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Category Research
Type Policy
Approved by Council, 11 May 2004
Date Policy Took Effect 11 May 2004
Last approved revision 24 June 2019
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Director of Research


The purpose of this policy is to set out the requirements for the administration of externally funded research at the University of Otago. This policy covers:

  • General principles
  • Applications for externally funded research
  • Exchange research
  • Non-exchange research
  • Contracting and execution of Agreements
  • Contractual obligations.

This policy is supported and supplemented by information contained in the separate Administration of Externally Funded Research Procedures.

Organisational scope

This policy applies 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.


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.
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.
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.


1. Applications for Externally Funded Research

  1. An application 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.
  2. To submit a research funding application which makes any named reference to the University of Otago, researchers must have in place a formal relationship with the University. Aside from an employment contract, eligible relationships include honorary and joint clinical appointments and prospective employees who have approval of the relevant Head of Department (HoD) and appropriate Dean or Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) to submit an application.
  3. Where a budget is required for an application or formal proposal, it must be prepared in accordance with the costing and consenting process and approval delegations that are outlined in the Administration of Externally Funded Research Procedures.
  4. All applications and formal proposals for externally funded research must be submitted to the appropriate R&E staff member by the advertised internal deadline. The R&E Office will submit the application to the funder on behalf of the University.

2. Exchange Research

  1. In accordance with the University of Otago Financial Delegations Procedure, Agreements for exchange research involving the University, its facilities or staff must be executed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise (DVC R&E) or their delegated authority.
  2. Ownership of the intellectual property associated with exchange research will be stipulated in the terms of each Agreement.
  3. The R&E Office will undertake all assessment and negotiation of Exchange Research Agreements on behalf of the University of Otago in consultation with the researcher(s) involved. All Agreements will be reviewed to:
    1. Ensure that the initiatives complement teaching and are consistent with the University's vision, mission and strategic direction;
    2. Ensure that staff and students are protected from exploitation;
    3. Ensure that students can submit their theses;
    4. Ensure that the contract is legally valid and is in alignment with applicable legislative requirements;
    5. Ensure that the right to publish has been considered and addressed to the satisfaction of all parties;
    6. Ensure that risk assessment has been appropriately undertaken; and,
    7. Ensure that the research meets appropriate ethical standards and any other regulatory requirements.
  4. The University retains the right to refuse contracts for exchange research that are incompatible with its vision, mission, statutory obligations and/or strategic objectives.

3. Non-Exchange Research

  1. Ownership of results, outputs and intellectual property associated with non-exchange research will always remain with the University.
  2. In some cases, non-exchange research funds do not have associated Agreements. However, funding must be accompanied by a letter of award or equivalent in all cases.
  3. The R&E Office will undertake assessment of the documentation associated with all non-exchange research.
  4. The University retains the right to refuse non-exchange research that is incompatible with its vision, mission, statutory obligations and/or strategic objectives.

4. Contracting and Execution of Agreements

  1. All Agreements (including non-exchange Agreements) involving the University of Otago are between the funder and the University of Otago. At times there may be other parties involved. Employees of the University are not usually a party to any Agreement unless they have permission in writing from the DVC R&E or the Vice-Chancellor, or where the Agreement is a three-party Agreement involving the funder, the University and the staff member or student (researcher).
  2. The R&E Office is the primary point of contact for communications with funders relating to contractual matters. Although researchers are likely to communicate independently with funders on a variety of subjects, any communications relating to contractual matters must go through the R&E Office.
  3. An Agreement is normally forwarded to the University by the funder when a decision has been made to purchase research or provide funding for non-exchange research. If a researcher (staff member or student) receives an Agreement directly, they are required to pass it onto the R&E Office in a timely manner.
  4. The Agreement is read, reviewed and negotiated by the R&E Office in consultation with the Lead Principal Investigator and/or other researcher(s) as appropriate.
  5. 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. Contractual Obligations

  1. The University of Otago (not individual staff) is the binding signatory on all Agreements and, as such, is required to ensure that any report(s) or product(s) are delivered in accordance with the Agreement.
  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. The R&E Office, where appropriate, will submit the report to the funder.
  3. The named Lead Principal Investigator is responsible for ensuring that the research is undertaken in accordance with all ethical and regulatory requirements, University of Otago policies and procedures, the budget determined in the application and the contractual obligations of the Agreement. If the terms of the Agreement are breached – for any reason – the Lead Principal Investigator must immediately notify the R&E Office. Where the Lead Principal Investigator is unable to fulfil these responsibilities, their HoD will notify R&E of a suitably qualified alternate to ensure the University's obligations are met.
  4. 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. Any changes to Agreements must be notified to the R&E Office by the Lead Principal Investigator (or their HoD) and negotiated with the funder by the R&E Office before execution by the DVC R&E or their delegated authority.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

David Geraghty
Senior Research and Policy Analyst,
Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise

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

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