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Module 5: Financial, Resource and Risk Management

Topic 5: Financial reporting

When managing a research project it’s important you understand and comply with the accounting policies of your university. The following gives a general description of accounting policies and procedures for auditing a research project and for reporting on it. This is intended as a guide only, and you should acquaint yourself with the specific accounting policies of your university. In doing so you should also familiarise yourself with the university’s accounting information system and gain an understanding of the reports it generates. Examples of accounting information systems used in some Australian universities include SAP, PeopleSoft, and Oracle.

Your university's accounting policies will complement policies on research grant administration, with which you should also become familiar.
Research activity must be conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions of the research grant deed, agreement, or contract under which the research funds are provided. You are obligated to submit a full report at the end of your grant, including a full account of expenditures. All costs associated with research activity must be properly recorded and accounted for in accordance with the approved budget contained in the deed, agreement, or contract (and any approved variations).

Research revenue and expenditure must be 'recognised' appropriately, with invoices raised in a timely manner and revenue accounted for on an accrual basis. Accrual accounting is an accounting convention that requires income to be recorded at the time it was earned and expenditure recorded when costs are incurred, regardless of when payments are received or made.

Learning outcomes

After completing this topic you should be able to:

  • Comply with the financial reporting requirements associated with research projects;
  • Be able to prepare required financial reports;
  • Recognise the concept of internal control;
  • Meet audit requirements associated with research projects and your responsibilities in respect of the audit process.

Topic content

Read the following notes:

5.1 General principles

5.2 Overview of the accounting process

5.3 Accounting for research fund revenue

5.4 Accounting for research fund expenditure

5.5 Use of research funds

5.6 Assigning costs

5.7 Limits to research fund expenditure

5.8 Financial reporting and acquittal requirements

5.9 What to do if your grant is not tracking well financially

Activity 5 – Check a research project

Take 10–20 minutes to complete the following tasks. Make a note of your responses and bring them to the workshop.

Obtain a copy of a report associated with a recent research project you are familiar with. Does this report fully comply with reporting and audit requirements? What changes would you make?


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