Frequently Asked Questions for Principal Investigators
Finding Funding Sources
I need help finding a potential sponsor for my research- whom do I contact?
- I have a manuscript almost ready for publication. Can your office provide me with any assistance?
Yes. The Office of Research Services can provide publication assistance to aid faculty in the preparation or publication of books or article-length manuscripts. We will pay 50% of the total cost up to $500.
Or, if you have secured a contract from a university press, ORS can provide a publishing subvention in the amount of $2,000 to defray the publication cost of a forthcoming book.
More information about these ORS programs can be found at http://www.luc.edu/ors/internalfunding.shtml. You are also strongly encouraged to enlist the help of your department chair or college/school dean with funding for these endeavors.
- I am just about ready to seek external funding for research that I am currently conducting. Are there any internal funding sources to help me complete the final phase of my preparation?
Research Support Grants are designed to help faculty conduct preliminary research that will be used to strengthen external grant proposals for the larger scale project. For the guidelines and an application go to http://www.luc.edu/ors/internalfunding.shtmland click on the link for Research/Scholarship Awards & Grants.
The Center for Faculty Professional Development also provides support for faculty members pursuing research and artistry as well as other career-related endeavors. More information can be found at http://www.luc.edu/academicaffairs/faculty_development.shtl#submission.
- Is there a way to get announcements of funding opportunities automatically?
There certainly is, by signing up with the Pivot (formerly called COS) database. You can sign up by going to https://pivot.cos.com/session/login while using your office computer and then clicking on “Register for a Pivot account” to the right of the log-in button. After registering, Log-in and click the orange "Search" button at the upper right of the screen and conduct a search (or searches). You can save your search(es), and have the option of receiving weekly alerts that include any new opportunities that match. Please contact Susan Clarke if you need any assistance setting up Pivot searches and alerts (firstname.lastname@example.org; x8-8952). Once you've registered using your office computer, you can then log in and use COS from anywhere. You may also create a personal professional profile in Pivot, which will enable other scholars to find you, by following the instrucitons at http://www.luc.edu/ors/Pivot_Services.shtml.
An additional option is to create a profile of your research interests in the ORS Faculty Research/Scholarly Interests Database. The purpose of this database is to match you to potential funding opportunities tailored to your individual research or scholarly interests, based on keywords you have chosen for topics within your general research interest(s). Once you have established a profile, funding notices that contain any of your keywords will be sent to you automatically. Keywords are the same as those used by the Pivot database, which are accessible via creating a profile.
Whom do I contact for help with submitting a grant/contract proposal?Go here and find your department name in the “Academic Unit” column of the ORS staff list. In the right-hand column you'll find the name of your ORS contact.
- I want to apply for a program that limits the number of applicants from a single institution. How does that work?
Please see the procedure outlined at http://www.luc.edu/ors/proposalsubmissioninstructions.shtml
- Who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator on a proposal?
All Loyola faculty members are eligible to become principal investigators. Students may serve as principal investigators if a faculty member is designated as a faculty advisor in the PTAP. Full time staff members may act as principal investigators with approval from their supervisors.
- Can there be more than one Principal Investigator on a proposal?
It depends on the sponsor. If allowed and that is what you want, we can show more than one PI in the proposal. However, for internal purposes, the first PI shown will be considered to have overall responsibility for the project and be designated “Principal Investigator” while other PIs will be termed “Co-Investigators.”
- Who is designated as the authorized institutional representative for purposes of signing grant proposals and awards?
The Research Services Director, William Sellers, has been delegated this authority (email@example.com; x8-2478).
- How many copies of my proposal do I need to make?
In accordance with the sponsor’s instructions, ORS will make the required copies and send them via overnight delivery service provided that proposals are received with adequate time prior to the deadline in order for us to complete the task during normal business hours.
- What can I do to expedite the proposal process for myself?
Contact ORS as early as you can. This is especially true of proposals that need to be submitted electronically because of the possibility of computer crashes and automatic rejections that need correction and re-submittal.
- What approvals are required for proposal submission?
This will vary depending on the specific proposal, but generally each investigator will need to sign the PTAP, along with the relevant chair(s) and dean(s) [or functional equivalents], in addition to the institutional endorsement provided by ORS.
- What is a PTAP?
“PTAP” stands for Proposal Transmittal and Approval Process. It is an on-line system developed by ORS to help manage and document the grant proposal process, and to make it easy to secure required approvals. You can log in to the PTAP system by going to https://ptap.luc.edu. If you don’t already have a user ID and password, there are links on that page to request them from Information Technology Services.
- On the PTAP form there is a question about conflict of interest. What happens if I check that I do have a conflict of interest?
You will be asked to complete a Financial Interest Disclosure Statement and return it to ORS. If it is determined that a conflict does exist, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be allowed to submit the proposal. But the potential conflict will have to be managed (e.g., by additional project oversight).
- How do I get a password for National Science Foundation (NSF) FastLane?
Go to http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/ors/pdfsanddocs/research/RADeptListing.pdf and find your department name in the “Academic Unit” column of the ORS staff list. In the right-hand column you'll find the name of your ORS contact. Please phone or e-mail your ORS contact, who will add you to the NSF database and assign you a password to access the FastLane.
- How do I sign up with the NIH eRA Commons?
Go to http://www.luc.edu/ors/pdfs/Research/RADeptListing07-01-08.pdfand find your department name in the “Academic Unit” column of the ORS staff list. In the right-hand column you'll find the name of your ORS contact. Please phone or e-mail your ORS contact, who will add you to the NIH eRA Commons and assign you a User ID. NIH will then e-mail you with additional information and a username and password to access the eRA Commons.
- I plan to submit an LOI (Letter of Intent) to a sponsor. Do I need to go through ORS?
We strongly recommend that you let your Research Administrator (RA) know so that the RA can determine if a PTAP should be created. If the sponsor is a foundation or corporation, entering an LOI into the PTAP system will automatically notify CFR. Sometimes a sponsor will describe what is needed as a “Letter of Intent” or a “White Paper/Pre-proposal” but will also require budgetary information and/or cost share commitments, and these should be run through the PTAP so that when we receive the go-ahead to submit the formal proposal there won’t be any surprises (e.g., a cost share commitment that the dean is not willing to make).
Where do I locate proposal budget information on Facilities and Administration (F&A) costs, fringe benefit rates, etc.?
- Can I request funds for secretarial salary on a proposal to a federal agency?
Generally federal rules require that secretarial salaries not be directly charged but instead be treated as an indirect (“F&A”) cost. The exception is a large center-type project that is large enough to require administrative support dedicated primarily to that project. In general, if such expenses are included in the approved budget, this means the cost is allowable.
- What are the guidelines for overload pay on a grant/contract?
- What are F&A (facilities and administrative) costs (sometimes called indirect costs or overhead)?
These are expenses that benefit grant/contract funded activities but are of such a nature that it would not be practical or cost-effective to try to calculate what the actual benefit is to particular projects. Typical expenses are maintenance, building depreciation, library costs, and various kinds of administrative functions (purchasing, payroll, ORS, etc.) that are employed indirectly to support your research and scholarly efforts. F&A costs are reimbursed through one or more rates that are negotiated with the federal government and then, normally, are applied as a percentage of most of the direct costs incurred on particular projects. The lakeside campuses have two negotiated rates depending on whether a project is research or something else (see http://www.luc.edu/ors/facostrates.shtml). Keep in mind that F&A rates represent an average amount of indirect costs borne by any given project. Also keep in mind that the actual award you receive may contain restrictions on how, to what extent, and even whether F&A costs are to be reimbursed by the sponsor.
- Do I need to put F&A costs in my budget even if the sponsor doesn’t allow these?
No, but ORS will need confirmation that this is the sponsor’s policy—typically this would be published on their website but it might be in the form of an email from a sponsor official. In the absence of sponsor policy, F&A costs need to be budgeted in all proposals for external support of research, training, or public service
- How do I request approval to use a lower F&A rate on my sponsored project?
This is done on a special form that is part of the PTAP.
- Should I budget for tuition for Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs)?
Typically not, if you have budgeted for stipend payments. The fringe benefit rate applied to graduate student stipends (see http://www.luc.edu/ors/facostrates.shtml) partially covers the tuition cost. When the PTAP form is being filled out at the proposal stage, you will be asked to complete a spreadsheet that details graduate student tuition costs, as applicable.
- What is the difference between cost sharing and matching?
Both cost sharing and matching achieve a similar objective: to provide funds in addition to the sponsor's award toward the total costs of a project. Typically, cost sharing occurs when the university uses its own funds for this purpose, while matching takes place when the university raises funds from another source. Matching can also occur in situations where a sponsor requires the university to "match" what it provides on the basis of some prescribed formula (e.g., one-for-one match).
- What is the difference between a subcontractor, a consultant, and a vendor?
A handy checklist that will help in making this determination may be found here.
If I am going to receive funding from a third party, how do I know when I should have a sponsored agreement (run through ORS) versus a personal consulting agreement?You should always use a sponsored agreement when the resources of the university are used to complete all or part of the scope of work. In most cases, a personal consulting agreement is appropriate when you are performing work on your own time, outside of the contractual commitment to the university.
- What is the difference between a grant and a contract? And what in the world is a cooperative agreement?
In 1977, Congress clarified the difference in the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act. The government uses money either to acquire goods and services or to assist other organizations. Accordingly, the rules for ACQUISITION are very different from the rules for ASSISTANCE. Government agencies are required to use a procurement contract as the legal instrument whenever the principal purpose of the agreement is the acquisition, by purchase, lease, or barter, of property or services for the direct benefit or use of the federal government. An assistance mechanism is to be used whenever the principal purpose of the relationship is the transfer of money, property, services, or anything of value to the recipient to help that recipient accomplish its own purposes. There are two types of assistance mechanisms. A grant is to be used when no substantial involvement is anticipated between the government and the recipient during performance of the contemplated activity. A cooperative agreement is to be used when substantial involvement is anticipated between the government and the recipient. The distinction between a grant and a contract is sometimes not so clear-cut in the non-federal world, so ORS sometimes has to use its best guess as to how to categorize some awards from non-federal sponsors.
- What is the difference between a grant or contract, and a gift?
This is covered in http://www.luc.edu/ors/pdfs/Research/gift_grant_determination.pdf.
- What if a sponsor asks me to sign a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement?
It would be unusual for a sponsor to request this unless an exchange of proprietary information was contemplated. Typically this might be the case if the sponsor is actually an industry contractor and we are going in as a subcontractor on a proposal being submitted by the contractor to the government. In any event, such agreements should be reviewed and signed by the Research Services Director, William Sellers (firstname.lastname@example.org; x8-2478).
- Who owns supplies or equipment purchased with my grant/contract funds?
Under most awards, these are owned by the university. Some awards, particularly federal contracts, have special rules for purchases of supplies or equipment, and may even require approval from the sponsor for such purchases if they were not listed in the approved budget. If you need assistance interpreting the terms and conditions of your grant or contract, please contact ORS.
- My grant is going to end but I'm not finished the work, what can I do?
If sponsor rules allow it, you can have ORS request an extension of the grant end date. Call or send an e-mail to your ORS Research Administrator (http://www.luc.edu/ors/pdfs/Research/RADeptListing07-01-08.pdf). Explain that you need a no-cost extension, provide a valid reason (simply having funds left over is not a valid reason!), estimate how much money will be left as of the current end date (ORS will find this out from Sponsored Program Accounting), describe how the remaining funds will be spent, and put in the new end date that you are requesting (usually up to twelve months after the current end date). We will then contact the sponsor (if necessary) and you will be notified if and when the request has been approved.
- I will be leaving the Loyola. Can I transfer my grant?
Yes, usually with the sponsor’s permission, although typically what happens is that the sponsor terminates the award to Loyola and makes a new award with the remaining funds to your new institution. Your ORS Research Administrator (http://www.luc.edu/ors/pdfs/Research/RADeptListing07-01-08.pdf) can assist with this.
- I know I will be getting funded, but the official award notice has not yet arrived. Can I start spending anyway?
Yes, provided you complete the Advance Account Authorization form available at http://www.luc.edu/ors/pdfs/Research/AdvActFor.pdf, have the information on the 'guarantee account' filled in and authorized by your business manager or chair/dean, sign the form, and send it to ORS. We will then review/sign and forward to SPA so that an advance AU can be established. Once you have been notified by SPA that the AU has been set up, you can start spending assuming that the first day you incur costs is on or after the start date of the award. This form should also be used if you expect to receive a federal grant that allows pre-award expenditures. In this case, you can start spending up to 90 days in advance of the actual grant start date.
- What if I need to make a change in how funds are spent that is not consistent with the approved budget (but is still within the overall budget)?
Some sponsored agreements allow expenditures to be different from the original budget, and some require prior approval from the sponsor. You should check with your Research Administrator to determine if a budget modification in your grant account is needed and what criteria would govern such a change. If a budget modification is needed, a request needs to be submitted to ORS, typically by e-mail, and approved by you. Your business manager can initiate the e-mail, and the following information will be needed:
- the budget account code(s) and amount(s) that will be modified; and
- an explanation as to why the rebudgeting is needed.
In the cases where prior sponsor approval is required, your Research Administrator will communicate with the sponsor for permission. Note that even if the sponsor does not explicitly require rebudgeting approval, some rebudgeting actions that are significant and will affect effort from key personnel and/or change of scope of work would generally require prior sponsor approval. Note also that sometimes a rebudgeting action will have an impact on the amount of F&A costs needed—for example, moving funds from an equipment category to a supply category. Your Research Administrator can fill you in on these details.
Once the request and your approval (and, if needed, the sponsor’s approval) have been received and verified, your Research Administrator will forward these to Sponsored Program Accounting requesting the change.
- I've been funded and need to contact someone about a post-award issue. Where can I get help?
Click here for a "who-to-call" list.
Complying with Rules for Human Subjects, Lab Animals, Biohazards
My research might involve human subjects, laboratory animals, or biohazards (e.g., recombinant DNA). What is the procedure for getting approval to do this?In each case, there is a committee that would review an application that you would submit through ORS, namely the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal and Use Committee (IACUC), or Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), respectively. For human subjects use, the relevant forms and information are found at http://www.luc.edu/irb/irb_XIX.shtml. For laboratory animal use, the petition forms are found at http://www.luc.edu/ors/iacuc/index.shtml. And for biohazards the relevant form and information are found at http://www.luc.edu/ors/ibchome.shtml. If your research involves radiation-producing devices or radioactive materials, you would need to submit an application form to the Radiation Safety Committee (see http://www.luc.edu/ors/radsafetyhome.shtml
Creating and Protecting Intellectual Property
I have some biological material I want to share with a colleague from another institution. (Alternatively, I want to obtain some biological material from a non-Loyola source.) What do I do?You will generally need to have the Research Services Director sign a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). MTAs are normally provided by the owner of the material and we can supply a template for this if requested. Contact William Sellers (email@example.com; x8-2478).
- What do I do if I invent something while working on a sponsored project?
Please see the university patent policy at http://www.luc.edu/ors/patentpolicy.shtml.
Have a question that we didn’t answer? Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.