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Version 4.0 | August 20, 2019

The PI Book: A Principal Investigator’s Guide to Conducting Research at The University of Texas at Austin
Version 4.0 | August 20, 2019

Table of Contents:

Section 1. Getting Started as a Principal Investigator at UT Austin

Structure of the UT Research Enterprise

All research at The University of Texas at Austin is principal investigator (PI)-driven. UT has assembled a significant research enterprise to support your research initiatives. The UT research enterprise is overseen by Vice President for Research Dr. Daniel Jaffe. Multiple offices that report to, or work closely with, the Office of the Vice President for Research will be of service to you as a PI as you propose and execute research at UT. These offices and their core research-related functions are outlined below.

VPR and Reporting Units: These offices support various aspects of the research enterprise as follows:

VPR Units

Other Campus Offices that Support the Research Enterprise: These offices do not report to the Vice President for Research and have scopes that expand beyond the research enterprise, but do support research and PIs in some capacity, as outlined in the bullets below::

Other Offices

Relevant Website(s) Office of the Vice President for Research

PI Eligibility

What is a PI?

A principal investigator (PI) is the lead researcher for a particular, defined scholarly research project who takes direct responsibility for completion of a funded project, directing the research, and reporting directly to the sponsor.

Who can be a PI?

Several titles confer PI/Co-PI status automatically: Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Instructor, Research Professor, Research Associate Professor, Research Assistant Professor, Directors, Chairs, Research Scientist/Engineer, Senior Research Scientist/Engineer, and Research Associate. Note that Emeritus faculty do not have automatic PI status and must request PI status via their colleges.

What if my title doesn't confer automatic PI Status?

If your title does not confer automatic PI status, you can request it by having your Dean, Associate Dean for Research, Department Director or Chair initiate a request to the Assistant Vice President of OSP by following the request for PI status process outlined on the OSP website. Note that several colleges have specific processes for requesting PI status:

Requests for PI or Co-PI status from the Cockrell School of Engineering must be routed through the Dean's office via Reggie Crim, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist, Cockrell School of Engineering (; 512-471-2890) prior to forwarding on to OSP.

Requests for PI or Co-PI status for the College of Liberal Arts must be routed through the relevant department chair, and then the Associate Dean for Research, Robert Crosnoe ( prior to forwarding to OSP.

Requests for PI or Co-PI status from the Dell Medical School must be routed through Lindsey Demeritt, Director of Sponsored Research, Dell Medical School (; 512-495-5500) prior to forwarding on to OSP.

Requests for PI or Co-PI status for the College of Pharmacy must be routed through the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies via Jennifer Bindel, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist (; 512-232-7511) prior to forwarding to OSP.

Relevant Website(s)

Researcher Responsibilities Memorandum (RR Memo)

What is the RR Memo?

The Researcher Responsibilities Memorandum (RR Memo) provides guidance for conducting research at UT Austin, and is essential for the promotion of a safe, ethical, and productive research environment.

Who has to sign it, and how often?

Anyone requesting PI status must read and acknowledge all parts of the RR Memo, as a prerequisite for requesting PI status. In addition, active PIs are asked to read and acknowledge the RR Memo at least once per calendar year. You will receive an annual email from the VPR office reminding you to review and acknowledge the RR Memo.

Where can I find the RR Memo?

The RR Memo is available on the VPR website.

See Also

PI Eligibility

Relevant Website(s)

Researcher Responsibilities Memorandum.

Hosting Visiting Scholars/Researchers

Who is a visiting scholar/researcher?

A visiting scholar or researcher is an individual who has an affiliation to an entity, institution or organization outside the University of Texas, who is invited (sponsored) by a faculty member or staff researcher to collaborate on a research or scholarly project or activity. The research or scholarly activity may benefit the visitor, but must also further the University’s mission.

Under what circumstances would I host a visiting scholar/researcher?

  • To authorize access to your lab
  • To authorize library privileges and use of other UT resources such as parking, library access, etc.
  • In circumstances where your collaborator will not receive wages (this title does not allow remuneration for services rendered)

Who is eligible to be a visiting scholar/researcher?

Anyone holding a Bachelor’s degree, and planning to work or collaborate at UT for at least 2 weeks.

How do I host a visiting scholar/researcher?

Hosting Visiting Scholar

What's required of me when I host a visiting scholar/researcher?

Relevant Website(s) Research Titles – Handbook of Operating Procedures 7-1020

How to Hire Employee and Non-Employee Researchers (Research and Research Affiliate Titles)

Who approves staff researcher or non-employee researcher positions?

  • For academic departments or ORUs reporting to the Executive VP and Provost: the Dean is final approver.
  • For positions that report directly to a Dean: the Provost is final approver.
  • For ORUs reporting to the VPR: the VPR is final approver.
  • For positions that report directly to the Provost or VPR: the President is final approver.

What if I need to terminate an employee before their term is due?

Always consult with your departmental human resources specialist, or contact your UT HR Representative before taking any action.

For paid employees:
You may terminate employment for these paid research titles under the following circumstances: (1) nonrenewal at 8/31; (2) layoff; (3) termination for cause. Exception: For postdoc employees, immediate termination requires consultation between the Dean's office, if applicable, and the Office of the Executive VP and Provost/Vice President for Research.

For non-employees:
Either the incumbent or the supervising researcher may terminate the relationship with research affiliate titles without cause or recourse at a time other than the fixed assignment date:

  1. at the direction of the regular home institution or sponsoring agency;
  2. based on a change in programmatic need; or
  3. when in the reasoned judgment of the supervising researcher, the conduct or performance of the incumbent does not justify continuation.

How do I handle grievances?

The Faculty Ombuds Office offers faculty a prompt and professional way to resolve conflicts, disputes, or complaints, including work-related interpersonal conflicts or misunderstandings, as well as academic or administrative concerns.

  • For your employees: An employee may present grievances and complaints in accordance with the Classified and Administrative and Professional Grievance Policy (HOP 5-2430).
  • For your non-employees: Although this group is not eligible for a formal grievance process within the University, non-employees may present complaints concerning their assignment conditions to the Staff Ombudsperson.

The tables on the following pages outline the procedures for hiring researchers (employees and non-employees). Generally speaking, the administrative support staff who process personnel appointments for positions you supervise (e.g., graduate students) also will process research appointments.

Paid Positions - Regular Paid Positions - Temporary Paid Positions - Temporary and Non-FLSA-Exempt Unpaid Positions

Relevant Website(s)

Section 2. Finding Funding and Developing Your Idea

Open Call Funding Opportunities

The VPR office maintains a searchable list of funding opportunities that are multi-disciplinary and cross-college in scope. The Open Call list includes sponsor information and links to requests for proposals (RFPs), research areas, researcher eligibility requirements, and important deadlines. It is updated daily and includes funding programs that span the spectrum of research fields across the UT campus. Unlike limited submission opportunities, open call programs have no limits to the number of proposals that may be submitted by UT researchers.

See Also

Limited Submission

Relevant Website(s)

Limited Submission Opportunities

What are “limited submission” opportunities?

Limited submission opportunities are those for which the sponsor limits the number of proposals UT may submit. Often these opportunities allow only one UT submission, but they may allow a limited number of submissions in multiple categories. UT selects its authorized candidates by running an internal competition in which applications are reviewed and ranked by a peer faculty/researcher committee. The authorized candidate(s) or nominee(s) will be the only PI(s) who may submit a proposal for these opportunities.

All applications for internal competitions are submitted through UT’s online submission portal, InfoReady Review.

For a list of the current limited submission internal competitions, as well as lists of expected competitions, current candidates, and previous awardees, visit the VPR’s Limited Submission Programs page.

See Also

Open Call Funding Opportunities

Relevant Website(s)

VPR-Administered Grants

VPR-administered grants are those funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research or other UT internal funds and managed by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

Research and Creative Grants (RCGs)

  • The RCG program provides support of up to $10,000 for specific projects of individual tenured and tenure-track faculty members.
  • The program’s overall objectives are to promote research, outreach, and creative activities in all disciplines that will result in publications, patents, recognition, awards, or exhibitions/performances appropriate to the PI’s discipline, and/or will improve competitiveness for external funding.

Special Research Grants (SRGs)

  • SRGs provide up to $750 for specific projects for individual tenured and tenure-track faculty members.
  • These grants are intended to cover unanticipated costs or special needs and should not be considered a means of supporting ongoing projects.
  • SRG awards are funded by the Board of Regents and administered by the VPR.
  • SRG applications are accepted throughout the year. Be aware that SRGs are competitive and funding is limited; applications received earlier in the academic year will have a better chance of being funded.

Dr. Cécile DeWitt-Morette France-UT Endowed Excellence Grants (CDMs)

  • Established as a partnership with the Embassy of France in the United States, the CDM considers projects jointly submitted by a tenured or tenure-track professor or full-time permanent researcher at UT Austin and a professor or associate professor or permanent researcher at a public research institution or institution of higher learning in France.
  • Faculty and researchers may apply for one of six awards of up to $10,000 in seed funding for bi-national collaborations in all fields of study (Applied Sciences, Engineering, Exact Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences) as well as Professional Schools.

See Also

Subvention Grants

Relevant Website(s)

Subvention Grants

The Office of the Vice President for Research offers, on a rolling basis, book subvention grants of up to $5,000. This award is designed to assist faculty authors in the publication of scholarly books. Subvention awards provide financial assistance to faculty members when departments and deans are unable to provide needed support.


Full-time faculty members. Preference will be given to assistant and associate professors.

Deadline: Ongoing

Relevant Website(s)

Finding External Funding Using Pivot

What is Pivot?

Pivot is a subscription-based cloud application that makes it easy to find external funding opportunities that are available on a world-wide scale. Funding sources include private and public agencies and support in a wide area of disciplines and types of award. Pivot serves researchers at any stage in their career who seek funding.

How to access Pivot:

You can log into Pivot using your UT EID and by following the steps outlined on our Pivot website.

Can I get help using Pivot?

Yes! Visit our Pivot website to request navigation assistance from a specialized subject librarian, or to ask for technical support.

Relevant Website(s)

Research Development Support from the Office of the Vice President for Research

Overview of Research Development Services

What is “research development”?

Research development is a suite of capacity-building activities designed to increase the competitiveness of individual faculty members and teams of researchers in attracting external research funding. At UT, these capacity-building activities include research team building, supporting UT researchers through internal seed grants and collaborative grants, and major proposal development support.

Who does research development at UT, and what do they provide to researchers?

UT’s Office of the Vice President for Research has a Research Development portfolio that provides the following services and support mechanisms to faculty and researchers:

Some colleges, schools and units offer unit-level research and proposal development, proposal submission or grant administration support, as well:

Relevant Website(s)

Research Development at UT Austin

VPR Initiatives

In addition to providing internal funding support for individual investigators, the Office of the Vice President for Research offers signature initiatives designed to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations across campus. Some major VPR initiatives include:

Pop-Up Institutes:

Pop-Up Institutes support interdisciplinary teams of UT researchers. Each team spends the academic year preparing for a burst of activity focused on a specific area of research. Their Institute then “pops up” for one summer month, providing dedicated resources, time and space for researchers across campus to combine their unique perspectives and distinct skill sets in pursuit of a common goal. Proposals for Pop-Up Institutes are solicited each spring (around February/March). UT faculty (tenure- or non-tenure-track) and permanent, senior level staff researchers are eligible to serve as Pop-Up Institute leaders. The maximum allowable budget is $50,000. Pop-Ups may use this amount to leverage fundraising internally or externally. Although funding matches are not required, such contributions are considered favorably in the review process.

Bridging Barriers (Texas Grand Challenges):

Bridging Barriers is UT’s campus-wide research grand challenges initiative overseen by the Office of the Vice President for Research. More than 150 PIs representing 15 Colleges, Schools and Units across UT are engaged in the three grand challenge themes:

  • Planet Texas 2050 is ensuring Texas’ sustainability in the face of intensifying climate and rapid urbanization.
  • Whole Communities – Whole Health seeks to help Central Texas families thrive by providing them with near-real-time health information from new sensors and data platforms.
  • Good Systems is designing values-driven artificial intelligence technologies.

Institutional investment including cash, as well as fundraising support from VPR and University Development, is provided to each theme to ensure its success. All UT PIs are welcome and encouraged to contribute their expertise to the Bridging Barriers research grand challenges. To learn more, visit the Bridging Barriers website.

Associate Professor Experimental (APX):

APX is a design thinking and flash funding faculty retreat that gives newly tenured associate professors dedicated funds and focused time to envision new research directions with colleagues in diverse academic disciplines. APX was created by The Office of the Vice President for Research and the School for Design and Creative Technologies, and is funded by the Executive Vice President and Provost. In Fall 2018, an inaugural cohort of 20 associate professors participated in APX, developing 9 new cross-disciplinary projects within 24 hours that were institutionally funded. Participation in APX is by invitation only. the VPR office extends invitations each spring, as soon as promotion and tenure decisions have been finalized at the University level.

Relevant Website(s)

Section 3. Propose Research

Who Signs Off On Proposals?: Institutional Signature Authority

Most proposals require institutional signature, which is provided by OSP (or in a few cases, by the University Development Office). Institutional signature is obtained during the normal proposal process when you submit your Proposal Review Form (PRF) through UT’s Research Management System (RMS).

Although research grants are under your direction as PI, the grant or contractual agreement is between UT and the sponsor. Proposals can be signed by only a small number of individuals, known as authorized officials, who have the authority to sign these agreements on behalf of UT. Faculty, deans, and department chairs are not authorized officials.

Please note that all sponsored research at UT must go through OSP, OIE, or the Development Office.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

UT Foundation (501(c)(3))

The University of Texas Foundation, Inc. (UT Foundation) was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System in 1967 to accept and manage gifts in support of the System or one of its components. The UT Foundation can accept contributions from funders that must give to 501(c)(3) organizations and will transmit such contributions in full to UT Austin for support of the proposed project.

I want to submit a proposal for funding, but the sponsor only awards funds to 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities. Can I apply?

Most corporations and foundations will make grants directly to UT Austin, which is a tax-exempt agency of the State of Texas under Internal Revenue Code 170(c) (1). Some funders, however, are restricted by law to making grants only to nonprofits with 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status. In such cases, the Office of Foundation Relations (OFR) in the University Development Office can help you submit your proposal through the University of Texas Foundation.

If your proposal needs to be routed through the UT Foundation, provide a copy to the OFR Office and allow at least two to three days for processing. CFR can provide tax-exempt documentation on behalf of the UT Foundation and additional supporting materials such as transmittal letters, audited financial statements, and Form 990s.

Relevant Website(s)

Internal Review Deadlines for Proposals

Proposals submitted by UT Austin principal investigators (PIs) must be submitted to funders/sponsors through the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP). OSP submits approximately 50 proposals daily, campus-wide, to various federal, private, state and other sponsors. To manage the proposal submission workload, OSP uses an electronic queue called the Research Management System (RMS). To have your proposal submitted by OSP, the following items must be uploaded to RMS no later than four (4) business days before the proposal submission deadline.

Proposal Process

Additionally, some colleges, schools and units have their own internal deadlines for proposal review, ahead of the OSP 4-business-day deadline. Check with your Associate Dean for Research or College/School/Unit research administrator to determine whether other internal deadlines must be met to submit proposals.

See Also

Institutional Signature Authority

Relevant Website(s)

Proposal Preparation Resources

Campus-Wide Resources

Your home unit can be a valuable source of information and assistance as you navigate the internal UT and sponsor requirements to successfully submit a proposal. When you first come across a funding opportunity and are weighing whether or not to submit a proposal, seek out the proposal support staff in your department or college and let them know of your plans. With adequate lead time, administrative staff can help organize budgets and support documents and coordinate with OSP to ensure your proposal is given a thorough review ahead of the submission deadline.

In recent cycles, some federal funding agencies have begun placing greater weight in their proposal reviews on three areas of proposals and award reporting: Broader Impacts Statements (NSF), Data Management Plans, and Postdoc Mentoring Plans. Thoughtful responses can give you a competitive edge. Several offices across campus dedicate resources and expertise to help you translate your ideas into solid action plans.

Concierge Services: Campus-Wide Proposal Preparation Support

Concierge Services offers proposal services to campus faculty and staff, including proposal preparation, proposal guideline review, and individual or small group training for new faculty and staff.

Broader Impacts/Outcomes

Required for all NSF proposals, and of particular importance in the review process, is a broader impacts statement describing your project’s potential to contribute to specific, measurable goals for the benefit of society. UT’s Expanding Pathways in Computing (EPIC) at TACC can assist with the creation of viable Broader Impacts Statements. Their professional evaluators also can provide program evaluation services to funded projects (with funding support for evaluation provided in your budget).

Data Management Plans (DMPs)

Data created during the course of research and after a project is concluded must be effectively managed to ensure project integrity, adequate sharing of results, and proper long-term preservation. UT maintains a subscription to DMPTool, a web-based resource for researchers drafting data management plans that conform to various federal agency guidelines.

Additionally, several departments and offices across campus partner to provide internal resources for data management to UT researchers.

  • Texas ScholarWorks for archiving and sharing of datasets under 1GB, and papers and publications associated with data.
  • Texas Data Repository is an online platform for the publication and archive of digital data developed or used in support of research activities at UT. TDR accepts data under 2GB per individual file in any file type from any research discipline and allows researchers to edit the license governing re-use of the data.
  • TACC offers computational and storage resources suitable for terabyte (TB) and petabyte (PB) scale datasets. By completing a simple data storage allocation request, UT employees may obtain up to 5 TB of data storage at no cost. TACC maintains copies of stored data off-site at UT-Arlington to provide additional security. Request a TACC data storage allocation.
  • Information Technology Services (ITS) is capable of handling datasets that are larger than 1GB. ITS also offers data management services and hardware to support grant writing and research activities. ITS can provide storage for datasets as large as 100 GB.
  • UT Research Cyberinfrastructure offers high performance computing through the Texas Advanced Computing Center, a data repository, and high bandwidth data access.
  • REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a secure, web-based application for building and managing online surveys and databases. Managed by the Population Research Center, it is available for use by all UT faculty, staff, and students.
  • The Department of Statistics and Data Sciences offers statistical consulting services to assist with research design, use of statistical software, modeling and interpretation of results
  • UT Libraries manages a DMP resources and templates page with current information on agency-specific requirements.

Postdoctoral Mentoring Plans

NSF and NIH (at the proposal stage and award stage, respectively) require that investigators provide mentoring plans for any research that includes a postdoctoral researcher. VPR maintains a Faculty Mentors resource page to advise investigators about policy governing the use of postdocs in research and provide information for the creation of a postdoc professional development strategy.

Submit Your Proposal

With very few exceptions (some research gifts and graduate fellowships), awards are made to UT rather than the individual researchers responding to a request for proposal (RFP). Because of this distinction, all proposals must be submitted for an internal review at either OSP or its industry-focused support unit, the Office of Industry Engagement (OIE). The primary mechanism for initiating a review is the Proposal Review Form (PRF). All UT faculty with PI status can create a PRF or request than an administrative support staff person in their unit be authorized to create a PRF on their behalf. Once OSP has received the completed PRF, your proposal will be assigned to a reviewer who will ensure your proposal complies with both UT and sponsor budgetary and compliance requirements.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Concierge Services: Campus-Wide Proposal Preparation Support

Concierge Services (CS) are an extension of the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) designed to offer additional hands-on pre-award assistance to UT researchers and research support staff. CS offers a variety of services including proposal preparation, proposal guideline review, and individual or small group training for new faculty and staff. Training is available on topics such as OSP proposal policies and procedures and electronic research administration systems (including RMS, Cayuse, and FastLane/

While the service is available to all UT Researchers and Staff, it is intended as supplemental resource and was not created to replace the services provided by your college and department. If you have additional questions about the services provided, you can search the FAQs or email the Concierge Service directly and a team member will respond to you within two-business days.

Appointments are available Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The concierge suite is located on main campus in the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center (FAC), Suite 424 and accommodates one-on-one and small group meetings.

Note that proposals submitted through the Concierge service must be requested at least 2 weeks before the sponsor’s deadline. If your proposal is due in less than 2 weeks, please contact OSP and submit your Proposal Review Form to obtain prompt assistance.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)


Requirements vary between RFPs depending upon the sponsor and the type of program. However, most proposal guidelines follow a similar formula. Your approach to budgeting should rest on a realistic assessment of your project’s direct costs balanced with UT’s indirect costs requirements.

Direct and Indirect Costs

Direct costs can be directly allocated to a specific project. If a graduate researcher assigned to a project must conduct field sampling in order to complete research objectives, those expenses are directly allocable to that project and are considered direct costs. Indirect Costs (IDC) cannot be directly allocated to a specific project. A typical department will employ staff to manage day-to-day administrative operations of multiple projects tied to a variety of funding sources. Since their work duties involve tasks across all of these projects in any given period, their salaries are not directly allocable to any one project and are considered indirect costs represented in a negotiated institutional rate (F&A rate).

Direct and Indirect Cost

Non-Allowable Expenses

With certain exceptions (and typically only when made explicit in a research agreement), certain costs are considered non-allowable and cannot be charged to a sponsored project. These include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Entertainment
  • New construction
  • Land or building acquisition
  • Alumni activities
  • Fundraising expenses
  • Bad debt
  • Fines and/or penalties
  • Interest payments
  • Lobbying
  • Goods or services procured for personal use of project employees
  • Commencement or convocations
  • Contingency funds
  • Depreciation of a high-cost asset
  • Institutional Review Board fees
  • Investment management
  • Losses on project agreements
  • Proposal development costs
  • State of Texas sales tax
  • Scholarships

Budget Justification

A budget justification is a narrative statement that provides clarifying details on your request for funding from a sponsor. This is where you should elaborate on expenses you expect to incur, and give the rationale for how you arrived at the cost figures you have provided in your budget. Some sponsors impose limits on the length of a budget justification (e.g., 3 pages), whereas others have no page limit. In general, at least a few sentences describing each major budget category (e.g., Personnel Salaries, Travel, Materials/Supplies, or Participant Support) is expected.

Relevant Website(s)

Salary Calculations

How do I calculate salary?

Salary requests are based on an individual’s appointment type (base salary), overall commitment of effort, and the guidelines of the project RFP. Together, these yield a determination of person months.

Base Salary – Most teaching faculty are appointed for 9 months and staff and student researchers for 12 months each year. So, base salary is your annual compensation total divided by 9 or 12, respectively. Use the amount of your faculty/researcher base salary for your salary request from the sponsor. It is not an acceptable practice to inflate this figure in any way except to account for a projected salary increase that will take effect after the beginning of the award performance date. A faculty researcher paid on a 9-month appointment may request summer salary directly from a project sponsor in an amount based upon their 9-month base salary.

Effort - The time devoted to a sponsored project, expressed as a percentage of the total time spent on all activities conducted under the terms of employment with the university.

Percentage of time – The percentage of salaried effort is usually expressed in person-months.

Person-month – The metric for expressing the effort PIs, faculty, and other personnel devote to a single project. It is based on the individual’s appointment type, for example: calendar year, academic year, or summer term.

How do I calculate person months?

Multiply the percentage of your effort associated with the project times the number of months of your appointment. For example:

  • 25% of a 9-month academic year appointment is equal to 2.25 person months (9 x .25 = 2.25).
  • 20% of a 12-month calendar appointment equals 2.4 person months (12 x .20 = 2.4).
  • 25% of a 3-month summer appointment equals .75 person months (3 x .25 = .75).

Limits on Effort and Compensation for Sponsored Research

Generally, the National Science Foundation (NSF) limits salary compensation for faculty senior personnel to a maximum of two months of regular salary across all NSF-supported projects in any given year. Case‑by‑case approvals can be granted for a third month in some instances.

The Department of Health and Human Services caps salaries for all National Institutes of Health (NIH) project faculty personnel on nine-month appointments. The current cap is $192,300 (distributed over nine months). When your monthly salary exceeds the nine-month distributed salary cap, the difference must NOT be charged to another federal award. Rather, this difference should be charged to a non-sponsored funding source.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Fringe Rates

What is a fringe rate?

"Fringe rate" refers to the non-wage expenses paid by an employer on behalf of their employees. These expenses include insurance premium sharing, employer matching, Social Security (OASI) and Medicare, Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and Optional Retirement Program (ORP) matching, as well as assessments for Unemployment Compensation Insurance (UCI), Workers’ Compensation Insurance (WCI), vacation and sick leave. Fringe benefits are a direct cost to a sponsored project and are budgeted as a percentage of the salaries and wages and shown as a separate entry in the budget.

Who determine the fringe rate?

Fringe benefit rates are determined by Accounting and Financial Management, based on yearly analysis of the university’s actual fringe benefit costs. UT’s fringe rates are negotiated with its cognizant agency (DHHS) and are part of the University’s F&A Cost Rate Agreement.

What is the current fringe rate?

The fringe rates for the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) and later are in the table below. The rates beyond August 31, 2020 are estimates and are provided for budgeting purposes. Fringe will be charged at the applicable rate at the time the cost is incurred.

  Approved Fringe Rates Projects for Planning Purposes
Employee Type FY20
Subsequent years
Any benefits-eligible staff (full or part-time staff, including Graduate Research Assistants) 29.8% 30.3% + 0.5%
Benefits-ineligible employees 5.10% 5.10% 5.10%

I have an active grant that was awarded a few years ago, and I had budgeted fringe rates that are lower than what’s quoted in the table above. What happens now?

UT moved to a pooled fringe rate on September 1, 2018. If your grant proposal was submitted prior to August 10, 2018 and had budgeted for fringe rates lower than the pooled rates, you should consult the fringe rate mitigation plan. OSP is monitoring and will mitigate fringe overdrafts for grants that pre-dated the 2018 pooled fringe policy effective date until August 2024.

Relevant Website(s)

Participant Support Costs

What are Participant Support Costs?

Participant Support Costs are solely for the purpose of enabling participants to attend and receive training at a meeting, workshop, conference, symposium, or other training activity. These can include small stipends, reimbursement of travel expenses, meals during the training, and other expenses incurred for the purpose of participation. Participant support costs are exempt from IDC assessment, but the strict interpretation of participant eligibility by most organizations is very closely scrutinized.

Participants do not perform any work or services for the program. Students, scientists, private sector representatives, agency personnel, teachers, national research scholars, and others who attend the training in a non-working capacity are eligible to receive participant support. However, anyone receiving support from a federal grant, or performing research on a grant, cannot claim support expenses for themselves from that grant’s Participant Support budget.

Participant Support Cost

See Also


Relevant Website(s)

Uniform Guidance: Participant Support Costs

Subrecipients (Subawards) and Contractors (Consultants/Vendors)

In the course of developing your research plan, you may discover that it is beneficial to expand your team in order to achieve your objectives. If you collaborate with individuals external to UT or with UT employees acting in a capacity outside of their regular university duties who will be paid from project funds, you will be establishing an outgoing contractual relationship that will fall into either a subaward or contractor category, each with its own set of budgetary, compliance, and contractual guidelines.

What is a subrecipient?

A subrecipient is the external partner in a binding agreement with UT where:

  • They are responsible for a significant portion of the research activity defined in the work statement.
  • They assume full responsibility for the administration and leadership of their defined research responsibilities.
  • They agree to UT’s contractual terms and conditions as well as those of the sponsor as flowed down from UT’s acceptance and negotiation of the award.

How do I determine if my needs are best met by utilizing a subrecipient?


If I determine that my relationship is with a subrecipient, what must I do to ensure their commitment to the project?

OSP requires subrecipients to submit the following items for review during the proposal review:

  • Signed Institutional Letter of Commitment: a letter from the subrecipient’s sponsored projects office committing the institution to participate as detailed in the work statement if awarded.
  • Statement of Work (SOW): a brief description (typically no more than 2 paragraphs) of the subrecipient research-related responsibilities and objectives.
  • Subrecipient Budget and Budget Justification: itemized direct and indirect cost categories.
  • Negotiated rate agreement (Federal/Federal pass-through funding)

What is a contractor (also referred to as a consultant or vendor)?

A contractor is any paid consultant, vendor, or service provider who provides goods or services to UT in support of the research. Contractors can be:

  • Field experts who act in an advisory or consulting capacity to help the project achieve its stated objectives.
  • Non-UT employees or UT employees paid for a service outside of their defined work duties.
  • Vendors who provide expendable supplies and materials specific and essential to the stated research.
  • Vendors who provide high-value equipment or parts for fabricated equipment.

What is the difference between consulting and research?

Research – whether performed under the prime or a subrecipient award – is any work that is quantitatively significant and essential to accomplishing project objectives detailed in the work statement by individuals specifically qualified for attaining the overall project outcomes. Consulting is limited in scope to a narrowly defined task performed by an external expert who provides a specific service that enables the research team to perform research. Researchers are responsible to the sponsor for overall outcomes. Consultants are responsible to the researchers for limited contracted services.

How do I determine if my needs are best met by utilizing a contractor or consultant?


If I determine that my relationship is with a contractor, what must I do to ensure their commitment to the project?

Consultants, contracted service providers, and vendors should be identified by name in either the proposal narrative or budget justification. Additional information about the number of days of work, daily rate, cost of goods and rendered services, and expected deliverables should be included in a contractor letter of commitment. While not all sponsors and programs require contractor commitment letters to be included with formal proposal submissions, OSP requires all consultants and other contractors to submit a letter of commitment during the formal proposal review period.

Relevant Website(s)

Use of the Off-Campus IDC Rate

The off-campus indirect cost (IDC) rate is applied for projects conducted off-campus that meet the criteria outlined below. This rate is calculated on modified total direct costs (MTDC). UT’s IDC rates, including the off-campus IDC rate, are federally negotiated and are audited by the U.S. government (see the current rates).

Who approves use of the off-campus IDC rate?

OSP. All requests for use of the off-campus rate must be received by OSP at least seven (7) business days before the proposal deadline.

What criteria must be met to use the off-campus IDC rate?

  • The off-campus portion of the project must take place for at least 90 consecutive days.
  • In addition, at least one of the following criteria must be met:
    • The combined proposed effort of all involved UT personnel working off-campus must be greater than the combined proposed effort of all involved UT personnel working on‑campus. This includes unpaid contributed effort.
    • The budget must include leasing or renting an off-site facility as a direct cost, and the personnel paid from the grant and any equipment must be located at that facility.
    • The total direct costs incurred off-campus must exceed the total direct costs incurred on-campus.

See Also

Indirect Cost (IDC) Adjustments and Waivers

Relevant Website(s)

Indirect Cost (IDC) Adjustments and Waivers

Indirect costs (IDC), also referred to as Facilities & Administrative (F&A) or overhead (OH) costs, are costs of facilities and administrative resources to support sponsored activities at UT Austin. UT’s IDC rates are federally negotiated and are audited by the U.S. government (see the current rates).

These rates apply to all sponsored projects unless:

  1. A sponsor/funder mandates that a different IDC rate must be used, or
  2. The VPR office has approved an IDC rate adjustment or waiver for a particular project

Who approves IDC waivers/adjustments?

The VPR office, not OSP, approves IDC waiver and adjustment requests. Any requests must be approved by the VPR office at least 7 business days before the proposal deadline.

  • The VPR office will not waive or reduce IDC to “make proposals more competitive.”
  • The VPR office will not waive or reduce IDC for the sake of stretching a proposal’s budget.

IDC reduction as a form of cost share

The VPR only grants this in cases where the sponsor explicitly states that IDC reduction is its preferred form of cost sharing. See the VPR Cost Sharing Requests page of this guide for more details.

How do I obtain an IDC waiver/adjustment?

See below, or online:

IDC Waiver

See Also

Use of the Off-Campus IDC Rate

Relevant Website(s)

Cost Sharing

Cost share is the portion of a project or program cost not borne by the sponsor and represents UT’s financial contribution to the project. At UT, cost sharing is discouraged unless it is a requirement stated in the sponsor’s request for proposals.

What kinds of costs can be “shared”?

Federal guidelines and rules dictate what kinds of expenses can be counted toward cost sharing. For more information on what’s allowed and unallowed, see the UT cost sharing websites linked below.

Types of Cost Share

Mandatory Committed Cost Share is cost share required by the sponsor as a condition of the award. This must be documented in your proposal budget and will be reported to the sponsor.

Voluntary Committed Cost Share is cost sharing that is not mandated by the sponsor, but is included in your proposal budget, budget justification, or narrative. Once proposed, this becomes a binding commitment and must be documented and reported to the sponsor. Voluntary committed cost share is discouraged.

Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Share is cost sharing that is not required by the sponsor and not included in in your proposal budget, budget justification, or narrative. Voluntary uncommitted cost share is not reported to the sponsor.

In-kind Contributions are contributions of time, talent, or resources by third-parties. Third-party in-kind contributions may be in the form of real property, equipment, supplies and other expendable property, or goods and services directly benefiting and specifically designated for the project or program. In-kind contributions should include a brief statement describing the basis for determining the valuation of the contribution.


  • Any committed cost share must be documented on a cost share form at the time of proposal and verified at time of award.
  • Do not over-commit an individual’s time beyond 100% effort.
  • Be aware that maximum time for research effort may affect your ability to contribute in-kind cost share.
  • As a general rule, cost share only the minimum amount required.
  • Using federal dollars as matching or cost sharing toward another federally sponsored project is not allowed unless you have written authorization from both federal agencies.

See Also

VPR Cost Sharing Request

Relevant Website(s)

VPR Cost Sharing Requests

I’m working on a proposal and the sponsor requires cost sharing. May I approach the VPR office to ask for a contribution to meet the cost share?

If cost sharing is a mandatory requirement, you may ask for VPR support to help you meet the cost share threshold. Keep in mind the following:

  • The VPR’s office does not contribute to voluntary cost sharing. You will need to provide documentation (e.g., the RFP) that states that the cost sharing is mandatory.
  • You should review the Cost Sharing section of this guidebook, and visit the websites therein, before making a request to the VPR.
  • Cost sharing requests must be received in the VPR office at least 3 weeks before the proposal deadline.
  • When making a cost sharing request, PIs must include:
    1. Link to RFP that states that cost sharing is mandatory
    2. OSP RMS number for the proposal
    3. a full proposal draft
    4. budget draft
    5. draft commitment letter for VPR signature, if required by the sponsor
    6. explanation of what the PI team and PI’s unit/department/College/School are contributing to help meet the cost share
    7. Commitment memos/letters from all parties making contributions (e.g., department chair, Dean)
  • IDC reduction as a form of cost share: The VPR only grants this in cases where the sponsor explicitly states that IDC reduction is its preferred form of cost sharing. Whenever possible, the VPR’s office will make its cost share contribution in cash.

See Also

Cost Sharing

Relevant Website(s)

“Research-related agreements” are research agreements other than grants and contracts, such as funded or unfunded MOUs, NDAs and data use agreements (DUAs). This table outlines some of the most commonly used research-related agreements at UT. For a more extensive list of research-related agreements, visit the Office of Industry Engagement (OIE) website.

To help expedite approval of agreements, the UT Board of Regents (BOR) provides standard sponsored research agreement templates, as well as templates for standard academic affiliations, including international MOUs and educational agreements, which are signed by the Business Contracts Office. When using one of the standard BOR agreement templates, the approval process takes about 4-5 business days. An agreement that deviates from these templates will require additional review by the UT Legal Affairs Office, and in some cases BOR approval, which may take 6 months to a year to process. If in doubt about how to proceed, contact the Office of the VP for Research.

The procedures described below assume a substantial research component, and the use of a pre-approved BOR template, unless otherwise stated. For academic exchanges related to faculty teaching or lecturing, a Dean’s request submitted to the Business Contracts Office is required to process an agreement. For student academic exchanges or mobility programs, contact Texas Global.

Type of agreement Description Approval Process (the person/department sponsoring the agreement must route the agreement through all stages of the approval process) Who’s Authorized to Sign? Templates

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) involving sponsored  (funded) research (a.k.a. memorandum of agreement, letter of intent)

MOU is a bilateral or multilateral agreement which documents the manner in which the parties intend to pursue a common course of action.  In this case action related to the research enterprise.

MOUs involving funded research, including those with a state or federal government entity or with a foreign government entity, must be reviewed by the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP), with the following exception:

If MOU involves a for-profit entity or state-owned oil company:  contact the Office of Industry Engagement (OIE).

VPR/OSP/OIE (PI’s, Chairs, and Deans may not sign research-related agreements)

Sponsored Research Agreements

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for unfunded projects (a.k.a. memorandum of agreement, letter of intent)

MOU is a bilateral or multilateral agreement which documents the manner in which the parties intend to pursue a common course of action.  In this case action related to the research enterprise.

Unfunded MOUs with no specific deliverables, such as materials transfers, data use, or funds transfers may be submitted to the Office of Sponsored Projects for processing.

VPR/OSP (PI’s, Chairs, and Deans may not sign research-related agreements)

Unfunded Research MOU Templates:  (a)Domestic; (b)International

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

If you or your group is disclosing or receiving proprietary information, both parties (you and the external entity) are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), also referred to as a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA), Proprietary Information Agreement (PIA), or similar title.

You, as principal investigator, should fill out the UT Universal NDA template which may be modified with approval by the Office of Industry Engagement (OIE), the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP), or the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), depending on the type of agreement:

·       Contact OSP if the NDA is related to government or foundation sponsored research (including SBIR/STTR grants, I-Corps, I/UCRCs) and/or related data use agreements, or material transfers (see MTA section below).

·       Contact OIE if the NDA is related to industry funded sponsored research (including state owned oil companies and IAPs) and/or related data use agreements

·       Contact OTC if the NDA is related to intellectual property or technology licenses,

·        Contact Business Contracts Office if agreement is related to equipment loans, software purchases, facility use, or data use agreements for academic or departmental use.

OIE, OSP, OTC, Business Contracts (PIs, Chairs, and Deans may not sign research-related agreements)

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements

Materials Transfer Agreements (MTA)

A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a legal contract governing the transfer of proprietary research material, including biological or chemical samples or materials that are infectious, hazardous or subject to special regulations, from one party to another.

You should request an “Outgoing MTA” when you provide particular University materials to external entities.  Use an “Incoming MTA” when external entities or individual researchers provide materials to you.  If in doubt, contact OSP.

Outgoing MTA:  you should use the Principal Investigator Checklist for Outgoing Material Transfer Agreements for Biological and Chemical Materials in the University’s Research Management System (RMS) to obtain approval to transmit materials to other institutions or entities. 

Incoming MTA:  you should complete, sign, and submit to OSP the MTA Expediting Form for Receiving Materials (MTA-Q).

In some cases you may need to submit the form to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). EHS will review for any compliance issues. 

OSP, EHS (and OIE strictly for MTAs under industry-funded SRAs or IAPs) 

PIs, Chairs, and Deans may not sign research-related agreements.

MTA Templates

Non-Sponsored Related Agreements (Services)

Agreements for procurement of goods or services are considered business contracts and are handled by the Office of the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer’s Business Contracts Office.

Complete and sign the Business Contract Review Form (BCRF), then submit it to the Business Contracts Office for approval.

Here are examples of service contract agreements.

Business Contracts Office

PIs, Chairs, and Deans may not sign research-related agreements.

Business Contracts

Relevant Website(s)


Industrial Affiliates Programs (IAPs)

Industrial affiliates programs facilitate the dialogue between academia and industry and the transfer of new knowledge to the public by providing an avenue for industry to contribute to and sustain research and teaching at UT. Companies gain direct access to state-of-the-art research capabilities and other benefits in exchange for annual membership fees which primarily fund basic research for program team members. Each participant receives the same benefits from equivalent membership in the program. Any interested company may join an affiliate program.

Benefits for Members

Benefits can include early access to state-of-the-art technical information and reports, regular group meetings and presentations, and facilitated access to research programs and participating faculty, research staff, and students. IAP members are not granted intellectual property rights, there are no required deliverables, and therefore there are no indirect costs associated with this research.

Benefits for UT

IAPs can provide support for ongoing research, enrich students’ and postdocs’ educational experience, maintain UT’s role as a resource, and contribute to its mission of teaching and research.

Establishing an IAP

An IAP is initiated where a faculty member’s research is widely recognized in an industry segment and is of significant interest to certain industry segment members. The process of establishing an IAP is managed by the Office of Industry Engagement and reviewed by the Vice President of Research. A complete explanation of the process can be found in the UT Policy for Establishing Industrial Affiliates Programs and Instructions for Establishing Industrial Affiliates Programs.

See Also

Who Sets Up Awards: Office of Industry Engagement

Relevant Website(s)

Research Gifts

What is the difference between a research gift and sponsored research?

The majority of externally funded research at UT is funded as sponsored research (also referred to as sponsored projects). Under sponsored research agreements, PIs receive funding from an external entity in exchange for performing specific research tasks, performing research within a stated scope of work, investigating specific research questions, or providing some other kind of research output.

In contrast, a research gift is an unrestricted gift of funds, meaning that the external entity providing the funds expects no deliverables or other research outputs. In addition, there can be no constraints on the PI’s ability to publish results, no confidentiality or intellectual property restrictions, and no budget restrictions. Research gifts carry no terms or conditions beyond a general statement of purpose.

Who handles research gifts at UT?

University Development (the central development office) processes research gifts. If you receive a check from an external entity in support of your UT research, you should contact University Development to establish an unrestricted account to spend the funds. Keep in mind that research gifts cannot have any strings attached – if the external entity expects you to perform a scope of work, then the agreement is actually a sponsored research agreement and needs to be processed through the Office of Sponsored Projects or Office of Industry Engagement (if the external entity is a company).

I have been talking with a company and they want to provide me with research funds, but do not want to pay overhead or indirect costs. Can I have them give me an unrestricted research gift to avoid overhead?

A company may provide funds as a research gift only if they are willing to accept that there can be no expected research outcomes in return, no publication restrictions, no confidentiality restrictions, and no intellectual property restrictions. Research gifts are not subject to indirect costs, but they are not completely fee-free: some Colleges, Schools and Units, including Engineering, Natural Sciences, and Liberal Arts, have implemented a research gift tax to offset the costs of administering the funds. Check with University Development when processing your research gift to determine whether your College/School/Unit imposes a research gift tax.

If the company expects any kind of specific output from you as PI (e.g., a statement of work, deliverables), then the research agreement is sponsored research and should be processed through the Office of Industry Engagement, rather than being funded as a research gift.

What’s expected of me if I accept a research gift?

The Office of Financial and Administrative Services offers good guidelines for the appropriate stewardship of research gifts, including UT’s policies on acknowledging gifts, reporting on the use of gift funds, and public announcement of gifts.

Relevant Website(s)

Compliance Issues

Export Control

Export control affects three main areas at UT:

  1. Research
  2. Travel outside the U.S.
  3. Shipping

Is my research affected by export control?

Research – If your research is considered to be “fundamental research” it is excluded from US export control laws. However, if your research is fundamental research, but you have a foreign national working with controlled substances (found on the Commerce Control List or the U.S. Munitions List)(International Traffic in Arms Regulations-ITAR- Part 121) or proprietary technology in conjunction with your research project (see Technology Control Plan (TCP) Certification), your research is affected by export control. Also, if you are working on a project that has controlled proprietary technology or the government has placed access controls on the technology, even if you do not have foreign nationals involved in your research, you must have a Technology Control Plan (TCP) in place that limits access to only U.S. citizens and foreign nationals with a green card. For assistance in completing the TCP, contact the Export Controls Officer.

Travel outside the U.S. – Your travel outside the U.S. related to research (e.g., for research abroad or for a conference) is affected by export control laws if you are:

  • Taking items with you on a trip in support of your work or conference such as:
    • Laptops
    • Encryption products
    • Data/technology
    • Blueprints, drawings, schematics
  • Supplying certain technologies/data at a "closed" conference or meeting (not open to all technically qualified members of the public, and attendees are not permitted to take notes)
  • Exchanging goods, services or money in certain countries
  • Traveling to sanctioned/embargoed countries
  • Doing business with certain people or entities

Shipping – Shipping items outside the U.S. could require a license from OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control), the Department of State, or BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security). Licensing could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months, and shipping without a permit could lead to a fine for you and UT.

Contact David Ivey, Associate Director and University Export Controls Officer, in the Office of Sponsored Projects if you are unsure whether your research, travel, or shipping of items outside the U.S. will be subject to export control laws. The consequences of violating export control regulations can be quite severe, ranging from loss of research contracts and exporting privileges to monetary penalties and jail time for the individual violating these regulations.

Relevant Website(s)

Export Control: Regulation and Resources

Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI)

UT’s Office of Research Support and Compliance oversees institutional compliance with federal rules governing transparency and objectivity in research as they pertain to financial conflicts of interest (FCOI).

UT follows policy guidelines established by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Public Health Service (PHS). We require that all covered individuals, regardless of funding source, must complete conflict of interest training. While many agencies will allow this process to be completed between the time of the proposal submission and the notice of award, ALL PHS-funded programs as well as all programs using PHS flow-through funds (this includes all National Institutes of Health grants) require that FCOI documentation be completed by all covered individuals before submission of your proposal. As such, OSP will not submit a proposal to any PHS program sponsor, including NIH, if this process has not been completed by ALL covered individuals associated with the proposal.

What is FCOI?

FCOI is any financial interest which may affect research or research reporting or an entity that may be affected by that research, and is subject to the implementation of a management plan designed to mitigate the conflict’s potential impact.

What is a Covered Individual?

All individuals who are in any way responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research are considered to be Covered Individuals and must complete Conflict of Interest training and the Financial Interest Disclosure (FID) form. Compliance with this process applies equally to any postdoctoral fellow or graduate student whose participation in the project could qualify them as a covered individual. Questions about your status should be emailed to the Office of Research Support and Compliance.

What is the Financial Interest Disclosure (FID) Form?

The Financial Interest Disclosure is a declaration that is completed annually (or within thirty days of any changes) that describes any FCOI for a covered individual or covered family members. FCOI training and completion of the FID is required whether or not a covered individual has any FCOI.

What is necessary to ensure your compliance with FCOI requirements?

  • Complete FCOI training. The training module is embedded within the FID form, so you will be guided by the module through the appropriate steps whether or not you are completing your training for the first time or due to an expired training record. This requirement applies to ALL covered individuals whether or not they are employed by UT. If a covered individual from another institution does not have proof that they have FCOI status that is current with their home institution they must complete the training and disclosure process through UT.
  • Once you have completed training, you will be allowed to continue on to the declarations portion of the FID where you will list university research projects and attest to any financial conflicts of interest.

Relevant Website(s)

Check the status of your FID

Working with Human Subjects, Animals, or Biohazardous Materials

If your research involves human subjects, animal research or rDNA and biosafety, the table below will help you navigate the approval process.

Type of research Protocol needed Definition How to obtain
Work involving human subjects IRB All research demonstrations, developments, or other activities involving the use of human subjects must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Research Board (IRB) prior to initiation of the project. Submit an application for IRB review.

Keep in mind IRB meeting dates and deadlines when submitting protocol requests.
Work involving vertebrate animals IACUC All researchers utilizing vertebrate animals in research and teaching activities must obtain written approval from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to ordering animals and beginning work. Submit an application for IACUC review.

Keep in mind IACUC meeting dates and deadlines.
Work involving use of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules (rsNA) research, biohazardous agents, materials and toxins IBC (rDNA and Biosafety) Use of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules (rsNA) research, biohazardous agents, materials and toxins in all research or teaching activities conducted at or sponsored by the University. Submit an application for IBC review.

Keep in mind IBC meeting dates and deadlines when submitting protocol requests.

Relevant Website(s)

Office of Research Support and Compliance

Laboratory Safety and Biosafety

Registration – As a PI, you are responsible for making sure all lab personnel (including graduate students, undergraduate students, faculty, staff, and visiting scientists/researchers) are registered with Environmental Health and Safety using EHS Assistant. Upon termination of a lab personnel member’s appointment at UT, you should remove them from EHS Assistant.

Training – To ensure lab safety, personnel must receive training. EHS provides training and guidance on a number of laboratory topics including bloodborne pathogens, hazardous materials shipping, chemical safety, biological safety, select agents and toxins, and controlled substances.

Hazardous Materials – PIs, research students, staff and visiting researchers are responsible for compliance with related Federal and State regulations and University policies and procedures associated with chemical/biological safety, security, and disposal. Shipping hazardous materials requires personnel to be certified by EHS. These hazardous materials can be: biological, chemical, radioactive lasers, radioactive materials, and other radiation producing devices, and controlled substances (drugs controlled by the Federal Drug Administration, and certain precursor chemicals and lab apparatus which are regulated jointly by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Department of Public Safety).

Select Agents and Toxins – Strict compliance with the regulations is required of all researchers working with these agents. Review the list of Select Agents and Toxins.

Biohazardous Materials – Researchers conducting any research with infectious agents, biological toxins, human cells/blood/tissue, recombinant DNA or other biohazardous materials must have their research approved by the IBC prior to the initiation of research activities. Submit an IBC protocol here.

Fire/Life Safety Provisions – In accordance with State law, all public universities are required to comply with the State of Texas Fire Marshal's Office adopted fire codes. To request services such as: evacuation training, designing an exit strategy, or portable fire extinguisher training, contact the Fire Prevention Services office at (512) 495-3637.

Research Activities Involving Minors – Working with minors (anyone under the age of 18) requires completion of special safety forms for research activities involving minors. Researchers that plan on having minors in the lab should review the requirements in advance.

Relevant Website(s)

Section 4. Manage Active Projects

Notice of Award (NOA)

The Notice of Award (NOA) is a legal document from the sponsor that indicates that an award has been made and funds may be requested or expended. NOAs can come in many forms, from a simple letter to a multi-page agreement, and generally state the amount of funding authorized and the budgeted period of performance. They may also contain a specific award number and terms and conditions. An NOA may also be called a Grant Award Notification (GAN) or Notification of Grant Award (NOGA).

OSP will need this document to process your award and set up your accounts. If you receive a hard-copy version, or if you are not sure whether OSP has received a copy, please send it to OSP for processing. Please note that any signatures required will be handled by OSP.

The word “award” seems to have different meanings, depending on when it’s used. Can you explain?

In research administration, the term “award” can refer to either the grant or contract itself or the process of setting up or finalizing the agreement, either at the sponsor or UT. So one could say this: “NIH awarded [action] the grant [or award, a thing] to UT, and OSP awarded [set up or finalized] the grant (or award, a thing) in UT’s Research Management System (RMS).” Your funds are not available to you until your grant has been awarded, i.e., set up, in RMS.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Who Sets Up Awards?: Office of Sponsored Projects

The Office of Sponsored Projects negotiates and manages all sponsored grants and contracts for UT with the exception of those agreements funded solely by private industry, which are negotiated and managed by the Office of Industry Engagement.

OSP Setup Award

Proposal Team. The proposal process begins with the submission of a Proposal Review Form (PRF) through UT’s Research Management System (RMS), after which you will be assigned a proposal specialist to assure that the proposal meets the requirements of the sponsor, the University, and the State of Texas.

Negotiated Awards and Contracts (includes OSP Collaborative Research Resources, i.e., Export Controls, and Material Transfer Agreements). Awards processed by this team are typically more complex and require a process of negotiation before UT will agree to the terms. Related outgoing subawards will be issued and negotiated by the Negotiated Awards and Contracts Team.

Non-negotiated and Foundation Awards Team. This team processes the bulk of the federal grants and private foundation awards at UT. Related outgoing subawards will be issued and negotiated by the Non-negotiated and Foundation Awards Team.

Sponsored Projects Award Administration. Once your Award has been signed by both parties, it is sent to Sponsored Projects Award Administration (SPAA), for account set up. SPAA’s services include award account (26- account) setup, sponsor billing and collection, financial reporting to sponsors and outside agencies, certain requisition review and approvals, award final closeout, audit response and support, and training.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Who Sets Up Awards?: Office of Industry Engagement

The Office of Industry Engagement (OIE) negotiates all UT research contracts funded by private industry. OIE offers specialized contractual expertise, with support from you and the Office of Technology Commercialization, to develop various types of agreements and appropriate intellectual property models for sponsored research.

OIE handles the complete proposal, negotiation, and subaward negotiation for all industry-only awards. Upon signed agreement, account set-up, management, and financial reporting are managed by Sponsored Projects Award Administration (SPAA).

OIE Setup Award

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Who Sets Up Awards?: University Development Office

All research gifts are proposed, set-up, and managed by UT’s central fundraising arm, the University Development Office (Central Development). The University Development Office can help you submit proposals that don’t require OSP oversight, such as requests for general support of an existing program or research project, endowment, construction, scholarships, and other charitable purposes.

See Also

Research Gifts

Relevant Website(s)

PI Memo

The PI Memo is sent to you by an OSP negotiator during the process of negotiation and/or award set-up. It outlines key terms of the agreement for your reference and verifies your willingness to comply with these terms before OSP executes the award.

The PI Memo is often sent in two parts. The first part may include questions related to any existing (background) intellectual property (IP) to be used in the project, the likelihood of new IP being developed, foreign travel, export controls and whether the research activity is considered fundamental, financial conflict of interest issues, and recent changes to related contracts or compliance protocol approvals (e.g. Animal, Human, Biosafety, rDNA), all of which may inform the negotiation process and assist OSP in meeting your research needs. The second part of the PI Memo is sent once the terms of the contract have been finalized and includes the information captured in the both parts of the memo.

The final PI Memo will serve as a handy overview of the agreement requirements for your later reference.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Negotiate Awards and Subawards

Institutional Signature Authority

Although research grants are under your direction as PI, the grant or contractual agreement is between UT and the sponsor. Proposals, contracts, and other binding agreements can be signed by only a small number of individuals, known as authorized officials, who have the authority to sign these agreements on behalf of UT. Faculty, deans, and department chairs are not authorized officials.

Please note that all sponsored research at UT must go through OSP, OIE, or the Development Office.

To obtain an authorized signature for research-related agreements that aren’t industry-funded, contact OSP.

To obtain an authorized signature for industry-funded agreements, contact OIE.

See Also

Who Signs Off On Proposals?: Institutional Signature Authority

Relevant Website(s)

UT Delegated Signature Authority

Approvals Required Before Funds Can Be Spent

The receipt of a Notice of Award doesn’t make funds immediately available to you as the PI. Before being allowed access to grant funds, you must provide all project-related documents needed to set up an award (e.g., budget and statement of work, Cost Share Form) and assure that all related compliance approvals are in place. Depending on the project, these compliance issues may include any of the following:

In particular, if your research involves human subjects, animal research or rDNA and biosafety, the table under the Compliance section of this research desk guide will help you navigate the approval process.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Authorization to Spend

Contrary to common expectations, your ability to expend funds on a grant does not depend on our having received a check or transfer of the grant amount. Most awards provide an authorization to spend, within the period of performance, up to the grant or segment total. After you expend award funds, SPAA invoices the sponsor for the funds spent to date. This is done regularly to limit the time between our expenditure and the repayment by the sponsor.

There are exceptions to this. For certain sponsors, the difficulty involved in recovering payment due makes working on “authority to spend” risky. As a result, UT generally requires payment from industry on sponsored research agreements and from foreign sponsors before allowing PIs access to grant funds. For the same reasons, UT may require up-front payment by sponsors who are small, new, new to UT, or who have little documented history. One final exception to the process outlined above is for those sponsors who prefer to send the entire amount upon agreement. For many of those, it is expected that any unexpended funds left at the end of the performance period will be returned to the sponsor.

Pre-Award Spending

Pre-award spending refers to the ability to expend grant award dollars before the official start date of the grant. Although under Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200), many federal awards allow automatic 90-day pre-award spending authorization, the right to pre-award spending is generally not automatic, but dependent on the sponsor’s terms and conditions.

If a sponsor or a particular award you receive does not allow pre-award spending, or you would like to request authorization to spend beyond Uniform Guidance’s 90-day authorization, you can request authorization from the sponsor by submitting a formal request through OSP.

If you have sponsor pre-award spending authorization, but do not yet have a notice of award, you will need to seek credit for your pre-award expenditures by submitting a credit request form to OSP. Along with the form, you will need the sponsor’s written confirmation that an award is coming and its expected period of performance.

See Also

Credit Requests

Relevant Website(s)

Credit Requests

Under certain conditions it may be necessary to expend award funds without having first received a formal notice of award (NOA). The most common reasons are that UT has approval for pre-award spending, or that the start date of the grant or increment has passed without UT having received an NOA. To begin project work in these instances, you must submit a credit request to OSP. The credit request will require the following:

  • Submission of a completed credit request memorandum.
  • Written confirmation from the sponsor that an NOA is coming, including the anticipated funding amount and period of performance.
  • A requested period of performance for the credit based on the expected arrival date of the NOA. Credit can be requested for a maximum of six (6) months and only for the amount necessary to perform during that period of time.
  • A budget for the amount requested (note that no credit funds can be used for subawards).
  • Verification that all covered individuals have completed their conflict of interest training and have an approved FID form on file.
  • Verification that all required compliance approvals (IACUC, IRB, rDNA, etc.) are in place before covered research will be started.
  • If applicable, verification that a Technology Control Plan (TCP) is in place.
  • A guarantee account number (only in certain high-risk situations, such as foreign or small, unknown sponsors).

Warning: As PI, you will be responsible for all charges incurred should the award funds not come through.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Account Numbers

Account numbers at UT are ten-digit numbers used for recording accounting transactions. It is made up of the account group, the budget group, and the subaccount.

Account Group – The account group represents the source or purpose of the funds. For most research awards, the account group is 26, which represents sponsored contracts and grants. Other commonly used accounts in research are 30 – accounts, from gifts, and 19 – accounts, from indirect cost recovery. SPAA Grants & Contracts staff are organized by account group.

Budget Group – The budget groups are related accounts that are assigned to the units responsible for administering the funds. SPAA Grants & Contracts staff are organized by account group.

Subaccount – Subaccounts divide the budget groups into expense categories, such as salaries, equipment, participant support, etc.

The format of the account number is as follows:

Account Number

Relevant Website(s)

Letters of Agreement (LOA)

The Letter of Agreement is a way of formally allocating control of a portion of the award funds to someone outside the main award PI’s college or school. Additionally, the proportional share of IDC return related to the grant will be shared with the college of the PI allocated the LOA funds. The LOA can be thought of as an internal subaward.

To create an LOA, download and complete the Letter of Agreement Request Form, and send it to the Office of Sponsored Projects.

Relevant Website(s)

Hiring Personnel to Work on Funded Projects

The tables illustrating procedures for hiring researchers (employees and non-employees) can be found in the section of this research desk guide that addresses research positions, under How to Hire Employee and Non-Employee Researchers.

Who to go to for help?

Generally speaking, the administrative support staff who process personnel appointments for positions you supervise (e.g., graduate students) also will process research appointments.

See Also

How to Hire Employee and Non-Employee Researchers

Relevant Website(s)

PI Responsibilities on Grants

Absence from Grant

Sponsors expect that PIs are engaged in conducting and overseeing research projects and personnel. If you are away from the facilities or absent from a project for a period of time, the sponsor needs to be aware of, and approve of, the absence. Most sponsors require that the information be provided before the absence begins or as soon as is practical after it is known. It is your responsibility to notify OSP as soon as you are aware that you’ll be absent for longer than a few weeks.

When would my absence require notification of the sponsor?

Withdrawal from a sponsored project, an absence from the university of more than three months, a 25 percent (or greater) reduction in time devoted to the project, a significant change in work activity on the part of a principal investigator, project director, or primary individual all require prior approval from a federal sponsor. These thresholds vary from award to award and sponsor to sponsor. Contact OSP for clarification and to submit a request to the sponsor.

If you are actively engaged in a project, even if offsite, such approval is not required. If in doubt, check with OSP for clarification.

See Also

Prior Approvals

Relevant Website(s)

Effort and Effort Certification

Effort reporting is UT’s way of assuring that faculty and staff have met their commitments to sponsored projects and that salaries charged to projects are reasonable in relation to the work performed. According to UT’s Handbook of Operating Procedures, effort is defined as “The amount of time spent on any activity expressed as a percentage of total institutional activities for which an individual is compensated by the University.” These activities include the following:

  • Research or sponsored projects (i.e., contracts and grants)
  • Instruction and non-sponsored research
  • Administrative duties
  • Other institutional activities/responsibilities

Completed effort certification should reflect all your activities conducted under the terms of employment, which typically does not include outside consulting or stipend payments.

Things to Know:

  • Your total effort must equal 100%.
  • Effort is not based on a 40-hour workweek or any other standard workweek or predetermined number of hours.
  • 100% effort is your total number of hours actually spent on work within the scope of your employment. If you average 50 hours per week during the reporting period and spend an average of 12.5 hours on a sponsored program, that represents 25% effort. The other 37.5 hours, allocated to other institutional activities, represent 75% effort.
  • Just as your total effort is not defined by regular business hours, research effort does not necessarily take place only at the University. Research effort at home, at a conference, or in meetings are included in calculating your total effort.
  • You must certify the effort, salaries, and wages charged to sponsored agreements every six months using UT’s effort certification system.
  • UT does not have a standard policy limiting the percentage of time allotted to research. Many colleges limit research efforts to 25% of total effort, based on a 9-month appointment. These rules are set by the individual deans. Check with your college or school for clarification.

Faculty, staff, and administrators involved in the effort certification process should complete an online training module covering effort certification.

See Also

Cost Sharing

Relevant Website(s)


Sponsors generally require reporting during the life of the award, from annual project reports to final equipment reports. Responsibility for these reports varies:

Report Responsibility
Annual/Interim Progress Reports Annual/interim progress reports are your responsibility and are generally submitted to the sponsor without OSP involvement or signature.
  • A significant exception is NIH, whose annual progress reports are submitted through OSP and processed like a proposal. NIH reports are submitted to OSP through a Proposal Review Form (PRF).
  • For any reports requiring the signature of an authorized official, please contact OSP.
Annual/Interim Financial Reports Submitted by SPAA
Annual/Interim and Final Cost Share Reporting Submitted by SPAA
Final Progress Report Final Progress Report – Generally your responsibility without OSP involvement or signature. For those requiring the signature of an authorized official, please contact OSP.
  • Unlike NIH annual progress reports, NIH final progress reports are not routed through OSP.
Equipment Report Managed and submitted by Inventory Services
Final Patent Report Submitted by SPAA after coordination with you

See Also

Institutional Signature Authority

Relevant Website(s)

After-Award Administrative Changes

Prior Approvals

Certain award activities require sponsor approvals before being undertaken. The term “prior approvals” is used to refer to those activities. These requirements can vary on a sponsor-by-sponsor, award-by-award basis. The list of prior approval requirements for federal awards are found in the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200). Common examples of activities that may require sponsor prior approval are these:

If you are not sure if you need to obtain sponsor prior approval for your intended action, contact OSP.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Change in PI

How do I change the PI on my award?

The change of PI is a contractual change that requires a formal request to the sponsor. Contact your OSP Contracts & Grants Specialist and be prepared to provide the following:

  • A signed request letter from you to the sponsor that includes the reason for the change and the name of the proposed replacement PI.
  • The replacement PI’s C.V.
  • Please leave space for OSP to add a signature and signature block of the authorized official who will co-sign the letter.

The OSP Grants & Contracts Specialist for the award will submit the request to the sponsor and contact you with the sponsor’s response. If approved by the sponsor, OSP will make necessary changes in the Research Management System (RMS) grants database and update all related accounts.

See Also

PI/Award Transfer to Another Institution

Relevant Website(s)

PI/Award Transfer to Another Institution

Grant transfers are a more time-consuming project than most PIs realize. A grant transfer requires closing out the award at the old institution and issuing a new one at the new institution, so turnaround time is often measured in months. For most awards, the transfer process looks like this:

PI Award Transfer

How do I transfer my UT award to my new institution?

For complete transfer instructions, see OSP PI/Award Transfer to Another Institution page.

PI/Award Transfer Best Practices:

  • Because of the long timeline of a transfer, it is important for you to begin the process, both at UT and your new institution, as early as possible.
  • Notify the Office of Sponsored Projects of your transfer plans so they may notify the sponsor.
  • Stop spending on the award early so that SPAA may submit a final financial report.
  • Subawards complicate and lengthen this process. All subawards must be closed out at UT and reissued at the new institution, so subawardees must be notified as early as possible so that they may close out their award and submit a final financial report to UT. Delay in subaward closeout can delay the grant transfer to the new institution. Contact OSP.
  • Many transfer delays that are not related to late financial reports are related to proposal submission delays at the new institution. Work with your new institution’s sponsored projects office as early as possible to prepare and submit a proposal.

Be Aware:

  • PIs must be UT employees. Retaining an adjunct UT appointment will not permit you to retain UT PI status.
  • When issuing a subaward from your new institution back to UT, you cannot be PI on both the award and the subaward.

See Also

Change in PI

Relevant Website(s)

Cost Transfers

A cost transfer is an expenditure that is transferred from one account to another after having been recorded in the financial accounting system. They often stem from funds put on an account in error or a need to split shared expenditures across multiple awards. Since unnecessary cost transfers can be a red flag in an audit, avoid using them whenever possible. If necessary, follow these guidelines:

  • Expenditures should not be “parked” on one account until money elsewhere becomes available.
  • When purchasing an item or transferring a cost, you should ensure that the expenditure will directly benefit the project onto which it will be charged.
  • Under Uniform Guidance (200.400 – Subpart E – Cost Principals) the institution must be able to explain and justify all charges transferred onto federal awards, no matter what the source. Any transfers should be completed in a timely manner and with a complete explanation.
  • Be aware that for certain sponsors, like NIH, transfers should be accomplished within 90 days of when the error was discovered and be supported by documentation that fully explains how the error occurred.
  • Note that items purchased at the end of a project (e.g., within the last 90 days) are subject to even greater scrutiny during an audit.
  • Review charges regularly (e.g., monthly) to avoid the need for late transfers.

Once I decide that a cost transfer meets the requirements, how do I transfer costs?

Like other accounting actions, cost transfers are processed by your departmental research administrator or accountant. For transfers more than 30 days after the original account posting, SPAA will require a written justification for the transfer.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Uniform Guidance Cost Principles

Subrecipient Invoicing

When a grant has subawards, you are responsible for monitoring the progress of each subawardee to assure that all required deliverables have been received and spending is reasonable and allowable for the work being done. As PI, you do this by assuring the following:

  • Dates match the correct period of performance
  • Charges are reasonable and allowable
  • The charges fall within the subaward budget and statement of work
  • Required deliverables have been received (e.g., progress reports, technical reports, etc.)
  • Progress to date is satisfactory

The invoice should be approved quickly and sent to SPAA for payment as most federal sponsors require that we pay subaward invoices within 30 days of receipt. Additionally, UT can’t invoice for these costs until the invoice has been paid. On certain awards, this can negatively impact the spend rate.

Does UT require any particular format for subawardee invoices?

No. UT accepts our subawardee’s standard institutional invoice.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Uniform Guidance: Requirements for Pass-Through Entities

Subrecipient Monitoring

Uniform Guidance requires that UT assesses and monitor the risk of a subrecipient’s noncompliance with federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of the subaward. Three key areas of subrecipient monitoring are risk assessment of the subrecipient, subrecipient monitoring, and follow-up on any audit findings or other issues revealed in that process. Although SPAA manages risk assessment and audit follow-up, you are a key player in subrecipient monitoring. You must monitor a subrecipient’s technical and financial progress throughout the entire life of the award by doing the following:


  • Ensure the subrecipient’s budgeted costs are reasonable and allowable at the proposal development stage.

After Award

  • Monitor the technical progress of a subrecipient’s performance as defined in the subaward’s statement of work. Identify issues or problems in a timely manner.
  • Review and approve subrecipient invoices. Review the subrecipient’s expenses in comparison to the awarded budget; review invoices to determine the expenses are in accordance with the subagreement and in line with the work completed to date. Work with OSP to resolve issues.
  • Communicate any concerns, whether programmatic or budgetary, to OSP as soon as possible.

At Conclusion of Award

  • Receive and review the final technical reports and other deliverables submitted by the subrecipient.
  • Obtain all required subrecipient deliverables, patent/invention documentation, or equipment reports.

Do I need to do a risk assessment?

No. SPAA will manage that process, and it’s generally invisible to you. They will contact you when and if they need information.

See Also

Subrecipient Invoicing

Relevant Website(s)

Uniform Guidance on Subrecipient Monitoring (2 CFR 200.330)


What should I do if I am contacted about an audit?

SPAA manages all aspects of audits and will serve as your liaison with the audit entity. Please contact the Associate Director of Sponsored Projects Award Administration (SPAA), Office of Sponsored Projects.

See Also

Subrecipient Monitoring

Relevant Website(s)

SPAA Web Page on Audits

Section 5. Transferring Research Output Outside of UT

Publication in Open-Access (OA) Journals

While policies vary, many sponsors (especially federal and state funding agencies) require research that they fund to be made freely available to the public.

Open access publication

Gold Open Access is a form of free, online scholarship published in open journals that is free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Some open journals are funded entirely by article submission fees, while others are maintained by institutional subscriptions. UT Libraries maintains relationships with several open access publications that extend to the researcher in the form of member discounts.


For research that is intended for publication in a traditional journal, self-archiving, or Green Open Access, offers an open-access format for researchers to archive research data in conjunction with journal publishing. The free SHERPA/RoMEO tool allows users to search specific journals and publishers to learn about their policies governing self-archiving.

See Also

UT Publication Offerings

Relevant Website(s)

UT Publication Offerings

UT Libraries manages Texas ScholarWorks, an open access, online repository for UT research and scholarship. Additionally, a team of digital scholarship experts is available to assist you with every area of developing your research publications:

See Also

Publication in Open-Access (OA) Journals

Relevant Website(s)

UT Libraries

Data Management

UT offers comprehensive data management resources for its research community. These resources are managed by several campus units, including IT Services, UT Libraries, and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Some services are free, and others are provided as fee-for-service.

View a full list of data management resources at UT

Data Management Terms and UT Resources: An Overview

Term Definition Available UT Resources
Data Storage Storage for data that need to be accessed, queried or shared persistently, e.g., for an ongoing active research project UTBox (unlimited data storage for UT Austin faculty and staff)
TACC Cloud Computing resources: TACC Data Storage resources:
Data Preservation and Archive Long-term storage to ensure that data will be available after a project is completed
Data Sharing and Publication Providing access to data and metadata to persons outside UT
Data Management Plan Often required by funding sponsors, this is a defined plan for how PIs will store, preserve, grant access to and protect the data that their funded projects generate

See Also

Data Management Plans (DMPs)

Relevant Website(s)

Technology Commercialization

At UT, technology is typically commercialized through a license agreement in which UT grants rights in a specified technology to a third party for a period of years. License agreements require the licensee to meet certain performance milestones and to compensate the University. The University shares this compensation with the inventors. The Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) files and pays for patent applications, licenses technologies on your behalf, collects compensation from the licensees and disburses the net compensation to you and your co-inventors on a quarterly basis. Under some circumstances, a license can be granted to a startup company formed by you or one of your team members. As PI, you decide how to split license compensation with any current or former investigators who report(ed) to you and who helped to develop the technology, e.g., grad students or postdocs.

What do I do if I have a technology I want to patent or commercialize?

The first step is to file an invention disclosure with OTC by submitting an invention disclosure form. Separate forms are provided for Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Software and Copyrightable Works. View OTC’s FAQs about invention disclosures and the filing process. From there, OTC will work with you to obtain patent or copyright and license the technology. Detailed information about each of the steps of tech commercialization is provided on OTC’s website.

Do I have to notify OTC whenever I develop something that I think is patentable? What if I’m not sure whether something is patentable?

As a PI, you are responsible for reporting all patentable inventions through the submission of an invention disclosure form to OTC. You acknowledge and agree to this annually as part of the Researcher Responsibilities (RR) Memo. If you’re unsure whether something is patentable, you can contact OTC staff at, and they can help to determine this by meeting with you and conducting background research. Typically when you begin writing a journal publication, it’s likely you also have everything you need to submit an invention disclosure.

Should I file an invention disclosure before I publish my invention?

You should submit an invention disclosure at least 60 days before publishing or presenting your invention. Although the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allows one year from the date of first publication or public disclosure to file a patent, most foreign rights are lost once you’ve published or otherwise publicly presented your invention. The loss of foreign rights may severely devalue a patent.

What about software, open source, and copyrights?

OTC can assist software creators in selecting the appropriate form of license or other method of publication. Software can be licensed commercially, as open source, or by both mechanisms depending on the use (dual licensing). Contact Bob Villwock ( for any questions on licensing of software or copyrightable material.

What do I do if I want to start a company based on a technology I developed?

You should contact Van Truskett ( if you’re interested in creating a startup. OTC has assisted in the launch of 82 startups to date and can evaluate business plans, help identify initial management teams, and facilitate introductions to potential funding sources for startups.

Relevant Website(s)

UT Office of Technology Commercialization

Section 6. Research Honors and Recognition

News Highlights and Publicity

The Office of the Vice President for Research posts current news about research of note, recent grant awardees, and other faculty awards to the UT Research Showcase. Faculty who are recognized for unique or sustained contributions to their fields resulting in an award, peer society membership, or a medal of distinction may also be promoted in the VPR Honors Spotlight. If you have recently been recognized for an achievement of distinction, please inform someone on your unit-level staff and contact VPR Communications, so they can mention you in the Research Showcase.

Relevant Website(s)

Faculty Honors and Recognition

The Office of the Vice President for Research maintains an online listing of campus-wide faculty honors in select award categories considered highly prestigious by the National Research Council or are of particular importance in Texas and the surrounding region. If you receive an honorific award or know of a colleague who has been recognized for an honor, please inform both your college and VPR Office so we can include you in our listing and share your achievement with the wider UT community.

Relevant Website(s)

Nomination to Federal Advisory Boards

Many federal agencies, as well as the National Academies, maintain advisory boards composed of leading researchers who advise the agency/organization on future agency priorities or research directions. For you as a PI, serving on an advisory board gives you opportunity to network with program officers or other agency leaders personally, as well as other high-level researchers in your field.

It’s vitally important for UT to have a voice in the strategic and policy planning of these organizations and to be well-informed about future directions they’re considering. Therefore, the Office of the Vice President for Research offers support to help you get appointed to federal advisory boards. The VPR office can assemble nomination packets and submit them, along with a formal recommendation from VPR Dan Jaffe, to the agency/organization on your behalf. Contact the VPR office if you would like to be considered for appointment to a federal advisory board.

Relevant Website(s)

Federal Advisory Committee Database

University Co-op Awards

The University Co-op sponsors many grants and fellowships at UT. The ones managed by the Office of the Vice President for Research are awarded via competitive processes. They are:

Career Research Excellence Award: awarded to a faculty member or staff researcher who has maintained a superior research program across many years.

Best Research Paper Award: awarded to a faculty member or staff researcher who was the principal or sole author of a peer-reviewed scholarly paper reporting original research that was published during the preceding calendar year in recognized research outlets in his or her field of study.

Creative Research Award: awarded to a faculty member or staff researcher for outstanding creative achievement and scholarship.

Who can submit nominations?

Anyone can submit a nomination for any of these three awards, by submitting the complete nomination packet via email to the Office of the VP for Research. Self-nominations are accepted.

Who is eligible to receive these awards?

Faculty members (i.e., tenured and tenure-track faculty, senior lecturers, and lecturers) and members of the research staff (Code 1000 personnel and postdoctoral fellows).

When can I submit a nomination?

All three awards have the same timeline:

  • Call for nominations: mid-Fall (year prior to award nomination deadline)
  • Nomination deadline: early March
  • Peer review process: March through June
  • Award announcements: early Fall

How do I submit a nomination?

The nomination call released via campus-wide email includes instructions and a link to the UT Austin online submission portal, where you may submit a nomination.

Relevant Website(s)

University Co-op Awards

Hamilton Book Awards

The University Co-op sponsors Hamilton Book Awards. A grand prize, a textbook prize, and three runners-up are awarded to five books every year. All books, including scholarly monographs, creative works (e.g., novels and anthologies of poetry), exhibition catalogues, textbooks, and edited collections published by The University of Texas at Austin faculty and full time staff are eligible to be considered for the Hamilton Book Awards Program.

Who can submit nominations?

Any UT Austin employee can submit a nomination on behalf of a faculty member or full-time staff. Self-nominations are accepted.

Who is eligible to receive these awards?

UT faculty members and full-time staff members of any classification.

When can I submit a nomination?

Nominations are accepted year-round, but are only accepted for books published in the calendar year immediately preceding the award year.

The timeline is as follows:

  • Call for nominations: mid-Fall (year prior to award nomination deadline)
  • Nomination deadline: mid-January
  • Review process: January through June
  • Award announcements: early Fall

How do I submit a nomination?

The nomination call released via campus-wide email includes instructions and a nomination form, which can be found here.

Relevant Website(s)

University Co-op Awards

Section 7. Compliance and Legal

Financial Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment & Outside Activities

When does financial conflict of interest (FCOI) occur?

FCOI occurs when a significant outside interest of a university employee or one of the employee’s immediate family members directly or significantly affects the employee’s performance of the employee’s institutional responsibilities.

When does conflict of commitment occur?

Conflict of commitment takes place when the time or effort that a University employee devotes to an outside activity directly or significantly interferes with the employee’s fulfillment of University responsibilities or when the employee uses state property without authority in connection with the employee’s outside employment, board service, or other activity.

What are considered outside activities?

An outside activity is defined as that which is performed by an employee, other than fulfilling employment obligations at UT System or a UT System institution, for which remuneration is received, including distance teaching. See the PI Book entry on Consulting Work and Outside Employment to learn how to disclose (required) or request approval (sometimes required) to engage in outside activities.

Who is affected by these rules?

All UT employees are affected.

Action required:

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Consulting Work and Outside Employment

Is Consulting allowed at UT?

Consulting is an activity conducted within or outside UT Austin in addition to your usual job as a faculty member or researcher and can be either paid or unpaid. Consulting is allowed as long as the activity does not interfere with or prevent the performance of your duties as a faculty member or researcher.

Disclosure vs. Permission

Whether paid or unpaid, most outside activities require disclosure, and some require both disclosure and permission. When in doubt in determining whether an activity or interest should be disclosed, you should resolve the doubt in favor of disclosure. For clarification of the types of activity that require disclosure to the University, as well as activities that require approval, visit the Handbook of Operating Procedures: HOP 5-2011.

How do I disclose or request permission for conducting outside activities?

  1. Both disclosures and permissions are processed using the same Outside Activity Portal. This system is accessible using your EID and it will route your request to the appropriate signature authority related to your UT appointment.
  2. If the entity you’re working for requires a signed consultant agreement, contact the Business Contracts Office to set up the agreement.

How does this approval process relate to the financial conflict of interest (FCOI) policy or the financial interest disclosure (FID) form that I submitted online?

There’s no relationship between the two in terms of administering office and policy. The Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs oversees HOP 5-2011- Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment, and Outside Activities, which protects the credibility and reputation of the University. The Office of Research Support and Compliance oversees HOP 7-1210 - Promoting Objectivity in Research by Managing, Reducing or Eliminating Financial Conflicts of Interest, which governs the disclosure of individual financial interests.

What do I need to do?

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Disclosing Foreign Support

External collaborations, including international collaborations, are an essential part of research and scholarship at UT. You are always encouraged to seek out and nurture research partnerships that further your intellectual goals. As you build these partnerships, you also need to be mindful of the obligation that comes with them.

What do I need to do to appropriately disclose my foreign collaborations or support?

UT’s International Relationships and Activities provides comprehensive guidance for disclosing foreign collaborations both to UT and to granting agencies. Key elements include:

  • Report your research activities that are supported by international collaborators/organizations in your Current and Pending Support section on your grant applications. Update this information in your annual grant progress reports. “Support” in this context includes salary/consulting fees/stipends, travel expenses paid by your foreign collaborators, foreign students or postdocs who work in your group and are paid by their home countries, or material goods (such as reagents or equipment) that are purchased for your use by your foreign collaborators.
  • Respect the absolute confidentiality of the proposal review process. Proposals that have been assigned to you for review should never be shared with colleagues or students.
  • Comply with any foreign collaborations rules/guidelines set forth by sponsors. Our International Relationships and Activities links to some of these rules from major federal agencies.
  • Keep your Financial Conflict of Interest and Outside Activity disclosures current and accurate.
    • As we describe elsewhere in the PI Book, Financial Conflict of Interest and Outside Activity Disclosure are two separate disclosure processes at UT, managed by two separate offices. All PIs at UT are required to complete both disclosures, even if only to report that you have no outside activities or conflicts of interest.
    • Foreign consulting agreements, courtesy appointments at foreign institutions, or participation in foreign talent programs all need to be disclosed as outside activities.

I have foreign national grad students or postdocs in my research group. Do I need to disclose this?

You do not need to disclose this on any internal forms at UT. If you are hosting foreign postdocs or grad students who are being paid by their home countries, this should be disclosed in your Current and Pending Support section on your grant applications. Note also that certain funders and external organizations (e.g., NNSA laboratories overseen by the Department of Energy) restrict participation in their research programs to U.S. citizens. In addition, classified and export-controlled research is subject to foreign national restrictions.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

EHS and Lab Safety

You may find information about EHS and Lab Safety in the section of this research desk guide titled Laboratory Safety and Biosafety.

See Also

Relevant Website(s)

Nondisclosure Agreements and Confidentiality Agreements, etc.

You may find information about NDAs, Confidentiality Agreements, etc. in the section of this research desk guide titled Research-Related Agreements Including MOUs and NDAs.

See Also

Research-Related Agreements Including MOUs and NDAs

Relevant Website(s)

Restricted Regions Travel

What is a Restricted Region?

A restricted region is a designated area of the world that poses heightened risks to health and safety.

The International Oversight Committee (IOC) created the UT Travel Policy to Restricted Regions to safeguard the well-being of students, faculty and staff going abroad.

How does this policy affect me?

  • If you are traveling to a restricted region with or without University funding to conduct University business within your capacity as a faculty, such as participation in research, conferences or teaching endeavors, you must request permission to travel.
  • This does not include personal/vacation travel that is unaffiliated with UT.

What steps do I need to follow?

  1. Complete an RTA (Request for Travel Authorization)
  2. Complete a request to the IOC
  3. Register with International SOS for emergency assistance. Note: Travel booked through a UT travel agency is automatically registered with the emergency assistance provider and does not require additional registration.

Relevant Website(s)

Intellectual Property (IP)

UT Intellectual Property Policy (Regents’ Rule 90101)

Research projects often generate intellectual property (IP). The University of Texas Board of Regents governs IP policy at UT through Regents’ Rule 90101, which states that inventors must submit an invention disclosure before disclosing the information to any party outside The University of Texas System, to the general public, through publication, or for commercial purposes.

Moreover, UT owns the IP you develop as a PI, as further defined in The University of Texas System ((UTS) Policy 125 – Guidance for Negotiating Research Agreements with Sponsors and Processing Research and Intellectual Property Agreements).

Who is responsible for managing IP at UT, and how?

The Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) is responsible for managing intellectual property and commercializing research results in which UT asserts an ownership interest, i.e., research results that you obtain while you are a UT employee and/or while working on the UT campus, in UT buildings/laboratories/spaces.

As a PI, you are responsible for reporting all patentable inventions through the submission of an invention disclosure form to OTC. You acknowledge and agree this to this annually as part of the Researcher Responsibilities (RR) Memo.

Who decides how to commercialize my invention?

The Vice President for Research and the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC), along with the inventor(s), shall jointly decide how, when, and where the intellectual property is to be protected and commercialized. OTC will inform you and you co-inventors of relevant deadlines and commercialization activity. Regents’ Rules, Rule 90101 states that you may “give reasonable input on commercialization of inventions; provided however, that the president(s) of the applicable institution(s), or his or her designee(s), in his or her sole discretion, will make final decisions concerning whether and how to develop and commercialize an invention.”

See Also

Technology Commercialization

Relevant Website(s)

Government Ethics Authorization Forms

I’ve been asked to have an institutional Ethics Officer sign a Government Ethics Authorization Form. Who signs these at UT?

The Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs reviews and signs Government Ethics Authorization forms on behalf of UT PIs. You might be asked to sign such a form if, for example, a company is offering to pay for your travel to attend a conference or meeting.

Ethics officers in Legal Affairs review and approve requests from organizations that offer to pay or reimburse UT employees for certain travel-related expenses, and that want assurance from a UT Ethics officer that covering those expenses will not violate any applicable gifts or ethics policies.

How do I get an Ethics Officer to review and sign my documents?

Contact Legal Affairs and provide them with the documentation that needs to be signed. Before they will sign, they will also need to know the following:

  • Travel and event information –
    • when/where is the event, and what’s the purpose of the event
    • who is sponsoring the event
    • copy of the event agenda
    • URL to any event websites
  • Whether the event that the outside organization is offering to pay for something that UT would otherwise pay for you to attend as part of your job duties
  • Whether you have any role at UT that would create a conflict of interest in receiving support from the outside entity (e.g., Company X is offering to pay for a trip for you, but you are involved in recommending or contracting services from Company X in your role as a UT employee)
  • Your estimate of the value of the expenses being covered (e.g., if Company X offers to reimburse you for a flight, estimate the cost of that flight)

Relevant Website(s)

UT Handbook of Operating Procedures 5-2010: Individual Conflict of Interest

Research Misconduct

UT endorses Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) on its campus and expects its employees and students to abide by pertinent rules, policies, guidelines and regulations as detailed in Misconduct in Science and Other Scholarly Activities, HOP 7-1230. If you have observed or suspect any research misconduct, you are encouraged to report it to the university’s Research Integrity Officer (RIO), or to the accused individual’s supervisors. Reports can be made informally (oral) or in a formal written statement and should include enough detail to serve as guidance for a preliminary inquiry into necessity of a possible formal investigation.

The Research Integrity Officer is charged with appointing an investigation committee, securing experts to evaluate relevant evidence, maintaining confidentiality and security of evidence, maintaining impartiality and fairness of the investigation process, ensuring that the respondent is treated fairly and given an opportunity to defend themselves against allegations, and – in every possible way – protecting the privacy of individuals who make good faith reports of misconduct and protect them from retaliation as they cooperate with any investigation.

Process for Investigating Misconduct

Assessment Phase
When someone reasonably suspects that research misconduct has been committed by someone within the UT Austin research community, that person shall report an allegation to the Research Integrity Officer (RIO). The RIO will review each allegation and decide whether the allegation falls within the scope of the University’s research misconduct policy (HOP 7-1230) and decide whether to open an inquiry. If the allegation falls within the scope of the policy, in accordance with the policy, the RIO will open an inquiry and will notify the complainant, the respondent and any University officials. If the allegation does not fall within the scope of the policy, the RIO will document his decision and close the case.

Inquiry Phase
To conduct an inquiry, the RIO will interview the complainant, respondent, and any other essential witnesses, and gather and analyze all available case evidence. Based on the evidence and through consultation with the Vice President for Research (VPR) and the Vice President for Legal Affairs (VPLA), the RIO will determine whether to close the case at the inquiry stage or proceed to an investigation.

Investigation Phase
If the case progresses to an investigation, the RIO will establish a three-person investigative committee who will conduct investigative interviews, review all available evidence, and make a finding about the case based upon the preponderance of the evidence. The Committee will produce an investigative report outlining its finding(s), about which the complainant and respondent may provide written comments. The committee may add an addendum or revise the report based on these comments. After conferring with the VPR and VPLA, the RIO will submit the committee’s report and respondent’s comments to the Provost for final approval.

Provost’s Review
The Provost will release a final determination based on a review of all available evidence and the committee’s final report, which will include any comments submitted by the respondent. The Provost may request further committee review or additional information before making a decision. The Office of the Vice President for Research will notify all relevant parties about the Provost’s decision and coordinate any next steps required by the Provost.

I have a dispute with a former collaborator. We published together, but have since stopped working together Now my former collaborator is using the concepts we had developed together in his/her independent work. Is this plagiarism?

To answer this, we draw from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research Integrity policy on plagiarism, which states: “Many allegations of plagiarism involve disputes among former collaborators who participated jointly in the development or conduct of a research project, but who subsequently went their separate ways and made independent use of the jointly developed concepts, methods, descriptive language, or other product of the joint effort. The ownership of the intellectual property in many such situations is seldom clear, and the collaborative history among the scientists often supports a presumption of implied consent to use the products of the collaboration by any of the former collaborators.” These disputes are considered to be authorship or credit disputes, rather than plagiarism.

UT assumes that collaborative works described in jointly authored publications are jointly developed. To avoid futures disputes with your current collaborators, the UT Research Integrity Officer recommends that collaborators should formally agree in advance on how products of the collaboration may be used by each individual in future, independent projects.

Relevant Website(s)