods, formats and media by which research grant applications have to be submitted to sponsors. These can range from paper copies to the use of on-line electronic systems such as J-eS. The Research Finance Office can provide advice on all submission processes.
The grant applicant will be informed of the outcome of a research grant application. It is important that the Research Finance Office is informed of the outcome of all grant applications whether successful or otherwise. This is important to maintain University records and to ensure appropriate financial management arrangements are established for new grants awarded.
Contract/Letter of Offer
It is important that appropriate legal arrangements are put in place for research projects. This is to ensure that the University’s position is protected and that risk is mitigated. The Research Finance Office acts as a point of contact for legal matters for research grants and in doing so liaises closely with legal expertise based in the University Knowledge Exploitation Unit and with the University solicitors.
Once a grant letter of offer is formally accepted or a contract is signed the research grant process moves into the post-award stage. The following activities are undertaken when managing the award:
On receipt of a research award all information provided by the sponsor regarding finance and administration should be forwarded to the Research Finance Office. The Research Support Officer will liaise with the Principal Investigator to ensure all the appropriate administrative arrangements are put in place to financially manage the research project.
In most instances the award value (or price) paid by the sponsor of the research project will not match the full economic cost to the University of undertaking the research project. As such, it is important that the Principal Investigator liaises closely with the Research Finance Office to determine and agree the budget for the research project.
For most research projects the research sponsor agrees to pay to the University the costs of the research project periodically in instalments and in arrears. This entails the University incurring costs on the research project and then preparing and submitting claims to the sponsor to recoup the debt due. These claims are prepared by the Research Finance Office. The frequency, timing and format of claims can vary greatly between different sponsors. The Research Finance Office will liaise closely with the project Principal Investigator when preparing claims to ensure that these tie up with progress, scientific and other reports provided by the research team to the research sponsor. Many sponsors will also require claims to be verified by independent auditors and the Research Finance Office will make the necessary arrangements.
Final Claim and Project Closure
It is common practice for a final audited claim to be prepared at the end of a research project. The Research Finance Office will make the necessary arrangements and will also work with the Principal Investigator to ensure that any balance remaining on the project is dealt with in line with University policy and the project accounts are closed as quickly as possible after completion of the project.
It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator on a research project to ensure that the project is managed in line with University and sponsor financial guidelines. The Research Finance Office can provide advice and assistance with the financial management of research projects.