External Research Grants and Contracts


October 1, 1992

Revision Date



Revision No.

External Research Grants and Contracts

1.0 Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to govern the administration of research performed using University facilities or resources, where such research requires external financial support.

2.0 Definitions

2.1 Research Contracts: Refers to funds that are assigned for research purposes through a legally enforceable agreement which may include conditions setting forth specific terms governing the conduct, direction and scheduling of the tasks to be performed; designating ownership of proprietary rights to the research results; laying out the financial regimen to be followed; and other restrictions required by the research sponsor.

2.2 Research Grants: Refers to funds that are awarded to the recipient to enable the performance of self-directed research, where there is no contractual obligation for performance.

2.3 Overhead (or Indirect Costs): Overhead refers to those costs which are real but not easily identifiable with a particular research project such as utilities; the provision of institutional facilities; space; accounting; payroll and personnel services; janitorial services; and provision for equipment replacement.

3.0 Applicability

3.1 The University will administer research grants and contracts only on behalf of faculty members whose term of appointment is expected to span the term of funding. 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.

3.2 This policy applies to research activities which involve use of Simon Fraser University facilities, resources, or services and is not intended to cover research performed under personal contract outside the University. (See A 30.04 - Outside Activities).

3.3 This policy does not apply to services sometimes performed in departments using available equipment to provide non-research services to outside agencies or companies.

3.4 The terms of this policy apply to research supported by external funds. Internally funded research is handled in a parallel manner but there are differences in the approval process and the status of research employees.

4.0 General

4.1 The University encourages application for external funding of research projects by grants or contracts.

4.2 All research performed by University employees, whether funded or not, must adhere to the guidelines set down by the University Research Ethics Review Committee, the Animal Care Committee, the Biosafety Committee and the Diving Control Board, as appropriate.

4.3 An investigator holding a research grant or contract shall not use such funds to employ or otherwise reimburse for services rendered, a member of his or her immediate family unless special permission is granted by the Vice-President, Research and, where necessary, the funding agency concerned. 

4.4 Where a member of faculty or staff is responsible for specifying or approving materials or services purchased from grant or contract accounts, he or she shall not derive any financial benefit either direct, or indirect, from the transaction.

4.5 Travel expenses incurred in performing grant or contract research will be paid at University rates or at the funding agency's rates, if those rates are required. Normally only economy or less expensive rates of airfare may be charged to a grant or contract.

4.6 Proposals for secret research will not be approved by the Vice-President, Research for administration by the University. Results of all research undertaken in the University shall be fully publishable at the discretion of the principal investigator, subject to the qualifications in 4.7.

4.7 A sponsor may be given the right under the terms of a formal contractual agreement to publish research results or approve such publication in advance. The following constraints must be recognized: 

    i.    the researcher shall be completely free to publish after a maximum of 12 months from termination of the project or submission of the final report,     whichever is later; and  

    ii.    no restriction shall unnecessarily prohibit or delay in any way the use of research results by graduate students for thesis or other academic     purposes.     Delays in publication at the request of a sponsor are permissible in exceptional cases in order to protect patentable material pending application, or where     immediate commercialization may be jeopardized. Such delays require approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies (see Graduate Studies General Regulations). 

4.8 If, under the terms of a contract, a sponsor agrees to provide data essential to the research which is designated by the sponsor as confidential, the University, the principal investigator, and all contract employees will observe such confidentiality provided that the results of the research may be published without identifiable reference to the confidential data.

5.0 Statement of Responsibilities

5.1 The Vice-President, Research is responsible for ensuring that applications for external funding conform with the requirements of the following University Policies or Committees:

University Research Ethics Review Committee R 20.01
Biosafety Committee R 20.02
Animal Care Committee R 20.03
Driving Control Board
Patent Policy R 30.01
Copyright Policy R 30.02
Intellectual Property Policy 30.01

Policy on Research Centres and Institutions R 40.01

5.2 Other University policies related to research but not administered by the Vice-President, Research are:

Directed and Foregone Payments AD 3-9
Employment of Personnel Funded from Research Grants and Contracts R 50.02
Determination of Employment Relationships AD 3-11

5.3 For all contracts from public and private sources and for grants from industry sources, approval of the Vice-President, Financial Services is required in order for the funds to be administered by the University. The Office of Research Services will provide Financial Services with a copy of the proposed agreement for Financial Services review prior to obtaining signature of the Vice-President, Research.

Note: Information on all the above policies referred to in 5.1 and 5.2 can be obtained from the Office of the Vice-President, Research.

5.4 The applicant for grants and contracts is responsible for providing the Office of the Vice-President, Research with a copy of his/her application and any subsequent award notification and accompanying materials.

5.5 The Office of the Vice-President, Research maintains an inventory of funded research projects in the University and provides regular reports on sources and amounts of research funding to the Board of Governors.

6.0 Approval Process

6.1 Every application for research funds from an external source must be signed (in the following order) by (i) the applicant(s), (ii) the Department Chair, (iii) the Dean of the Faculty, and (iv) the Vice-President, Research. Where the proposed research uses facilities which are part of a Research Centre or Institute, the Director of the Institute must also sign the application. Note that not all application forms provide places for all these signatures. In such cases, a brief memorandum attached to the application or proposal showing approval of those concerned will suffice.

6.2 The Vice-President, Research is responsible for negotiation of contracts between the University and sponsoring agencies. Once the work statement and budget have been established by the principal investigator, further negotiation should be carried on directly between the agency and the Vice-President, Research who will inform the principal investigator, seeking his/her advice where appropriate.

6.3 The Vice-President, Research is authorized to sign research contracts on behalf of the University. Research contracts must be between Simon Fraser University and the contracting agency and may not be written in the name of an individual, a Department, Institute, School or Faculty. The Vice-President, Research will not sign a research contract or industry source grant that is unacceptable on financial grounds to Financial Services.

6.4 In general, the signature of the Vice-President, Research indicates that the University will encourage the prosecution of the research to the extent that available facilities and resources permit, and that the University is prepared to administer funds received on behalf of the grantee.

6.5 The principal investigator is required to sign a grant or contract request or a final contract in order to indicate his/her acceptance and willingness to carry out the work within the established budget. Once an award is made, the principal investigator generally becomes the employer of personnel funded from the grant or contract in his/her capacity as the grant holder (see GP 12). Should the overall budget on a grant or contract be exceeded, it is the responsibility of the principal investigator to make arrangements for payment for the over-expenditure.

6.6 The signature of the Department Chair on a research grant or contract application or final contract acknowledges the availability in the department of facilities, space, and resources required to carry out the project and acknowledges the proposed time commitment by the principal investigator to the project.

6.7 The signature of the Dean of the Faculty indicates his/her approval regarding allocation of space or resources within the Faculty for performance of the research.

6.8 The approval of the Vice-President, Financial Services signifies that the payment arrangements and reporting requirements are appropriate. Appendix I contains the items reviewed by Financial Services in its review of research contracts from any source or research grants from industry.

7.0 Overhead Allowance

7.1 Every contract for research accepted by the University with a government agency must include an allowance for University overhead at the following rates where the sponsoring agency allows such a charge:

On campus work - 65% of salaries, benefits and honoraria

Off campus - 30% of salaries, benefits and honoraria

Travel and subsistence - 2%

Purchase of equipment and rental charges – nil

Off-campus consultant – nil

Computing charges (at 100% educational rates) – nil

Contracts with business and industry will normally carry an overhead rate of 100%.

7.2 In exceptional cases, the Vice-President, Research has the authority to negotiate with contracting agencies concerning the amount of overhead charged.

7.3 Division of overheads

With the exception of programs and contracts that have a university wide impact, all overheads realized from research contracts and agreements will be divided equally between the University general revenue and the initiating Faculty.

New projects that have a University wide impact, will be reviewed by the committee of Vice-Presidents to determine the disposition of overheads prior to their commencement.

8.0 Payment to principal investigators

8.1 Payments to faculty members from contract funds may be permitted at the discretion of the Department Chair and Dean of the Faculty concerned and are governed by AD 3-11. Policy AD 3-9, Directed and Foregone Payments for University Purposes, refers to policy and procedures concerning direction of payments to university research rather than personal income.


Questions of interpretation and application of this policy or its procedures shall be referred to the President, whose decision shall be final. (/ul)

Appendix l

Office of Financial Services Checklist for Contracts from All sources and Grants from Industry Sources

Identify Principal Investigator and funding source.

Identify term of contract/grant - start date and end date.

Review budget for:

·                     amount to be paid and supported by funding agency;

·                     accuracy of calculation;

·                     overhead;

·                     use of fund (line item restriction or bottom line budget control);

·                     GST implication;

·                     annual balance carry forward provision;

·                     payment to principal investigator;

·                     payment to sub-contractor;

·                     operating fund budget implication.

Review payment arrangements:

·                     installments;

·                     billing requirement;

·                     payment schedule (timing and frequency);

·                     other conditions such as whether payment is contingent on financial reports and/or progress reports.

Review reporting requirements:

·                     responsibility for reporting?

·                     timing and frequency of reporting;

·                     how much detail and how much work is involved? (efforts should be concentrated on reducing complex reporting: any requirement to submit copies                       of supporting invoices and vouchers should be strongly resisted).

Review audit requirements: how long are documents required to be kept after expiration of contract/grant?

Review responsibility of reporting on contribution-in-kind.

Evaluate financial risk factors:

·                     type of contract (e.g. sub-contract that may pose liability after termination of main contract);

·                     type of industry;

·                     financial stability (past history and current) of the company;

·                     past experience with the company or funding agency by SFU and other organizations.

Review termination clause:

·                     right to terminate contract;

·                     right to terminate with all incurred expenses paid.

Review possibility of limiting potential liability.

Review potential conflicts of interest.