uOttawa Researcher Guide on Research Expenditures

The Guidelines apply to all research funds held at the University, including:

  • General research Funds;
  • Tri-agency Funds;
  • University of Ottawa Research Funds;
  • All other funding sources, unless the funder allows more or less flexibility.

Note: Any exceptions will be communicated on the Notice of Decision.

For any questions regarding the implementation of the Guide, please contact info-sgr-rms@uottawa.ca.

The Four Principles Governing the Appropriate Use of Grant Funds

Contribute to the Direct Cost of the Research Activities for which the Funds were Awarded
  • A direct cost of research must be directly attributable to the funded research program or project and agreed to and authorized by the grantee.
  • Researchers are responsible for how they use the funds to advance their research.
  • Researchers may deviate from the proposed research, activities, and budget as long as they use the grant for the broad purpose for which it was originally awarded.
  • The decision to change the allocation of funds rests solely with the researcher except when not permitted by the funder such as CFI or certain research contracts.
  • If an expense does not seem to align with the broad purpose for which the funds were awarded or the link to the project is unclear, the administrator is responsible for seeking clarification from the researcher on how the expense contributes to the advancement of the 1project.
Not provided by the the administering institution to the research personel

Direct costs should not be confused with indirect costs, which are costs that institutions incur, such as central and departmental administrative costs, which cannot be attributed to specific research projects. Indirect costs for Tri-Agency grants are partially funded by the Research Support Fund.

Be Effective and Economical
How does the Tri-Agency view what makes an expense “effective and economical”?
  • It achieves the intended outcome with due regard for minimizing cost by avoiding unnecessary expense.
  • It optimizes the use of the funds (does not necessarily mean the “lowest cost”).
  • Researchers are responsible for how they use the funds to achieve their goals.
  • Researchers make trade-offs between effectiveness and economical in the use of their funds, and they are responsible for these decisions.
  • Certain expenses may seem more or less economical than others, and this choice remains the decision of the researcher.
  • If an expense seems greater than the norm for its category, the administrator is responsible for seeking clarification from the researcher on how the expense contributes to the advancement of the project
Not Result in Personal Gain for Members of the Research Team
How does the Tri-Agency define “personal gain”?

The concept of “personal gain” refers to using grant funds to serve an individual’s interests or attain a personal advantage and/or profit that outweighs the benefit to the grant-funded research/activities.

Examples of personal gain and conflict of interest are:
  • Entering into research contracts with companies employing a faculty member or a member of that faculty members’ immediate family.
  • Directing research toward developments of potential benefit to private firms in which the researcher has an interest
  • Influencing the purchase of equipment or materials from a company in which the person has a personal interest.
  • Extending a research trip beyond what is permitted in policy 21, procedure 16-11.

If an expense seems to provide a personal benefit to a researcher, the administrator is responsible for seeking clarification from the researcher.

uOttawa policies, Tri-Agency guidelines and exceptions

Employment and compensation

uOttawa Policies

 

Mandatory Directives on Employment & Compensation

Individuals employed to work on funded research/activities are not considered employees of the Funder and can be compensated via salary or stipend from the grant funds. If employment includes the provision of compensation benefits, the administering institution’s share of the costs of mandated compensation benefits is eligible for reimbursement from grant funds. Only individuals employed and compensated from Agency grant funds to work on the funded research/activities are eligible for mandated severance pay for the period of time the individual worked on the current grant.

Grant funds must not be used to pay compensation to:

  • grant recipients or individuals who conduct research independently as part of the terms and conditions of their employment, including but not limited to researchers in academia, hospitals and research institutes
  • individuals expected to work on the funded research/activities free of charge as a collaboration as per the program and funding opportunity literature and any relevant Agency agreements

Subject to the restrictions above,

  • Individuals employed and compensated by another organization for the time spent on the funded research/activities cannot be compensated from grant funds.
  • However, grant funds can be used to reimburse the organization for costs incurred in compensating the individual for time spent on the grant activities.

International researchers may be compensated from grant funds, provided their employer can attest, by letter, that the individual is not being compensated by the employer for time spent on the grant-funded research/activities.

Source: Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, 2020

Goods and services

uOttawa Policy

 

Tri Agency Policy - Mandatory Directives on Good and Services Expenditures

The acquisition of goods and services for the funded research/activities must be undertaken in accordance with the administering institution’s relevant policies and processes.

Agency grant funds must not be used to pay consulting fees to:

  • grant recipients or individuals who conduct research independently as part of the terms and conditions of their employment, including but not limited to researchers in academia, hospitals and research institutes
  • individuals expected to work on the funded research/activities free of charge as a collaboration as per the program and funding opportunity literature and any relevant agency agreement

Source: Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, 2020

 

Exceptions

  • Home Internet costs - up to a maximum of $25 per month, which represents 50% of the average monthly amount spent by Canadian families in the upper quintile of income
Travel and travel-related subsistence

uOttawa Policies

 

Mandatory Directives on Travel and Travel-Related Subsistence Expenditures

All travel and travel-related subsistence expenditures (meals and accommodation) must be claimed in accordance with the administering institution’s relevant policies and processes.

Such expenditures, including reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, can be claimed for the grant recipient and other individuals who contribute to the funded research/activities. For claimants other than the grant recipient, the affiliation with the funded research/activities must be specified.

The cost of alcoholic beverages cannot be reimbursed from grant funds.

Source: Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, 2020

 

Exceptions

  • Frais de déplacement entre l’établissement d’origine et le lieu du congé sabbatique limités à un aller-retour, sauf dans des circonstances inhabituelles : un aller-retour supplémentaire à des fins de recherche est permis
  • Frais de transport du bénéficiaire vers l’établissement d’origine à des fins de supervision ou d’enseignement : un voyage de retour pour la supervision d’étudiants et d’étudiantes des cycles supérieurs est permis
  • Education-related costs such as thesis preparation, tuition and course fees, leading up to a degree- for student thesis preparation & defense
  • Patenting expenses when the University is a named partner on the Patent- must consult with the Office of the Vice-President, Research, and in accordance with university policy 29
  • Grant proposal development and submission.
Hospitality

uOttawa Policy

 

Directives on Hospitality Expenditures

The provision of hospitality must be in accordance with the administering institution's relevant policies and processes.

Hospitality costs (non-alcoholic refreshments and/or meals) must be directly related to the funded research and be incurred for:

  • networking purposes provided in the context of a formal courtesy or as a form of cultural respect (for example, a grant recipient meeting with partners, stakeholders or guest researchers)
  • activities in the context of assemblies or gatherings that facilitate and contribute to achieving the research objectives (for example, a workshop or conference) where one or more of the individuals participating is not a member of the research team and not involved in the day-to-day funded research/activities

Hospitality costs incurred for interactions between participants involved in day-to-day funded research/activities, such as regular interactions with colleagues from the institution, personnel meetings and staff recognition events, cannot be reimbursed from Agency grant funds.

The cost of alcoholic beverages cannot be reimbursed from grant funds.

Source: Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, 2020

 

Exceptions

  • Costs of Alcohol - only to host the thesis defense committee and in accordance with university policy  21, Procedure 16-12
Gifts, honoraria and incentives

uOttawa Policy

 

Mandatory Directives on Gifts, Honoraria and Incentives

The provision of gifts, honoraria and incentives must be in accordance with the administering institution’s policies and processes.

The provision of gifts and incentives to participants requires the prior approval of the administering institution’s Research Ethics Board. Grant recipients have an ethical duty to protect participants’ confidential information and provide documentation to justify the gifts and incentives. Please refer to the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans - TCPS 2 (2018)

Gifts, honoraria and incentives can be offered to an individual or group whose involvement in the funded research/activities is voluntary (i.e. not part of a contractual obligation or professional service) and the individual is not a member of the grant team.

“Honoraria” refers to monetary payments made on a one-time or non-routine basis to an individual as a “thank you” for a service for which fees are not traditionally paid (i.e. speeches, lectures, seminars, etc. by a guest lecturer/speaker). Grant recipients cannot receive honoraria from grants.

“Gifts” are cash or in-kind items provided freely as a token of appreciation, respect and/or goodwill. Gifts can be offered to establish/facilitate relationships with individuals or groups who are involved in the research/activity as participants or as research partners/contributors (i.e. guest researchers, research partners or community stakeholders) under the following circumstances:

  • when prescribed by cultural heritage/established traditions
  • as a formal courtesy

In recognition of the cultures and traditions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit, Elders and other Knowledge Keepers who also fulfill another role (i.e. an independent researcher) are eligible to receive gifts in a ceremonial or other context.

“Incentives” refers to cash or in-kind items offered to human participants as a means to establish participant pools or to acknowledge their participation in the research/activity.

Source: Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration, 2020

Process for resolving differences on expense admissibility

After consulting the University of Ottawa Guidelines on the Management of Research Expenditures, if a Researcher or Administrator is uncertain if an expenditure aligns with the four principles or a University of Ottawa policy then follow the steps outlined below. Note: An issue could be resolved at any step throughout the process. Most issues should be resolved at step 1. If there are any unresolved issues, follow the next steps as needed.

  1. If a Researcher is unsure how an expenditure aligns with the four principles or a University policy, he/she should consult their research administrator.
  2. If a Research Administrator has a question on how an expenditure aligns with the four principles or a University policy, he/she must approach the Researcher to discuss how the expense contributes to the advancement of the project.
  3. After having consulted with a Researcher, if a Research Administrator continues to be uncertain if an expenditure aligns with the four principles or a University policy, then the Research Administrator must consult with the faculty CAO. The CAO may approach the Faculty VDR for review and discussion.
  4. If the CAO and VDR are uncertain on how an expenditure aligns with the four principles or a University policy, then the faculty must approach Research Management Services and Financial Resources for the final decision.
Back to top