Research grants from Canada’s three federal funding agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC); and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) fund the direct costs of research, which include salaries, travel expenses, student stipends, research materials, etc.
There are also indirect costs associated with research which are often more difficult to identify and quantify. These include expenses such as: provision of space including the cost of maintenance and utilities; maintenance and repair of research equipment; computing resources; library resources; insurance; and support by VIU service departments (Finance (Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable), Human Resources, Payroll, Information Technology, Research Services, Purchasing, and Facilities).
The Federal Government recognized these costs and created a program known as the Research Support Fund (formerly the Indirect Costs Program). The Research Support Fund (RSF) is intended to assist universities in covering some of the indirect costs associated with managing the research funded by the three federal granting agencies.
The Research Support Fund is a Tri-Agency initiative administered by the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat. In January 2012, the Federal Government mandated that all institutions receiving this assistance disclose information publicly about the indirect costs of research and their use of the Research Support Fund. This webpage exists to meet that requirement.
Definition of the Indirect Costs of Research
Indirect costs, as defined by the Federal Government RSF program can include the costs of: maintaining modern labs and equipment; providing access to up-to-date knowledge resources; providing research management and administrative support; meeting regulatory and ethical standards; and/or transferring knowledge from academia to the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.
Description of the Use of the Research Support Fund at VIU
The Research Support Fund allows for five expenditure categories:
- Research facilities
- Research resources
- Management and administration of an institution's research enterprise
- Regulatory requirements and accreditation
- Intellectual property and knowledge mobilization
At VIU, our priority is to establish a base level of support for the research administration function and to ensure compliance with Tri-Agency guidelines; therefore, we have directed all RSF funds to the category of management and administration of the institution's research enterprise. VIU's 2018/19 RSF allocation was $143,843.
The Research Support Fund is critical to VIU for the development and maintenance of systems to support research. Without this grant, VIU would be forced to find alternative sources of funding to support the research administration processes that are imperative in order for us to maintain eligibility to receive Tri-Agency funding.
Some of the general benefits of the RSF at VIU include:
- Grant facilitation services for researchers;
- Researcher professional development;
- Student research skill development and knowledge mobilization;
- Maintenance of systems to enable the tracking of research grants;
- Assistance and advice in the negotiation and finalization of research contracts/agreements.
- The funding allows for two part-time Grant Facilitators to support faculty in the identification and development of research grant applications. Having two positions results in an expanded breadth of expertise and allows VIU to expand its research capacity by supporting its researchers. VIU's support of grant facilitation and administration has enabled VIU researchers to develop research programs that result in partnership agreements, collaborative research projects, etc. Through these research projects, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows, have been hosted at VIU. Our Grant Facilitators also develop and deliver professional development workshops for students and faculty and one Facilitator supports our researchers in the negotiation and finalization of research contracts.
- Another part-time position, Student Research Engagement Coordinator, funded through the RSF program is instrumental in promoting and supporting students with Tri-Agency and institutional scholarship and award applications, coordinating an annual student research poster event, and advocating student research engagement.
- Other positions partially funded through the RSF program include personnel to:
- administer faculty and institutional grants to ensure compliance (i.e. research ethics, financial management, reporting, etc.) with external agency guidelines (i.e. Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions);
- promote awareness for VIU’s Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity by enabling the development of annual research report publications;
- support institutional research-related committees and initiatives;
- administer Tri-Agency grants awarded to the institution for small scale research project funding for faculty.