Glossary of Terms




Abstract: A brief description of a project consisting of a concise summary of project goals, methodology, may also include staffing, and total cost of the project.

Academic Fraud: A deliberate effort to deceive, including plagiarism, fabrication of data, misrepresentation of historical sources, tampering with evidence, selective suppression of unwanted or unacceptable results, and theft of ideas.

Allowable Costs: The Uniform Guidance defines allowable costs as those that are:

  • Reasonable
  • Allowable and allocable to the project
  • Given consistent treatment by use of generally accepted accounting principles
  • Conform to any limitations or exclusions set forth by the sponsored agreement or the Uniform Guidance

Amendment: Any change to a contractual agreement needing official signature.

Applicant: Usually refers to the institution submitting the proposal. In most cases it does not refer to the individual researcher who wrote the proposal or who will serve as PI.

Application: A request for financial support of a project or activity usually submitted in a specified format and in accordance with a sponsor's guidelines and instructions.

Approved Budget: The financial expenditure plan, including revisions, that has been approved by the sponsor and supports the project's activities for a stated period of time.

Assurance of Compliance: Refers to certifications that applicant institutions must file before they can qualify for funding from government agencies.

Audit: A formal examination of an organization's accounts. An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable terms, laws, and regulations.

Authorized Signature: The signature of a College official who is designated to give assurances, make commitments, and execute such documents on behalf of Dartmouth College as may be required by federal and state agencies and other organizations which provide financial assistance to the College; the signature of an authorized official certifies that commitments made on grant proposals or contract agreements can be honored; and ensures that all sponsored agreements conform to federal regulations, agency guidelines, and College policies.

Award: Funds provided from an external sponsor for support of a project at Dartmouth College or the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. This term is used for both original award and supplements; it can mean moneys or equipment.

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA): An announcement that is general in nature and that identifies areas of research interest, including criteria for evaluating proposals, and soliciting the participation of all offers capable of satisfying the government's needs.

Budget: An estimate of expenditures to be incurred in the performance of a project or statement of work.

Budget Category: A portion of the budget designated for certain kinds of expenditures, e.g., salaries, materials and supplies, travel, equipment.

Budget Justification: The section of a proposal that explains why the funds listed in the budget pages are being requested.

Budget Period: The interval of time, usually 12 months, into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.

Challenge Grant: A sponsored research award that provides money in response to money 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.

Civil Rights: A certification assuring the Federal agency that the institution complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L.88-352, as amended), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

Classified Research: Research sponsored by a federal government entity, or often the defense industry, that involves restrictions imposed by agreement or otherwise on the distribution or publication of the research findings, results following completion for a specified period or for indefinite duration, or access to facilities and information necessary to complete the work of the project.

Clinical Trial: A contract to test drugs, devises, or other controlled substances for FDA approval or for-profit corporations. This contract usually involves the use of human or animal subjects.

Competing Continuation: A request for continued financial support from a sponsor to continue the work of a previously funded project. Competing continuations compete with new applications for a sponsor's funds. See also Non-competing Continuation.

Conflict of Interest: A certification assuring the Federal agency that the institution has established administrative policies for promoting objectivity in research.

Consortium: A consortium is two or more institutions working in collaboration on the same sponsored project award, either funded directly by the supporting agency or one prime institution subcontracting out the funds to the other members of the consortium.

Consultant: An independent contractor who specifically provides professional advice. They usually have a separate skill or expertise not available within the College, and the need for their services commonly does not extent beyond a limited period of time in which to complete a specifically defined project.

Contract: For purposes of this manual, a contract is an agreement to acquire services that primarily benefit the sponsor. For an award to be considered a contract, it normally must contain all of the following elements:

  • Detailed financial and legal requirements must be included with a specific statement of work.
  • A specific set of deliverables and/or reports to the sponsor is required.
  • Separate accounting procedures are required.
  • Legally binding contract clauses must be included.
  • Benefits of the project accrue first to the sponsor, then to the university, then to the nation.

Contributed Effort: Effort expended on a sponsored project that the sponsor does not compensate for; a form of cost-sharing.

Cooperative Agreement: A funding mechanism which can be used by federal agencies when a program requires more agency involvement and restrictions than a grant but requires less agency supervision than a contract.

CO-Principal Investigator (CO-PI): One investigator sharing equal responsibility for the direction of a sponsored project award. Some sponsors prefer the term 'Collaborating Investigator' or 'Investigator.' Federal sponsors officially recognize only one individual (per institution) as a principal investigator or project director.

Copyright: A narrow form of intellectual property protection. It protects only the fixed expression of an idea, not the idea itself. The Dartmouth College Copyright Policy governs copyright ownership of the works created by Dartmouth faculty and other employees.

Cost Share: College and non sponsor resources provided in support of sponsored project awards; includes contributed effort and matching funds.

Cost Transfer: Transactions that move non-payroll funds from one account to another. Transfers must be made within 90 days of the original charge and should contain a full justification of the transfer.


Debarment and Suspension: A certification assuring the Federal agency that the research personnel and the institution are not presently declared ineligible for receiving federal support, have not been convicted of fraud or a criminal offense in the performance of a federal award, are not in violation of federal or state statutes, are not presently indicted for criminal or civil charges and have not within a three-year period preceding the application had one or more federal, state or local transactions terminated for cause or default.

Delinquent Federal Debt: A certification provided to the Federal awarding agency that the applicant organization is not delinquent on the repayment of any federal debt.

Deliverable: A generalized term for a product that is created in fulfilling the terms of a sponsored project award.

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 occasionally computer use.

Discretionary Funds: Money that has not been earmarked for specific items and can be allotted at the discretion of an administrator.

Donated Property: Property provided by an outside party for specific activities related to sponsored project awards of the university; title to the property passes to the College at essentially no cost.

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.

Drug-Free Workplace: A certification assuring the Federal agency that the institution does and will continue to provide a drug-free workplace as required by the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.

Effort: The amount of time, usually expressed as a percentage of the total, that a faculty member or other employee spends on a project. Effort is certified and documented through the Activity Distribution Report (ADR) system.

Employee Related Expenses: Total project costs related to the employment of project staff. This includes salaries and wages, benefits, and other costs associated with the employment of staff.

Encumbrances: A specific amount of funds that has been set aside in an account for the receipt of an order or the payment of an invoice. Encumbrances reduce the available balance of an account.

Endowment: A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions.

Equipment: Generally, an article of non expendable tangible personal property having a useful life of more than two years and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. Equipment is not a replacement part or component returning a piece of equipment to its original condition. If a component increases the capability of the original equipment and has an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more, it is considered a capital equipment item.

Expanded Authority: Ability of the Office of Sponsored Projects to approve certain changes to a federally sponsored project award without going through the prior approval process. Expanded authorities are granted only for specific changes to projects funded by designated Federal agencies. See also Prior Approval.

Expiration Date: The date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Award. May also be the date after such an agency's forms should not be used.

Extension: An additional period of time that may be given by the sponsor to an organization for the completion of work on an approved sponsored project award. A no cost extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date and usually triggers a new Notice of Award from the sponsor.

Extra Mural Support: Funding for research, training or public service programs provided by federal or private sources outside the College.

Facilities and Administration Costs (Indirects): Also referred to as overhead, overhead costs, or administrative costs. Facilities and Administration Costs are actual costs incurred to conduct the normal business activities of an organization. Facilities and Administration Costs usually cannot be readily identified with or directly charged to a specific project or activity. The normal activities of the College include: instruction and departmental research, organized research, public service, and other institutional activities. Facilities and Administration Costs are real, auditable costs incurred by the College each time it accepts an award for a sponsored project. If the College does not collect full reimbursement for these costs, other College resources must be used to subsidize them.

Facilities and Administration Cost Rates: The rates used to recover the Facilities and Administration Costs of a sponsored project. Negotiated, approved rates are to be used for all agreements with the federal government and for most non-federal projects, as allowable. Information on current Facilities and Administration Cost rates is available from the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Federal Demonstration Partnership: Many changes that occur in the conduct of sponsored project awards require prior approval. That is, before the change can take place the PI must obtain approval for the change from the sponsor and/or the OSP. Some Federal and nonfederal sponsoring agencies have delegated approval rights to the College, under what is frequently termed "expanded authority." The level at which approval may be granted depends upon the type of award and the sponsor's specific policies governing the award. If a sponsor has not granted expanded authority to Dartmouth College, making changes to a project requires written approval by the sponsor before the change may take place.

Financial Status Report (FSR): Required reporting of expenditures on sponsored project awards during a specific period.

Fiscal Year: Any twelve-month period for which annual records are kept . The fiscal year as defined by Dartmouth College is July 1 through June 30. The Federal fiscal year is October 1 through September 30.

Foreign Travel: Foreign travel includes travel outside of the United States and its territories and possessions (Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Canal Zone) and Canada.

Formal Proposal: Any proposal submitted by a college employee to an outside entity that may directly lead to an award. The majority of formal proposals require an institutional endorsement by an official authorized to commit college resources.

Foundation: A private organization that makes awards to individuals or organizations for a broad range of projects.

Fringe Benefits: Those costs associated with employing staff that are not part of salary. Fringe benefits include such costs as health insurance, retirement benefits, vacation, and federal withholdings.

Full and Open Competition: The solicitation of bids from prospective suppliers which is used to assure that all responsible bidders are permitted to compete for the procurement.

Funding Cycle/Project Period: 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.

Gift: A unilateral transfer of money, property, or other assets to the recipient for the recipient's ownership and use by a donor who makes no claims on the recipient in connection with the gift. Gifts normally have the following characteristics:

  • The statement of work allows the project director significant freedom to change the scope of work
  • No deliverables involved
  • Separate accounting procedures are not required
  • Benefits of the project are to accrue to the nation and the world
  • Sponsor has no audit rights

Governmental Donated Property: Property donated or transferred to the institution by a municipality, county, state agency, or the federal government.

Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE): Equipment provided to the university by the federal government or government contractor; title may or may not remain with the government.

Grant: A financial assistance mechanism whereby money , or equipment, is provided to carry out an approved set of activities.

Grantee: A grantee is the recipient of a sponsored project award. When the College accepts the sponsored project award, on behalf of an individual, it becomes the grantee.


Human Subject: A Human Subject is a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains:

  • Data through intervention or interaction with the individual.
  • Identifiable private information.

Independent Contractor: Someone who specifically provides professional advice, and are not considered employees of the College. They usually have a separate skill or expertise not available within the College. The need for their services does not commonly extend beyond a limited period of time in which to complete a specifically defined project.

Indirect Costs: (See Facilities and Administration Costs)

Indirect Cost Rates: The rates used to recover the indirect costs of a sponsored project. Negotiated, approved rates are to be used for all agreements with the federal government and for most non-federal projects, as allowable. Information on current indirect cost rates is available from the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Informed Consent: The voluntary agreement obtained from a subject (or the subject's legally authorized representative) to participate in research or related activity, before participating in that activity. The consent must permit the individual (or legally authorized representative) to exercise free power of choice without undue inducement or any element or deceit, fraud, force, duress, or other form of coercion or constraint.

In-Kind Contribution: A non-cash commitment (such as contributed effort, facilities use, or supplies) to share the costs of a sponsored project.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC): Committee that oversees the use of animals on sponsored project awards.

Institutional Authorized Officials: Individuals authorized by the Dartmouth College Board of Trustees to sign grants, contracts, and agreements on behalf of Dartmouth College.

Institutional Review Board (IRB): A board or committee organized at the College to provide review at the institutional level for ethical concerns in research, such as laboratory animal care and the use of human subjects in research.

Letter of Intent: A letter of intent advises a funding agency that an application will be submitted in response to their solicitation. The letter may contain general program information, unofficial cost estimates, and a request for specific application guidelines, instructions and forms.

Lobbying: A certification assuring the federal agency that no federal appropriated funds or any other non-federal funds have been paid or will be paid for influencing any federal official or employee in connection with the awarding of any contract, grant or agreement.

Matching Funds: A cash commitment to share the costs of a sponsored project award. Funds raised under a matching funds agreement are usually matched 'dollar for dollar' by the sponsor.

Material Transfer Agreement: Outlines who will retain final ownership of specific equipment purchased from sponsored research funds. Most frequently it refers to the transfer of ownership from a sponsor to Dartmouth College, or from Dartmouth College to a principal investigator or another institution.

Misconduct in Science: Misconduct in science means fabrication, falsification, 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 interpretation or judgments of data.

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.

Modification: Any change made to an existing sponsored agreement.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC): A subset of direct costs, normally excluding costs such as patient care, rental of off-site facilities, tuition remissions, scholarships and fellowships, and equipment over $2,500, alterations and renovations, and subcontract costs in excess of the first $25,000, on which Facilities and Administration Costs may be charged. MTDC is established by the Facilities and Administration Cost rate agreement.

No-Cost Extension (NCE): Provides for an additional period of performance to accomplish project goals. May be handled internally in certain circumstances or sought externally from the sponsor.

Non-competing Continuation (Renewal): A request for financial support to a sponsor to continue the ongoing work of a previously approved project. Noncompeting continuations are not subject to competing review by the sponsor. Noncompeting continuations are, however, reviewed by the sponsor to assure that progress is being made on the project. See also Competing Continuation.

Notice of Grant Award: A legally binding document that serves as a notification to the recipient and others that sponsored funds have been awarded to a grantee to support a specific project or activity.


OMB Circular A-21: Cost Principles for Educational Institutions, published by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), this circular establishes the principles for determining the costs applicable to sponsored research awards with educational institutions (also known as the Office of Sponsored Projects).

Patent: An agreement awarded by the government, granting the inventor the right, for a limited period, to exclude others from making, using, or selling the described invention.

Principal Investigator (PI): Typically, a faculty member or administrator who submitted a proposal that was accepted and funded by an external sponsor, also referred to as the project director. The PI has primary responsibility for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work, and responsible spending of a sponsor funds.

Prior Approval: The process by which approval for specific changes to a sponsored project awards are granted from the sponsor and/or the Office of Sponsored Projects. See also Expanded Authority.

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, from funds available.

Program Announcement (PA): An agency's notification to the research community that financial assistance is available to carry out specific activities. The PA usually includes the program title, special emphasis or interests of the sponsor, type of assistance, and other sponsor imposed regulations or controls.

Program Officer: A sponsor's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a sponsored project award. Serving as counterpart to the Principal Investigator, the program officer deals with the grantee organization staff to assure programmatic progress.

Project Director: See Principal Investigator.

Project Period: The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved. The total project period is comprised of the initial competitive segment, any subsequent competitive segment(s) resulting from a competing continuation award(s), and noncompeting extensions.

Proposal: The term used to describe the complete grant package, including required forms and budget.

Proprietary Research: Research sponsored by non governmental entity or individual that involves restrictions on the distribution or publication of the research findings or results following completion, for a specified period or for indefinite duration.

Rebudgeting: Process by which funds available for spending are reallocated between budget categories to allow best use of funds to accomplish project goals.

Request for Application (RFA): A formal announcement describing an initiative in a well-defined area that invites anyone in the field to submit a grant application for a one-time competition for a specific amount of committed funds to be used for a specific number of awards.

Request for Information (RFI): An RFI contains the detailed information that must be supplied in the preliminary proposal.

Request for Proposal (RFP): Written documents soliciting pricing and/or technical proposals to supply goods or services as specified in the requesting document. The proposal procedure is often complex and must satisfy very specific requirements. Any resulting award(s) would normally be funded by a contract.

Research: A systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalized knowledge.

Research and Related Activities: All formal investigative efforts (whether funded or unfunded) by faculty, students, and staff that are designed to develop or contribute to generalize knowledge, including analyses of secondary data.


Sex & Age Discrimination: A certification assuring the Federal agency that the institution complies with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (P.L. 92-318, as amended), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex; and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-135), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of age.

Site Visit: An agency-initiated review of a proposed or funded project conducted at the applicant's institution.

Special Purpose Equipment: Equipment which can be used only for research, scientific, or other technical activities.

Sponsor: An external funding source which enters into an agreement with the College to support research, instruction, public service or other sponsored activities. Sponsors include private businesses, corporations, foundations and other not-for-profit organizations, other colleges and universities, and federal, state and local governments.

Sponsored Research: Research, training, or instructional projects involving funds, materials, other forms of compensation, or exchanges of in-kind efforts from sources external to an institution and funded through awards or agreements.

Subcontract/Subaward: A contract issued under a prime contract, agreement, purchase order, or grant for the procurement of purchased program-related tasks. Issuance of subcontracts under federal prime award is subject to compliance with federal law and all subcontracts are subject to the terms and conditions of the prime award and the normal purchasing requirements of Dartmouth College.

Supplemental Proposal: The request for additional funding from the project's sponsor to continue activities of an ongoing project.

Terms of Award: All legal requirements imposed on an award by the sponsor, whether by statue, regulation(s), or terms in the award document. The terms of award include both standard and special stated provisions that must be met in carrying out the goals and objects of the grant.

Total Cost: Dollar amount it will take to complete a proposed project. It includes sum of the direct and Facilities and Administration Costs of a project.

Total Direct Costs: The total allowable direct costs incurred by the institution to carry out an approved project or activity.

Unrestricted Funds: Funds having no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Funds awarded under grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds.

Unsolicited Proposal: Proposals submitted to a sponsor that are not in response to an RFP, RFA, or program announcement.

Withholding of Support: A decision by the awarding office not to make a noncompeting continuation award within a previously approved project period.


Last Updated