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Administrative Support

For Sponsored Research at Dartmouth College and The Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center


There are a number of administrative areas that support the sponsored research effort at Dartmouth College and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. The purpose of this section of the Manual is to outline the general administrative responsibilities existing at the College and DHMC for administering sponsored research projects. This section also outlines the responsibilities of and services offered by the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP).

The section concludes with a workflow diagram and narrative illustrating the sequence of events typical grant s travel as it moves from a research idea through the grants administration process.

Mission Statement and Goals

The OSP contributes directly to the academic mission of Dartmouth College by providing support for obtaining sponsored research funds and managing sponsored research activity. Sponsored research enriches the Dartmouth community by providing revenue to establish new programs, conduct faculty research, and provide instructional and other services. In addition, sponsored funds support professional growth for faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff.

The OSP is comprehensive in its scope and mission, handling both pre-award and post-award services. The Office has primary responsibility for assuring Dartmouth's compliance with the regulations of a range of funding agencies, for negotiating Dartmouth's indirect cost rate, and for monitoring college-wide implications of these negotiations on a regular basis. In 1992, the OSP assumed administrative responsibility for the Dartmouth Medical School's sponsored research activities. Under this reorganization the Office also assumed responsibility for overseeing the administrative work of the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects.

Sponsored projects fall within several general functional categories, including research, training, curriculum development, public services, fellowships, art exhibitions, and equipment awards. This support extends from a proposal's conception through to the completion of a sponsored research project. The OSP has identified the following goals in support of its mission:

  • Provide individual and/or small group assistance to encourage effective use grantsmanship services (i.e., assists in identifying sources of research support and proposal preparation, maintains a current Sponsored Research Manual.
  • Organize and participate in workshops and presentations related to grant activities. These have included presentations from agency representatives, proposal writing workshops, and annual orientations for new faculty.
  • Serve as contact point for information and interaction with faculty, deans, administrators and sponsor representatives on sponsored research matters.
  • Develop, organize, and oversee various current awareness services providing grants-related information to faculty and administrators.
  • Monitor trends in sponsored research and respond to changes in the field.

While sponsored funds are actively sought and are a financial blessing to most institutions, the administration of those funds also presents challenges. The OSP has institutional responsibility for protecting the College's interests related to the seeking and management of sponsored research opportunities. The Office is empowered by the Trustees to make commitments on behalf of the institution, and in doing so must be aware of and comply with all current College and agency regulations. To insure both protection of the College's interests and continued and varied sponsor support, the OSP routinely engages in the following activities:

  • Serves as the College's focal point for activities from federal, international, state, and private sources.
  • Initiates policies and procedures and certifies compliance with federally mandated regulations that effect many areas of the institution.
  • Reviews College and DHMC grant and contract proposals and responds as institutional officials authorized to commit the institution to external agreements.
  • Negotiates agreements with regard to budget, terms and conditions, while coordinating with the PI that the scope of research is in line with the funds available.
  • Maintains the College's official database for proposals and awards, in order to project future funding trends, provide data for tenure decisions and analyze financial impacts on the institution.
  • Acts as a permanent member of the Council on Sponsored Activities, the institutional committee responsible for research policy, and coordinates the agenda for the Council.
  • Represents Dartmouth College at national and regional meetings concerned with improving the research environment locally and nationally.

Services Offered by the Office of Sponsored Projects


The Office of Sponsored Projects is responsible for institutional review of all applications for sponsored funding, reviewing awards prior to acceptance, accepting awards officially on behalf of the College and DHMC, and assisting members of those communities in identifying and applying for sponsored support. Sponsors of research activities include the Federal government, state and local governments, foundations, international organizations, research institutes, and corporations. These organizations fund sponsored projects through a variety of mechanisms such as contracts, grants, letter agreements, purchase orders, cooperative agreements, and a variety of awards that fall under the general rubric of subcontracts. The OSP also provides a full spectrum of services that address individual researcher's proposal preparation needs and routinely offers workshops on grants administration.

The OSP does not routinely handle gifts or other unrestricted funds that fall within the purview of the College's central Development Office. Awards to faculty members directly, as opposed to Dartmouth College or the DHMC, are not normally managed by the OSP. Individual situations should be discussed with Office of Sponsored Projects staff.

Identifying Funding Sources

A first step in successful proposal development is to match the research idea with an appropriate funding source. Funding sources may be government agencies, corporations, or private foundations. While they each share the commonality of providing funds for research, approaches to these institutions and the institutional rules governing such approaches are very different.

How a researcher identifies funding for a potential project is rapidly changing. In the past the Office of Sponsored Projects provided access to current funding sources via paper formatted announcements, the public file server, and SPIN searches. With the advent of the Internet, funding source information is accessible in a timely manner to anyone with the skills and equipment to access the Internet.

To better meet the needs of researchers and to make use of new technologies, the Office of Sponsored Projects has developed a web site as part of the Dartmouth College web site. Among the services offered on the site are pointers to funding information that can be found on the Internet. Staff from the OSP also offer workshops on identifying potential funding sources for projects, and encourage researchers to contact staff in the Office for individual assistance.

Budget Preparation Assistance

The Office of Sponsored Projects will assist a researcher in preparing a budget and budget justification. Government sponsors and many corporation and foundation sponsors provide budget forms. If a budget form is not provided or a format is not suggested by the potential funding agency, the Office of Sponsored Projects will offer a budget format to be followed that conforms to the College's accounting categories.

Project budgets are generally broken down into budget categories that identify groups of expenditures related to each project, and when taken together account for the total project cost. Each budget category has its own set of guidelines and restrictions, defined by the potential sponsor and Dartmouth College. A benefit to having OSP staff assist a researcher with preparing the budget is that OSP staff are familiar with these guidelines and restrictions. When assisting a researcher in creating a budget, OSP staff will provide guidance in outlining the College's policies and procedures related to developing appropriate budget categories such as salary levels for project staff, fringe benefit rates, reasonable equipment and supplies costs, consultant fees, travel policies, and calculating indirect costs.

Proposal Review

Each proposal submitted under the auspices of Dartmouth College and DHMC flows through the Office of Sponsored Projects. Before the proposal is submitted, it is reviewed by a staff member of the Office of Sponsored Projects. While the text of most proposals is not reviewed, the budget and certain attachments are given a comprehensive examination. In order for the Office of Grants & Contract to complete this necessary step in proposal submission, the Office requests, at a minimum, two days to complete this review. PI's should take into consideration this turn-around time when submitting proposals for review. In an administrative review of a proposal, the staff member takes into consideration the following:

  • The Dartmouth College Proposal Routing Form has been completed. All necessary signatures and internally required documentation or clearances have been obtained.
  • Certifications are signed and attached.
  • Budget expenses are reasonable and allowable.

Indirect cost rate has been calculated correctly. Should the reviewer identify changes needed or missing information, they complete a blue review sheet noting those changes. The review sheet is returned to the PI with the understanding that changes will be made before the proposal is submitted to the funding agency.

Financial Management of Sponsored Research Funds

Providing financial stewardship over sponsored research funds demands a close working relationship between the Office of Sponsored Projects, the Principal Investigator, and staff in the Controller's Office. The Senior Associate Director of Sponsored Projects has a "dotted line" reporting relationship to the Controller, which ensures communication in developing policies and procedures affecting the costs incurred on grants or contracts. This relationship also ensures a consistent comprehensive approach to maintaining auditable record. Annual financial statements for sponsored research are incorporated into the College's financial statements.

All financial reports and close-out responsibilities reside in the OSP. The specific financial responsibilities of the OSP include:

  • Maintains official auditable files of all sponsored awards.
  • Oversees the accounting and cash management of all sponsored activities.
  • Reviews expenses for allowability, allocation, and reasonableness.
  • Prepares annual federal property management reports.
  • Serves as the College's liaison office with government auditors and site review teams.
  • Prepares financial close-out documentation for all awards.
  • Oversees the calculation and negotiation of the College indirect cost rates.
  • Projects direct and indirect costs for budgeting purposes.
  • Maintains responsibility for accountability of all licensing and royalty income and the appropriate distribution of income.
  • Information garnered from the accounting system is used not only to manage sponsored research funds, but is also used throughout the College. Budget and expenditure data recorded in the accounting system is used in the following ways:
    • Becomes part of the yearly financial statements for the College.
    • Provides financial information used in departmental-level planning and reporting.
    • Provides financial information used in project specific planning and reporting.
    • Provides background data for preparing direct cost proposals and rate calculations.
    • Provides supporting data for audit reviews.

Workshops on Grants and Project Administration

The staff of the OSP regularly conduct workshops on grant seeking and project administration through the College's Human Resource Training and Development Office. Staff members are also available to make presentations to any College unit or group on topics related to development and administration of research and other sponsored activities.

Community of Science and the Database of Research Expertise

Dartmouth College participates in the Community of Science consortium of major research universities and national laboratories in the United States and Canada. The database contains profiles of researchers, their expertise, and their research interests. A subset database listing the research interests of the Dartmouth faculty, as contributed to the Community of Science (COS) database is provided via DCIS. The file provides a description of the individual's area of expertise, a list of their publications and a key word classification of their work. Most recently, the COS has added a funding alert service that links funding opportunities with individual COS participants' research interests. While the name "Community of Science" may imply a database of researchers in the sciences, the COS is designed for researchers in all subject areas. Faculty from throughout the Dartmouth community are strongly encouraged to add their individual faculty profiles to the COS.

Current Awareness

A major responsibility for the OSP is to keep current on governmental funding sources, policies and regulations affecting the award and management of sponsored research funds, and the dissemination of this information to the Dartmouth College research community.

Office of Technology Transfer

Under the administrative Office of Sponsored Projects is the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT). Federal legislation gives colleges and universities title to inventions resulting from government sponsored research. This legislation further requires that institutions receiving these federal funds for research make serious efforts to bring technology to the marketplace in order for it to be available for the public good. The TTO maintains a web-site that includes up-to-date information on the OTT's policies and procedures.

Administrative Support for Sponsored Research at Dartmouth College

Department Administrators

Administrators located in academic departments assist faculty in the process of submitting proposals. They are the prime locus of responsibility for day-to-day administrative support for sponsored projects. Included in the latter are such functions as purchasing supplies and materials and coordinating personnel matters to ensure that faculty and graduate students' efforts are properly recorded and allocated to sponsored project accounts.

Biosafety Committee

This committee oversees the use of hazardous biological agents in research and approves the use of such materials in specific projects. It is composed of faculty representatives, a member of the Environmental Health and Safety Office, and representatives from the surrounding community. The Senior Associate Director for the OSP attends each meeting of the Biosafety Committee in an advisory capacity.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

All activities using animals for teaching or research must be reviewed by the IACUC. This committee includes as its members representatives from the academic departments in which research on animals is performed, a consulting veterinarian, and a representative member of the surrounding community. It reviews and approves protocols submitted by faculty who wish to use animals in their research, conducts inspections of the animal care facility, and makes recommendations to the College administration on changes and improvements that may be necessary in order to provide optimal and humane care of the animals in the facility. An Assistant Director in the OSP serves on the IACUC.

Environmental Health and Safety Office

The OSP interacts with this office to the extent necessary to implement policies and procedures related to sponsored projects and the requirements sponsors may place on awards they fund at Dartmouth College.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

This body is also known as the "Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS). The committee is composed of faculty members and administrators from various departments as well as members of the community. Its prime responsibility is to review protocols submitted by faculty who intend to use humans as subjects in their research. The CPHS Office is responsible for overseeing and implementing policies (institutional and Federal) related to the use of humans in research projects.

The IRB at Dartmouth College is committed to the following principles:

  1. That the rights and welfare of human subjects will be adequately protected.
  2. That the risks to subjects will be reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits.
  3. That selection of subjects will be equitable.
  4. That informed consent will be sought from each prospective subject and appropriately documented in accordance with and to the extent required by federal regulations.
  5. That conduct of the activity will be reviewed at timely intervals.

All proposals involving human subjects (whether sponsored by federal agencies, non federal agencies, or not funded)must be reviewed by the Committee prior to initiation of the proposal. Researchers planning projects involving human subjects are encouraged to contact the CPHS Administrator.

Radiation Safety Committee

This committee oversees the use of radioactive materials in the conduct of research at the College and DHMC. It also approves research protocols submitted by faculty members who wish to use radioactive materials in their work. Its members include faculty representatives, a member of the Environmental Health and Safety Office, and the Senior Associate Director of the OSP.

Council of Sponsored Activities

The Council on Sponsored Activities functions as the chief College advisory body on both general and specific matters related to misconduct in research, research training, and other related activities. The Council provides advice to the College administration on research and other project issues, assists in the interpretation of sponsored project policies, and is generally concerned with issues revolving around the role research plays at the College. This body is composed of a faculty representative selected from the academic departments in the Arts and Sciences and each professional school. The Director of the OSP is an ex-officio member of the Council.

Role of the Principal Investigator in Sponsored Research

The Principal Investigator (PI) holds a number of responsibilities related to sponsored projects, the core of which is conducting the work for which external funding has been received. The PI also has administrative responsibilities such as assuring that expenditures are made for the intended purpose of the project and in accordance with sponsor requirements and College policy and procedures. Other PI responsibilities include writing proposals for funding and complying with the technical requirements of awards. The latter involves submitting periodic and final narrative reports on the progress of the project and overseeing others who may contribute to the project, including College employees, consultants, and subcontractors, on a timely basis. The PI must ensure that all of the above are in compliance with the College's time and effort reporting system.

Life of a Sponsored Research Project


The purpose of this section is to provide a broad overview of the life of a typical grant, from its conception as a research idea through to final closeout of the grant. This life cycle is presented here in two parts. The first is the workflow diagram, designed to present the normal sequence of events in a visual manner, and a workflow narrative. The workflow narrative is the textual accompaniment to the diagram and includes references to who might best be able to assist the researcher in completing the outlined steps. It is not a prescription for how to write or manage a grant, but rather a concise way of describing the usual sequence of events.

Workflow Narrative

Pre-Award Activities

1. & 2. Research Idea is Conceived: All proposals start with an idea. The idea is frequently discussed with one's colleagues and may develop into a proposal for submission to a potential sponsor for funding. Researchers are encouraged to discuss ideas for proposals with their department chair, academic dean, or the administrator to whom they report. The OSP staff may also be able to assist the researcher in this early stage of project development.

3. Project Outline is Developed: The project outline is helpful in the early stages of proposal development. It focuses the researcher on 1) the overall goal of the project, 2) the specific tasks that must be undertaken in meeting that goal, and 3) the general idea of the resources needed to complete tasks.

4. Potential Funding Sources Identified: Matching the proposal outline with a potential sponsor may require use of the various funding identification tools available on campus. One's colleagues and professional relationships may also prove to be effective means for identifying good matches between potential sponsors and research projects. Researchers will find help in identifying likely sponsors from staff in the Foundations and Corporate Relations Development Office, the OSP, and the Dean of Faculty Office.

5. Approaches to Foundations and Corporations: Researchers are required to obtain clearance before contacting any foundations or corporations about possible funding for their research projects. Approval to approach a foundation or corporation is made by a development representative for the administrative area to which the researcher reports.

6. Get Application Materials: Once a potential sponsor is identified and clearance to approach the sponsor is approved (where applicable), the researcher will request application materials. The OSP keeps a supply of current NSF, NIH, and other funding application packets in the Office. Increasingly, information and forms are available on the World Wide Web. A researcher may also write or phone an agency for an application packet. Read the directions carefully, noting special requirements and submission deadlines.

7. Write the Proposal: Proposals benefit from wide review. Take the time to have the proposal read by colleagues, development staff, and staff in the OSP. Leave sufficient time for rewrites and proofreading.

8. Develop the Budget: Based on the goals of the project develop a realistic budget, one that requests sufficient funding to complete the project, yet is not inflated. If there are questions about staffing needs, level of expertise required to complete tasks outlined in the project, and appropriate salary level, the Dartmouth College Department of Human Resources can offer assistance. Questions related to how to put the budget together, fringe benefit rates, indirect cost rates, matching funds, etc. should be referred to the OSP.

9. Complete the Proposal: Do a final proofreading of the text, review the budget, attach supporting documentation in appendices, gather appropriate certifications, and complete the cover sheet or face page, and internal routing form. The most commonly needed information for the cover and routing forms is available in the Sponsored Projects Web site under 'Institutional Profile', or in Appendix C of the Sponsored Research Manual.

Obtain Necessary Signatures: Typically, the researcher's department chair or administrative head and dean must sign off on the proposal.

10.-12. As indicated on the OSP Checklist, submit the required documents to the OSP: The proposal is reviewed and signed off on within two days of receipt by an administrative officer in the OSP. Needed changes to the budget or cover sheet are noted. The signed packet is returned to the Principal Investigator who is responsible for making those changes before the proposal is submitted.

13. Submit Proposal: The Principal Investigator is responsible for submitting the proposal to the designated funding agency. Note deadlines and copies of proposal required, as outlined in the application packet.

14.-16. Notification from the Designated Funding Agency: There are three potential outcomes. The project will be funded at the level requested and as submitted, the PI could be asked to revise the methodology or funding sought, or the project could be rejected for funding.

PIs are encouraged to read all proposal review documents regardless of the funding outcome. In some cases the PI may have to request the review documentation. NIH and NSF [others] automatically send critiques to the PI.

A PI may need to make to changes as outlined by the funding agency before funds are awarded. Office of Sponsored Projects staff can assist the PI in reworking a budget, if changes to the budget are requested.

If a project is rejected for funding, the PI has the option of revising the proposal and re-submitting it at a later date or abandoning the project. Staff and colleagues who assisted the PI in developing the initial proposal may be of help in rewriting a rejected proposal.

17.-18. Submit Complete Proposal (minus appendices) to the Office of Sponsored Projects: PIs are responsible for submitting a complete proposal, minus the appendices, to the Office of Sponsored Projects within ten (10) working days after they have submitted the proposal. Information about the proposal, budget, and PI is added to the Office of Sponsored Projects internal management database.

Last Updated: 10/22/09