Research Administration Glossary



Regulations - the contractual rules and procedures governing sponsored research projects.

OMB - Office of Management and Budget

A-21 "Cost Principles for Educational Institutions" - a circular published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to grants, contracts, and other government agreements with educational institutions (also known as Sponsored Projects).

OMB Circulars - regulatory circulars issued by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB). (Link to the OMB circular as well as link to the specific circular via TRAM.) Definitions included in OMB Circulars A-21, 110, 122, 128 and 133.

CAS - Cost Accounting Standards; federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and spending funds.



ASPR - Armed Services Procurement Regulations

DAR - Defense Acquisition Regulation

OFPP - Office of Federal Procurement Policy


Defense Acquisition Regulations (DAR) - the source regulations for research projects sponsored by the

Department of Defense.

DFARS - Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement



Misconduct in Science - fabrication, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research. It does not include honest error or honest differences in interpretations or judgments of data.



AAALAC - American Association for the Accreditation of Lab Animal Care

IACUC - Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

IBC - Institutional Biosafety Committee

IRB - Institutional Review Board (for human subjects research)

OPRR - Office for Protection from Research Risks (DHHS)

OPRS - Office for Protection from Research Subjects (, consisting of the Human subjects, animal welfare, and Biosafety

AHA - American Heart Association



Gifts and bequests - awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support. (Also see Donation.)

Bequests - a type of donation or gift.

Gifts - may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support.

Endowment - a fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions (e.g., endowed chair).

Donation - transfer of equipment, money, goods, services, and property with or without specifications as to its use. Sometimes donation is used to designate contributions that are made with more specific intent than is usually the case with a gift, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. (Also see Gift)



Grant - a type of financial assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A grant, as opposed to a cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities.

Challenge Grant - a grant that provides monies in response to monies from other sources, usually according to a formula. A challenge grant may, for example, offer two dollars for every one that is obtained from a fund drive. The grant usually has a fixed upper limit, and may have a challenge minimum below which no grant will be made. This form of grant is fairly common in the arts, humanities, and some other fields, but is less common in the sciences. A challenge grant differs from a matching grant in at least one important respect: The amount of money that the recipient organization realizes from a challenge grant may vary widely, depending upon how successful that organization is in meeting the challenge. Matching grants usually award a clearly defined amount and require that a specified sum be obtained before any award is made.

Matching Grant - a grant that requires a specified portion of the cost of a supported item of equipment or project be obtained from other sources. The required match may be more or less than the amount of the grant. Some matching grants require that the additional funds be obtained from sources outside the recipient organization. Many matching grants are paid in installments, the payments coinciding with the attainment of pre-specified levels of additional funding. (Also see Challenge Grant.) Matching grants are very common in the sciences, especially for equipment. They are standard practice in some government agencies.

Small Grant - a special type of award, often limited to a beginning researcher. Typically, such an award may be obtained for one year only.


Cooperative Agreement An award similar to a grant, but in which the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation, and anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.

Continuation Project (Non-Competing) Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only. A project

approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time. At the end of the initial budget period, progress on the project is assessed. If satisfactory, an award is made for the next budget period, subject to the availability of funds. Continuation projects do not compete with new project proposals and are not subjected to peer review beyond the initial project approval.

CRADA or CRDA - Cooperative Research and Development Agreement



Contract - a mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient. Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals.

Contract/Grant Officer - a sponsor's designated individual who is officially responsible for the business management aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the business officer of the grantee/contractor organization, the grant/contract officer is responsible for all business management matters associated with the review, negotiation, award, and administration of a grant or contract and interprets the associated administration policies, regulations, and provisions. (For definition of scientific officer, see Program/Project Officer.)

Cost - Reimbursement Type

Contract/Grant - A contract/grant for which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount.

Fixed-Price (FP) - Contract/Grant A contract/grant for which one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered. Quite often this is a fee-for-service agreement.



Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) - an announcement of a federal agency's general research interests that invites proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made.

IFB - Invitation for Bid; a solicitation issued to prospective bidders. An IFB describes what is required and how the bidders will be evaluated. Award is based on the lowest bid. Negotiations are not conducted.

Request for Applications (RFA) - announcements that indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a sponsor. Proposals submitted in response to RFAs generally result in the award of a grant. Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific sponsor publications. (Also see Broad Agency Announcements.)

Request for Proposal (RFP) - announcements that specify a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered, and appropriate applicants sought. Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of a contract. Notices of federal RFPs are published in the Commerce Business Daily.

Request for Quotations (RFQ) - a formal request from TAMRF to vendors for a price quotation on equipment or supplies to be purchased

Program Announcement - describes existence of a research opportunity. It may describe new or expanded interest in a particular extramural program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in an extramural program.



Sponsor - organization that funds a research project.

Mission - a sponsor's stated purpose, which is designed to address a specified set of problems. Almost all federal research agencies are designated as mission agencies.

PI - Principal Investigator; the individual responsible for the conduct of research or other activity described in a proposal for an award.

Senior Personnel - professional personnel who are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of a project.

Pre-Proposal - a brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal. Also termed Preliminary Proposal.

Proposal - an application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested. Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a principal investigator

Scope of Work - the description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project

Investigator-Initiated Proposal - a proposal submitted to a sponsor that is not in response to an RFP, RFA, or a specific program announcement

Unsolicited Proposal Proposals - proposals submitted to a sponsor that are not in response to an RFP, RFA, or program announcement. (See also Investigator-Initiated Proposal)

Competing Proposals - proposals that are submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted; either must compete for research funds. Ongoing projects must compete again if the term of the original award has expired.

New and Competing Proposals - proposals that are submitted for the first time or ongoing projects that must recompete for funding prior to expiration of the original award.

Program/Project Officer - a sponsor's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. Serving as the counterpart to the principal investigator

Renewal - applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only. A competitively reviewed proposal requesting additional funds extending the scope of work beyond the current project period.

Teaming Agreement - an agreement between two or more parties to participate in a research project or teaching activity.

Technical Data - recorded information, regardless of form or characteristic, of a scientific or technical nature. Often referred to as the "science" of a proposal.


Allocable Costs - those allowable costs that actually benefit the grant or contract to which they are being charged.

Allowable Costs - those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, such as salaries and equipment. Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.

Post-Differential Allowance - expenses authorized for employees based abroad to provide additional

compensation for services as a recruitment and retention tool. When the allowance is authorized, the employee's base salary is increased accordingly


Direct Costs - clearly identifiable costs related to a specific project. General categories of direct costs include but are not limited to salaries and wages, fringe benefits, supplies, contractual services, travel and communication, equipment, and computer use.

Indirect Costs - costs related to expenses incurred in conducting or supporting research or other externally-funded activities but not directly attributable to a specific project. General categories of indirect costs include general administration (accounting, payroll, purchasing, etc.), sponsored project administration, plant operation and maintenance, library expenses, departmental administration expenses, depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment, and student administration and services. (See also Facilities and Administrative Costs.)

Total Direct Costs (TDC) - the total of all direct costs of a project.

Total Project Costs - the total allowable direct and indirect costs incurred by the institution to carry out an approved project or activity.

Indirect Cost Rate - the rate, expressed as a percentage of a base amount (MTDC), established by negotiation with the cognizant federal agency on the basis of the institution's projected costs for the year and distributed as prescribed in OMB Circular A-21. At, indirect costs are applied to salary and wages (S&W) or modified total direct cost (MTDC) base. The indirect cost rate is charged on a set of direct costs known as an indirect cost base.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC) - the basic indirect costs are caluclated on a subset of direct

costs, normally excluding among other costs, equipment, patient care, space rental, alterations and renovations, and subcontract costs in excess of the first $25,000.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) Costs - costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and,

therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. F&A costs are synonymous with Indirect Costs.

Fringe Benefits - employee benefits paid by the employer. (e.g., FICA, Worker's Compensation, Withholding Tax, Insurance, etc.)

Budget - the detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant or contract.(See also rebudget.)

Budget Period - the interval of time--usually twelve months--into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.

Budget Adjustment - the act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another.

Salaries and Wages (S&W) - payments made to employees of the institution for work performed.

Stipend - a payment made to an individual 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.

Cost-Sharing - a general term, used as a noun or adjective, that can describe virtually any type of arrangement in one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs, institutions. Example: A university receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000. The sponsor agrees topay 75% ($75,000) and the university agrees to pay 25% ($25,000). The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component

In-Kind - contributions or assistance in a form other than money. Equipment, materials, or services of recognized value that are offered in lieu of cash.

Rebudget - the act of amending the budget buy moving funds from one category or line item to another. (See also Budget Adjustment)

Funding Cycle - range of time during which proposals are accepted, reviewed, and funds are awarded. If a sponsor has standing proposal review committees (or boards) that meet at specified times during the year, application deadlines are set to correspond with those meetings. For some sponsors, if proposals are received too late to be considered in the current funding cycle, they may be held over for the next review meeting (i.e., National Science Foundation's Target Dates).

Incremental Funding - a method of funding contracts that provides specific spending limits below the total estimated costs. These limits may be exceeded only at the contractor's own risk. Each increment is, in essence, a funding action.

COLA - Cost of Living Allowance granted to employees based in a foreign city, where cost of living is higher than in Washington, D.C.



Peer Review - a system using reviewers who are the professional equals of the principal investigator or program director who is to be responsible for directing or conducting the proposed project. It is a form of objective review. Peer review is legislatively mandated in some programs and in other programs is administratively required.

Priority Score - a score derived from the rating given a research proposal by each member on a review committee. It is used to help determine which approved proposals will be granted awards, based on funds available

ISRC - Independent Substantive Review Committee


Terms of Award - all legal requirements imposed on an agreement by the sponsor, whether by statute, regulation(s), or terms in the award document. The terms of an agreement may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to protect the sponsor's interests.

Unilateral Award - an award made by a sponsor to an organization without considering competitive proposals. They are most often made when unsolicited proposals receive favorable treatment.




Consortium Agreement - a group of collaborative investigators/institutions; arrangement can be formalized with specified terms and conditions.



OPAS - organizational Prior Approval System

Award - funds that have been obligated by a funding agency for a particular project

New Award - an award not previously awarded or a renewal or continuation award treated as a new award by the sponsor and given a new agency number.

.Notice of Grant Award - the legally binding document that serves as a notification to the recipient and others that a grant or cooperative agreement has been made; contains or references all terms of the award; and documents the obligation of funds

Interim Funding - authorization to expend funds on a project to a specified limit before the award document has been received from the sponsor.

Encumbrance - funds that have been set aside or "claimed" for projected expenses pending actual expenditure of the funds

Unrestricted Funds - monies with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds

Deficit Expenditures - exceed funds available.



Key Personnel - the personnel considered to be of primary importance to the successful conduct of a research project. The term usually applies to the senior members of the project staff.

Project Period (PP) - the total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved. A project period may consist of one or more budget periods. (Also see Budget Period.)



Prior Approval - the requirement for written documentation of permission to use project funds for purposes not in the approved budget, or to change aspects of the program from those originally planned and approved. Prior approval must be obtained before the performance of the act that requires such approval under the terms of the agreement.

Final Report - the final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.

Fiscal Year (FY) - any twelve-month period for which annual accounts are kept (example, July 1 through June 30).

Expiration Date - the date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award.

No Cost Time Extension - an extension of the period of performance beyond the expiration data to allow the principal investigator to finish a project. Usually, no additional costs are provided.

Progress Report - periodic, scheduled reports required by the sponsor summarizing research progress to date. Technical, fiscal, and invention reports may be required.

Close Out - the act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project



GSA - General Services Administration



Modification - an award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award other than those named above. Example: Carryover approvals, adding or deleting special terms and conditions, changes in funding levels (including NSF's Research Experience for Undergraduates, NIH's Minority Supplement, DOD's ASSERT Programs),administrative changes initiated by the agency, extensions that include changes in terms, change of principal investigator, etc.

Supplemental Proposal (Rebudgeting or Modification) - a request to the sponsor for additional funds for

an ongoing project during the previously approved performance period. A supplemental proposal may result from increased costs, modifications in design, or a desire to add a closely related component to the ongoing project.

Extension - an additional period of time given by the sponsor to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or contract. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date.

Subs - short for subcontractors.

Subcontract, Subgrant, or Subagreement - a document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.

Revision - a modified and resubmitted request for funding for a project that was previously not funded either because it was denied by the sponsor or withdrawn by the principal investigator.

Audit (CAN BE PRE OR POST) - a formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or financial situation. An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable terms, laws, and regulations.



Task Order Agreeement (TOA) - a legally binding document authorizing work and appropriating funds as a supplement to a basic contract.

Change Order - a written order signed by the contracting officer, directing the contractor to make changes that the changes clause of the contract authorizes the contracting officer to order without the consent of the contractor.

Limitation of Cost (LOC) - a mandatory clause for cost-reimbursement type contracts. Under the clause, the sponsor is not obligated to reimburse the contractor for costs in excess of the stated amount. The contractor, however, is not obligated to continue performance once expenses reach the stated amount.



FDP - Federal Demonstration Project

GPG - Grant Proposal Guide for the National Science Foundation

DRG - Division of Research Grants (National Institutes of Health)



Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) - agency administered programs supported by ear-marked

federal funds, making grants to small business entities

PRDA - Program Research and Development Announcement



FOIA Freedom of Information Act



CBD - Commerce Business Daily

CFDA - Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

CFR - Code of Federal Regulations



AUTM - Association of University Technology Managers

SRA - Society of Research Administrators

COGR - Council on Governmental Relations

NACUBO - National Association of College and University Business Officers

NCURA - National Council for University Research Administrators



Electronic Research Administration (ERA) - conducting research administration by utilizing electronic

resources such as the internet, the world wide web, form templates, databases, and other electronic tools. (For more information, link to NCURA or ERA Task Force)

COS Community of Science - a web server containing information about scientific expertise, funded scientific research, and funding opportunities for research.

SMARTS SPIN Matching And Researcher Transmittal System

SPIN Sponsored Programs Information Network - an on-line search system available by subscription for research opportunities developed by the InfoEd.

FEDIX - on-line federal database serving most federal agencies for on-line searches.

IRIS Illinois Researcher Information Service - an on-line search system available by subscription for research opportunities developed by the University of Illinois.

GENIUS - Global Expertise Network for Industry, Unversities and Scholars

TRAM - A WWW service initially developed by the Texas Research Administrators Group providing funding opportunity searches, agency form templates, links to research administration home pages, etc.



ARPA - Advanced Research Projects Agency (DOD)

AID - Agency for International Development

AFOSR - Air Force Office of Scientific Research (DOD)

DED - Department of Education

DHHS - Department of Health and Human Services

DOD - Department of Defense (includes Air Force, Army, ARPA, and Navy)

DOE - Department of Energy

DOI - Department of Interior

DOT - Department of Transportation

EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

FAA - Federal Aviation Administration

FIC - Fogarty International Center (NIH)

NAS - National Academy of Sciences

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NCHGR - National Center for Human Genome Research (NIH)

NCI - National Cancer Institute (NIH)

NCRR - National Center for Research Resources (NIH)

NEA - National Endowment for the Arts

NEH - National Endowment for the Humanities

NEI - National Eye Institute (NIH)

NHLBI - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH)

NIA - National Institute on Aging (NIH)

NIAAA - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH)

NIAID - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH)

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIH)

NICHD - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH)

NIDA - National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH)

NIDCD - National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIH)

NIDDK - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH)

NIDR - National Institute of Dental Research (NIH)

NIEHS - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH)

NIGMS - National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIH)

NIH - National Institutes of Health

NIMH - National Institute of Mental Health (NIH)

NINDS - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH)

NINR - National Institute for Nursing Research (NIH)

NLM - National Library of Medicine

NSF - National Science Foundation

ONR - Office of Naval Research

USDA - United States Department of Agriculture

USIA - United States Information Agency

VA - Veterans Administration


SBA - Small Business Administration

SBIR - Small Business Innovative Research

SSA - Social Security Administration

STTR - Small Business Technology Transfer

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant applications and/or programs to fund small business

"teamed" with research institutions.

AMA - American Medical Association

NPR - National Performance Review

FDA - Food and Drug Administration