Practical tips and insights to help research administrators grow personally and professionally.

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Glossary of Commonly Used Terms in Research Administration

Allocable Costssearch for term

Those allowable costs that actually benefit the grant or contract to which they are being charged.

Allowable Costssearch for term

Those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, such as salaries and equipment. Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages, are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.

Bayh-Dole Actsearch for term

The Bayh-Dole Act addresses ownership of intellectual property resulting from federally sponsored research. The Act provides that a college or university may retain the patent rights to an invention that is conceived or first reduced to practice in the performance of a federally funded contract, grant, or cooperative agreement.

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)search for term

An announcement of a federal agency's general research interests that invites proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made.

CFDA; Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistancesearch for term

Lists and describes all 1,324 federal domestic assistance programs (grants, loans, fellowships, loan guarantees, insurance) administered by federal agencies. It is searchable by keyword or subject.

Clinical Trials Agreementsearch for term

Used when research involves testing the efficacy and safety of a new drug, device, or vaccine.

Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA)search for term

A Confidential Disclosure Agreement (also referred to as a Non-Disclosure Agreement) is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential materials or knowledge the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict from generalized use. In other words, it is a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement.

Conflict of Interestsearch for term

Conflict of Interest in a research setting refers to situations in which individuals may have the opportunity to influence the outcome of their research in ways that could lead to inappropriate personal gain or give improper advantage to their associates. Most institutions have policies that explicitly address the appropriate distribution of effort between obligations to the institution and involvement in other professional activities.

Contractsearch for term

A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals.

Cooperative Agreementsearch for term

An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation and/or anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award is made.

Copyrightsearch for term

A copyright is a form of protection provided for under the U.S. Constitution to the authors of an "original work of authorship" that is in a tangible form. An original work of authorship protected by U.S. Copyright law could include literary works, musical works, pantomimes, choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural work, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works. Copyright protection exists from the time the authored work is created in a fixed tangible form and the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work.

Cost Reimburseable Contract/Grantsearch for term

A contract/grant for which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount.

CRADAsearch for term

Acronym for Cooperative Research and Development Award.

CREATE Actsearch for term

On December 10, 2004, the President signed the Cooperative Research and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) Act, which acts as a safe harbor to protect collaborative research efforts. The CREATE Act removes obstacles to patentability of inventions arising from collaborative research and development.

CRISPsearch for term

Stands for Computer Retrieval of Information on Scientific Projects; Searchable database of biomedical research funded by the National Institutes Health.

Direct Costssearch for term

Clearly identifiable costs related to a specific project. General categories of direct costs include but are not limited to salaries and wages, fringe benefits, supplies, contractual services, travel, equipment, and computer use.

E.O. 12372search for term

E.O. 12372 is the "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." Under this order, states have the authority to determine which programs from the list published in the executive order they want submitted for state-level review. Therefore, certain programs for federal assistance may be subject to review at the state-level if a state so chooses.

Electronic Research Administration (ERA)search for term

Conducting research administration by utilizing electronic resources such as the internet, form templates, databases, and other electronic tools.

Encumbered Fundssearch for term

Funds that have been set aside for projected expenses pending actual expenditure of the funds.

Export Controlssearch for term

Export controls regulations are set forth through the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arm Regulations (ITAR). Most university research is exempt from export controls under the "fundamental research" exmeption, however, there are certain conditions under which the export of technology, which includes certain technological and scientific data, either is prohibited or requires a license.

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costssearch for term

Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored research project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. See also indirect costs.

FARsearch for term

Federal Acquisition Regulations; provide uniform policies and procedures for acquisition by all executive agencies.

FDP; Federal Demonstation Partnershipsearch for term

The Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) is a forum to foster productive research environments by improving, streamlining, and standardizing the management and administration of the research support system.

Federal Registersearch for term

A publication containing all proposed and final rules, including grant applications and grant program priorities for all U.S. departments and agencies.

FFATAsearch for term

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act; requires reporting of all subrecipient awards above $25,000.

Fixed Price Contract/Grantsearch for term

A contract/grant for which one party pays the other party a pre-determined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered.

Foreign Nationalsearch for term

A foreign national is a person who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Fringe Benefitssearch for term

Employee benefits paid by the employer, such as FICA, worker's compensation, withholding tax, insurance, etc.

Fundamental Researchsearch for term

Fundamental research is defined as "basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons."

Grantsearch for term

A type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. This funding mechanism is used when no substantial involvement is anticipated between the sponsor and the recipient during the performance of the project.

IACUCsearch for term

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Indirect Cost Ratesearch for term

The rate, expressed as a percentage of a base amount (MTDC), established by negotiation with the cognizant federal agency on the basis of the institution's projected costs for the year and distributed as prescribed in OMB Circular A-21. The indirect cost rate is charged on a set of direct costs known as an indirect cost base.

Indirect Costssearch for term

Costs related to expenses incurred in conducting or supporting research or other externally-funded activities but not directly attributable to9 a specific project. General categories of indirect costs include general administration (accounting, payroll, purchasing, etc.), sponsored project administration, plant operation and maintenance, library expenses, departmental administration expenses, depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment, and student administration and services. See also Facilities & Administration costs.

Intellectual Propertysearch for term

Intellectual property is an umbrella term for various legal entitlements which attach to certain types of information, ideas, or other intangibles in their expressed form. IP laws facilitate and encourage the pursuit and disclosure of innovation into the public domain for the common good, by granting authors and inventors exclusive rights to exploit their works and invention for a limited period.

Invention search for term

An invention is something that is new, did not exist before, and is not known to others who have the same ordinary skills in the art to which the invention pertains and is created by independent investigation and experiment.

IRBsearch for term

Institutional Review Board (for human subjects research)

Key Personnelsearch for term

The personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The terms usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.

Materials Transfer Agreementsearch for term

A Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) is used to transfer research tools or data to and from researchers, such as cell lines, animal models, drug compounds, data, software, and a host of other materials that are useful in conducting research.

Misconduct in Researchsearch for term

Significant misbehavior that improperly appropriates the intellectual property or contributions of others, that intentionally impedes the progress of research, or that risks corrupting the scientific record or compromising the integrity of scientific practices.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)search for term

All direct costs of research less equipment, subcontracts in excess of $25,000, tuition, patient care, capital expenditures, rental costs, scholarships & fellowships, and other items where necessary to avoid a serious inequity in the distribution of F&A costs.

NIHsearch for term

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Comprised of 27 semi-autonomous agencies, the NIH's mission is to expand scientific knowledge to improve public health. About 10% of the NIH budget pays for in-house, or intramural, research conducted by institute and center employees.

No-Cost Extensionsearch for term

An extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration date to allow the principal investigator to finish a project with no additional costs provided.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)search for term

A Non-Disclosure Agreement (also referred to as a Confidential Disclosure Agreement) is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential materials or knowledge the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict from generalized use. In other words, it is a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement.

Notice of Grant Award (NGA)search for term

The legally binding document that serves as a notification to the recipient and others that a grant or cooperative agreement has been made. This document contains or references the terms and conditions of the award and documents the obligation of funds.

NSFsearch for term

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950. NSF focuses on basic research at the frontier of knowledge and also funds equipment that is needed by scientists and engineers but is often too expensive for any one group or researcher to afford. NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences.

OMBsearch for term

Acronym for Office of Management and Budget

OMB Circular A-102search for term

Administrative requirements for state and local governments.

OMB Circular A-110search for term

This circular sets forth standards for the administration of grants to and agreements with institutions of higher education, hospitals, and other non-profit organizations.

OMB Circular A-122search for term

Costing guidelines for non-profit organizations.

OMB Circular A-133search for term

This circular establishes audit requirements and defines federal responsibilities for implementing and monitoring these requirements for institutions of higher education and other non-profit institutions receiving federal awards.

OMB Circular A-21; Cost Principles for Educational Institutionssearch for term

A circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other government agreements educational institutions.

OMB Circular A-87search for term

Costing guidelines for state and local governments.

Participant Support Costssearch for term

Refers to costs of transportation, per diem, stipends, and other related costs for participants or trainees(but not employees) in connection with federally-sponsored conferences, meetings, symposia, training activities, and workshops. Generally, indirect costs are not allowed on participant support costs.

Patentsearch for term

A patent may be granted for a new, useful, and non-obvious invention and gives the patent holder an exclusive right to commercially exploit the invention for a certain period of time (typically 20 years from the filing date of a patent application).

Pre-Proposalsearch for term

A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal. Sometimes referred to as a preliminary proposal.

Principal Investigator (PI)search for term

The individual responsible for the conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal.

Program Announcement (PA)search for term

Describes the existence of a research opportunity. It may describe new or expanded interest in a particular extramural program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in an extramural program.

Program Incomesearch for term

Gross income earned by the recipient that is directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the award. Program income includes, but is not limited to, income from fees for services performed, the use or rental of real or personal property acquired under federally-funded projects, the sale of commodities of items fabricated under an award, and interest on loans made with award funds.

Program/Project Officersearch for term

A sponsor's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract.

Proposalsearch for term

An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested. Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a principal investigator.

Purchase Ordersearch for term

A purchase order is a kind of agreement issued to enter into a legally binding commitment with an outside vendor for the acquisition of goods and services. Normally, a purchasing department is responsible for purchase orders, and for their negotiation or revision when necessary.

Real Propertysearch for term

Real property means land, including land improvements, structures, etc. but excludes moveable machinery and equipment.

Request for Applications (RFA)search for term

Announcements that indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a sponsor. Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in the award of a grant. Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific sponsor publications.

Request for Proposal (RFP)search for term

Announcements that specific a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered, and appropriate applicants sought. Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of a contract.

Request for Quotation (RFQ)search for term

A formal request from a sponsor to vendors for a price quotation on equipment or supplies to be purchased.

Research & Developmentsearch for term

Research & Development (R&D) means all research activities, both basic and applied, and all development activities that are supported at universities, colleges, and other non-profit institutions.

Scope of Worksearch for term

The description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project.

Senior Personnelsearch for term

Professional personnel who are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of a project.

Sponsorsearch for term

The organization that funds a research project.

Sponsored Research Agreementsearch for term

When a company funds university research, the terms are spelled out in a form of legal agreement called a Sponsored Research Agreement(SRA). The work should be entirely under the control of the university and not directed in any way by the sponsor.

Subaward / Subcontractsearch for term

A subaward or subcontract is an agreement that is written under the authority of, and consistent with, the terms and conditions of a prime award, and which authorizes a portion of the research to be performed by another organization.

Teaming Agreementsearch for term

An agreement between two or more parties to participate in a research project or teaching activity.

Technology Transfersearch for term

Technology transfer refers to the formal licensing of inventions, software, research tools, and other technologies developed within a university's research programs. The primary goal of technology transfer is to ensure that university's innovations are diligently developed into goods and services that are ultimately made available to the public.

Trade Secretsearch for term

A trade secret is non-public information concerning the commercial practices or proprietary knowledge of a business, public disclosure of which may sometimes be illegal.

Trademarksearch for term

A trademark is word, name, symbol, or device that is used in interstate trade with goods to indicate the source of goods or their physical commodities. Trademarks are used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but they do not prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the sames goods or services under a clearly different mark.

Unrestricted Fundssearch for term

Monies with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds.

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