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Research & Academic Affairs Glossary

Please click here for a pdf of the Research & Academic Affairs Glossary.

Please click here for a pdf of the Research & Academic Affairs Acronym List.

American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care

Accrued Expenditures  
Expenses which have been incurred for a specific period, but not yet been paid.

Activity Code (NIH) 
A code assigned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify support mechanisms. General categories include research grants, contracts, training, and fellowships. Research grants can be subdivided into research projects, research centers, and other research grants. For specific activity code assignments and definitions, see the Web based IMPAC Activity Codes, Organization Codes, and Definitions Used in Extramural Programs.

Account Number (Mass. Eye and Ear)
Unique number assigned by Mass. Eye & Ear’s financial office to identify individual accounts,  including grant and contract accounts, for internal reporting purposes.  The account number is based upon the competitive cycle and a new account number is established for each competitive cycle.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Advances (Grant) 
Partial or full payments are received at the start of the grant program.

Allocable Costs

Those allowable costs that actually benefit the grant or contract to which they are being charged.
For federal grants and contracts at Mass. Eye & Ear the following definition is used for allocable costs (OMB Circular A-122, “Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations”, Attachment A): “A cost is allocable to a Federal award if it is treated consistently with other costs incurred for the same purpose in like circumstances and if it:
(1) is incurred specifically for the award;
(2) benefits both the award and other work and can be distributed in reasonable proportion to the benefits received; or,
(3) is necessary to the overall operation of the organization, although a direct relationship to any particular cost objective cannot be shown.”

Allowable Costs 
Those categories of costs that can be charged to a grant, such as salaries and equipment.  Certain types of costs, such as the cost of alcoholic beverages, are not allowable and may not be charged to a contract or grant.
For federal grants and contracts at Mass. Eye & Ear, OMB Circular A-122, “Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations”;, Attachment B gives a list of the principles to be applied in establishing the allowability of certain items of cost.

Animal Care Committee (ACC)
The mission of the IACUC at MEEI, also know as the Animal Care Committee (ACC), is to consider the care and use of animals in research and teaching from an ethical perspective.   and to eIt also ensures institutional compliance with federal requirements through oversight of the laboratory animal care program.

A request for financial support of a project or activity, submitted to a Federal, state, or other non-profit sponsor (foundation, etc) on specific forms and in accordance with instructions provided by the funding agency’s awarding office.

A request for financial or direct assistance to extend, for one or more additional budget periods, a project period that would otherwise expire.  Competing continuation applications must re-compete for funding prior to expiration of the original award. 

Application, NEW and COMPETING

Proposals that are submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted: both must compete for research funds.  New applications to the NIH are also known as a Type 1. 

Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only, a project approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time.  At the end of the initial budget period, progress on the project is assessed.  If satisfactory, an award is made for the next budget period, subject to the availability of funds.  Non-competing continuations do not compete with new project proposals and are not subject to peer review beyond the initial project approval.

Applications, SUPPLEMENTAL 

A request for an increase in support during a current budget period for expansion of the project's scope or research protocol or to meet increased administrative costs unforeseen at the time of the new, non-competing continuation, or competing continuation application stage.

A formal examination of an organization or individual's accounts or financial situation.  An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable terms, laws, and regulations.

Bayh-Dole Act 
The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 was designed to reform U.S. Patent policy related to government-sponsored research.  The act allows universities, non-profit corporations and small businesses to patent and commercialize their Federally-funded inventions and gives Federal agencies the authority to grant exclusive licenses for their technology to provide more incentives to businesses.

Any biological material that can be hazardous to human life, such as certain rDNA molecules, viruses and plasmids that contain infectious agents, blood-born pathogens, etc.

Biological Materials 
Cell lines, antibodies, plasmids, hybridomas, DNA libraries, etc., that are used in basic research.

The financial expenditure plan, including any revisions approved by the awarding party, for the grant-supported project or activity.   Approved budgets are specified on the Notice of Grant Award and on any subsequent revised or amended award notice. 

Budget Adjustment

The act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another.

Budget Period 
The detailed statement outlining estimated project costs to support work under a grant or contract for a specified interval of time, usually 12 months. 

As indicated by the Notice of Grant Award, carryover authority provides grantees permission to carry over funds that are unobliged at the end of a budget period to the next budget period.  For awards under the Streamlined Noncompeting Award Process (SNAP), funds are automatically carried over and are available for expenditure during the entire project period.  Under those awards the grantee will be required to indicate, as part of its noncompeting continuation request, whether its estimated unobliged balance (including prior year carryover) is expected to be greater than 25 percent of the current year's total budget.  If so, the grantee must provide an explanation and indicate plans for expenditure of those funds if carried forward.


Cost Accounting Standards

Chart of Accounts
Hierarchy of general ledger classification numbers used to identify and categorize each transaction.

CFDA Number 

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) numbers are used by the Office of Management and Budget for tracking allocated federal funds.

Close Out

The act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project.

Clinical Research 
Any research or procedure involving human subjects in vivo or the use of patient samples for the development of diagnostic tests.  Clincial research includes early clinical studies, evaluative research, and clinical trials.  It does not include a faculty member's participation in the design of a clinical study for which he or she is subsequently neither a participant nor an author.

Clinical Trials 
A clinical trial is any study conducted on patients and control subjects with a certain disease or condition to determine the ability of a new drug, device or biologic agent to diminish the symptoms, prevent recurrence, or reduce the risk of death from that disease.

Confidential Information 

This is information which may include unpublished scientific findings, and is information that the individual staff member agrees to hold in confidence, and not to divulge except to his/her employees when necessary.  The following are exceptions:

  • Information which at the time of disclosure is in the public domain;
  • Information which, after disclosure, becomes part of the public domain by publication or otherwise, except by breach of a confidentiality agreement by recipient staff member;
  • Information which the recipient staff member establishes by competent proof, was in his/her possession at the time of disclosure by the provider and was not acquired, directly or indirectly, from the provider;
  • Information which the recipient staff member receives from third parties, provided that such information was not obtained by said third party, directly or indirectly, from the provider.

Consent Forms
Any research protocols, clinical or basic, involving human subjects must be approved by the HSC prior to start of the project.  The HSC also requires the Principal Investigator to develop a Consent Form that the human subject must sign prior to participating in the project.  The  consent form must include detailed information about what the subject will undergo during the study and a description of the institution's responsibility toward the care of the study participant during and after the procedure.

Consortia/Subcontracts (a.k.a. Sub Grants/Subcontractors) 
A grant or contract that contains provisions for research or services and involves the participation of other institutions.  The funding support for the other organizations is budgeted as direct costs within the primary grant budget with an affirming supporting detailed budget for that support.  If the grant is funded, legal documents - consortium or subcontract - are created to transmit both the funding and the various legal obligations to the subcontracting organizations.  At Mass. Eye & Ear, this document is called a Memorandum of Agreement or MOA.  All organizations must sign the document, and for government contracts, a copy is usually sent to the sponsor’s contracting officer.

A consultant is an independent contractor who enters into a contractual relationship with Mass. Eye & Ear to provide services unavailable at the institution.  This agreement covers all aspects of the services the consultant will provide, including when and how the consultant submits invoices to the department for his/her services.

Contracts, FEDERAL 

Federal research contracts are submitted in response to an RFP from the sponsor; they are not investigator-initiated projects.   These contracts have very strict specific aims which cannot be altered by the investigator.  Federal contracts usually require several progress reports during the year and may be terminated at the option of the sponsor.

Contracts, GENERAL 
A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both sponsor and recipient.  Typically, a research topic and the methods for conducting the research are specified in detail by the sponsor, although some sponsors award contracts in response to unsolicited proposals.

Cooperative Agreement

An award similar to a grant, but the sponsor's staff may be actively involved in proposal preparation and anticipates having substantial involvement in research activities once the award has been made.

Cost Accounting Standards (CAS)
Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and spending funds.

Cost Billable Grant/Contract
Contract or grant reimbursement method is accomplished via invoicing.  Deficit expenditures exceed funds available.
A contract or grant for which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount.

Cost Sharing
A general term, used as a noun or adjective, that can describe virtually any type of arrangement in which more than one party supports research, equipment acquisition, demonstration projects, programs or institutions.
Example: A university receives a grant for a project estimated to have a total cost of $100,000. The sponsor agrees to pay 75% ($75,000) and the university agrees to pay 25% ($25,000). The $25,000 is the cost-sharing component.
In a federal context, cost sharing or matching is the portion of sponsored project costs that is not funded by the Federal project (OMB A-110 Appendix A.A.2).

Cost Transfers (see Journal Entry)
A cost transfer is a direct cost that is transferred from one account to another after the expense has been posted in the general ledger.

Covered Entity 
A covered entity transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction covered by HIPAA regulations and is defined as:

1)    a Health Plan;
2)    a Health Care Clearinghouse; or,
3)    a Health Care Provider who transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction covered by HIPAA regulations.

Cooperative Research and Development Agreement

Center for Scientific Review – The NIH component responsible for the receipt and referral of applications to the PHS, as well as the initial review for scientific merit of most applications submitted to the NIH.

Cost Billable Grant/Contract 
A contract or grant whose reimbursement method is accomplished via invoicing.
Deficit expenditures exceed funds available.

Department of Health and Human Services - the Federal agency in which the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is organizationally located.

Direct Costs 

Costs that can be specifically identified with a particular project or program.  General categories of direct costs include but are not limited to salaries and wages; fringe benefits; supplies; contractual services; travel and communication; equipment; and computer use.


This term stands for the Employer Identification Number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Treasury.  This number is the primary identifier for applications being submitted via 

A commitment to pay an expense.

Equipment or Capital Equipment
Equipment is defined as an article of non-expendable, tangible property that can be tagged and inventoried, has a useful life of more than two years, an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more, and stands alone.


Electronic Research Administration: conducting research administration by utilizing electronic resources and technology.

A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for faculty/research positions (e.g., endowed chair).

Environmental Protection Agency


The budgeted costs of running a program.

Expiration Date 
The date signifying the end of the current budget period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award, after which the grantee does not have authority to obligate grant funds.

DHHS approval of additional time not to exceed 12 months to any budget period of a previously approved project period.  The extension may be made with or without additional funds.  Notice of extension must be made through the issuance of a revised Notice of Grant Award from DHHS.

Extension, NO COST  
This is a one time request to the funding agency to extend the end date, by up to 12 months, of the a research project period with no additional funds, in order to spend un-obligated balances and/or to allow the Principal InvestigatorI to finish a project.

F & A Costs (see also Indirect Costs)
Facilities and Administrative Costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity.

Federal Commons
The Federal Commons is an Internet grants management portal serving the grantee organization community.  This portal, under P.L. 106-107, will become a common face of the government, offering all grantees - state and local governments, universities, small businesses, etc. - full-service grants processing across all functions in the grant life cycle.  The Federal Commons will provide both public information, such as grant programs and funding opportunities, as well as the secure processing of e-grant transactions.

Support mechanism for individuals in training status.  The NIH definition for a fellowship is “an NIH training program award where the NIH specifies the individual (or institutional training program) receiving the award.  Fellowships comprise the ‘F’ (Individual Training Award) or ‘T’ (Institutional Training Award) activity codes.”

Final Report
The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.

Financial Status Report (FSR) 
A report of expenditures, required by the respective funding source, at the end of each budget and/or project period.

Fiscal Year (FY)
Any twelve-month period for which annual accounts are kept.  Mass. Eye & Ear’s fiscal year begins October 1st. 

Fixed-Price (FP) Contract/Grant

A contract or grant for which one party pays the other party a predetermined price, regardless of actual costs, for services rendered.  Quite often this is a fee-for-service agreement.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 
The NIH act that requires wider dissemination, on request, of government documents while monitoring proprietary information.  Web address:

Fringe Benefits
Employee benefits paid by the employer (e.g., FICA, Worker's Compensation, Withholding Tax, Insurance, etc.).

Funding Cycle
Range of time during which proposals are accepted, reviewed, and funds awarded.  If a sponsor has standing proposal review committees (or boards) that meet at specified times during the year, application deadlines are set to correspond with those meetings.  For some sponsors, if proposals are received too late to be considered in the current funding cycle, they may be held over for the next review meeting (i.e., NSF's Target Dates).

The United States’ General Accounting Office.  It's main purposes are to:
(1) assist Congress in carrying out legislative and oversight responsibilities; 
(2) carry out legal, accounting, auditing, and claims settlement functions with respect to federal government programs;  and,
(3) make recommendations to provide for more efficient and effective government operations.

General Ledger (GL)
The general ledger is the core of company/institution financial records.  The GL constitutes the central “books” of a system through which every financial transaction flows.  These records remain as a permanent track of the history of all financial transactions. 

Awards given with few or no conditions specified.  Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs.  Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available and requires very little, if any, overhead costs. 

A financial assistance mechanism which provides money and/or property to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.   A Federal grant - as opposed to a cooperative agreement - is to be used whenever the DHHS awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during performance of the financially assisted activities. 

Grant Accountant
The position responsible for the overall fiscal and administrative activities of a project or program.

Grant Closeout
The activities required to conclude a grant program.  These activities include, but are not limited to,  reporting a summary of all financial and programmatic activities for the project period, reviewing all remaining encumbrances to determine the future of unpaid commitments, and liquidating unnecessary encumbrances.

Grant Renewal ( See “Application, COMPETING CONTINUATION”)

The organizational entity or individual to which a grant or cooperative agreement is awarded,.  The grantee is responsible and accountable for the use of the funds provided, and for the performance of the grant-supported project or activities.  The grantee is the entire legal entity even if only a particular component is designated in the award document.

Health Hazard, HAZMAT
A hazardous material (Hazmat or HAZMAT) is any solid, liquid, or gas that can harm people, other living organisms, property, or the environment.  The term “hazardous material “ is used in this context almost exclusively in the United States.  The equivalent term in the rest of the English-speaking world is “Dangerous Goods”.  A hazardous material may be radioactive, flammable, explosive, toxic, corrosive, bio-hazardous, asphyxiating, an oxidizer, asphyxiates, an allergen, or may have other characteristics that make it hazardous in specific circumstances.

Hazardous Materials, Extremely
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) can classify Hazardous mMaterials as "extremely hazardous" based on a dispersion/toxicity ranking method developed by the EPA.  This method enables the EPA to identify those substances, which are most likely to cause serious and eminent irreversible health effects from accidental release.

HIPAA Privacy Rule
The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Privacy Rule protects the privacy of subject’s’ health information which is used in human research as well as medical practice.  For researchers to gain access to health information that is stored at any HIPAA “covered entity”, investigators must provide the covered entity with written assurances covering how the health information will be used and protected.   For further clarification, refer to parts 160 through 164 of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, particularly Part 164 (Security and Privacy), Subpart E, entitled “Privacy of Individual Identifiable Health Information..”

Human Studies Committee
The Human Studies Committee is Mass. Eye and Ear's IRB.  See also IRB.

Human Subjects

Living human subjects, including tissues, materials, or specimens from living humans. 

The status of an account after it has been closed out.  When an account becomes inactive, nothing else can be posted to that number.

Indirect Costs (IDC, F&A, over head, OH)

Costs related to expenses incurred in conducting or supporting research or other externally-funded activities but not directly attributable to a specific project.
General categories of indirect costs include general administration (accounting, payroll, purchasing, etc.); research administration; plant operation and maintenance; library expenses; departmental administration expenses; depreciation or use allowance for buildings and equipment; and student administration and services. (Ssee also F & A Costs).

Indirect Cost Rate
The rate, expressed as a percentage, at which the sponsoring agencies reimburse the Institute for those common or joint costs which cannot be assigned to a particular research grant or project.

Incremental Funding
A method of funding contracts that provides specific spending limits.  


A comprehensive and integrated line of sponsored programs software used by MEEI Research Administration.  The InfoEd suite includes: Proposal Development; Proposal Tracking; Project Management; Compliance Systems; Clinical Trials Management; and Technology Transfer modules. InfoEd is online portal through which Mass. Eye & Ear sends submissions.

Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC)
The mission of the IACUC is to consider the care and use of animals in research and teaching from an ethical perspective.  It also ensures institutional compliance with federal requirements through oversight of the laboratory animal care program.

Institutional Bio-Safety Committee (IBC) 
The IBC is a Mass. Eye & Ear Ccommittee responsible for reviewing and approving rDNA research and biohazard projects.  The committee sets containment levels in accordance with the guidelines of the NIH Guidelines and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


The IRB (Institutional Review Board) is an institutional committee established to review activities involving human subjects.  In this regard the committee is responsible for satisfying that risks to subjects are minimized, risks are reasonable in relation to expected benefits, and selection of subjects is equitable.  The committee is also responsible for determining when and how informed consent should be sought from each prospective subject or subject's legally -authorized representative, and whether the consent is appropriately documented.  When appropriate, the IRB also checks whether the investigator’s research plan provides for the monitoring of data, the protection of the subject’s privacy, and the maintenance of confidential data.  See also HSC.

Intellectual Property (Inventions)
The term "intellectual property" includes inventions, discoveries, inventions, procedures, techniques, computer programs, creations, and other forms of new development susceptible to protection by patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret or other available means for safeguarding intellectual property.

As this term relates to scientific misconduct, it is defined as the formal examination and evaluation of all relevant facts to determine if misconduct has occurred.

Journal Entry (JE) 

A Journal Entry is the movement of expenses (or revenue) from one account to another after the original debit (or credit) has already been posted to the general ledger. 

Key Personnel

Individuals who contribute in a substantive way to the scientific development or execution of a project, whether or not they receive compensation from the grant supporting that project.  The principal investigator and collaborators are included in this category.  See also Senior Personnel.

Letter of Credit 

An instrument certified by an authorized official who authorizes a recipient (Mass. Eye & Ear) to draw funds needed for immediate disbursement in accordance with Treasury Circular No. 1075.


Debts incurred but not yet paid.

A licensor may grant a license under intellectual property laws to authorize a use, sparing the licensee from a claim of infringement brought by the licensor.

Matching Grant
A matching grant requires a specified portion of the cost of a supported item of equipment or project be obtained from other sources.  The required match may be more or less than the amount of the grant.   Some matching grants require that the additional funds be obtained from sources outside the recipient organization.  Many matching grants are paid in installments, the payments coinciding with the attainment of pre-specified levels of additional funding.  Matching grants are very common in the sciences, especially for equipment.  They are standard practice in some government agencies (Department of Education).

Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) 

An agreement signed by two investigators, one of whom an investigator who receives significant biological materials through an exchange or transfer with other researchers in academia, industry and/or government.  This agreement protects the property rights of the owner of the materials.  It is important that investigators also review MTAs and be sure that they personally agree to comply with the terms and that the terms of the MTA are consistent with the objectives of their research.

Misconduct in Science 

Misconduct in science means fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research.  It does not include honest error or differences in interpretations or judgments of data.

An award document that modifies any aspect of an existing award.  Examples: Carryover approvals, adding or deleting special terms and conditions, changes in funding, administrative changes initiated by the agency, extensions that include changes in terms, or change of principal investigator.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)

Total Direct Costs minus equipment, patient care and subcontracts in excess of $25,000. 

Notice of Grant Award (NOGA) 

The legally-binding document that notifies the recipient and others that a grant or cooperative agreement has been made, contains or references all terms of the award, and documents the obligations of Federal funds in the DHHS accounting system.

National Institute of Health.


Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award: Federal awards to both individuals and institutions to provide research training in specified health-related areas.

National Science Foundation

Office of Management and Budget

OMB Circulars
Regulatory circulars issued by the Office of Management & Budget (OMB).  Definitions included in OMB Circulars A-21, A-110, A-122 and A-133.

  • OMB Circular A-21: This circular, entitled "Cost Principles for Educational Institutes," makes sure that federal assistance programs provided to educational institutions bear their fair share of costs by defining costs that are allowable and unallowable for that assistance.
  • OMB Circular A-110:  This circular, entitled "Uniform Requirements for Grants to Universities, Hospitals and Other Nonprofit Organizations," establishes standards (such as insurance requirements, record retention requirements, banking requirements, etc.) to obtain consistency and uniformity among federal agencies in the administration of grants to aand agreements with public and private institutions of higher education; public and private hospitals; and other quasi-public and private non-profit organizations.  These standards are, for instance, insurance requirements, record retention requirements and banking requirements.  This circular does not apply to grants, contracts, and other agreements between the Federal government and units of state and local governments.
  • OMB Circular A-122 : :  This circular, entitled "Cost Principles for Nonprofit Organizations," were established so that federal assistance programs provided to nonprofit organizations bear their fair share of costs.  This circular defines costs that are allowable and unallowable for this purpose.  This circular does not apply to colleges and universities or to State, local or Tribal governments.
  • OMB Circular A-133:   This circular, entitled "Audit Program for General and Specific Compliance, Testing of Internal Control Structure and Reporting," outlines the Government Auditing Standards developed by the Controller General of the United States for the financial auditing of not-for-profit institutions.

Physical Inventory 
The creation of a list of property, plant and equipment purchased by funds from grants and contracts.


The Public Health Service is an operating division of the DHHS which establishes many of the grant and contract policies to which MEEI must adhere.

Principal Investigator (PI) (Program Director/Project Director) 
The individual responsible to direct the project or program being supported by a grant.  He/she is responsible for the conduct of research and/or other activity described in a proposal for an award.  The organization is, in turn, legally responsible and accountable to the sponsor for the performance and financial aspects of the grant supported activity.
Pre-Award Costs 

Pre-Award costs are those incurred prior to the effective date of the award that are necessary to comply with the proposed delivery schedule or period of performance.  Such costs are allowable only to the extent that they would have been allowable if incurred after the date of the award and only with the written approval of the funding agency.

Pre-Proposal (or Preliminary Proposal)
A brief description, usually 2-10 pages, of research plans and estimated budget that is sometimes submitted to determine the interest of a particular sponsor prior to submission of a formal proposal.

A coherent assembly of plans, project activities, and supporting resources contained within an administrative framework, whose purpose is to implement an organization’s mission or some specific program-related aspect of that mission.

Program Announcement
Describes the existence of a research opportunity - new or expanded interest in a particular extramural program or be a reminder of a continuing interest in an extramural program.

Program/Project Officer
A sponsor's designated individual officially responsible for the technical, scientific, or programmatic aspects of a particular grant, cooperative agreement, or contract.  Serving as the counterpart to the principal investigator/project director of the grantee/contractor organization, tThe pProgram/Pproject oOfficer deals with the grantee/contractor organization staff to assure programmatic progress and also serves as the counterpart to the principal investigator/project director of the grantee/contractor organization.

Program Income (Federal Definition) 
The Federal definition of program income is gross income earned by a grantee, a consortium participant, or a contractor under a grant that was directly generated by the grant-supported activity or earned as a result of the award.  Program income includes, but is not limited to, income from fees for services performed, the use or rental of real or personal property acquired under the grant, the sale of commodities or items fabricated under an award, and license fees and royalties on patents and copyrights.  Unless otherwise specified in the terms and conditions of the award, NIH grantees are not accountable for program income accrued after the period of grant support.

Progress Report
Periodic, scheduled reports required by the sponsor summarizing research progress to date.  Technical, fiscal, and invention reports may be required.

Project Period
The total time for which support of a project has been programmatically approved.  A project period may consist of one or more budget periods.  The total project period comprises the original project period and any extensions.

An application for funding that contains all information necessary to describe project plans, staff capabilities, and funds requested.  Formal proposals are officially approved and submitted by an organization in the name of a PI.  See also Application.

Prior Approvals (DHHS)
In a number of policy areas, written prior approval from the DHHS awarding office is required before certain activities may be undertaken, funds expended, or the cost of actions may exceed a certain dollar level. 


A written description of a clinical or research study's procedures and rationale.

Protocol, ANIMALS
Animal protocols are necessary when using any kind of animal for research, instructional or testing purposes.  These protocols must contain a clear and thorough discussion of the proposed animal care and use, and the technical aspects of the proposal must comply with ACC’s principles of prudent, humane, scientifically-valid animal care and use.

As part of a human subjects protocol, human subjects populations must be described by investigators as well as a discussion of the risks for participants in the study, consent procedures, protection of subjects, potential benefits, and the risk/benefit ratio for subjects.

Purchase Order 
A document which evidences the authorized payment of an order of goods/services with specifications as to: delivery; payment; method of delivery; description of items ordered; the period and the total dollar amount of the order; and the particular grant or contract responsible for payment.

Radiation and Radioactive Materials
Radioactive isotopes or compounds containing radioactive isotopes.

Recombinant DNA

Re-budget (see Budget Adjustment)


The contractual rules and procedures governing sponsored research projects

Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only, a competitively reviewed proposal requesting additional funds extending the scope of work beyond the current project period.

Request for Applications (RFA)
Announcements indicate the availability of funds for a topic of specific interest to a sponsor.  Proposals submitted in response to an RFA generally result in the award of a grant. Specific grant announcements may be published in the Federal Register and/or specific sponsor publications.

Recovery of funds expended on appropriate project/program costs.

Request for Proposal (RFP)
Request for Proposal announcements specify a topic of research, methods to be used, product to be delivered, and appropriate applicants sought.  Proposals submitted in response to RFPs generally result in the award of a contract.  Notices of Federal RFPs are published in the Commerce Business Daily.

Research is defined as a "systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to general knowledge."  Activities meeting this definition constitute "research" for purposes of applying regulations even if they are supported by a grant that might have as its overall purpose an activity which is not primarily research.  For example, some "demonstration," "training," and "service" programs may include research activities.  Research activities may involve interaction with the individual or intervention or may entail only the obtaining of identifiable private information.

Research Using Human Subjects
Research plans proposing the use of living human subjects - tissues, material, or specimens from living humans; or data collection from nonpublic information - medical records or computer lists - are classified as the use of human subjects for research purposes..

Transactions dating back to a prior period.


A modified and resubmitted request for funding for a project that was previously not funded, either because it was denied by the sponsor or withdrawn by the PI.

Scope of Work

The description of the work to be performed and completed on a research project.

Senior Personnel
Professional personnel responsible for the scientific or technical direction of project.  On submissions, “Key Personnel” are listed under “Senior Personnel.”

Service Centers
Service centers are operating units within the Institution that provide a service, group of services, or products within the research community when they cannot be performed effectively or cost effectively by external vendors.  These operating units are funded through charges to users at a nondiscriminatory rate, and are based upon actual costs.

Small Grant
A special type of award, often limited to a beginning researcher.  Typically, such an award may be obtained for one year only.

SPIN Matching and Researcher Transmittal System.  Developed by InfoEd.


The Streamlined Non-Competing Award Process was developed by NIH to simplify the process for the submission of information prior to the issuance of a non-competing award.

Sponsored Programs Information Network.  Developed by InfoEd. 

The organization that funds a research project.

Sponsored Research

This is the research, training, and instructional projects involving funds, materials, or other compensation from outside sources under agreements which contain any of the following:

1) The agreement binds the Institute to a line of scholarly or scientific inquiry specified to a substantial level of detail.  Such specificity may be indicated by a plan, by the stipulation of requirements for orderly testing or validation of particular approaches, or by the designation of performance targets;

2) A line-item budget is involved.  A line-item budget details expenses by activity, function, or project period.  The designation of or indirect costs qualifies a budget as "line-item”;

3) Financial reports are required;

4) The award is subject to external audit;

5) Unexpended funds must be returned to the sponsor at the conclusion of the project; or,

6) The agreement provides for the disposition of either tangible or intangible properties which may result from the activity.  Tangible properties include equipment, records, technical reports, theses, or dissertations.  Intangible properties include rights in data, copyrights, or inventions.

A payment made to an individual under a fellowship or training grant in accordance with pre-established levels to provide for the individual's living expenses during the period of training.

An award or financial assistance in the form of money or property in lieu of money, made under an award by a recipient to an eligible subrecipient or by a subrecipient to a lower tier subrecipient.  The term includes financial assistance when provided by any legal agreement, even if the agreement is called a contract, but does not include procurement of goods and services nor does it include any form of assistance which is excluded from the definition of award.

Sub Codes (Mass. Eye & Ear) 
The subcode is used to identify the type of expense for a Cost Center.  The accounting unit will remain the same for the entire project period.  For example, the Mass. Eye & Ear sub code for salary is 001, fringe benefits is 046, etc.  The accounting unit will remain the same for the entire project period. 

Subcontract or Subagreement
A document – such as a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement - written under the authority of, and consistent with, the terms and conditions of an award - a grant, contract or cooperative agreement - that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization.

An award of financial assistance in the form of money or property made under a grant by a grantee to an eligible recipient called a subgrantee.


This term refers to the legal entity for which a subaward is made and which is accountable to the recipient for the use of the funds provided.

Terms of Award

All legal requirements imposed on a grant by the Federal Government, whether by statute, regulation, or terms in the grant award document.  Each Notice of Grant Award may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to attain the objectives of the grant, facilitate post award administration of the grant, conserve grant funds, or otherwise protect the Federal Government's interests.

Time & Effort Reporting
This required reporting mechanism ensures that salary charges to sponsored programs are based upon actual time spent by PIs, program directors and key research personnel.  Federal regulations OASC-3, A110, A-133, and all federal funding agencies require monthly time and effort reporting.

Total Direct Costs (TDC)

The total of all direct costs of a project.

Total Project Costs

The total allowable direct and indirect costs incurred by the institution to carry out an approved project or activity.

Unrestricted Funds
Monies with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds.

Unilateral Award

An award made by a sponsor to an organization without considering competitive proposals.  Unilateral awards are most often made when unsolicited proposals receive favorable treatment.

Unsolicited Proposal

A proposal submitted to a a sponsor that is not in response to an RFP, RFA, or program announcement.

Veterans Administration

Veterans Administration Hospital


Updated 08/30/2011