Glossary and Definitions for Faculty Research

Basic Definitions

Sponsored Research: External funds given or awarded to support a specific research or training project or proposal.

Principal Investigator: (PI) Person designated to be primarily responsible for the proposed research or training project.  This term has specific meaning with regards to federal grants.  At NYU, all tenure or tenure track faculty members may be PIs.  Clinical Professors may only be PIs on training grants and Researchers (code 103) must get Principal Investigator status before they may serve as principal investigator on a grant. 

Project Director: (PD) essentially a PI, this term is associated more often with private funding sources.  

Co-Principal Investigator: Has meaning at National Science Foundation (NSF) and NIH – essentially the equal of a Principal Investigator on a project, used when collaborating on a project and it makes the collaborators basically equal. 

Co-Investigator:  a Co-Investigator is an important collaborator on a grant but not the equal of the Principal Investigator.

Key Personnel: People working on a specific project whose knowledge or expertise is critical to the success of the project.  All Investigators should be considered key personnel.  Other researchers may be key personnel, but should only be listed as such if their contribution to the grant is substantive. 

Proposal: a request for support of a specific research or training project or program.  May include a budget or detailed description of the project.

Pre-award and Post-award: Pre-award is the start of the process to receive external funding, from initial conception of the idea through the proposal development and submission process and ends when an award is made.  Post-award is from the point an award is made through administration and reporting of the project until final reporting and completion of all fiscal matters related to the award 

Awards come in three basic forms:  Contracts, Grants and Gifts

Contract:  an agreement between organizations that may include research or training.  Generally restrictive in nature, also deliverables are usually involved. (always fund 25 in FAME)

Grant:  An award given to support a specific project (either research or training).  Generally, there is a proposal and budget that were generated in order to receive the award. (Fund 24 or 25 in FAME depending on if private or public respectively)

Gift: Least restrictive in nature.  Does not usually include reporting requirements, may or may not have a budget.  (Fund 20 in FAME)

Proposal Definitions

Letter of Inquiry:  A letter to a funding source requesting permission to submit a proposal or exploring interest in funding a particular topic or program.  

Letter of intent:  A written statement expressing the intention of the undersigned to enter into a formal agreement. 

Request for Proposal: (RFP) Issued by a specific funder to address a specific need or avenue of research.  Usually have specific funds set aside for PI’s responding to the specific request.  Other similar terms are Request for Applications, Request for Quotations, and Request for Services.

Program Announcement:  An announcement requesting applications in the stated scientific areas. Generally, money is not set aside to pay for them. 

Request for Applications: (RFA) Stimulates research in a well-defined scientific area. RFAs have a single application receipt date.  They identify funds set aside and the number of awards likely to be funded.

Solicited Proposal: Proposal that funder requested PI to submit.

Unsolicited Proposal: A proposal for research funded as a result of an investigator, on his or her own, submitting a research application. Also known as unsolicited research. 

Budgeting Definitions

Direct Costs: Costs that can be identified with a particular project or program. Allowable direct costs may include: Salaries and fringe benefits of principal investigators and supporting staff, Expenditures for project-related equipment and supplies, Fees and supporting costs for consultant services, Expenses for travel, Inpatient and outpatient costs for research subjects, publications and other miscellaneous expenses, Contract services, Costs for consortium participants.

Personnel: All salaries, hourly pay for employees working on the project.  Consultants and participant fees are NOT considered personnel costs.

Fringe Benefits: Non-salary employee compensation.  NYU currently computes the fringe rate at 29% of salary for sponsored projects.  Tuition remission is calculated in addition to fringe benefits for Doctoral Research Assistants.

Other than personnel services: (OTPS)   All expenses not related to personnel or fringe benefits.  This include things like equipment, consultants, subcontracts, travel, participant or subject fees, supplies, meeting and dissemination costs, as well as tuition or tuition remission fees.

Course Buy Outs: A faculty member may be given a course buy-out to provide time to work on externally funded research if permission is granted by the Chair of the faculty member’s primary department prior to submission of the grant proposal and the grant’s budget provides for 17% of the faculty member’s salary and fringe to be paid per each course buy-out.

Research supplies vs. office supplies:  Research supplies are all items used directly for the research project; this may include paper, pens, transparencies, test tubes.  Office supplies are items used in administrative support of the research.

Facilities and Administrative Costs: (AKA Indirect Costs or Overhead) Costs associated with the general operation of an institution and the conduct of its research activities. DHHS supports a policy of full reimbursement for indirect costs for most grant programs. Allowable indirect costs include: Depreciation use allowance, Facilities operations and maintenance, General administration and expenses, Departmental administration, Sponsored project administration, Libraries

Modified total direct cost (MTDC): Tuition, tuition remission, capital equipment over $3,000, contracts over $25,000 for the life of the grant are all excluded from a modified total direct cost on publicly funded projects only.

NYU Offices

OOR: Steinhardt Office of Research. Assists with funding proposal submissions (UDAR approval, budgets, budget justification, deadlines, etc.).

UDAR: University Development and Alumni Relations. Provides approval of private external funding sources. In certain cases, can assist in prospect research of potential private funders. Responsible for all individual and alumni giving. 

OSP: Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is staffed by Projects Officers knowledgeable about funding opportunities in a wide range of academic fields and experienced in dealing with public and private not-for-profit sponsors. Projects Officers work with OOR staff to help identify appropriate potential sponsors, interpret guidelines, develop budgets, and fulfill application requirements. OSP also provides institutional sign off on proposal submissions, negotiates awards with sponsors and guides investigators in funded project administration. OSP is the only office that can officially submit a grant proposal and sign off on contracts and agreements. 

SPA: Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) is responsible for all post-award administration of grants and contracts received at Washington Square to support sponsored activities.  This includes project set-up, billing and financial reporting, receivables analysis and collection, and financial reporting. SPA is also responsible for compliance activities relating to grants and serves as the primary liaison for all audits, including the annual A-133 audit. Steinhardt’s Post-Award office housed within Administration and Finance works directly with SPA.