Goals of the Sponsored Project Manual

The Sponsored Project Manual is designed to introduce faculty and administrators to the process of obtaining funding for and administration of sponsored project awards. It is also intended to serve as an introductory guide to the policies and procedures that govern Dartmouth College and the administration of financial awards. Three goals have been identified in the creation of this manual:

  1. Support the sponsored project effort by providing guidance in the development and administration of sponsored projects awards.
  2. Inform staff engaging in sponsored research of the legal restrictions and compliances that must be followed.
  3. Compile College policies and procedures that affect sponsored project awards into one manual that can be disseminated and updated on an established schedule.

The Sponsored Project Manual attempts to collect and organize all Dartmouth College policies and procedures that have bearing upon sponsored projects. In addressing the needs of principal investigators from throughout the Dartmouth College communities, the Office of Sponsored Projects acknowledges the interrelationship of the Office with other administrative units on campus. In preparing this manual advice and information were sought from staff in the offices of the Provost, Arts & Sciences, Foundations and Corporate Relations, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, and experienced principal investigators.

Who Will Find the Sponsored Project Manual Most Useful

The field of sponsored projects is dynamic. Government regulations, funding sources, and methods by which proposals are submitted are all undergoing rapid change. Principal investigators and their staff need current information in these areas. Beginning researchers and those new to Dartmouth College will benefit from reading the beginning sections of this manual, and those sections that refer specifically to their research areas. Experienced principal investigators, and their staffs, will find the Manual most useful as a reference tool for handling specific situations or as a refresher on the basics of grants administration.

Organization of the Sponsored Project Manual

The Sponsored Project Manual uses a pyramid approach to the presentation and organization of information related to the field of sponsored project awards. The Manual is organized into four parts. Each section addresses an aspect of sponsored project management in general terms. At the beginning of each section is a "See also" box that guides the user to more specific information, policies and procedures, related forms, and sample forms and letters. The rationale for structuring the Manual in this way has been that some users will want to have a broad understanding of a topic, while others will want to go directly to a specific policy or form. Included at the end of this manual is a glossary of standard sponsored research terminology, and an index.

Part I. Introduction

Provides a brief introduction to the governance of sponsored projects as outlined by the Federal Government and Dartmouth College. Outlines the organization and topics covered in the Sponsored Project Manual.

Part II. Administrative Support for Sponsored Projects at Dartmouth College

Provides administrative information related to engaging in sponsored project at Dartmouth College and the services offered by Dartmouth College's Office of Sponsored Projects personnel.

Part III. Pre-Award Activities

Focuses on generic proposal development and administrative topics. General principles of sponsored projects, such as developing a proposal, preparing a budget, and routing a proposal are thoroughly outlined. Each subtopic is further divided into general guidelines and guidelines for specific funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health or the National Science Foundation.

Part IV. Post-Award Project Management

Presents an overview of project management, outlines specific responsibilities and tasks of Principal Investigator and the Office of Sponsored Projects, and provides PIs with the Dartmouth College documentation and forms needed to successfully manage a sponsored projects.


Throughout this manual the term Principal Investigator (PI) is used to designate that person under whose direction the project will be carried out. The synonym for PI most frequently used in the humanities is Project Director. The term researcher is used to designate those who are contemplating or just beginning the process of developing an idea into a proposal. The Manual has used the Dartmouth Style Manual as the authoritative guide in making reference to Dartmouth College departments, word usage, and general composition style.

What Is a Sponsored Research Project?

"Sponsored projects are research, training, or instructional projects involving funds, materials, other forms of compensation, or exchanges of in-kind efforts from sources external to [Dartmouth] College under awards or agreements which contain any one of the following criteria"

  1. The award or agreement binds the College to a scope of work that is specified in an investigator's particular sponsored project — a grant to a department through which seed money for particular projects would be distributed; the training of students on specific projects, the performance of particular research by a faculty member.
  2. The sponsor defines a period of performance during which funds may be used and/or unused funds must be returned to the sponsor.
  3. A line item budget is involved. A line item budget details expenses by activity, function, or project period. The designation of indirect or administrative costs qualifies a budget as "line item."
  4. Financial reports are most frequently required and/or the expenses are subject to audit.
  5. The award or agreement provides for the disposition of tangible or intangible properties that may result from the project. Tangible properties include equipment, records, formal activity reports, theses or dissertations. Intangible properties include rights in data, copyrights, inventions or research related materials.

Office of Management and Budget

The administration of federally sponsored projects within educational institutions is monitored and guided by OMB Circulars. While each institution is encouraged to conduct research and education activities in a manner consonant with its own academic philosophies and institutional objectives, OMB Circulars outlines federal regulations governing the cost accounting principles of those federally funded sponsored projects, set forth standards for obtaining consistency and uniformity among Federal agencies in the administration of grants to and agreements with institutions of higher education, and other non-profit organizations. Although researchers are not expected to know specific applications of OMB circulars, they should understand that many of the policies and procedures orchestrated by the Dartmouth College Office of Sponsored Projects reflect local application of federal regulations. The salient points of OMB circular of which all staff engaged in sponsored research should be aware are the following.

  • Each institution involved in sponsored project is expected to employ sound management practices.
  • Arrangements for sponsored project funded by federal agencies is negotiated between the agency and the institution. 
  • There are prescribed policies and procedures that govern the management of sponsored project funds.

The relevant OMB Circular for Higher Education Institutions such as Dartmouth is the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards   This final guidance supersedes and streamlines requirements from OMB Circulars A–21, A–87, A–110, and A–122 (which have been placed in OMB guidances); Circulars A–89, A–102, andA–133; and the guidance in Circular A–50 on Single Audit Act follow-up. 


Revised 3/21/2015