Frequently Asked Questions

Proposal Development

Do I qualify for PI status?

PI status is automatically granted for many titles including: professor, associate professor, assistant professor, research professor, research associate professor, research assistant professor and instructor. Some non-academic titles may also serve as principal investigators such as director, associate director, and assistant director.

Doctoral students or postdoctoral researchers seeking funding for fellowships, dissertation support, and/or grants from local health agencies may also qualify for PI status. However, a regular faculty member must be named on the project as the responsible party.

All others need to request an exception in writing to the University Senior Associate Vice President for Research. A request letter on department letterhead (from the dean, a chair or director) and the approval of the EHE Associate Dean for Research are required. Please contact Kim Lightle at 614.688.3485 for guidance and sample letters of request.

Guidelines for qualifying as a university grants principal investigator (PI) are provided by the OSU Office of Research.

As a faculty member, in what ways can I be compensated on a sponsored project?

For a sponsored project which OSU is the lead, you can be directly appointed to the project as a percentage of your time during the academic year usually designated "release time" and up to three months of off-duty pay.

If OSU is not the lead, it is possible to be a consultant on the project. As a consultant, the faculty member may not use the university name or the fact that they are affiliated with OSU, letterhead, university facilities unless the university is compensated, or university Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).

Additional information can be found in the Faculty Paid External Consulting Policy. In addition, the faculty member must submit a Paid External Consulting Approval Form to the tenure initiating unit (TIU) and be approved by the TIU chair and dean before the work may start.

As a staff member, in what ways can I be compensated on a sponsored project?

For a sponsored project which OSU is the lead, you can be directly appointed to the project as a percentage of your time. If OSU is not the lead, it is possible to be a consultant on the project. As a consultant, the staff member may not use the university name or the fact that they are affiliated with OSU, letterhead, university facilities unless the university is compensated, or university Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).

Additional information can be found in the Conflict of Interest and Work Outside the University Policy 1.30. In addition, the staff member must submit a Staff External Work Approval Request to their supervisor and be approved before the work may start.

Am I required to work with one of the Office of Research's Grants Managers when submitting a proposal?

Yes. The EHE Office of Research requires that faculty/research staff work with grants managers in the development and submission of proposals. For departmental and Office of Research submissions, contact Bing Tian or Neal Kelley. For CETE submissions, contact Sharon Kelsey and for CCEC and Schoenbaum Family Center (SFC) submissions, contact Bobbie Bowling.

Can you help me gather letters of participation/support for my upcoming proposal submission?

The EHE Office of Research can help in gathering letters of participation/support from Central Ohio school districts. The following documents are needed:

  1. A short overview of the project
  2. What you are asking the school districts to do
  3. The specific school districts you want to include
  4. A letter template that school district personnel can use to write the letter
  5. The date you need the letters

Contact Kim Lightle or at 614.688.3485 to discuss your request. You can also contact the districts on your own behalf.

What is a fringe benefit rate? What are the current fringe benefit rates for employees working on sponsored projects?

Fringe benefits include employer-paid contributions for retirement, health care, life insurance, etc. The cost of these benefits is calculated as a percentage of salary. Since benefits differ for different categories of personnel, there are a number of different fringe benefit rates. The current fringe benefit rates for OSU employees appointed on sponsor projects can be found here.

What is Facility and Administrative (F&A) costs? What are the current F&A cost rates at OSU?

Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs are those costs associated with providing and maintaining the infrastructure that supports the research enterprise (buildings and their maintenance, libraries, etc.) that cannot easily be identified with a specific project. The university encourages including the appropriate F&A costs in all proposal budgets, unless the sponsor specifically prohibits them, and it expects that F&A costs will be recovered to the maximum extent possible. The F&A costs rates vary based on the nature of the sponsored project, i.e. research, instruction, and other sponsored activities, and where the research is to be conducted, i.e. on-campus or off-campus. The current F&A rates can be found here.

As a PI, I need to hire a Graduate Student Associate (GRA) to work on my project, what costs should I include in the budget?

The costs of a GRA consist of stipend, fringe benefits, and tuition and fees. The stipend rates are normally determined by the PI based on the GRA’s scope of work and skills required in conjunction with department pay schedule. The fringe benefit rates are determined by the university and adjusted each fiscal year. The tuition and fees for GRA appointment differ among OSU colleges and programs. The current tuition and fees schedule for EHE programs can be found here.

When can I use the off-campus indirect cost rate?

Off-campus rate applies to those projects (a scope of work or activity with a separate budget and accounting) for which 50 percent or more of the salary and wages are incurred in facilities not owned and controlled by the university and rent is allocated as a direct cost to the project. The Office of Sponsored Programs has additional information on facilities and administrative costs.

What is excluded from the indirect cost calculation?

The OSU indirect cost rate is calculated on a modified total direct costs (MTDC) base. MTDC is the total direct costs excluding the following: equipment (> $5,000 per unit), alterations and renovations, the portion of each subgrant and subcontract in excess of $25,000 (regardless of the period covered by the subgrant or subcontract), rental and maintenance costs of rental space and student tuition and fees. The Office of Sponsored Programs has additional information on facilities and administrative costs.

I am working on a proposal where we will be a subcontract to another university.  What F&A rate am I supposed to use?

OSU's federal-approved rate with DHHS is 54 percent based on a modified total direct cost base rate. This is the rate to be used. Certain sponsors limit the F&A rate allowed so we would need to adhere to the sponsors' restrictions. If other rates are proposed please contact one of our senior grants managers Bing Tian or Neal Kelley.

After receiving my grant, how can I manage its financials, HR appointments and keep project spending on track?

The PI Portal provides principal investigators and their staff with online access to project financial information. The Portal displays up-to-date fiscal information as well as details of expenditures and outstanding commitments. Project month-end financial statements also are available from the Portal under Web Financials.

Access to the Portal is restricted to principal investigators and co-investigators with activated Ohio State Internet usernames. Principal investigators can authorize others (e.g., research assistants) to review their project financial information. Chairs, deans, college fiscal officers and research officers have access to information for all projects in their departments or colleges.

The sponsor requires electronic submission to, how do I do that at OSU?

You don't submit any proposals. Senior grants managers Bing Tian or Neal Kelley will gather your documents and package them so that Anna Shadley, Sponsored Program Officer, can submit on your behalf.  


Funding for Students

Does the EHE Office of Research have any money available to support dissertation-year research?

The EHE Office of Research doesn't have funds to support dissertation research but there are funds available through EHE, the university and external funders such as:

You also can do your own searches in the InfoEd Global SPIN funding opportunities database and create your own personalized, email alerts by setting up a GENIUS/SPIN account.

What funding is available to support graduate students?

Following are funding opportunities for graduate students:

What research opportunities are available for undergraduate students?

Following are funding opportunities for undergraduate students:


Office of Research Newsletter

How can my research be featured in the EHE Office of Research Newsletter, In Review?

The EHE Office of Research newsletter, In Review, is published three times a year. We are always looking for new research and awards to feature in our upcoming issues. We are particularly interested in highlighting collaborative efforts within the college, with other colleges within the university and with other universities. Contact Rebecca Chacko or Kim Lightle to have your research featured.


EHE Student Research Forum

I would like to present research at the EHE Student Research Forum. Do you have information about the upcoming Research Forum?

This annual event, sponsored by the EHE Office of Research, highlights the research of our graduate and undergraduate students. Each year, nearly 100 student offer presentations, both oral and poster, describing completed, in-progress and proposed studies as well as literature reviews. The 2015 event will be held 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., January 29, 2015 at the Ohio Union, 1739 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Find out more about the forum and this event at the EHE Student Research Forum website.



I'm confused about the contract process. Does my contract need to be routed through the EHE Office of Research or the Office of Sponsored Programs for approval?

Contracts are required at any time the university enters into agreement with a non-university entity to exchange funds or services. Contracts related to training, deliverables, testing, services and outreach or other non-Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) activities must follow this approval process. If you are not certain if a contract is required, contact your fiscal officer. In addition, the contracts form includes a series of questions that will help determine how the agreement should be processed.

The EHE Office of Research processes all non-OSP contracts and tracks their progress until completely executed with all signatures. Please do not sign a contract yourself. The EHE Office of Research will obtain all college signature approvals, then routes the contract through the Office of Legal Affairs for approval and to be signed by the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Business and Finance. Learn more about the steps for contract processing.

International contracts are routed through the EHE Office of International Programs. Contact Anita Donaldson for further information on international contracts.


Research in Schools

Who do I contact to get permission to conduct research in K-12 schools?

Research requests are approved at the district level, even though you will be having conversations with principals and sometimes classroom teachers. Each district has an individual with authority to approve your research request. Contact the research coordinators directly for these requests. For your convenience, this contact information also includes

district guidelines for research, if available, and links to district report cards for Central Ohio school districts.

What documentation is needed by school districts to allow research to be conducted?

School districts might have different policies for allowing research, but most require documents similar to those created for the IRB application. District research coordinators will most likely request detailed information from you regarding:

  • the research protocols, copies of instruments for a project, and the location, time and duration of the research activities,
  • who you have talked to at the building level to see whether the principal/teacher is on board your proposal,
  • the IRB Approval Number, and
  • proof of current BCI&I and FBI background checks

Additional information can be found in the Guidelines for Conducting Research in Schools.


Professional Development and Training

How do I find out about college and university research training opportunities?

Workshops and other professional development opportunities sponsored by our college can be found on theEHE Upcoming Events calendar. University-wide opportunities can be found by looking at the University Office of Research calendar.