Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research Policy

Category: Research
Approval: PACB, VPOC, Policy Committee
Sponsor/Office of Accountability Vice-Principal (Research)
Office of Administrative Responsibility: Office of Research Services and Research Accounting
Date initially approved: September 3, 2013
Date of last revision: May 2014

Purpose/Reason for Policy:

To state the position of Queen's University on the recovery and distribution of the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research activity. 

Scope of the Policy:

All Sponsored Research activity conducted on campus, Off Campus, or at an Affiliated Hospital; and all University staff and faculty responsible for managing, charging, and/or administering Sponsored Research activity.

Policy Statement:

The University requires recovery of the Direct and Indirect Costs of research in all Sponsored Research activity to the extent possible.

The Indirect Costs recovery rate will be 40% of the Direct Costs where funds will be supplied under a Research Agreement subject to the following recovery rate exceptions: 

  • 30% of the Direct Costs where funds will be supplied under a Clinical Trial Agreement.
  • 25% of the Direct Costs where the External Sponsor is a commercial entity and the External Sponsor's funds are to be matched with funds from a government or not-for-profit agency that are contingent upon the External Sponsor's contribution, or
  • where the External Sponsor prescribes a different recovery rate in published terms or policy, which are approved by the University.

The University recognizes special circumstances may arise in Research Agreement negotiations requiring a variation in the Indirect Costs recovery rate. The faculty/school dean, in consultation with the Vice-Principal (Research) or designate, will consider written appeals for, and has authority to approve, exceptions or variations to this Policy. Depending on the circumstances, however, the University retains the discretion to decline funding if sufficient Indirect Costs cannot be included in the project budget.

All Indirect Costs of research recovery will be distributed to the faculty/school of the primary investigator of the research agreement, or shared among faculties and schools for inter-faculty/school agreements. For Affiliated Hospital-based Sponsored Research projects, the distribution of Indirect Costs of research revenue recovery will be negotiated between the dean of the faculty/school and the Affiliated Hospital. 


The dean of the faculty(ies)/school(s), or designate, is responsible for the use and allocation of all indirect costs recoveries. 

Individuals preparing proposals to External Sponsors must anticipate and include all applicable Direct and Indirect Costs in research project cost estimates.  See the Procedures on Distribution of Funds to Support the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research and Procedures on Recovery of Funds to Support the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research for more details.

All Sponsored Research projects must be approved by the Vice-Principal (Research), or designate, and the faculty/school dean (or designate) before proposal submission to any external agency. Sponsored Research activity conducted by University faculty members, using Affiliated Hospital resources, will also require the approval of the Affiliated Hospital. Research Agreements must be signed in accordance with the the Queen's University Contracts Signing Authority Policy



Affiliated Hospitals refer to Kingston General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Hospital, and Providence Care.  

Clinical Trials are patient-based, clinical research studies normally carried out in a hospital setting. Clinical Trials may be initiated and led by industry or by investigators at academic institutions.

Clinical Trial Agreement means a Research Agreement entered into or proposed to be entered into by the University and one or more Affiliated Hospitals in respect of a Clinical Trial.

Direct Costs are University expenditures incurred in the conduct of Sponsored Research that can accurately be identified and itemized; for example, the salaries and benefits of research assistants and graduate students, equipment and supplies costs, and travel and publication costs.

External Sponsors are entities that provide direct support, including financial or in-kind contributions, for Research at the University and, by way of example, include entities such as the Federal Tri-Council Agencies, other Federal and Provincial funding agencies, and industry partners.s.

Indirect Costs (also commonly referred to as Overheads) include expenditures that are necessary to support research and (i) may not be directly attributable to any one research project but rather provide general support for the University research environment as a whole (e.g., libraries and computer networks); (ii) may or may not be measurable and attributed to specific research activities, for example occupancy costs (such as heat, light, energy, and waste management), research and financial administrative support, insurance, and human resource management; and (iii) may not be eligible for funding through Sponsored Research.

Off Campus Research means Sponsored Research activity that occurs substantially off the premises of the University excluding Affiliated Hospital-based research.

Research includes a studious investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery or interpretation of knowledge; the systematic collection or revision of knowledge or accepted theories in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories; and the development and application of methodologies to increase knowledge and the practical application of knowledge to specific problems or circumstances.

Research Agreement means an agreement entered into or proposed to be entered into by the University in respect of Research with or without conditions. For the avoidance of doubt and without limitation, a Research Agreement includes the following:

  1. any notice of award and the terms and conditions of such an award (whether presented by the External Sponsor in a document to be signed, or published by the External Sponsor in some other format);
  2. Sponsored Research agreement; or
  3. any other agreement to provide or receive materials, information or data, or any other tools to facilitate Research.

Sponsored Research is Research undertaken or proposed to be undertaken using financial and/or other in-kind support from an External Sponsor, whether by participation in a competition, call for proposals, or pursuant to a Research Agreement or Clinical Trial Agreement.


Contact Officer  Executive Director, Office of Research Services
Date for Next Review  2019 May 1
Related Policies Procedures and Guidelines

Procedure: Recovery of the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research

Procedure: Distribution of Funds to Support the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research 


Policy on the Administration of Research Funds


Queen's University Contract Signing Authority Policy


Canada Foundation for Innovation Operations and Maintenance Policy (PDF 756 KB)


Indirect Cost Variance Form

Policies Superseded by this Policy

Policy on the Administration of Research Funds is partially superseded by this Policy