Applied Research Overhead

Policy Number: 
Policy Responsibility: 
Vice-President, Academic
Board of Governors
April 5, 2012
April 5, 2015

Context / Purpose: 

Indirect costs of research include any expenditure that cannot be specifically traced to a research project but are costs that are incurred by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) to provide the resources and infrastructure required to allow a research project to proceed. Indirect costs include: accounting, human resources and payroll (invoicing, research account maintenance, preparation of financial reports, purchasing), research administration (drafting of research agreements, negotiation of contracts, review of research proposals, on-going contract administration, maintenance of information on funding sources, etc.), related committees (Research Ethics Board), support for the libraries, access to computer services and the provision and maintenance of research facilities and office space.

The purpose of this Policy is to state the JIBC’s position with respect to the recovery of indirect costs for research activity, and to identify the distribution of overhead charged to the sponsors of research. The policy is directed to research that is not included in the Tri-Council Indirect Costs Program or special initiatives where overhead charges are not allowed. 

Policy Statement: 

The costs of conducting research at the JIBC include not only the direct costs of the project but also indirect costs. All research contracts, contribution agreements, and grants where permissible, will also include a component for indirect charges, or overhead. These indirect costs are those that cannot be readily and exclusively identified.  Indirect costs must be included as such within the budget. The JIBC will not subsidize the cost of work commissioned or sponsored by external agencies.  


This Policy applies to all faculty and staff who negotiate research contracts. It is applicable to overhead and indirect costs revenue collected as a result of research sponsored from external sources and other academic, professional and engagement activities related to research. Funds received from the Tri-Council Indirect Costs Program are not included in this Policy. 


While there are differences between research “Grants” and “Contracts”, for the purposes of this Policy, they are to be treated the same.

For this Policy, the following definitions apply:

a.  Direct Costs: costs of a project, which can easily and accurately be identified as such. Examples include but are not limited to salaries, wages and benefits of research personnel, materials and supplies, travel, equipment and rental of space.

 b.  Indirect Costs: costs of a project, which cannot be directly attributed to it, usually because they are incurred for objectives common to multiple projects, multiple researchers or multiple functions of the Institute. Examples include but are not limited to building use and depreciation, equipment depreciation, physical plant and maintenance (including utilities, hazardous waste disposal, security), insurance, financial administration (including purchasing and accounting) and libraries.

c.  Research: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery or interpretation of knowledge, the systematic collection or revision of knowledge in light of new facts or theories, the development and application of methodologies to increase knowledge and the practical application of knowledge to specific problems or circumstances.

d.  Research Contract: an agreement to perform research or research-related activities under specified negotiated conditions in exchange for payment of direct and indirect costs. A research contract can be expressed in a variety of forms, including an exchange of letters between the parties, purchase orders, form contracts and contracts requiring execution under seal.

e.  Research Grant: an agreement under which a public or private organization provides funding to pay for part of the costs of a research project. Normally a grant does not require the researcher to deliver to the sponsor a pre-determined set of research outcomes.

f.  Research-Related Activities: activities closely related to research. Examples include but are not limited to testing and evaluation; the collection and manipulation of data; writing, editing or translating; and the organization of meetings for the communication and discussion of research results.

Last updated June 18, 2015