Indirect costs of research

What are indirect costs?

When we think about the cost of conducting research, we often think about the direct costs of research, such as salaries for research personnel, new lab equipment, materials and supplies. But there are other hidden costs of conducting research that pose a financial challenge to institutions, such as keeping the lights on in the lab, ensuring ethical review and compliance and support for invention patent protection. In addition, universities are being asked to meet increasing demands for accountability and transparency in how research funds are spent. The administrative work necessary to meet reporting requirements creates additional financial strain. These costs are often taken for granted, but they are essential for supporting research activity. Most research grants do not provide additional funds to help a university cover these costs.

What is the Research Support Fund?

The Research Support Fund assists Canadian postsecondary institutions and their affiliated research hospitals and institutes with the expenses associated with managing the research funded by the three federal research granting agencies: 1) the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); 2) the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC); and 3) the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Research Support Fund grants can be used to: maintain modern labs and equipment, provide access to up-to-date knowledge resources, provide research management and administrative support, meet regulatory and ethical standards, and transfer knowledge from academia to the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors.

Support provided by the Research Support Fund is an investment by Canadian taxpayers. The program’s accountability responsibilities regarding the use of grant funds include reporting to program stakeholders and the Canadian public about who receives support and how funds are used to meet the program’s objectives. To help ensure accountability to stakeholders (including researchers, affiliates, industry partners and Canadian taxpayers), grant recipients are expected to publicly acknowledge their grant funding and to bring awareness to the value and impact of the program within the research community and the Canadian research environment

How did OCAD U allocate its 2014-2015 grant?

The value of OCAD University’s Research Support Fund Allocation for 2014-2015 was $162,346. This allocation was divided into four major expenditure categories: 

  • Facilities: $35,000
  • Management and Administration $110,846
  • Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation $6,500
  • Intellectual Property $10,000

What was the impact of the Research Support Fund grant at OCAD U?

As a small university with limited resources, the Research Support Fund is vital to the continued growth of OCAD University’s research capacity. The following are a few examples of the impact the 2014-2015 grant has made at OCAD U:

  • Support for an electronic research administration information system to better support administrative workflow, track grant applications, certifications and awards, improve efficiencies  and accountability;
  • Contributions towards the planning of workshops and information sessions to support faculty researchers on topics such as grant writing, the new CCV and targeted funding opportunities;
  • Contributions to the administration of OCAD U’s Research Ethics Board;
  • Support for research accounting services including financial audit costs, financial reporting and purchasing activities.