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University updates research administration policy

An updated policy governing all research administration activity at Queen’s recently came into effect. Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer, sat down with Karina McInnis, Executive Director, University Research Services, and Heather Woermke, University Controller, to discuss the updated policy and its impact on the research community.

MK: What is the purpose of this updated policy?

KM: At Queen’s, many people contribute to the university’s drive for research excellence.  The updated policy clearly outlines their roles and responsibilities and removes any ambiguity that may have existed in the past. As a result, researchers, faculties and service units will have clear direction on resolving any issues or matters that might arise.

[Karina Mcinnis and Heather Woermke]
Karina McInnis (left), Executive Director, University Research Services, explains that the updated research administration policy clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities related to all research activity conducted at Queen's.

MK: What is the scope of the updated policy?

KM: The policy is quite broad, as the name would suggest. It covers all research activity conducted, or proposed to be conducted, under the auspices of the university while using Queen’s personnel, students, premises, resources, facilities or equipment. The updated policy also outlines the responsibilities of staff or faculty responsible for managing or administering research activity.

MK: Why was it necessary to update the policy?

KM: Following the implementation of the new budget model in 2013, Queen’s created a separate policy for the indirect costs of sponsored research, which recognizes that indirect costs of research revenue now flow to the faculties. All of the remaining policy statements from the original 1995 policy, and other modifications, have been grouped into this updated policy, which is closely aligned to the requirements of our external research funders, such as the federal Tri-Agencies.

MK: Are there any significant changes as a result of the update?

HW: Included as part of the launch of the policy are procedures that enable Financial Services to support departments and faculties in managing over-spending on research projects, while providing tools to principal investigators (PIs) to ensure research is not disrupted.  These procedures were approved by the Vice-Principals’ Operational Committee after being endorsed by the deans, associate deans of research and business officers. Financial Services has been working closely with faculties on their implementation. 

In summary, any research project that is in deficit for three consecutive months will be deactivated, and any expenditures after the date of deactivation will be charged to the departmental operating account.

[Karina McInnis and Heather Woermke]
Heather Woermke (right), University Controller, explains that the updated policy includes procedures that enable Financial Services to support departments and faculties in managing over-spending on research projects.

MK: What happens if PIs anticipate temporary over-spending on a research project?

HW: Should PIs anticipate temporary over-spending on a research project, the best approach would be to request approval from their department or faculty for overdraft protection using the form on the Financial Services website. Approved forms will be forwarded to Financial Services (Research Accounting). Receipt of an approved form will result in a temporary increase in the project budget, and alleviates any need to temporarily recode expenses.

MK: Where can people find out more information about the policy, and who can they contact if they have questions?

KM: The Research Administration Policy is posted on the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel website. If you have any questions, you can contact me by email or by phone at ext. 33108, or Ms. Woermke by email or by phone, ext. 33375. Research Accounting is also able to assist, and can be contacted at research.accounting@queensu.ca.