Indirect Costs of Research
The indirect costs of research, also known as overhead costs, are the operating expenditures that UNBC incurs to undertake its research mandate; they do not include expenses which are directly associated with the research project (e.g., researcher salaries, researcher travel expenses, student stipends, research materials, etc.). These indirect costs include, but are not limited to, provision of space including the costs of maintenance and utilities, maintenance and repair of research equipment, computing resources, library resources, insurance, technical support for communal equipment and facility operation, and services provided by UNBC staff members—for example, through the Facilities Department; Finance Department; Geoffrey R. Weller Library; Human Resources Department; Information Technology Services; Office of Research; Purchasing, Contracts and Risk Management; and Security Office. The federal Research Support Fund provides overhead funding for research grants received from the Tri-Councils: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).
Government of Canada Research Support Fund
The Government of Canada generously helps to cover the indirect costs of research at UNBC through the Research Support Fund, helping the institution maintain a leading-edge research environment. Resources from the Research Support Fund aid the institution in covering costs associated with:
- Maintaining research facilities;
- Providing research resources;
- Managing and administering research activities;
- Meeting regulatory requirements and maintaining necessary accreditations; and
- Commercializing intellectual property.
Further information on the Research Support Fund is available at:http://www.rsf-fsr.gc.ca/home-accueil-eng.aspx.
UNBC does not have any affiliated organizations as defined by the Research Support Fund.
UNBC's Performance Indicators and Target Outcomes
Eligible Expenditure Category: Research Facilities
Institutional Performance Objective: Enhanced Forestry Laboratory will continue to make greenhouse pods available to researchers
Indicator: Number of greenhouse pods used each month, totaled over the year
Output: Portion of RSF grant invested in an EFL Technician's salary and in EFL operating costs
Outcomes Reported at Year End: Status of greenhouse pod use; this will be a baseline number for future years
Eligible Expenditure Category: Research Resources
Institutional Performance Objective: Geoffrey R. Weller Library will continue to make online databases
Indicator: Number of times online databases are accessed
Output: Portion of RSF grant invested in electronic databases
Outcomes Reported at Year End: Status of online database use; this will be a baseline number for future years
Eligible Expenditure Category: Management and Administration of Research
Institutional Performance Objective: Office of Research will continue to process Tri-Council grant applications received
Indicator: Number of Tri-Council grant applications submitted
Output: Portion of RSF grant invested in salaries of Research Project Officers who edit and submit Tri-Council grants
Outcomes Reported at Year End: Status of Tri-Council grant application submission; this will be a baseline number for future years
Eligible Expenditure Category: Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation
Institutional Performance Objective: Northern Health Sciences Research Facility will continue to maintain good standing with Canadian Council on Animal Care
Indicator: Canadian Council on Animal Care assessment and certification process
Output: Portion of RSF grant invested in operation of Northern Health Sciences Research Facility
Outcomes Reported at Year End: Maintain current good standing with Canadian Council on Animal Care
Eligible Expenditure Category: Intellectual Property
Institutional Performance Objective: Partnerships and Innovation Office will continue to host university / industry partnership workshops
Indicator: Number of university / industry partnership workshops and new partnerships
Output: Portion of RSF grant invested in operation of Partnerships and Innovation Office
Outcomes Reported at Year End: Status of university / industry workshops and new partnerships; this will be a baseline number for future years
Allocation of UNBC's 2014/2015 Research Support Fund Grant
Research Facilities: $0.265 Million | 21% of Total Grant
Includes compensation for three technical staff people (one in the Northern Analytical Laboratory Services facility and two in the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory), and the operating costs for a communal research laboratory (the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory).
Research Resources: $0.179 Million | 14% of Total Grant
Includes compensation for a Northern BC Archives staff member, cost of access to online databases (23% of total access cost), and cost of access to high-speed optical internet (30% of total access cost).
Management and Administration of Research: $0.551 Million | 44% of Total Grant
Includes compensation for grant facilitators (2.5), human resources administrator, payroll officer, research accounting personnel (2), research personnel coordinator, and research contracts staff member.
Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation: $0.169 Million | 14% of Total Grant
Includes compensation for administrative support personnel for the Research Ethics Board (0.5 FTE), Risk and Safety staff member, and partial funding of the operating cost of a communal research laboratory (Northern Health Sciences Research Facility).
Intellectual Property: $0.075 Million | 6% of Total Grant
Includes the compensation and operating costs of the Partnerships and Innovation Office.
Impacts of the Research Support Fund Grant at UNBC
UNBC is extremely supportive of the Research Support Fund because it has played a major role in the rapid expansion of research at the institution. It can be stated unequivocally that this growth would not have occurred with the same vigour or outcomes without the Research Support Fund. The University is particularly grateful for the sliding funding scale adopted by the Research Support Fund, which results in smaller institutions receiving a higher overhead rate on their Tri-Council awards than larger institutions, as it partially compensates universities such as UNBC for their higher operating costs. UNBC expects to increasingly benefit from the Research Support Fund over the coming years as faculty members’ research programs mature, and the number and value of their Tri-Council awards increase accordingly.
Two concrete examples of benefits that accrued to UNBC recently from the Research Support Fund are described in the following paragraphs:
Due to the Program, UNBC was able to continue re-directing some institutional funding to an Undergraduate Research Experience program, which provided $1500 to each of 20 students who chose to participate in a research project led by a faculty member. Due to the popularity of the program, only a fraction of the students who applied could be accepted. Providing funding for undergraduate research—both to enrich students’ educational experience and to enhance their ability to embark on a research career—was a long-term goal of the institution that was first realized in 2011/12. UNBC is grateful to the Research Support Fund for providing funding that has enabled the continuation of the Undergraduate Research Experience program.
The operating costs for UNBC’s I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory were covered by the Research Support Fund. This building has been home to a number of research projects over the years, including projects focused on the mountain pine beetle and bioenergy. Given that UNBC is located in the heart of one of the most forestry-intensive regions in Canada, using the institution’s Research Support Fund grant to enable research in forestry-related disciplines is appropriate.
UNBC scholars—both students and faculty members—have been able to undertake important research that has advanced the state of knowledge in a variety of fields due to financial support from the Research Support Fund, in conjunction with the institution’s other funding partners. In 2014/15 this funding helped sustain the employment of crucial research-support personnel and the operations of key research facilities, and it allowed the institution to re-direct some money to assist with the direct costs of research. As a result, the Research Support Fund has made a lasting contribution to the social and economic development of Northern British Columbia, the province, and the country.