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Research

Managing funded research

For support in managing your research funding email researchoffice@yorksj.ac.uk.

Once you have the confirmation of your external funding, the Research Office is here to support you in getting your project started, from contracting and budget codes to managing partners and beginning the work.

Getting started with your external funding award

There are several steps to follow to ensure you have all you need in place to begin your funded research, in compliance with the external funder's terms and conditions. The Research Office will offer a one-stop-shop for your post-award support, liaising with external partners, relevant internal departments and signposting you to support as required. Contact the Research Officer for Grants as soon as you hear the outcome of your application.

Every external funder is different and has different terms and conditions. There is often a gap of several months or a year, between the work in preparing and submitting your application and confirmation of the award. Navigating the set-up of an award can be administratively burdensome, however, the Research Office are here to help. If York St John are leading the award, it is vital you arrange an administrative kick-off meeting with the Research Office.

If you are a co-applicant or partner on an externally-led award, it can still be useful to meet but often a telephone call or email exchange will be sufficient.

First things first…

  1. Confirm with the funder you have received the outcome of the award and that you will be in touch with your University’s research team for support.
  2. Forward all correspondence relating to outcome to the Research Officer for Grants.
  3. The Research Officer for Grants will arrange a meeting with the relevant parties; this may be just the PI and the Research Officer, or may involve someone from the Finance team or other partners.

 

The kick-off meeting will allow the Research Office to ensure you have the correct support throughout your research project and will discuss:

  • Contracting support
  • Managing the announcement of the award
  • Understanding reporting requirements and responsibilities
  • Setting up subcontracts or collaboration agreement
  • Explaining how Cost Centres and sign-off levels work
  • Sign-posting to other departments for support with recruitment, making expenditure
  • Discussion of any practical project support to be delivered by the Research Office

For large projects, you will probably arrange a project kick-off meeting as well, with all relevant partners and stakeholders, this will be focused on the delivery of the work, milestones and outcomes. If appropriate, this should be held after the Research Office meeting, which aims to provide confidence in the administrative requirements of the grant, allowing you to focus on the overall delivery.

While some preliminary preparation can begin, the first and most important step of beginning your external funding is the contract with the funder or lead institute. 

Sometimes, there will be a change to the funding applied for and what is ultimately awarded; this can be down to the funder agreeing only to partial funding or an external partner being unable to deliver or moving institute. Where this is the case, there can be a delay in contracts being issued as the project milestones are realigned to the proposal. Ensure you keep the Research Office in the loop, so they can be prepared to support the paperwork, once agreed. 

For projects led by York St John:

The initial email confirming success will usually request the Principal Investigator (PI) to confirm they wish to formally accept the award. Once this is done, a follow-up email or letter which will include the contract will follow. Do ensure you copy or forward all correspondence to the Research Office, so they can be prepared to support review and sign-off of the contract, as soon as the paperwork arrives. You should also ensure your School Research Lead and Head of School are aware that this process has begun. If there are project partners and collaborators, it's a good time to confirm you have the relevant details for contracting support at their institutes. More information is available in the Contracting section. 

For projects led by an external institution: 

The Principal Investigator (PI) and their institute will be the contracting lead and will liaise directly with the funding body, they will then send a collaboration agreement or sub-contract to York St John. Contact the Research Office and review the Contracting section, for support with this process.

It's important that no contract, collaboration agreement or data sharing agreement is signed without full review and support from the central University.

Many funders have strict rules around when an award can be formally announced. Some funders will offer support with this process, providing press packs and confirmation of timings to release the good news. You must inform the Research Office as soon as you hear, they will always treat the news in confidence, until you confirm the announcement. 

Usually, it is perfectly acceptable to inform all those named on the application, your internal support (Research Office, Head of School, School Research Lead) just make them aware that the formal award confirmation announcement is pending. If it doubt, contact the Research Officer for Grants, who can advise you on communications in the early days after the award is made. 

Once the external funder confirms your award formally, the Research Office will confirm if you would like to announce it in the Research Newsletter, Twitter, Campus Connections and will put you in touch with the Marketing team who will announce more widely.

Expenditures

Many funders are particularly stringent on how expenditure is made and will require clear reporting and audit of what money is spent. The Principal Investigator (PI) or lead investigator for the award at York St John (where we are a co-applicant on the award) has ultimate responsibility for ensuring only appropriate expenditure is made against the award.

The Research Office will liaise with the Finance department to ensure you have a Cost Centre and Project Code set-up. You may have another Project Code already open from another external award, however, to ensure compliance with reporting to the external funder and to track all new income for the University and for REF reporting, a new Project Code will be issued for each new award. 

The Cost Centre aligns to your School external funding line and the Project Code details the specific external budget awarded. As PI or lead for York St John, you will be the budget holder.  

  • The budget holder for a project code typically receives approval for up to £5,000 single expenditure.
  • The budget holder is ultimately responsible for ensuring all expenditure made against the Project Code is appropriate to the award.
  • On request, a Project Code report can be generated, support tracking of expenditure made. 

The PI should ensure the Project Code is cited when requesting any expenditure be made, to ensure the expenditure is taken from the correct place and avoiding confusion and workload later into the project. 

If the award is large with several expenditure lines, it may be appropriate to request a post-award tracker be created. The Research Office will take information from your original pre-award budget, adjusting for any changes made at the award stage and provide an excel sheet that you can record all expenditure on. Periodically, this can be compared with a Project Code report generated by Finance, to ensure expenditure is in line with the budget.

Recruiting a new member of staff 

If your research award includes funding for a part-time or full-time post for the duration of the award, you will need to liaise with HR and follow the appropriate steps for recruiting managers, ensuring you cite the Project Code as the source of funding for the post. The Research Office can support you with identifying the appropriate Job Description for the new post, there are templates held for Research Administrator, Postdoctoral Researcher and Project Manager, available on request. 

 

Advertising for a funded Postgraduate Researcher 

If your research award includes funding for an MA by Research or a PhD, the Research Office can advertise the opportunity on the YSJ Studentships web page. Contact the Research Office to action. 

For further support with timings of recruiting a new Postgraduate Researcher: 

One-off payments and paying casual staff

Occasionally research grants will involve paying individuals for one off deliverables or employing people on a casual basis (e.g. students). There are strict rules in the UK about paying individuals and compliance with the right to work checks and ensuring eligibility to work in the UK is vital. In the main, how to pay people will have been discussed at the pre-award stage, however, if you require advice please contact the HR to support you in identifying what is possible. More information is below. 

 

As detailed, it is important that the budget holder assumes responsibility  for ensuring the expenditure on an externally led budget is appropriate and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award. 

Often, however, as a research project progresses, it can be that the progress made an result in changes to the original expected outcomes of the work. This is to be expected, after all, research is a journey of discovery. However, where the project results in a change to how the awarded budget is spent, it's important to seek support, to ensure compliance with the external funder's terms and conditions. 

Where is there flexibility? 

External funding bodies will always be open to some flexibility for making expenditure. After all, the funder will often set expectations that the PI delivers certain outcomes before funding is released and the funding body will have compliance and reporting responsibilities of its own to adhere to. 

Budgets are usually broadly split between Staff and Non-Staff lines and there is flexibility within these 'pots', but not across them. So if there is a shortfall in spending in your travel line, which would sit under the Non-Staff ‘pot’, you would not be able to add the underspend to the Staff budget line, but you could use it for another part of delivering the project, for example transcription, subject to approval.

What is a 'change of use'? 

If you have identified a shortfall or overspend on a certain budget line that means you want to move funds within the original budget, you will usually need to apply to the funder for a 'change of use'. A 'change of use' is a written application to the funding body that explains why the original intention for the money has changed. These are common in research awards and usually require a short email detailing the reason for the under/overspend and requesting permission to solve within the existing budget. Funders will issue a confirmation of the change of use, which should be forwarded to Finance and the Research Office.

What is a 'no-cost extension'? 

A 'no-cost extension' refers to a request to extend the end date of a project, without any change of use of the funds or need for further monies to issued. These requests are common to research grants and usually arise when recruitment, contracting or data collection has taken longer than originally anticipated, meaning a delay to progressing the award. They are best applied for within 3-6 months of the original end date of the grant, to prevent multiple requests being made. 

For more support in understanding what flexibility there is in your budget, wording a 'change of use' or 'no-cost extension' request, please contact the Research Officer for Grants.

The Research Office are able to offer practical support with post-award purchasing, providing the expenditure is to be charged to an external research award and where no dedicated administrative support is included in the awarded grant. 

Support can be offered with: 

  • Travel and accommodation bookings
  • Project support with event organisation 
  • Arranging payment of external invoices
  • Catering booking for smaller events
  • Purchasing small items of research equipment

The support you require will be discussed at your kick-off meeting and expectations and delivery of agreed support set at the start of the project. Each research project will require a tailor-made support plan, however, wherever possible the Research Office will work flexibly to accommodate your post-award purchasing.

To manage capacity, please give as much notice as possible for purchasing and expenditure requests and at busy times, there will be a 5 day turnaround from request to delivery. If exceptionally this will take longer, Research Office will contact you. 

If you require support with purchasing that is funded from a School/establishment budget code or from a QR fund, even if it is for research related reasons, please contact the  for support.

Contracting

Many projects (research or otherwise) require the University to agree with a contract, sub-contract, collaboration agreement or data sharing agreement with external parties. These documents set out the expectations, obligations and rights of each party and ensure that everyone is clear and protected. For research, the most common checks are around Intellectual Property (IP), publication rights and payment schedule. 

It's important never to negotiate or agree on any contractual terms or conditions, even verbally, without first seeking advice. The Research Office can offer support with reviewing and processing all types of external funding contracts. They will offer a triage service to ensure the external paperwork is reviewed and signed by the right department and will direct you to, or liaise on your behalf, with Finance, Legal and DVC Admin as appropriate. 

If you have had a request to provide a contract or collaboration agreement on behalf of York St John, please contact the University's Legal Adviser, Alpha Love-Koh: a.love-koh@yorksj.ac.uk, copying in the Research Office.

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