Internal Collaborative Research

At Case Western Reserve University, supporting interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to fulfilling our research mission.

Guidelines for Internal Distribution of Sponsor Funds for Collaborative Research

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 principal investigator (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 the project remains 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 senior vice president for research and technology management or their 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 during budget development. The Office of Pre-Award Services and Agreements (PASA) will honor the mutual decision reached by the respective management centers.

It is best practice that separate management center-specific budgets be submitted to PASA at the time the proposal is submitted along with the unified budget that will be submitted to the sponsor.  If the project is funded, PASA will honor the mutual decision reached by the respective management centers. PASA will establish the separate accounts for the award based upon the submitted or revised budget that is allocated by subaccounts. 

Example NIH Award

Total NIH Award Costs

  • Direct Costs: $250,000
  • Indirect costs (@61%): $152,500
  • Total costs: $382,500

Cost Breakdown

Principal Investigator Costs, School of Medicine

Parent Account Cost Analysis:

  • Direct costs: $200,000
  • Indirect costs: $122,000
  • Total costs: $322,000

Co-Investigator Costs, School of Engineering

Subaccount Cost Analysis:

  • Direct costs: $50,000
  • Indirect costs: $30,500
  • Total costs: $80,500