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Administration of Externally Funded Research Procedures

Category Research
Type Procedure
Approved by Council, 11 May 2004
Date Procedure Took Effect 11 May 2004
Last Approved Revision 24 June 2019
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible Officer Director of Research
Review Date 24 June 2024

Purpose

To specify key procedures in the administration of externally funded research at the University of Otago.

These procedures support or supplement the information contained in the Administration of Externally Funded Research Policy, and are to be read in conjunction with that policy.

Organisational Scope

These procedures apply to:

  • University of Otago staff and students engaged in externally funded research
  • Non-University of Otago staff applying for external funding to be hosted by the University of Otago
  • University of Otago Research and Enterprise (R&E) staff and other professional staff engaged in the support of externally funded research.

Definitions

Agreement
A contractual document that is negotiated and usually signed between the University and other relevant parties including the external funder. This may be a research contract, an indicative agreement that is made at the time of application, a letter offering/confirming a funding award, or a letter offering funds for a non-exchange research purpose.
Costing and Consents Worksheet (CCW)
A document or on-line worksheet used to develop the budget and outline ethical and regulatory consents (including consultation with Māori) for a research project.
Exchange Research
Research that is funded or supported by a party external to the University of Otago in exchange for outputs and reporting obligations that are defined in an Agreement between the parties. It may involve confidentiality and restrictions upon publication, particularly if it is commercial research.
Funder
The party who is providing the funding for the research.
Lead Principal Investigator
The University of Otago employee (or prospective employee) who signs the CCW and/or who is the primary research contact in the application and the Agreement.
Non-Exchange Research
Research that is funded or supported by a party external to the University of Otago where an Agreement does not define expected outputs that must be produced in exchange for the funding provided. In some cases, there may also be no reporting obligations to the funder, and the research to be undertaken with the funding may not be defined.
Research
As defined by the Tertiary Education Commission for the purposes of the Performance Based Research Fund (September 2017), research is original, independent investigation undertaken to contribute to knowledge and understanding and, in the case of some disciplines, cultural innovation or aesthetic refinement.

Research may include:

  • Contributions to the intellectual underpinning of subjects and disciplines (for example, dictionaries and scholarly editions)
  • The use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new, or substantially improved, materials, devices, products, communications or processes
  • The synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it is new and creative.

Policy Content

1. Applications for Externally Funded Research

  1. Application forms and guidelines from various funding bodies are available from the R&E Office or directly from the funding body, either in hard copy or in electronic form on the website. If not immediately available, the R&E Office will try to obtain the appropriate forms.
  2. Up-to-date information about closing dates and other relevant information is provided fortnightly on the Research page of the University's web site and is circulated by email to all interested research staff at the University.
  3. An application or formal proposal for external research funding binds the University to fair and accurate representations of its research capacity and the ability of its employees to undertake lawful research investigations. The University discharges that duty by requiring employees to make a declaration within the Costing and Consents Worksheet (CCW).
  4. The CCW, and supporting documentation indicating how to provide the financial information required for a funding application, are available from the R&E Office website (as above). Please note that the CCW is an internal document only and is not to be forwarded to any external organisation.
  5. The Lead Principal Investigator is responsible for setting up the CCW. R&E staff will review the CCW once it is complete.
  6. Checklist for submitting applications for externally funded research:
    1. Copy of the application, signed by the applicant (normally the Lead Principal Investigator), and HoD, Dean or other authorised office holder of the University if requested by the funder;
    2. University of Otago CCW (including copies of ethical/regulatory approvals where applicable), signed by applicant, HoD, Dean or PVC (where appropriate) and relevant R&E staff member (as specified under Approval Delegations, below);
  7. Once the research funding application is compiled and ready for submission, the R&E Office will obtain the appropriate University of Otago authorisation and will submit the application to the funder on behalf of the applicant. Final submission will be in accordance with funding body and University requirements.

2. Costing

  1. All externally funded research must be fully costed, using the CCW, to define the true cost of undertaking the research, identify any profit margin that might be reasonable to be added for the provision of the research service, and minimise the need for cross subsidisation from other funding sources. Costing must be approved by the R&E Office before being quoted to the funder.
  2. Full costing will be based on the application of the University of Otago’s current costing methodology as determined by DVC R&E. An explanation of costing principles is available on the R&E website.
  3. Costing of time for dedicated research and professional staff time FTE will use up-to-date academic and professional staff salary or hourly-rate schedules, with provision for annual progression and cost-of-living adjustments, available through the R&E Office. The resourcing of professional staff support for externally funded research must comply with the principles and authorities outlined in the University’s Professional Staff Appointment Policy.
  4. The price offered to the funder will normally be the greater of the market value of the research activity or the full cost as calculated under (a) in order to maintain and protect the financial viability of the University. All applied price calculations must also adhere to the funder’s guidelines/ regulations/ terms of reference.
  5. Any negotiation around costing with the funder must be handled by the R&E Office.
  6. The full cost of research must be identified in the CCW, even in situations where the University decides not to recover the full cost of the research in setting its price.
  7. While full cost recovery is desirable, the University recognises the need for flexibility in applying costing principles to externally funded research so as to match the needs and circumstances of the various funders, the University’s strategic goals and the nature of the research.
  8. The undertaking of a research project at less than full cost should only occur after careful consideration of the factors involved.
  9. Examples of cases that may merit external funding at less than full cost are projects where the funder purchases specialised equipment that will remain the property of the University at the conclusion of the project, co-investment in projects that support the charitable purpose of the University, projects that directly support the teaching mission of the University, or projects that are pilot investigations for large fully-funded projects.
  10. Any, and all, costing and pricing documentation is internal to the University and must not be forwarded to the funder or any other party without permission from the DVC R&E or their delegated authority.
  11. The researcher must get approval for budgets from their HoD and the appropriate R&E Office staff prior to providing any costings to external parties (for example, funders and collaborators), with such approval being recorded on the CCW prior to the submission of the application.
  12. If necessary, the costing of research can be revised to reflect the value of the funding Agreement. Any adjustments must be made in negotiation with the Lead Principal Investigator and relevant HoD and the R&E Office.

3. Consenting

  1. As well as costing information, the CCW requires ethical and regulatory consents. The Lead Principal Investigator is responsible for obtaining these approvals.
  2. Once completed by the applicant, the CCW must be checked by the R&E Office and any changes negotiated with the applicant.
  3. If the CCW shows a difference between the calculated full cost of the research and the sum requested (price), authorisation is required from the HoD(s) and/or the relevant Dean(s) or PVC(s) (according to divisional delegation policies) to support the recommended waiver, and from the DVC R&E or their delegated authority to approve the waiver. This applies in all cases, including acceptance of funding from pre-approved organisations exempt from full cost recovery. If the shortfall is not a result of the organisation being one of the pre-approved organisations, a justification will be required.
  4. The final CCW must be signed or electronically approved by the applicant, the relevant departmental/divisional authority, the relevant Business Development Manager or Research Advisor, and the DVC R&E or delegated authority prior to submission of the application.

4. Approval Delegations

  1. For externally funded research, approval is required at both the costing and contracting stages.

    The two stages of approval are subject to different schedules of delegation, with costing delegations observing an established, devolved R&E practice, and contracting delegations abiding by the University’s Financial Delegations Procedure and Schedule of Financial Delegations.

  2. At the costing stage, approval occurs via signing or electronic approval of the CCW by the DVC R&E or their delegated authority on the recommendation of the relevant PVC or their delegated authority. (Within R&E, costing approval is delegated from the DVC R&E to the Director R&E, and from the Director R&E to the appropriate R&E Office staff member – who is normally the Business Development Manager or Research Advisor working with a Lead Principal Investigator on an Agreement under development.)
  3. At the contracting stage, approval occurs when an Agreement is signed on behalf of the University by the DVC R&E or their delegated authority, who is normally the Director R&E. This follows the stipulations of the University’s Financial Delegations Procedures and Schedule of Financial Delegations.

5. Contracting

  1. A funder will normally forward an Agreement to the University when a decision has been made to purchase research or provide funding for non-exchange research. A standard University of Otago contract [Agreement] form is available from the R&E Office, though a funder will usually prefer to use its own form.
  2. A standard form, which is available from the R&E Office, must be used when the University is the contractor (i.e. when the University engages a subcontractor to deliver on a research project (e.g. MBIE contracts)).
  3. Agreements should contain:
    1. Full contact details for all parties to the Agreement;
    2. Statements on the ownership of intellectual property and publication rights;
    3. A statement relating to thesis submission (especially if a student is involved);
    4. A statement of confidentiality;
    5. A statement of governing law;
    6. A statement allowing either party to withdraw from the Agreement under appropriate circumstances;
    7. A statement on liability and, if applicable, indemnity;
    8. The date for the submission of the final report.
    9. Instructions as to the reporting procedure to the funding body during the course of the Agreement;
    10. The name(s) of the Lead Principal Investigator(s) or director of the project as well as the name(s), if available, of others engaged in the research and the department to which each belongs;
    11. Details of the budget (including whether the funding is to be exclusive or inclusive of GST);
    12. Method of payment and payment schedule (including invoice dates, if appropriate, and any requirements for payment (e.g. submission of report(s), a Purchase Order number, and so on));
    13. A term (meaning a start date and end date for the Agreement).
  4. The final Agreement is signed by a representative of the funder and the DVC R&E or their delegated authority on behalf of the University.
  5. Due to the dynamic and changeable nature of research, alterations to the protocols, procedures, timelines, milestones, objectives, etc. contained in the original Agreement may sometimes be necessary. Some changes may require the University to notify the funder by letter and to enter into a revision of the Agreement. Any renegotiation of Agreements must be handled by the R&E Office.

6. Reporting

  1. Reporting requirements vary between funders, and researchers should familiarise themselves with the particular requirements of their Agreement. Reporting guidelines and/or templates are normally available directly from funders, and a selection of guidelines and templates is also available from the R&E Office.
  2. All reports required by the funder must be prepared by the Lead Principal Investigator in consultation with the appropriate R&E staff member and submitted to the R&E Office two weeks ahead of the due date stated in the Agreement, unless otherwise agreed.
  3. The R&E Office will submit the report to the funder by the due date stated in the Agreement, unless agreed otherwise with the funding body and Lead Principal Investigator.

7. Closing a Project

  1. An externally funded research project has not concluded until the University has fulfilled all of its obligations to the funder, including any final reports, as defined in the Agreement.
  2. The research project must be closed in accordance with the University of Otago Research Project Closing Procedure.
  3. A Project Closure Form must be completed by the Lead Principal Investigator and returned to R&E for processing.
  4. The Lead Principal Investigator should outline on the Project Closure Form the preferred destination of any unspent funds, and identify the relevant University account if they are to be retained.
  5. The destination of unspent funds is usually determined by the Agreement. In many cases an underspend needs to be returned to the funder. If the Agreement is silent on the destination of funds, the matter will need to be negotiated between R&E (acting on behalf of the University) and the funder.
  6. Any over-spends will need to be covered by the University and are the responsibility of the Cost Centre associated with the research project.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Administration of Externally Funded Research Policy

Allegations of Misconduct in Research Procedures

Conflicts of Interest Policy

Externally Sponsored Graduate Research Procedures

Financial Delegations Policy

Financial Delegations Procedure

Financial Monitoring and Control Policy

Intellectual Property Rights Policy

Intellectual Property Rights of Graduate Research Students Policy

Professional Staff Appointment Policy

Project Closure Form (PDF)

Records Management Policy

Research Consultation with Maori Policy

Responsible Practice in Research – Code of Conduct

Research Project Closing Procedure

Schedule of Financial Delegations

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the Senior Research and Policy Analyst, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise (david.geraghty@otago.ac.nz).

Please note: In June 2019 the “Externally Funded Research Policy and Application Procedures” was administratively amended into separate policy and procedure documents.