Authorization and Approval

Responsibility: Vice-President, Research 
Authorization: Board of Governors
Approval Date: Mar 18, 2014
Amended: Mar 21, 2017


To acknowledge that Institutional Costs are attributable to all Research activity and to provide a standardized mechanism for the university to recover these Institutional Costs.

To establish the distribution method of Institutional Costs revenue in recognition of the costs of conducting Research.


 Procedures provide clarification and supporting information with respect to the this policy.


2.0 Funding for Research projects must cover all of the costs of doing Research.  The total cost of Research includes both Direct Costs and Institutional Costs.

2.1  Researchers must include Institutional Costs in the budget at the rates established by the university and as outlined in this policy.

2.2  Reducing or omitting Institutional Costs in a Budget with the expectation that the university will absorb the costs is inappropriate, since the university does not have the financial resources to subsidize sponsored research.

Scope of the this Policy

3.0 Definitions

The following capitalized terms, whether used in singular or plural, have the following meaning in this policy:

3.1  “Agreement” means any document between the university and other entity for the purpose of Research, documented through (not an exhaustive list), funding applications, research contracts, research grants, technical services agreements, Clinical Trial Agreements, etc.
3.2  “Clinical Trial Agreement” means an agreement between the university and a sponsor to perform, on behalf of the sponsor and in exchange for payment of costs, prospective biomedical assessments on human subjects, predominantly patients, designed to answer specific questions about biomedical or behavioural interventions.
3.3  “Budget” means the detailed financial statement outlining the estimated Research costs to carry out proposed Research.
3.4  “Direct Costs” means the budgeted expenditures for carrying out a Research activity at the university.  Direct Costs may include per diem payments to the researcher, the salaries of Research assistants and stipends for graduate students, equipment and supplies costs, travel and publication costs, user/cost recovery fees and other costs allowed by the sponsor.
3.5  “Institutional Costs” means university expenditures incurred to benefit and support Research and for which it may not be possible to provide an exact itemization of the cost attributable to an individual Research activity.  Institutional Costs are real costs to the university, and include, without limitation, building use and depreciation, utilities, maintenance and upgrade of library resources, computer and network support, management and administration of research, financial services (including purchasing and accounting), legal services, human resource services, technology transfer office services, regulatory and research compliance (including research ethics, human ethics, animal ethics, and biohazard certification), hazardous waste disposal, controlled goods, radiation safety, occupational safety, campus security and liability insurance.
3.6  “Institutional Costs Recovery Rate” is defined in section 8.0 of this policy.
3.7  “Research” is defined as an undertaking intended to extend and apply knowledge through a disciplined inquiry or systematic investigation of scholarly and artistic activity.

4.0 The scope of this policy includes all funding for the purpose of Research.

5.0 The cost of conducting Research at the university includes the Direct Costs of the Research and the Institutional Costs which support the Research of the university.  Institutional Costs, referred to as “indirect costs of research” by the Tri-Agency or “overhead” by other agencies and institutions, must be included in the research activity budgeting process.

6.0  This policy applies to all funding Agreements except:

6.1  Research support from the Tri-Agencies (Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, including any Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada);

6.2  The associated annual allocations provided by the Tri-Agencies towards the Institutional Costs of Research.

7.0  This policy supersedes any special past arrangements and is now in effect for all present and future Research activities.


Maintenance of and improvements to research infrastructure require ongoing reinvestment on a significant scale, and many services and regulatory functions support Research activity but may not directly contribute to the generation of Research results.  For this reason, Research funding should, on average, cover the full costs of the Research, and the project Budget must include both Institutional Costs and Direct Costs where possible.  It is therefore important when requesting Research funding from sponsors to include Institutional Costs in the Budget.  This policy and associated procedures are designed to provide a transparent and simplified process for the assessment of Institutional Costs.

8.0 Institutional Costs Recovery Rate

8.1  Prior to any commitment of university resources to a Research project, researchers must apply a 25% Institutional Costs Recovery Rate to the total amount of all Research Agreements.  In the case of human Clinical Trial Agreements, the Institutional Cost Recovery Rate is 30%.

8.2  Colleges, schools, and centres may incur costs for infrastructure, maintenance and support that are specific to the research facilities utilized by researchers.  These costs should be considered separate from the Institutional Costs and a fee should be implemented to recover the costs required to maintain the facility.  In such cases, units should ensure that additional “fees” for infrastructure utilization are adequately captured in the Budget for Research.  Such fees are part of the global Budget and Direct Cost for the Research, and are subject to the 25% university Institutional Costs Recovery Rate.

8.3  Institutional Costs will be recovered at the Institutional Cost Recovery Rate, except in those instances where a sponsor’s formally established Research policy expressly prohibits or specifies rates higher or lower than the Recovery Rate.  The university will apply these rates when the sponsor has the modified rate published and there is evidence that the rate is applied to all Canadian universities.

8.4  While the university does not wish to disadvantage its researchers by refusing to sanction applications to sponsoring organizations whose formal regulations discourage Institutional Costs, the university may decline to accept funding from such sources if Institutional Costs are not recoverable.


The Vice-president research is responsible for the administration of this policy.  Research Services is authorized as the administrative unit to oversee and implement this policy and associated procedures.


If the above conditions are not met, the university will not authorize signing for the Research Agreement.

The procedures will be maintained by Research Services.  The Vice-president research may revise the procedures to reflect changing conditions.  Any changes to the Institutional Costs Recovery Rate will include consultation with the deans and associate deans research of the colleges, as well as directors of schools and centres.

Related Documents


If you have questions about this policy please contact:

Contact Person: Director, Research Services and Ethics Office
Phone: 306-966-8576