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Queen's University

Recovery of the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research Procedure  

Contact Officer: Executive Director, University Research Services


Purpose To provide the research community with instruction and guidelines on the recovery of the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research
Procedure  Recovery of the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research
Faculty member,

University Research Services (URS), and/or Industry Partnerships (IP), department and/or faculty/school representatives

Step 1:  Confirm whether the activity is a research activity according to the definition of Research in the Policy. If the activity is Research, proceed to Step 2
Faculty member Step 2: Read the Policy on the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research to understand the University's requirements for the recovery of sponsored research project direct and indirect costs. The indirect costs recovery rates as noted in the Policy are:
  • 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 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 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, e.g., The Federal Tri-Council Granting Agencies.

Typically, when the External Sponsor prescribes a different, published recovery rate, the faculty/school dean (or designate) will be informed of, and approve, the reduced indirect costs recovery rate.


For Federal Tri-Council Granting Agencies (i.e., NSERC, CIHR, and SSHRC), the University receives a yearly fund allocation, i.e., the Federal Indirect Costs Program (FICP ) grant, to partially support the indirect costs of research associated with Tri-Council funded projects. Indirect Costs grants are based on the funding received by researchers from the three granting agencies in the three most recent years for which data is available. The FICP associated with the Canadian Microelectronics Corporation (CMC) and the SNOLAB Institute are distributed directly to these entities and not shared with Faculties/Schools.

Faculty member, in consultation with URS and/or IP Step 3: Review any sponsor guidelines and policies on Indirect Costs (particularly for government or foundation-sponsored research) or, where no published guidelines are available, commence discussions with the sponsor to determine:
  • the permitted nature and scope of the research project;
  • the definitions of, and any limits on, allowable Direct and Indirect Costs; 
  • whether the sponsor prescribes a specific Indirect Cost recovery rate that would supplant the recovery rates provided in Step 2 (if so, go to Step 4, otherwise, go to Step 5);
  • whether funds received are to be leveraged with another funding agency; and
  • whether a Research Agreement or Clinical Trial Agreement is appropriate, based on the nature of the research and the conditions imposed by the sponsor on the research project.
Faculty member, faculty/school dean (or designate), URS and/or IP Step 4:  Exceptions to the Indirect Costs of research rates may be approved in the following circumstances:
  • When the lead institution (in the case of sub-Research Agreements, or sub-Clinical Trial Agreements) transfers only a portion of the Indirect Costs of research recovery to the University.
  • When the research project is performed partially or entirely Off Campus. A reduced recovery rate may be negotiated with the faculty/school dean (or designate) in consultation with URS and/or IP.
  • When there is a substantial benefit to the University.
  • Where expenditures include flow-through funds, i.e., funds awarded or received by the University, and distributed to, and expended by, a different non-industry partner 
Faculty member,

faculty/school dean, department head, affiliated hospital representative

Step 5:  Determine if a department/faculty/school/Affiliated Hospital 1approval procedure exists prior to developing the first draft of the proposal. This is of particular importance if the sponsor does not fund University and Affiliated Hospital Indirect Costs.


If department head/dean/Affiliated Hospital approval is required, consult and obtain approvals from designated representatives.
Faculty member Step 6:  Develop the research proposal and determine all Direct Costs to complete the research project. 
Faculty member in consultation with URS and/or IP. Step 7:  Calculate the Indirect Costs to be included in the research project budget. Indirect Costs will be automatically deducted from research accounts at the rates outlined in Step 2 (or the sponsor-prescribed rate) as expenses are incurred.


The following methods are used to calculate the Indirect Costs of research recovery:

  • Determine the total Direct Costs of the project and multiply by the applicable Indirect Cost percentage.
  • If the program has a total cap on the available funding, an imbedded overhead rate is required. An example of the required calculation is as follows: 
  • indirect costs policy = 40%
  • maximum total funding from sponsor = $X 
  • Indirect Costs = $X – ($X/1.4)

The research community is encouraged to consult with URS and/or IP staff to develop their budgets particularly when working with commercial entities

Faculty member in consultation with URS and/or IP STEP 8: Finalize the research project budget and proposal in consultation with the external sponsor's policies and guidelines and/or in consultation with the external sponsor representatives. 
Faculty member in consultation with URS and/or IP

 STEP 9: Obtain approval from the department/unit head and/or dean through the electronic approval workflow (DSS or TRAQ).


Note: The approval process will vary depending upon the implementation procedures of the faculty/school.


 Research Agreements or proposals for Sponsored Research must be approved and signed in accordance with the Queen's University Signing Authority Policy and approved and signed by the faculty/school dean (or designate) before submission to any external agency and/or execution of a Research Agreement or Clinical Trial Agreement. Sponsored Research activity conducted by University faculty members using Affiliated Hospital resources, will also require the approval of the Affiliated Hospital designate. 


The signing authority for proposals and agreements is the Vice-Principal (Research), or designate.


All Sponsored Research projects conducted at an Affiliated Hospital(s) must be signed by the sponsor, the University, and the applicable Affiliated Hospital signing authority.

Faculty member in consultation with URS and/or IP, department/unit head, dean, Affiliated Hospital

STEP 10: Research Agreement submitted by URS or IP to sponsor. 

Date Approved:
Approval Authority:  PACB, VPOC
Date of Commencement:  2013 May 1
Amendment Dates: 
Date for Next Review:  2014 May 1 
Related Policies, Procedures and Guidelines:  Indirect Costs of Research Policy, Policy on the Administration of Research Funds, Queen’s University Contract Signing Authority Policy, Canada Foundation for Innovation Operations and Maintenance Policy


1 The Affiliated Hospitals refer to Kingston General Hospital, Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph of the Hotel Dieu of Kingston, and Providence Care. An affiliation agreement exists between Queen’s University and each of these hospitals. In addition, there is a Federal Indirect Costs of Research Memorandum of Understanding between the University and the hospitals, which outlines the distribution of the indirect costs of research revenue from the Tri-Council Agency between the University and each of the hospitals.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000