July 31, 2020

Understanding the Costs Behind Research Funding

Billions of dollars worth of funding opportunities are given to research facilities around the world each year. But what exactly do these sponsors expect their money to cover? There are multiple categories of costs involved in a research experiment, including direct costs and partial costs. As a researcher, you need to know what your funding covers wholly and which aspects are expected by the sponsor to be recovered, as well as the fine print that comes with your money.
Source: Pixabay

The importance of funding in a research experiment, particularly in higher institutions, is a crucial component for scholars. Every year, billions of dollars in potential funding opportunities are available, but the competition to get those coveted resources is fierce.

Once a scholar has obtained funds from a lender, the problem then becomes making sure all parties are on the same page as to what that money covers. Implementing a research experiment requires many different aspects, including direct and partial costs, and the funds a scholar receives from one stakeholder may not cover the entire project. From there, another funder might be necessary to take care of other costs, and that can get complicated.

Before you agree to work with any source of funding, make sure you understand the costs behind the research you are trying to undertake, which aspects are covered by the sponsor and which ones are expected to be recovered, and what the fine print says that comes with your money.

Sources of Funding for University Research

It’s in the university’s best interest to ensure that you receive funding for your project. The sponsor may not cover the entire project, but it’s cheaper for the university to subsidize what’s leftover for you than to pay for the entire thing. 

To that end, the university does obtain revenue from the research you compile, especially if it’s highly impactful. The institution you’re working in will help you find sources to fund your project, including, but not limited to, avenues such as:

●      State, federal, and private sponsored grants and contracts

●      State support in other sectors

●      Clinical trial programs sponsored by large corporations

●      Reimbursable expenses for services and equipment facilities

●      Private donations in the form of gifts designed specifically for research purposes only

●      Income received from licenses and royalties of other already completed research

●      Joint research efforts in conjunction with another university to combine resources

There are many funding sources outside of the box that you could be eligible for. Work with your institution’s financial advisor and research head to ensure you’re getting everything your project needs covered, and that you’ve reached out to all potential sources of funding that fit your criteria.

The Costs of Research

For anyone not involved in research, it’s hard to understand the full depth of costs that are included in taking the project from start to finish. The work doesn’t stop when the research is published, either. There are further costs in promoting your results and obtaining high-impact ratings.

But the direct costs of research include elements such as:

●      Covering salaries for everyone involved in the research work, including the researcher, faculty the researcher is working with, staff in the lab aiding in the work analysis, and anyone else on the fringes who has a hand in the work

●      Supplies, research equipment, charges required to put the work together and get it published

●      Travel expenses when research must be conducted outside of the university or when the results are ready to be publicized and the researcher or their representative is marketing the work

There are also indirect costs involved in all research, like:

●      Paying the overhead for the research facilities

●      Keeping everyone in compliant with health and safety measures

●      The upkeep involved in accessing resources through libraries and technology

●      Upkeep and maintenance of the building and grounds

●      Disposing of any hazardous waste that is used or created during the research

The indirect costs can add up, and there are many other potential expenses that must be accounted for so they can be included in your funding list of covered costs.

Watching for the Fine Print in Your Funding Opportunity

The success of getting the grant or other funding you applied for is a great feeling, but temper your excitement until you’ve checked the fine print. Each sponsor has cost principles that they allow, usually written out in the allowability of costs section.

Allowable costs are specified as a direct cost that is covered, and this section is frequently vague. But unallowable costs are specifically laid out. Some costs are allowable only if prior approval is received, and the section should dictate how you are to go about seeking prior approval and the timeline for doing so.

This section also should cover any fees or expectations of profit. If it doesn’t, ask the funder before agreeing to work with them.

A Cost That Pays for Itself - Impactio

An indirect cost of research is also the program the scholar uses to put together their article for submission. Impactio is a platform designed for academic experts to take them from start to finish and beyond with their work.

Since it offers users the ability to do everything from structure their research results to follow citation indicators to determine impact after publishing, the cost of Impactio pays for itself. Researchers spend less time putting together their work and following up on it and more time conducting more experiments and solving problems!

Tags Research Costs Research Funding
Jason Collins
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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