Skip to content

Research Contracts and Fund Administration Procedure

Effective Date: February 15, 2013
Downloadable Version: PDF ICON Research Contracts and Fund Adminstration Procedure
  This document is available in alternate format on request.


This procedure specifies the terms and conditions by which research contracts will be reviewed and approved and how associated funds will be administered at Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.


Direct Cost: a cost that is easily and accurately identified in research proposals or contracts. Examples of direct costs include, but are not limited to, wages and benefits of research personnel, materials, supplies, travel, equipment, and rental of space.[i]

Indirect Cost: a cost in a research project that cannot be easily identified and charged to a particular research project but which is incurred by the college and allows research projects to take place. Indirect costs can include such financial considerations as: depreciation of building and equipment, maintenance (including utilities, waste disposal, and security), insurance, financial administration (including purchasing and accounting), and libraries.[ii]

Principal Applicant or Principal Investigator: an individual who is responsible for preparing and submitting the contract and who will be in charge of the execution of the research project. This will also be the individual responsible for the management of the project and budget in compliance with sponsor agency guidelines, and Humber policies.

Co-applicant or Co-Investigator: is a member of the research team whose skills and/or education is essential to carrying out some part of the proposed project, for example data analyses. A Humber employee who will be involved should be included as a Co-applicant if they meet the definition of the granting agency or sponsor. The co-applicant will be normally be involved in the development of some sections of the proposal, but not responsible for its completion or submission.

Faculty Lead: is a co-applicant whose participation is essential to the performance of the research activities supported by the contract or grant. The Faculty Lead will normally be a Humber employee with essential training and experience to develop the methodology and lead the research activities. There will typically be one or more Faculty Leads for institutional grants, where the Principal Applicant is required to be an administrative staff member. Refer also to section 2.2 below for more details on Faculty Lead responsibilities.

Research Contract: refers to an agreement to perform research or research-related activities for a sponsor under specified conditions in exchange for payment of direct and indirect costs. Normally, the idea for the project is generated by the sponsor, and they require that certain guidelines be followed with regards to the direction of the research and/or to the use or publication of research results. In addition, sponsors usually want to retain control of some or all of the Intellectual Property generated from a project. Sponsors of research may include private companies, federal government departments (e.g., Human Resources Development Canada) or federal funding agencies (e.g., Canada Foundation for Innovation), and provincial government ministries (e.g., Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities), provincial funding agencies (e.g. Regional Innovation Centers such as MaRS)[iii] or industry partners, be they for profit or not-for profit.

Research Grant: a fund provided in aid of the independent research activities of a faculty or staff member. Normally, grant recipients are expected to use the funds as outlined in the grant proposal and to contribute the results from the research to the public domain without undue delay. The research methodology is usually developed by the Principal Applicant and co-applicants, not under the direction or in collaboration with the granting agency. Grant agencies will not typically make any claim to Intellectual Property generated from projects they fund. Grant programs may be offered by federal or provincial agencies (e.g., Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board), non-profit organizations, or foundations (e.g., Ford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation).[iv]

Sponsor: An individual, company, institution or organization which takes responsibility for the initiation, management, and/or financing of a research project.


[i] Adapted from University of Toronto’s Policy on Research Contracts and the Recovery of Indirect Costs of Research.

[ii] Adapted from University of Toronto’s Policy on Research Contracts and the Recovery of Indirect Costs of Research.

[iii] Adapted from University of Ottawa’s policy on Grants and Contracts Administered by the University.

[iv] Adapted from University of Ottawa’s policy on Grants and Contracts Administered by the University.



1. Proposal and Contract Review

1.1 General

Any Humber staff member who wishes the College to enter into a research contract with  another organization will provide the necessary documents for internal review and  approval as outlined in sections 1.2 and 1.4 below. This review will provide the  opportunity to identify: acceptable use of Humber services and resources, compliance  with other relevant Humber policies (such as intellectual property policy), and any  liability associated with the proposed contract.

1.2 Research Contract Documentation

1.2.1 Any Humber employee who wishes to collaborate on a research contract, with or without funding, from a sponsoring organization, should contact the Humber Research Office as early as possible to ensure the proper administrative steps are followed.
1.2.2 Employees must provide evidence that their supervisor (Dean or Director) is aware of and supports the project before the application process is started.
1.2.3 Proposals/applications must contain, at a minimum, the following details or items:

        • The name of the Principal Investigator and the names and roles of other individuals directly involved in the research, Faculty Lead and/or Co-Investigator(s), as applicable;
        • A copy of the agreement or contract, usually provided by the sponsor;
        • A detailed description of what will be done, who will be involved, how data will be collected, and how results will be analyzed and disseminated (research proposal). The proposal will also include details on the expectations and time to be committed of all team members, including all Co-Investigator(s);
        • The names of all partnering agencies, organizations, or companies (if any), details about their role in the research project, and any potential benefits or liabilities associated with their participation in the research project;
        • A list of College services and resources (including human resources) to be used for recovery of indirect costs of the project, as per the terms of the research contract. The indirect costs of research are to be calculated as 40% of the total direct costs of the project. Any indirect costs not recovered by the sponsor or other partners must be included as an in-kind contribution by the College to the project;
        • Project timelines, including expected start and end dates, and milestones;
        • The terms for rights to ownership and exploitation of intellectual property resulting from the research, in compliance with Humber’s Policy on Intellectual Property;
        • A budget and detailed budget justification for the proposed project (see  1.3); A statement from the Principal Investigator indicating that he or she understands and agrees with the terms and conditions outlined in the contract and proposal, and accepts responsibility for the contract, as stipulated in 2.1 of this procedure, should it come into effect; and
        • The CV or resume of the Principal Investigator.

1.3 Budget Development Process for Contracts

Applicants will work directly with the Research Office to develop the research project budget. It is advised that applicants contact the Research Office as early as possible in the process to minimize the negative effects of delays.

The full cost of the project must be fully calculated, and should clearly differentiate between direct and indirect costs. All budgets must also clearly state who is covering the  cost.

The operating budget should include i. Direct Costs, ii. Indirect Costs and iii. Proposed sources of funding, which will include any or all of the following:

i. Direct Costs:

a. Salaries, stipends and/or honoraria for research project personnel;
b. Supplies required to conduct the research
c. Equipment that must be purchased, if an allowable expense, and associated operating and/or maintenance costs;
d. Travel costs, either to conduct the research or for meetings/conferences;
e. Other knowledge dissemination
f. Other costs as appropriate.

ii. Indirect Costs:

a. Infrastructure resources to conduct the research including space, equipment and maintenance costs;
b. Salary for research support services employees in departments such as Finance, Research Ethics Board, the Research Office, administrative staff, other as appropriate for the project;
c. Building maintenance and operating expenses such as heat, lighting, property taxes;
d. Other as appropriate for the proposal.

iii. The total budget should also include all sources of funding, potential or confirmed, including any and/or all of the following:

a. Cash contributions from the industry partner and/or sponsor. This would include supplies provided by the sponsor for the purposes of the project, new employees hired specifically for the project, and equipment that is purchased by the sponsor for the project, only if the equipment is to belong to Humber upon completion of the project;
b. In-kind contributions from the sponsor. This includes salaries of existing staff who will donate some of their time to the project without additional compensation, and equipment or space that is being used for the project but which remains the property of the sponsor upon completion of the project;
c. Cash contributions from Humber: Commitments of the college to hire new staff, equipment, supplies or other resources specifically for the project should be counted as cash contributions;
d. In-kind contributions from Humber: This would cover the salaries of current employees who are redirecting some of their time to the project. This should not include administrative staff from Finance or Human Resources, these salaries are covered under indirect costs; 
e. Cash and in-kind contributions from other sources: should be calculated and categorized according to the guidelines of Direct and Indirect Costs, above.

1.4 Approval Process for Contract Proposals

Research contract proposals will require approval in the sequence listed:

(1) School/Department Approval,
(2) Financial Approval of the Budget,
(3) Research Office Approval; and
(4) Appropriate Executive Approval

It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to allow adequate time for all of the following reviews and approvals to be completed. The Principal Investigator should contact the approvers well in advance of any deadlines to learn about plans for approvers to be out of office and to identify alternate approver(s), as necessary. Failure to provide adequate time to properly review may result in delays that jeopardize the timely completion of the project as per sponsor/partner requirements.

The following subsections provide details about each type of approval:

1.4.1 School/Department Approval
Research contracts require initial approval by the Dean(s) of the school(s) or department(s) of the individual(s) to be involved with the proposed the research contract. This approval must be obtained informally before the start of the application process, (see 1.2.2); formal approval is required for the final contract. Approval by the Dean does not represent final approval for the contract. The Dean’s formal approval, provided by signature, will constitute:

        • That the terms and conditions of the proposed research outlined in the proposal and contract are suitable to the school or department;
        • Acceptance that the research is consistent with the school’s or department’s strategic objectives and will benefit students and faculty;
        • Assurance that the research will be accommodated within the constraints of the available College facilities and resources;
        • Assurance that the research will not interfere with the other responsibilities at the College of the Principal Investigator or other research team members, including the Faculty Lead and co-investigators, as applicable;
        • Acceptance that the school or department will be financially responsible for covering all shortfalls in revenue resulting from failure to submit deliverables to the contracting organization or sponsor and for all overspending on contract accounts, including indirect costs (see 3.3 below); and,
        • Agreement that the Dean will immediately notify the Research Office of any change in the employment status of a Principal Investigator or Faculty Lead (see 3.5 of this policy, below).

If the proposal includes co-investigators from more than one department or school, approval must be obtained by the Deans of all Co-Investigator(s).

1.4.2 Financial Approval of the Budget
The budget must be reviewed and approved by the Director of Financial Services and Planning or his/her designate prior to approval of the Research Office. It is highly recommended that the Principal Investigator work closely with the Research Office in the development of the budget and justification prior to submitting to Finance for approval.

Signature of the Director of Financial Services and Planning indicates that the budget conforms to Humber standards and that the indirect costs have been appropriately budgeted.

1.4.3 Research Department Approval 
The Research Department will review the research contract and proposal to ensure that:

(1) The project aligns with Humber’s Applied Research Strategic Plan;
(2) The project conforms to and addresses applicable institutional policies, including Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans approval and Intellectual Property;
(3) The proposal contains all appropriate, relevant and necessary elements and complete details are provided, including information about the roles and responsibilities of Co-Investigator(s);
(4) The budget, budget justification and project timelines are appropriate for the scope of work proposed; and
(5) All necessary approvals have been obtained.

Formal approval provided by the Director, Research, by signature, will constitute that the preceding five criteria have been met in advance of executive approval.

1.4.4 Executive Approval
The signature of an authorized official is required at Humber for final approval of all research proposals and contracts. The signature of the President or his/her designate is required for final approval to enter into a research contract. As appropriate, the President may delegate final approval to the VP, Academic or to the Vice President, Finance and Administrative Services.

As an authorized official responsible to the College’s Board of Governors, the President or delegate will use his/her discretion regarding implications of the research contract proposal on the College, particularly as it concerns institutional liability. Therefore, along with authority to approve research contract proposals, the President or delegate, at his/her sole discretion, may seek counsel about, propose modifications to, or reject the research contract proposal, as deemed necessary.

2. Responsibilities

2.1 Principal Investigator Responsibilities

The Principal Investigator identified in the research proposal will be responsible for  abiding by the terms as outlined in the Research contract. Once a project has been  approved and the contract has been secured, the Principal Investigator assumes  responsibility for:

      • The performance and completion of the work, including submission of  reports and other deliverables according to the terms and conditions outlined in the contract;
      • Ensuring all participants have the appropriate training and experience to perform the role and responsibilities as described in the proposal;
      • Ensuring that everyone working on the research project is aware of and agrees to comply with all applicable terms and conditions of the research contract, especially those relating to publication, intellectual property, and confidentiality;
      • The management of the research fund account, once it is established, which includes authorizing expenditures in accordance with the budget;
      • Working closely with the Faculty Lead, as applicable, to ensure the project is moving forward as per the timelines and within the approved budget; and,
      • Ensuring that all relevant stakeholders including the Research Office, Deans of participating schools, and VPs who signed the contract on behalf of the institution, are informed as soon as possible of any circumstances which could prevent satisfactory completion of the contract proposal.

2.2 Faculty Lead Responsibilities

In all cases where a Faculty Lead is required, the Principal Investigator may delegate the following research operations, after the contract has been approved and the funding has been secured:

      • Ordering supplies and tracking project expenses of the research fund account, however authorizing expenditures in accordance with the approved budget remains the responsibility of the Principal Investigator;
      • Supervising study personnel, including research assistants and students, as they perform project-related duties;
      • Preparing interim and final reports, though all documents submitted for internal and external review or approval must first be reviewed and approved by the Principal Investigator; and,
      • Ensuring that the Dean(s) associated with the project, the Research Office and, as appropriate, the President are informed as soon as possible of any circumstances which could prevent satisfactory completion of the project.

3. Contracts/Agreements Fund Administration

Although 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 may be delegated by the Principal Investigator to an administrative assistant or research assistant, all project-related documents and activity remain the responsibility of the Principal Investigator.

3.1 Record Keeping

The Principal Investigator is responsible for the following:

3.1.1 Ensuring that a copy of the submitted proposal with all necessary signatures is provided to the Research Office;
3.1.2 Providing a copy of the final fully-executed contract, proposal and final approved budget to the Research Office and Financial Services;
3.1.3 Keeping copies of all project-related expenses and a record of all salary expenditures.
3.1.4 Recording minutes for all project-related meetings.
3.1.5 Other as required for Research Ethics Board approval or the sponsor.

3.2 Administration and Management of Funds

After a contract has been approved, the Principal Investigator will be responsible for:

3.2.1 Submitting the Research Ethics Board approval letter to the Research Office for research involving human participants, as appropriate. This approval must be obtained prior to the release of funds;
3.2.2 Ensuring sponsor funds are utilized in compliance with the fully-executed agreement and adhering to Humber Finance and Purchasing requirements;
3.2.3 Preparing reports and submitting to Finance for review and approval prior in advance of the sponsor deadlines; and,
3.2.4 Authorizing expenditures in accordance with the budget approved by the fully-executed agreement.

Financial Services and Planning will establish an account for the research contract funds and will provide accounting services for the funds, according to generally accepted accounting principles. Financial Services will also provide an audited financial statement of the contract fund accounts, as may be required as per the contract agreement. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator to work closely with Finance and to request audited financial statements in advance of reporting deadlines.

3.3 Recovery of Indirect Costs

Provisions for the recovery of indirect costs of performing research activities will be included in all Humber research contracts, where permitted by the funding agency or sponsor. The indirect costs will be calculated at 40% of the total direct costs of the project, and should be recovered to the greatest extent possible, where permitted by the funding agency or sponsor. The President or his/her delegate has the authority collectively to adjust this rate on a case-by-case basis, as may be deemed appropriate.

3.4 Allocation of Indirect Costs

The Principal Applicant is responsible for ensuring that the requested budget includes as much of the indirect costs as possible. The Dean of the Principal Applicant’s Department is responsible to ensure that all direct and indirect costs that are not recovered by the grant will be covered by their Department.
The revenue received by Humber, as a recovery of indirect costs, will be distributed as  follows:

      • 50% to Humber’s General Revenues
      • 50% to the development fund of the Principal Investigator’s affiliation, department or school

3.5 Change in the Status of Principal Applicant or Award Holders

The Dean of the Principal Applicant and/or Faculty Lead shall immediately notify the Dean of Research of any change in the employment status of a contract or award holder or essential co-investigator (Principal Applicant or Faculty Lead) so that the appropriate sponsoring agencies can be notified in a timely manner. The replacement of a Principal Applicant must be approved by the Dean of Research and the Dean of  the replacement investigator. Formal approval of the changes must be obtained in writing with a revised contract signed by the Executive Approver and the sponsor.

4. Policy Administration

The Dean of Research will be responsible for the administration of this policy and procedure and to monitor its effectiveness.