The expansion of knowledge and its dissemination through research and scholarly studies are integral to Rice University's mission as an educational institution. Accordingly, eligible faculty are encouraged and expected to undertake fundamental research of interest to them and to seek support for their studies from any source, provided that the source of funding and any terms imposed by that source comply with University policies and procedures as well as state and federal law. The purpose of this policy is to establish requirements and provide guidance for principal investigators, department and program chairs, project leaders and deans in the submission and administration of sponsored research or other externally-funded scholarly projects.
All requests for funding (e.g., proposal, assistance, application, cooperative agreement, consortium agreement, letter, etc.), whether electronic or not, seeking external support for research and other sponsored projects must be submitted to the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) for review and approval prior to submission to external sponsors.
Rice University is committed to the objective, ethical, and responsible conduct of research. In the conduct of such research, principal investigators shall:
A. Application: A formal request for financial assistance for a project/activity submitted to a sponsor. Most competing application forms have corresponding forms to be used when applying for non-competing continuation support during an approved competitive segment.
B. Assistance: The award of money, property, services, or anything of value to a recipient in order to support or stimulate a public purpose authorized by Federal statute. Assistance relationships are expressed in less detail than acquisition relationships, and responsibilities for ensuring performance rest largely with the recipient or are shared with the sponsor.
C. Award: The provision of funds by the sponsor to an organization or an individual to carry out an activity or project with deliverables based on an approved application and budget.
D. Award Document: The legally binding document that notifies the grantee and others that an award has been made. This document contains or references all terms and conditions for the award and documents the obligation of funds. The award document may be in letter format, contract, grant agreement, and/or may be issued electronically such as email. Awards to the University are formally accepted by the Office of Sponsored Research on behalf of the University.
E. Budget: A categorical or modular request for funds required to support the proposed activity for a specified period of time. Budget Period: The interval of time (usually 12 months) into which the grant project period is divided for funding and reporting purposes.
F. Cayuse: A web-based electronic routing and document repository system for pre-award grant proposal preparation, processing, submission, administration, and approval.
G. Consortium Agreement: A collaborative arrangement in support of a research project in which some portion of the programmatic activity is carried out through a formalized agreement between the grantee and one or more other organizations that are separate legal entities administratively independent of the grantee.
H. Contract: An instrument used by the sponsor to procure research services and other resources needed by the Federal Government or industry sponsor. Contracts are legally binding documents and used when the principal purpose of the transaction is to acquire a specific service or end product for the direct benefit of or use by the sponsor.
I. Contract (under a grant): A written agreement between a grantee and a third party to acquire routine goods or services.
J. Cooperative Agreement: An award instrument, reflecting an assistance relationship between the sponsor and a recipient, in which substantial sponsor programmatic involvement is anticipated during performance of the activity.
K. Direct Costs: Costs that can be specifically identified with a particular sponsored activity or project.
L. Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs: Costs which are incurred by a grantee for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be identified with a particular project or program. Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs are those costs associated with the physical and administrative infrastructure that supports the research enterprise and which cannot easily be determined for each project. F&A was previously referred to as Indirect Costs.
M. Grant: Any financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved sponsored project or activity. Performance responsibility rests primarily with the recipient, and there is little or no Federal involvement or participation in the performance of activities.
N. Grantee: The organization or individual awarded a grant or cooperative agreement by the sponsor that assumes legal, financial, and scientific responsibility and accountability for both the awarded funds and the performance of the grant supported activity. A grantee organization can be public or private, nonprofit or for-profit, or an educational institution, hospital, corporation, domestic or foreign agency, or other legally accountable entity.
O. Indirect Costs: See Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs.
P. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC): A committee set up by an institution to review, at least once every 6 months, the institution’s program for humane care and use of animals. The IACUC reviews research protocols involving the care and use of animals at the institution or by investigators employed by or enrolled at the institution and makes recommendations to the Institutional Official regarding any aspect of the institution’s animal program, facilities, or personnel training.
Q. Institutional Review Board (IRB): A board or committee set up by a research institution to ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects participating in research conducted under its auspices. The IRB makes an independent determination to approve, require modifications to, or disapprove research protocols based on whether human subjects are adequately protected, as required by Federal regulations and local institutional policy.
R. Principal Investigator (PI)/Project Director (PD): Individual responsible for the scientific conduct and reporting as well as all budgetary decisions of a sponsored project/program. PI/PDs should ensure that there are sufficient resources, such as investigator time, equipment, and space, and adequately trained lab personnel to carry out the research safely. Typically, a PD is the named head of a training or service provider program and has the same role and responsibilities as the PI. Both PI/ PD should have an academic appointment at the institution (see University Policy 201).
S. Sponsored Research Project (or Sponsored Program or Project): Externally-funded activities in which a formal written agreement (i.e., a grant, contract, subaward, or a cooperative agreement) is entered into by Rice University and the sponsor. A Sponsored Project may be thought of as a transaction in which there is a specified statement of work with a related, reciprocal transfer of something of value.
T. Stipend: A payment made to a graduate student under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual’s living expenses during the period of training. A stipend is not considered compensation for the services expected of an employee.
U. Terms and Conditions of Award: All legal requirements imposed on a grant, whether based on statute, regulation, policy, other referenced document, or the grant award document itself. The notice of grant award, contract or other award document may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to attain the grant’s objectives, facilitate post-award administration of the grant, conserve grant funds, or otherwise protect the interests of the Federal Government.
V. University Sponsored Project: The University sponsors internally-funded activities, such as the Faculty Initiative Fund, the Enhancing Rice through Information Technology program, the Shell Center and similar seed funding programs managed by different units at Rice, which are separately budgeted and accounted for, as a result of a formal application and approval process. These are setup as U-funds in the University accounting system.
In addition to following this policy, principal investigators and others responsible for sponsored projects should read their grant and contract documents carefully and adhere to all requirements, terms, and conditions stated therein.
From time to time, this policy may be supplemented by instructions issued through other Rice University policy memoranda and bulletins as they may relate to research activities at the University. The Vice Provost for Research or the OSR Director may also issue guidelines or other memoranda that explicate, expand upon, or supplement the principles in this policy.
The cognizant office to be responsible for processing a proposal and award acceptance of a grant or contract is determined by the purpose of the request or award and the presence of conditions on the award. Where potential conflicts or ambiguities arise, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and OSR will coordinate activities closely in order to avoid multiple/competing solicitations from the same private sources. Payments to Rice that have contractual requirements are typically considered grants and established as R funds. The following is a partial list of the types of proposals handled by the two offices:
a. Office of Sponsored Research (Awards result in the initiation of an R-Fund)
b. Office of Development and Alumni Relations (Gifts result in the initiation of a G fund for spendable gifts or E and H funds related to endowment gifts and P funds for gifts for facilities and equipment)
A. Principal Investigator Eligibility
Principal investigator/Program Director (PI/PD) status is a privilege granted to faculty members who hold an academic appointment in the tenure-track or research ranks under Policy 201 “Faculty Appointments, Promotions, and Tenure,” (or an equivalent appointment under any successor policy). Instructional or special rank appointments do not have PI/PD Eligibility status. The following are guidelines used by the Vice Provost for Research when granting PI/PD status (i.e. when the VPR approves the PI Eligibility Form):
i. All persons granted PI/PD authority must accept full responsibility associated with the application for and administration of awarded sponsored projects.
ii. When a sponsor’s program guidelines require a student, graduate student, or post-doctoral fellow to be listed as PI/PD on the proposal or grant application, the student’s faculty mentor/advisor shall be the PI/PD of record on all Rice internal systems and forms and the faculty mentor/advisor is responsible for the conduct and oversight of the project.
iii. Circumstances may arise whereby it is desirable for an individual to be a principal investigator on a proposal submitted through the University, yet the individual is not a faculty member or employee at the time of the application. The designation of PI/PD for any individual who is not an employee with a faculty appointment requires specific approval by the Vice Provost for Research on a case-by-case basis.
iv. Under rare circumstances, the Vice Provost for Research may grant approval for a specified period of time (i.e. continuous approval for 5 years) for PI/PD status to individuals who are qualified for certain types of grant applications and must meet a programmatic need of Rice University’s mission. Such requests are subject to the approval of the cognizant department chair and school dean by completing and signing the PI Eligibility form.
v. Failure to comply with federal rules or University or sponsor policies or procedures may result in suspension or termination of PI/PD status.
In all other cases where exceptions to be a PI/PD are requested, the academic/administrative unit leader should make the request before the proposal is submitted for review, as approval rests with the Vice Provost for Research. The appropriate mechanism is the PI Eligibility Form.
B. Proposal Preparation
All proposals submitted for external funding for projects to be performed by faculty, students, and/or staff at the University require the review and approval of the OSR. OSR is responsible for providing the official signature, electronic or physical, for all proposals submitted on behalf of the University. Faculty members/principal investigators, or their designee, are not authorized to sign or submit any form of a request for external funding that does not also include OSR’s official approval.
To ensure proposals are submitted to sponsors by the sponsor’s deadline, all administrative documents (Cayuse record completion, budget, budget justification, Cayuse 424 for grants.gov submissions, biosketches, and other non-technical documents) must be received in final form (ready to submit) at least five (5) business days before the sponsor’s deadline. Any changes, particularly to the budget, on the deadline day should not significantly impact the administrative documents already under review. Please see proposal submission guidelines on the OSR website.
Rice University does not generally waive or reduce the F&A rate (indirect cost rate) applicable as negotiated under our federal rate agreement, because F&A recovery helps to fund the costs that the University incurs to support research. Any request for waiver should document the unusual circumstances that result in F&A charges being an extraordinary hardship to the project. Such requests for waivers or reductions in the federally approved facilities and administrative rate for budgets must be submitted to the Office of Research by using the F & A Waiver Request Form which should be approved by the appropriate chair(s), dean(s) prior to sending to the Vice Provost for Research. A copy of the approved waiver must be submitted to OSR with the proposal in Cayuse. The University reserves the right to charge the school, department or PI for F&A that is waived or reduced below the rate ordinarily applicable.
Cost sharing, if any, included in budgets shall follow the University’s cost sharing policy and procedures and should be detailed on the University's cost sharing form. A copy of the approved form must be submitted to OSR with the proposal in Cayuse.
C. Negotiations and Grant/Contract Management
In the event a proposal is funded, the OSR, not the principal investigator, assumes responsibility for negotiating and formally accepting agreements from external sponsors on behalf of the University. This will help ensure that all legal requirements incumbent upon the University in the application and acceptance of outside funding are carefully reviewed and appropriately acknowledged and that University policies and procedures are consistently and reasonably applied and followed. Some agreements (i.e., grants) are issued on a unilateral basis and require no negotiations or signatures from the University except under unusual circumstances.
Award negotiations are the responsibility of the Office of Sponsored Research for federal, state and not-forprofit awards and the Office of Technology Transfer for industry or commercially sponsored projects. Except for rare instances, agreements with sponsors are executed between the University (not the principal investigator) and the sponsor. In accepting these legally binding agreements, the University becomes the grantee or the contractor. The principal investigator becomes responsible for the technical work, fiscal oversight, and the overall management of the sponsored project, and he/she is obligated, together with the University, to comply with all terms of the agreement. For additional information regarding the principal investigator’s obligations, see Section IV: “Roles and Responsibilities.”
D. Acceptance of Awards
The official acceptance of awards from external sponsors is done by OSR. Signature authority with regard to research agreements rests with the Vice Provost for Research or another senior University official, depending upon the size of the award. Signature authority is delegated to the OSR and OTT Director(s) and Assistant Director(s). Principal investigators are prohibited from signing research agreements.
E. Research Involving Human Subjects
All research involving human subjects conducted by Rice faculty, staff, post docs or students or conducted in Rice facilities or on Rice property, shall be undertaken only after an Institutional Review Board (IRB) has reviewed and approved the research. The IRB approval confirms that the research is in accordance with the Federal Wide Assurance and the Code of Federal Regulations Title 45 Part 46 and Title 21 Parts 50 and 56 for the purpose of protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects involved in.
F. Research Involving Animals
All research involving animals conducted by Rice faculty, research staff, post docs and students, or conducted in Rice facilities or on Rice property, shall be undertaken only after review and approval by the University's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The activities of the IACUC shall be conducted in accordance with all applicable federal regulations and governed by The Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, Public Law 89-544, as amended, and such instructions and guidelines as may be issued by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture or other federal agencies.
G. Research Projects Involving Recombinant DNA (rDNA) Molecules
All research involving rDNA molecules conducted by Rice University faculty, research staff, post docs and students, regardless of sponsorship or source of funding, shall be undertaken only with the approval and under the cognizance of the Rice University Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), and in accordance with the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules. It is the charge of the IBC to ensure that rDNA activities conducted at Rice University or on Rice property are conducted safely and comply with all applicable regulations.
H. Research Projects Involving Select Agents and Toxic Materials
The University currently does not engage in any research involving select agents as defined and covered by the rules of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accordingly, any applications for proposed sponsored research involving any select agents must first be submitted to, and approved in writing by, the Provost and the President of the University prior to submission to a potential sponsor. The purchase, use, handling, and disposal of all hazardous and toxic materials must comply with the requirements established by the appropriate federal, state and local agencies, University policies, and in conjunction with the University's office of Environmental Health and Safety.
J. Export Controls
All exports of materials and data, including research results, must be in compliance with applicable federal laws and regulations (e.g., Export Administration Regulations (EAR), International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and trade sanction regulations). Exports include actual shipments or transmissions of materials or data outside of the U.S., including to research sponsors. Exports also include disclosures of data or other technology to a foreign person in the U.S., including faculty, staff and student research team members. Generally, research at Rice qualifies as fundamental research and is not subject to export control restrictions on disclosures to foreign persons in the U.S. In certain circumstances, research may not qualify as fundamental research and may be controlled because of the nature of the research, the intended use of the research results, the research equipment used, restrictions on publication of the research results, or restrictions on foreign person participation in the research. In these instances, the research may only be undertaken with an appropriate technology control plan in place that has been approved by the Vice Provost for Research, the Office of Research Compliance, the relevant Office of the Dean, and the Office of the General Counsel.
K. Transfer of Materials
Any materials used as part of research and that are required to be transferred to or from Rice University by faculty, research staff, post docs or students must be transferred pursuant to a Material Transfer Agreement, which shall be negotiated and executed by the Office of Technology Transfer. All transfers shall also be made in accordance with applicable federal requirements and shall be verified by the Offices of Research Compliance and Technology Transfer as not violating any federal export control regulations.
L. Expenditures of Grant/Contract Funds
The funding period of a project begins on the effective date of the award document or award agreement and runs for the length of time indicated. Expenditures incurred prior to the effective date of the grant/contract may not be charged against the project unless specifically authorized in the award document or approval has been received by the sponsor or by other means (i.e., expanded authorities granted by federal agencies or advanced funding approved by the relevant Dean). The process for securing internal approvals at Rice requires the submission of the Pre-award/Advance Spending Request form. No expenditures may be made after the scheduled expiration date of the agreement unless approved by the sponsor. All accounting functions shall be under the direction of the Office of Research and Cost Accounting in the Controller’s Office. The principal investigator has primary oversight to ensure that all charges and budgetary decisions for an externally funded project are made in accordance with the terms and conditions of the award, including the approved budget, and in accordance with the relevant policies of the University.
M. Grant/Contract Closeout
It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to ensure that all periodic and final scientific/technical reports are transmitted timely to the sponsor, through OSR, in accordance with the terms and conditions and deadlines of the award. Rice University requires a copy of any report submitted by the PI/PD directly to the sponsor. Failure to submit reports on a timely basis may result in action by the University against the principal investigator, including ineligibility to submit any future proposals for sponsored research until all delinquent reports have been submitted and accepted by a sponsor.
The University, through OSR, the Office of Technology Transfer, and the Office of Research and Cost Accounting, is responsible for submitting all invention, equipment/property and fiscal reports. The principal investigator shall work with, and provide the necessary information to, these offices to ensure the timely and accurate submission of all reports. OSR will submit the patent report(s) provided by OTT directly to the sponsor after confirmation and agreement from the PI.
A number of individuals and units have responsibility for the design, conduct, report, and/or support of research activities at Rice University. Some individuals may undertake multiple roles within the institution.
A. Principal Investigators
Principal investigators, as designated by the Institution and approved by the sponsor, are responsible for the scientific or technical direction as well as the budgetary and financial oversight of the project. While departmental administrators and central accounting personnel provide PIs essential management support in this area, it is the investigator who must make the crucial financial decisions related to expenditures. Additionally, principal investigators have the primary responsibility to ensure that faculty, students, staff, post docs and visiting scholars receive the appropriate training, instruction and mentorship necessary to work safely in his/her laboratory, which may include the identification, coordination, and training for the research team with other units on campus. In addition, the PI shall ensure that equipment and supplies are in place so that research can be conducted safely. Moreover, the PI is responsible for taking the actions necessary for his/her laboratory to comply with Rice policies as well as with all federal, state and local laws.
Additionally, this responsibility includes:
i. following institutional and sponsor instructions as well as terms and conditions;
ii. ensuring the proper recording and storage of data;
iii. reporting of intellectual property;
iv. proper handling of hazardous materials;
v. directing the use and care of equipment;
vi. handling issues regarding conflicts of interest; research ethics; and scientific misconduct.
vii. For research involving human subjects or the use of animals in research, or potential export control issues, principal investigators shall also ensure that students, post docs and research staff receive information and complete the necessary training prior to conducting any research in these areas.
viii. Principal investigators shall also inform their research staff, post docs and students of those University policies and procedures that may impact their research projects such as those regarding purchasing, travel, and intellectual property.
ix. Principal investigators should inform members of their research teams, including students and post docs, of the source of support of the research and of their salary or stipend and principal investigators must have first-hand knowledge of the effort and amount and type of contribution each person makes to a research project.
x. In the mentorship of students, principal investigators shall avoid the acceptance of external sponsorship of research activities which would compromise a student's ability to publish or discuss his/her work openly or jeopardize a student's ability to satisfy a graduation requirement in a timely manner due to a sponsor's imposed time constraint.
xi. PI/PDs should appropriately acknowledge federal support of research findings in publications, announcements, news programs, and other media.
xii. Principal investigators should not pursue research without scholarly merit such as “work for hire” services, “fee for service” work, or services ordinarily performed by a commercial entity.
a. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the University recognizes that there may be occasions where it is appropriate for faculty to undertake such work because of the opportunities it may provide for students or others to collaborate with a sponsor or the unique instrumentation available at the University or expertise of a principal investigator.
b. Under these circumstances, the prior written approval of the Vice Provost for Research is required.
B. Deans and Department Chairs
In supporting sponsored research activities by their faculty, post docs, and research staff, schools and departments assume certain responsibilities. Approvals of deans (or their designee) and department chairs (or their designee) of a proposal via Cayuse or paper certifies to the following:
i. scholarly merit of the project;
ii. the competence of the principal investigator in the area of research;
iii. the recognition of applicable safety standards and regulations and the existence of plans for appropriate action to comply with them;
iv. the ability of the principal investigator to successfully manage the proposed research project;
v. compliance with existing University and departmental policies;
vi. acknowledgment that, to the extent possible, the research project relates to the academic objectives of the department and provides opportunities for graduate and/or undergraduate education or research training;
vii. the availability of University and department space, facilities, and equipment including information technology resources to fulfill project needs;
viii. the adequacy of the budget and the determination of the department to prevent cost overruns;
ix. the capability of the department to provide necessary administrative support (personnel and supplies); and
x. assurance that the project will be conducted with appropriate management and oversight.
C. Department Administrators
Department administrators are responsible for supporting the PIs to ensure that research proposals are prepared completely and processed timely and that grant awards are administered in compliance with University policies, procedures and federal or state laws and regulations. Such financial duties include:
i. Reviewing accounting statements to ensure that expenses are charged appropriately;
ii. Assisting the PI in planning grant expenditures to ensure timely close-out;
iii. Assisting the PI on effort reporting and other reporting requirements.
D. Lab Technicians
i. Staff are responsible for successfully completing required training and adhering to safe practices while working or doing research in laboratories. They must follow the required work practices and use personal protective equipment and engineering controls. Additionally, they are responsible for properly using university-supplied materials and equipment and for exercising good judgment in safely carrying out their work by following established procedures.
ii. Staff are responsible for promptly notifying and reporting potentially unsafe conditions and environmental health hazards, as well as injuries and illnesses in the laboratory, to the PI, to the PI’s designated laboratory representative or to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. See University Policy 313.
E. Office of Sponsored Research
Under the leadership of the Vice Provost for Research, OSR reviews, approves, and provides institutional signature for proposals, awards, and contracts as these documents relate to externally sponsored research and projects. In addition, OSR is responsible for monitoring compliance with federal regulations and University and sponsoring agency policies and procedures regarding the management of non-financial aspects of sponsored research and projects. OSR functions as a liaison between sponsors and the Principal Investigator in matters of policy, procedures, and regulations and provides communication, guidance, education, and training on proposals, awards, and contracts to the Rice University research community.
F. Vice Provost for Research
The Vice Provost for Research (VPR) is Rice University’s chief official responsible for directing and guiding the University's research mission including the identification and development of sponsorship opportunities. In this capacity, s/he provides direction, resources, and oversight to help ensure that allegations of research misconduct are managed in accordance with Federal regulations and University and sponsoring agency policies and procedures. Through the formulation of compliance entities, policies, procedures, systems, and educational programs that support research and related activities, the VPR supports the development and implementation of high quality research initiatives and establishes and maintains a culture of compliance among faculty, students, and staff involved in research and related activities.
G. Office of Research and Cost Accounting
Under the leadership of the Vice President for Finance and the Controller, the Office of Research and Cost Accounting assures that the University is in compliance with federal laws and regulations related to financial responsibilities for the management of externally sponsored research and other sponsored programs.
H. Office of General Counsel
The Office of the General Counsel provides legal counsel, representation, and oversight of work on the wide range of legal matters affecting Rice University. Under the leadership of the General Counsel, University attorneys advise administrators and faculty on legal and regulatory questions related to Rice’s activities, including transactional matters, dispute resolution, and policy formulation. They also represent the interests of the University in administrative and judicial proceedings. Outside counsel may be engaged by the Office of General Counsel to provide additional expertise and representation when appropriate (other University offices are not authorized to retain outside attorneys on behalf of the University).
Laboratory Safety Policy - Policy No. 313
Research Misconduct - Policy No. 324
Human Health and Safety in the Performance of Research - Policy No. 326-98
Care and Humane Treatment of Animals Used in Research, Testing, and Education - Policy No. 314-90
Salary Support through Sponsored Research - Policy No. 311
Cost Sharing - Policy No.306
Research Faculty - Policy No. 327
Issue and Monitoring Subawards and Subcontracts
Research Equipment - Policy No. 331-03
Procurement - Policy No. 814
Director, Office of Sponsored Research
Office of Sponsored Research
Office of Research
David W. Leebron, President
January 1, 1983
February 8, 2003
February 13, 2007
July 27, 2015
104-98: Issued September 21, 1972; Revised November 3, 1998
328-90: Isues January 9, 1990