Research Administration Policy

Category:  Research

Approval:  Vice-Principals' Operations Committee

Sponsor/Office of Accountability:  Vice-Principal (Research) and Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration)

Office of Administrative Responsibility:  University Research Services and Finance

Date:  1 August 2015

Purpose/Reason for Policy

Queen's is committed to research excellence and to our responsibility of supporting research activity.  The research mission is supported by Principal Investigators, departments, faculties/schools and service units within their respective sphere of responsibility and accountability.  The purpose of this Policy is to outline the continuum of responsibility and authority for the management and administration of Research activity conducted under the auspices of Queen's University.

Scope of this Policy

All research activity conducted or proposed to be conducted under the auspices of the University using University personnel, students, premises, resources, services, facilities, or equipment; and all University staff and faculty responsible for managing and/or administering this Research activity.

If there is a conflict between the Policy and provisions of a collective agreement with regard to a faculty or staff member to whom the collective agreement applies, the collective agreement will prevail.

Policy Statements

All Research conducted by faculty, staff and students must be in accordance with all relevant University policies and procedures. Non-compliance will be reviewed and managed according to governing University policies, procedures, and collective agreements. 

All funds received in support of Research, which utilize University resources, are administered on behalf of Researchers by the University and must be deposited in a research account administered by Research Accounting. 

Payments to support research activity must be made payable to Queen's University, not to the individual researcher. 

Research or other study(ies) involving human subjects, animals, biological, or radioactive hazards require the appropriate certificates of approval from the relevant University governing committee prior to the conduct of the research.

Research account overspending/deficits must be pre-authorised by the dean of the faculty (or designate). 

Individuals holding a research account must have a faculty or staff appointment.

Individuals holding a research account cannot derive any portion of their Income from the account funds or, as a result of holding the research account, be placed in a position of potential, perceived or real conflict of interest.    In the event that research funding is received and one or more of these situations applies, a separate research project will be established under the name of the Dean (or delegate), and/or the potential, perceived or real conflict of interest will be approved and managed by the Dean (or delegate).

In the event that a faculty member departs the University through voluntary resignation, dismissal, termination (resulting from a redundancy, layoff, expiration of contract, or cause), retirement, death, or is absent due to an Extended Leave, there are required administrative procedures that must be resolved on a timely basis.


Principal Investigator(s) and Co-Principal Investigators

  • Prepare and submit research project budgets within the approved funding.
  • Responsible for the management of spending within available funds held in trust in their name according to University and funder policies, and for completion of the research project within the funds available.
  • Ensure all expenditures authorized against University research accounts conform to the approved budget, with all terms and conditions of the sponsored Research Agreement, with all regulations and policies of the sponsoring agency, and with the regulations and policies of the University.
  • Ensure all individuals working on the project are fully informed of and agree to comply with all applicable terms of the Research Agreement or sponsor's funding terms, including intellectual property terms, as documented by signed agreements.
  • Maintain records and data in accordance with the Research Agreement, sponsor's funding terms, University policies, Canada Revenue Agency guidelines, and/or best practices of the Principal Investigator's academic discipline, whichever is more rigorous.
  • Authorize, or delegate authorization, of all expenditures in accordance with University policies and/or funding agency requirements.
  • Notify Financial Services when requirements for deliverables-based invoices have been met so invoices can be issued.
  • Notify the Department Head, University Research Services or Research Contracts Unit, and Research Accounting of any circumstances preventing satisfactory project completion, or compliance, or change with any terms and conditions of the Research Agreement or sponsor's funding terms including changes in end dates.
  • Monitor the balance and spending commitments within each research project.
  • Use available discretionary research funds to eliminate or mitigate over-spending and over-commitments.
  • Obtain pre-approval for all over-spending, over-commitments, or pre-spending.
  • Familiarize oneself and liaise, when appropriate, with University shared services (e.g., Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources) and comply with University policies and procedures.

Faculty/School/Department 1

  • Approve proposals for Sponsored Research prior to submission to the Vice-Principal (Research) administrative unit (i.e., University Research Services or Research Contracts Unit).
  • Include operational and maintenance costs in planning and budget processes and documents, for the required support to conduct Sponsored Research projects, and ensure sustained operation of research infrastructure and assets funded by External Sponsors.
  • Consult with University shared services (e.g., Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources) to understand requirements, and monitor compliance with University policies and procedures pertaining to the administration of research activity.
  • Provide the necessary resources for financial management and administration of research activity within the Faculty/School/Department.
  • Provide financial oversight of research project balances and research progress, and resolve financial issues throughout the duration of research projects.
  • Review and approve or deny requests for over-expenditure, over-commitment, or pre-spending.
  • Notify Financial Services (Research Accounting) and University Research Services of any approved over-spending or pre-spending.
  •  Resolve financial shortfalls associated with any research project.
  • Confirm that adequate funds are available prior to approving salary contracts to be charged against research projects. 

Financial Services

Provide the following support to Principal Investigators and faculties/schools/departments: 

  • Establish and maintain research projects within the financial system.
  • Monitor research expenditures for eligibility and authorized approval.
  • Deactivate research projects that are overspent or overcommitted, according to the accompanying procedure, so that further spending cannot be charged to the research project. Reactivate research projects if/once the overspending issue has been resolved.
  • Process and monitor over-spending or pre-spending approvals.
  • Update project budgets on a timely basis.
  • Issue invoices to funding bodies as required by research agreements
  • Monitor and assist in the collection of research accounts receivable.
  • Provide support to the research community through the development and maintenance of relevant financial reports.
  • Prepare and approve all financial reports submitted to funding agencies.
  • Coordinate and support audits of research funding.
  • Develop and implement effective policies, controls, and procedures to support compliance with legislative and research funding authorities.

Vice-Principal (Research)

Provide the following support to Principal Investigators and faculties/schools/departments: 

  • Provide support to individual faculty members for pre-award activities.
  • Approve proposals for Sponsored Research on behalf of the University prior to submission.
  • Negotiate and execute Research Agreements on behalf of the University.
  • Authorize pre-spending, the opening of research accounts and communicate such to Financial Services.
  • Notify Financial Services of approved changes to budget and/or project end dates.
  • Provide support to individual faculty members for post-award activities (e.g., fund transfers, ethics renewals).
  • Liaise with the External Sponsor where changes of budget, project end date, or clarification of terms is required.
  • Develop and implement effective policies and procedures that support compliance with all legislated requirements and external sponsor-funded policies and procedures.
  • Assist in the collection of accounts receivable.
  • If proposals for Sponsored Research use Affiliated Hospital resources, obtain joint approval from the Affiliated Hospital prior to submission and/or Research Agreement execution.


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

Conflict of Interest may be real, potential, or perceived.   It occurs when a financial or personal interest of an individual or their immediate family member, may compromise, or have the potential to compromise, or create the perception of compromising, the individual's professional judgment or integrity and independence in performing their obligations as required by their employment agreement.   The External Sponsor may have a definition and policy regarding conflict of interest that differs from the definition provided here and to which the External Sponsor will require adherence from a Principal Investigator as well as from others participating in said externally sponsored research project.

Co-Principal Investigator is an individual involved with the principal investigator in the development or execution of a research project.

Extended Leave refers to a leave of absence from work for a period of time such that consideration of alternate supervisory / custodial arrangements for on-going research may be required. The duration of a leave requiring such considerations will vary based on the nature of the research activities; examples include sabbatical and medical leaves.

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

Income includes any payments to the account holder from the research account comprising reimbursement or supplementation of the account holder's existing salary, or activities on a consultancy or subcontract basis.

Principal Investigator is the individual who has primary responsibility for the design, execution, and management of a research project and who will be involved in the project in a significant manner.

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. a 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.


1  In departmentalized faculties, the dean will decide which roles and responsibilities will delegated to the department.

Contact Officer: Executive Director, University Research Services
Date for Next Review:  No later than 5 years from Effective Date
Related Policies, Procedures and Guidelines:

Policies Superseded by This Policy:  Policy on the Administration of Research Funds