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Module 6: Grant and Contract Administration

Topic 1: Administration of research grants

You don’t have to grapple with the administration of your research grant alone. Your institution employs administrative personnel in the Research Office, the Legal Office, the Human Resources Division, and in the Central Finance Division, all of whom can help you. Your faculty, school, and department also employ support staff who are knowledgeable about your institution’s administrative processes. However, as a grant holder you need to be aware of your responsibilities and obligations, and this section is designed to do just that by giving you an overview of the processes involved in administering a research grant.

Learning outcomes

After completing this topic (and the topics in other modules referred to) you should be able to:

  • Identify the common characteristics of research grants
  • Know where to find the written expectations of funding bodies
  • Differentiate between ‘one-line’ and ‘prescribed’ budgets
  • Identify items in project documents that establish the framework of your project management plan
  • Prioritise and address issues that have the potential to impact on project goals
  • Determine whether your project requires ethical or biosafety clearances
  • Take steps to ensure that obtaining ethical or biosafety clearances do not delay the commencement of your project
  • Recognise and resolve issues that impact on your project budget
  • Recruit personnel with relevant skills to work on your project
  • Understand the importance of meeting reporting expectations
  • Manage student involvement in your project
  • Initiate the training of postdoctoral researchers through the delegation of project tasks and responsibilities
  • Develop a system for maintaining project records
  • Identify the optimal strategy for managing changes to your project.

Topic Content

Read the following notes:


All the activities for this topic are embedded in the subtopic pages.

Additional activities

In some of the sections in this module you will find some material listed under the heading “Additional Activities”. Engaging with this material is optional. However, if you wish to gain a deeper understanding of the topic you may find this material useful.

Researchers will find the following publications provide helpful advice in the area of grant and contract management:

  • Allen, David. (2001). Getting Things Done: The art of stress-free productivity. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Making the Right Moves: A practical guide to scientific management for postdocs and new faculty (2006). Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Based on courses held in 2002 and 2005 by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and HHMI, this book is a collection of practical advice and experiences from seasoned biomedical investigators. Available online at:
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