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FAQs - SigSheet
The FCAT Dean's Office has developed the following checklist tool to help researchers complete the SFU SigSheet:
What is the SFU Signature Sheet and who signs it?
The SFU Research Funding Application Signature Sheet (“Signature Sheet” or “Sig Sheet”) is an internal document required by the University with all research grant applications and contracts. It provides details about your funding application, which helps not just with project set-ups, but also with resource planning and ensuring compliance for your team, Department/School/Program and the university. It is your responsibility as the Principal Investigator (PI) to submit all SFU Signature Sheets to Research Services by the SFU Internal deadline date.
A fully signed Signature Sheet includes following:
- Essential information for accepting awards (title; name, faculty and department/school/program of applicant(s); budget – direct and indirect costs – and currency; use of additional resources, the Data Hub, 4D Labs or other resources at the university; ethics, biohazards, animal care and/or controlled goods, information or technology considerations; identification of international collaborations; other).
- Acknowledgement of activities and resources within project by Department/School/Program and Faculty.
- Open project file and streamline account setup
- Reminder of compliance requirements
Some sponsors require a cover page or document signed by an “institutional representative” to support your application. It is a good practice to let Research Services know that an institutional signature is required for your application when you are submitting the Signature Sheet. Research Services cannot provide institutional signature for applications that are not supported by a Signature Sheet.
Please consult FCAT’s separate FAQs regarding the Signature Sheet. Please contact Research Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions not answered here.
Who needs to sign the SFU Signature Sheet?
The SFU Signature Sheet is signed, in the following order, by the:
- Applicant. The PI or applicant is required to sign in order to indicate his/her/their acceptance and willingness to carry out the work within the established budget if the application is successful.
- Department Chair or Program/School Director. The signature of the Department Chair acknowledges the availability of facilities, space, and other resources required to carry out the project, including specified incremental resources, and acknowledges the proposed time commitment by the PI to the project. If you do not have a Chair or Director, only a Dean/Associate Dean, Research signature is required (see 3)
- Faculty Dean/Associate Dean, Research. The signature of the Faculty Dean or designate (almost always: Associate Dean, Research) indicates his/her/their approval regarding allocation of space and/or other resources, including specified incremental resources, for the project, within the Faculty.
- A delegate for the Vice President, Research (VPR). The signature of VPR, or delegate indicates that the university is prepared to administer funds received for the project, on behalf of the PI. Specific terms may be subject to negotiation and final approval. Please note that you do not need to contact VPR for signature. Please submit a fully signed Signature Sheet to Research Services (email@example.com) and they will secure the right signature for your application.
- Director of Research Centre or Institute. Where your proposed research uses facilities that are part of a Research Centre or Institute (e.g., Child and Family Research Institute), the Director of the Institute also needs to sign this form, analogously with the Department Chair's, School/Program Director’s and Faculty Dean's approval.
Please note that the Dean, Associate Dean, Research, Director or Chair should secure a Signature Sheet from a superior if they submit an application as a PI.
What if I am not a continuing faculty member, such as a lecturer, post-doctoral fellow or an adjunct faculty member?
As indicated on the Office of Research Services webpage "Eligibility to Hold Research Grants", "under the terms of SFU Policy R 10.01, External Research Grants and Contracts, the University will generally administer research grants and contracts only on behalf of faculty members.
However, in some cases research grants may also be applied for and held by certain categories of non faculty members. For example, in some cases, members of non-academic staff who have been given permission by their supervisor and by the appropriate Vice-President to do research may be permitted to hold external research funds in their own name.
Adjunct Professors appointed under Policy A 12.08, Postdoctoral Fellows appointed under Policy R 50.03, or University Research Associates appointed under Policy R 50.01 may apply for and hold research grants administered by the University on condition that: (i) That their terms of appointment at the time of application span the period of funding; (ii) that they agree to abide by all University Policies and Procedures related to research administration; and (iii) that they will not be paid from the grant on which they intend to be a principal or co-investigator.
Adjunct Professors, Postdoctoral Fellows, and University Research Associates who intend to apply for research grants must sign a statement on the printable PDF form.
I am not the lead PI. Do I need to submit a separate Signature Sheet?
Yes, if your portion of the research project is receiving funds, you need to submit a Signature Sheet for your portion of the budget noting your role (e.g., Co-applicant, Knowledge User, other) and naming the lead PI.
- An SFU Co-PI or Co-applicant from the same department/school/program should sign the same Signature Sheet as the PI.
- An SFU Co-PI or Co-applicant from different departments/schools/programs and/or Faculties at SFU are required to complete and obtain signatures from their Department Chair or School/Program Director and Faculty Dean/Associate Dean, Research on a separate Signature Sheet for their budget portion to indicate his/her/their acceptance and willingness to carry out the work within the established budget if the application is successful. The approval by the Chair, Director and the Dean/Associate Dean, Research (for both lead and co-investigators) acknowledges the availability of facilities, space and other resources. The sheet, therefore, is not only relevant to Research Services (for application and documentation purposes), but also to keep heads of individual academic units and Faculties aware of research activities.
- An SFU faculty member who is a Co-PI or Co-applicant on a non-SFU application should complete an SFU Signature Sheet for the same reasons as above. In addition, if the non-SFU PI intends to share project funds with you, you will have already submitted the necessary paperwork to Research Services, so there will be no delay in transferring funds to SFU and open an SFU account when the funds arrive.
Does my SFU Signature Sheet require original signatures?
No. Research Services does not require original, “wet” signatures on the SFU Signature Sheet. The SigSheet can be scanned and emailed to Research Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) with electronic signatures.
How and when should I include an Investigator Fee into my proposal and SigSheet?
In some cases, the funding sponsor allows payment to investigators in recognition of their time, effort and expertise. The amount of such a payment, often referred to as an investigator fee, will be established at the proposal stage, must be indicated on the SFU Funding Application Signature Sheet and have the approval of the Chair and Dean. Payment to faculty investigators on research contracts for which the sponsor has agreed to provide such payments are released at the conclusion of the contract once complete payment for the work has been received by the university.
- Since overhead is calculated on all direct costs of the project, investigator fees must be included in calculating the total overhead.
- Payment to faculty investigators on research contracts are released at the conclusion of the contract once the University has received complete payment from the sponsor. In some cases, such payments may be released during the course of the contract if the duration of work is greater than twelve months. Such arrangements should be discussed with the Manager of Research Accounting after the project account is set up.
- Investigator fees are paid under the provisions of Section 3.0 Payment to Employees in SFU Independent Contractor Policy AD 3.11. In order to initiate payment following project completion, the investigator should submit a completed Additional Pay Authorization Form (See "Payroll", then choose the form that corresponds with the individual's union or position at SFU.) to Research Accounting, signed by the Dean and Chair (or Associate Dean where there is no Chair or if the investigator is the Chair). The one-time payment or bi-weekly payment should be adjusted to account for approximately additional 8% statutory costs such as CPP and EI. Research Accounting will review the documentation and forward it to Payroll for processing.
What is "Overhead" on the SigSheet?
Overhead (indirect costs) refers to those costs which are real but not easily identifiable with a particular research project. They include such items as building space and utilities, the provision of institutional facilities, space, accounting, payroll and personnel services, janitorial services, provision for equipment replacement, legal and administrative services. For more information, please visit the ORS webpage “Indirect Costs (Overhead)”.
The maximum amount that research grant applicants must allocate for overhead for grants from government and not-for-profit organizations or on matching funds on Tri-Agency grants are 25% on total direct costs unless externally limited or increased by the sponsor’s published policy. For most Tri-Agency Grants, i.e., the three major government funding bodies that provide funding for scholarly research in Canada (SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR), applicants generally should not include overhead in their research budget. Instead, SFU receives an annual grant from the Research Support Fund for indirect costs of research based on the average level of funding received over the previous three years from Canada’s National Granting Councils and Networks of Centres of Excellence. There are certain exceptions that apply in situations where the guidelines of a specific granting program allow for indirect costs to be included in the budget, such as the New Frontiers in Research Fund, administered by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat.
For research funded by other sources, including research or contract agreements, SFU does seek to recover indirect costs; details are available from SFU’s Office of Research Services (ORS). Frequently asked questions about indirect costs are addressed on the ORS webpage “Indirect Costs (Overhead)”.
What is "Location of Research" on the SFU SigSheet?
If your research is conducted wholly or in part using the facilities of one of the following BC agencies or institutes, please circle the acronym of that agency on your Signature Sheet.
- BC Cancer Agency (BCCA)
- Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare (OHSAH)
- Child and Family Research Institute (CFRI)
- Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI)
- Providence Health Care Research Institute (PHCRI)
What are "Special Requirements" on the SFU Signature Sheet?
The Special Requirements box on the SFU Signature Sheet is information needed for approval of proposals. Many research projects, once awarded, will entail special requirements for the university. These requirements should be anticipated when the proposal is being developed, and the PI must request to the appropriate institutional authority (Dept/School/Program/Faculty/VPR and/or other) and specify whether incremental resources are going to be required for the project. Incremental resources include:
- Teaching release time (replacement costs to be indicated in the budget section)
- Space over and above what is currently allocated
- Equipment, services, facilities, or other resources to be provided by SFU
When the extension of an existing project involves incremental resources, a new Signature Sheet is required.
The Special Requirements box may not be left blank. If no incremental resources or special requirements are anticipated, the word “none” should be typed in the box. It is very important to be aware that institutional approval for the application may be withdrawn if it is later determined that SFU cannot provide incremental resources that are required to carry out the work.
Is it necessary to provide an SFU Signature Sheet for Partner Contributions to proposed research projects?
The SFU VP Research and International (VPRI) Office has developed a standard practice of supporting major partnership grant proposals that require cost-sharing between partners and funders with host institution cash and/or in-kind contributions (e.g., SSHRC Partnership Development, SSHRC Partnership Grants, NSERC Alliance Grants, NSERC CREATE, other). In such cases, Signature Sheets are required at the LOI (Stage 2) and/or Full Application (Stage 2) to confirm host institution contributions.
In addition, when partner organizations confirm cash and/or in-kind contributions, these contributions must be included on a separate SigSheet with relevant overhead amounts indicated (generally, 25% unless provided otherwise in the sponsor’s guidelines).