Internal Collaborative Research

Guidelines for Internal Distribution of Sponsor Funds for Collaborative Research

At CWRU, supporting interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to fulfilling our research mission.

External awards for research made to the university are meant to fund the activities described in the sponsor-approved proposal.  Budgets should fairly and accurately reflect the actual needs of a project, and awarded funds should be directed to the areas within the university where the work takes place.

Projects involving faculty members from multiple schools should include salary support appropriate to each person’s effort on the project, and that salary support-- together with its fringe benefits and associated facilities and administrative costs-- should be set aside in a subaccount for each of the collaborating researchers within their respective schools or college.  This same principle should be applied to non-salary support; direct and facilities and administrative costs should be allocated to each administrative unit responsible for carrying out the proposed activities.

In cases when a preponderance of facilities or administration of a project will be provided by a single school/college, an understanding between the parties should be negotiated to arrive at a fair and appropriate allocation of non-salary facilities and administrative costs.

These internal budget arrangements should be made prior to proposal submission in consultation with the faculty members’ management centers and will be honored at the time of award.  The PI of the award remains responsible for carrying out the scope of work and budgets.  Changes may occur according to the needs of the project with sponsor approval as appropriate.  When changes are needed, the PI is responsible for communication between co-Investigators to ensure that both the project and the overall university budget(s) remain on track. In general, post-award changes to the agreement are expected to be driven by sponsor changes to the budget or scope of work.

In cases where faculty members from different areas of the university cannot agree on the distribution of funds according to where the work will be carried out, the Vice President for Research and Technology Management or her designee will serve as mediator to help the group find resolution.

Mechanism for Distributing Indirect Cost Recovery

When a sponsored project is developed that involves more than one management center, the principal investigator should identify what costs will be incurred by the various management centers. The management centers need to decide how direct and indirect revenue will reflect the actual costs of each management center. The Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (OSPA) and the School of Medicine Office of Grants and Contracts (SOM OGC) will honor the mutual decision reached by the respective management centers.

The University Review Form should be completed as follows:

  • Indicate "Subaccounts" as a Special Requirement (only if indirect revenue will follow direct revenue);

  • Specify all of the Work Locations;

  • Answer "yes" to the question "Does this project involve more than one management center" and specify the names of these management centers;

  • The University Review Form should be signed by all of the Management Centers involved in the project.

It is best practice that separate management center-specific budgets be submitted to OSPA or SOM OGC at the time the proposal is submitted (although if the management centers have different indirect rates (e.g., affiliated hospitals) these rates should be used in developing the overall budget). If the project is funded, OSPA and SOM OGC will not establish the accounts for the award unless the parent and subaccount budgets are submitted to OSPA. 

The following guideline should be followed in allocating indirect costs as a function of these budgets:

  • Generally, the full indirect cost rate for each management center should be applied to the direct costs associated with that management center when developing the parent and subaccounts.

  • Where the costs associated with a project involving multiple schools does not involve facilities or administration from all the schools involved, the internal arrangements between schools and colleges should allow for the specifics of each individual project to be reflected in the financial agreements.


NIH award:

Direct Costs: $250,000
Indirect costs (@53%): $132,500
Total costs: $382,500

Principal Investigator is from School of Medicine: Co-Investigator is from School of Engineering:
School of Medicine: School of Engineering:

Parent Account:
direct costs: $200,000
indirect costs: $106,000
total costs: $306,000

direct costs: $50,000
indirect costs: $26,500
total costs: $76,500