While professional association or scientific society membership fees are deemed eligible by the Tri-Council agencies (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR) if they are necessary for carrying out the research project, membership fees which are not directly related to a research project may not be deemed an eligible expense. Important criteria to remember when determining the eligibility of this type of expense would include whether there is a benefit or relationship between the membership fees and the research project.
An example of an eligible membership fee may include membership fees paid to a scientific society (i.e. International Society for Plant Pathology) which directly relates to the research project.
An example of a membership fee which may be deemed ineligible by the Tri-Council agencies may include the professional membership dues for an individual involved in a research project (i.e. Professional Engineers of Ontario annual membership fees), where there is not a direct relationship between the membership fee and the research project. In this scenario, since the individual is receiving the direct benefit (vs. the research project), the Tri-agencies may disallow the expense.
If you have any question regarding the eligibility of this type of expense, we recommend that you contact the Tri-Council agencies directly to obtain a ruling. In instances where the membership fees are an essential part of the research project, it may be prudent to include these details in the application and reference this inclusion when submitting the invoice for payment to avoid processing delays.
Tri-Council agency contact details are as follows:
NSERC & SSHRC:
Shawn Ricard, Awards Officer, Awards Administration
Ian Raskin, Manager, Internal Controls
Queen's Research Accounting