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Directly Commissioned Industry Handbook

Congratulations on receiving funding for your research. There are now a variety of actions and activities that need to take place to ensure your project runs smoothly and compliantly.

The information below is intended to guide you through the stages of what needs to be done, by whom and when, so that you can manage your award effectively and continue carrying out your research.

SUPPORTING YOU

Research Services (RES) is made up of a number of teams, each of which will assist in different aspects of grant management:

  • Research Development Team - advice and support in identifying and applying for external research funding.

  • Research Contracts Team - negotiation and authorisation of research-related contracts and associated documentation.

  • Research Impact Team - work with researchers at all stages of the research cycle to enable the development of impact from research.

In addition, teams in other part of the University will also assist with your award:

  • Research Accounts - who are part of Finance (not RES) and help with the financial administration, management and accounting of the award, from acceptance through to receipt of final monies and closure.

  • Research Engagement Team (Library) - services to support the management, preservation and sharing of research data, Open Access publishing of research outputs, and REF compliance to researchers and Postgraduate Research students.

Getting started

Key information

  • If you have started discussions about working on a research, technical service or consultancy project with an industry partner, other commercial organisation, other research institution or charity/NGO, you need to let your Contract Manager know as early as possible so that we can begin the process of negotiating contracts (including subcontracts where necessary), setting your project up on the finance system and ensuring everything is in place for you to start your research.
  • Only RES has the delegated authority to formally negotiate and accept a research contract with an industry partner or commercial organisation - we will always check and agree the details, including pricing and any unusual terms and conditions, with you.
  • Once we have a signed agreement that is acceptable to both the University and the partner organisation, your project will be set up on the finance system and you will receive a project number (e.g. H502400 if a research project). You are only able to start spending against your project budget once you have received this project number.

Initial checklist

  • Have you informed the Research Contracts Team that you have been in discussions with an industry partner or other commercial organisation?
  • Has the price for the work been determined and does it adhere to the University of Reading pricing-policy?
  • Have you familiarised yourself with the contents of this handbook and begun to contact the relevant departments about aspects of grant management that relate to your project and can be started already? E.g. HR for job descriptions; data manager for data policy management procurement for purchasing activity.
  • What training do you think you might need in order to manage your funding effectively for its duration? e.g. training in financial management or understanding your financial reports - please contact your Research Accountant for details.

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES teams to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School should:

RES/Research Accounts will:

Provide details to RES Contracts of the informal discussions you have been having, including details of your contacts and areas discussed so far

RES Contracts - begin process of negotiating terms and conditions/contracts/subcontracts with industry partners or commercial organisations

Consider the sections of this handbook and decide which are relevant to your project - contact relevant departments for assistance as required

RA - set project up on finance system and issue project number

RA - issue PI pack with information about ongoing financial management of the funding

RES Contacts page.

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact us as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Negotiations with partners

Aim is no later than 3 months from initial conversation but will depend on the speed and demand from the funder

Set project up on finance system and issue project number

1-3 days from final signed contract

Issue PI information pack

1-3 weeks from project number being issued

Links to further detailed information and resources

Contracts

Key information

This part of the process is important for protecting the University's reputation and resources, minimising risk and so on. The length of time this takes will vary depending on complexity and the responsiveness of the other parties involved. We appreciate this can be frustrating for researchers and aim to work together with you to minimise delays as much as possible.

  • Only the RES Contracts Team have the delegated authority to sign research related contracts, subcontracts or agreements with industry partners or commercial organisations on behalf of the University; if you are asked to sign or agree to anything, you must contact RES immediately.
  • You may have informal conversations with potential partners but should not agree definitely to anything, including price. There is a University pricing policy which all research projects should adhere to and there are processes if you wish to agree a price less than that stated in the policy.
  • If you are collaborating with other institutions to deliver the research, RES will need to put contracts, subcontracts or agreements in place with them as well. These contracts will cover areas such as who is responsible for which parts of the project; how the funding will be split between the partners; what the payment schedule/mechanisms are; who owns what (equipment, IP and so on); agreement to comply with the funders' terms and conditions; sharing of risk.
  • If you are paying an organisation or person to provide a service for your project e.g. to carry out a feasibility study or provide a data set and have not named them in your funding application/agreement, the University will need to put a subcontract in place with them. These subcontracts will follow current procurement policy, and will not be placed by RES. Depending on the value, they may have to go out to tender.

Questions to consider

  • Have you provided details about any informal discussions you have already had to the Research Contracts Team so that they can work with you to put the relevant contracts or agreements in place?
  • Have you familiarised yourself with the terms and conditions within your contract in order that you can maintain compliance for the duration of the project?
  • Are you intending to pay an organisation or person to provide a service for your project? If so and you have not named them in your application, contact the Procurement team for help with identifying suppliers, arranging subcontracts etc.

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES teams to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School should:

Research Services/ Research Contracts will:

Procurement responsible will:

Provide details to RES of any discussions that have already taken place

Carry out negotiations for contracts/agreements - areas such as liabilities, risk, IP

Carry out any necessary background checks on partners

Carry out any necessary background checks on service providers

Work with RES to explain the more 'technical' research-related parts of the terms and conditions, to ensure they are suitable for the University

Negotiate and sign research contracts and/or agreements with industry partners and commercial organisations

Negotiate and issue sub-contracts with orgs/individuals providing a service for research projects

Work with RES to explain UoR's involvement if we are not the lead institution

Negotiate contracts with collaborating institutions and partners

Issue contracts to collaborating institutions and partners

Ensure contract terms and conditions are met for the duration of the project (ongoing contract management)

Contacts Team - Schools have an assigned contract manager and Research Accountants and Assistants team.

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact RES or Procurement as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Carry out any necessary background checks on partners

Aim to complete within three months of funder notification of award (this is dependent on the speed of partner responses)

Negotiations with partners

Aim is no later than three months from initial conversation but will depend on the speed and demand from the funder

Links to further detailed information/resources

Finance

Key information

  • You must be able to justify your spending to your funder, explaining where the funding has been spent and how that relates to your research. Ongoing management of your research finances through regular checking of Agresso reports is important to identify any potential problems as soon as possible if they arise.
  • All purchases for your research, including any purchases for a funded PhD student's research project, should comply with the University's procurement policy and the specific terms and conditions of your funding. Funders do ask the University to provide confirmation that funding has been spent in line with our own policies and regulations.

  • Many funders allow flexibility within the budget post-award. If you want to do something different with the funding, speak to Research Accounts before you speak to your funder - we can help you decide the best way to speak to them and/or we may already have knowledge of what you can/can't spend. If you underspend on something you cannot spend left over money on something else, without agreement from the funder. See the amendments section of this guide for further details.

Questions to consider

  • Have you familiarised yourself with the University's finance and procurement policies, so that you (and your team) are following all procedures compliantly?
  • Are you regularly checking your financial reports and contacting Research Accounts with any queries or concerns? Your school admin team may be able to answer some transaction queries in the first instance.

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES/Research Accounts teams to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School should:

Research Accounts will:

Familiarise themselves with the University finance policy and ensure you are complying with it

Set project up on finance system and issue project number along with the PI information pack

Purchase goods and services in compliance with the University procurement policy

Raise statements of expenditure and issue invoices to funder at the time points agreed in terms and conditions or contract

Provide information and advice to researchers and Schools about the terms and conditions of funding

Monthly review of financial reports to check everything is correctly allocated and within budget

Quarterly and annual summary monitoring of budget and spending (will only contact PI if there are queries)

Ensure research projects are accounted for correctly in Agresso

Balance and close the accounts at the end of a research project

Contact details for Research Accountants and assistants assigned to each school.

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact us as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Set project up on finance system and issue project number

1-3 days from award acceptance

Respond to queries and requests for information and/or advice

1-5 days

Raise statements of expenditure and issue invoices to funder

1-5 days

Quarterly and annual summary monitoring of budget and spending

Ongoing

Balance and close the accounts at the end of a research project

3 months after the end of a project

Links to further detailed information/resources

Staff

Key information

  • Your funding application should have included the costs for all staff resource needs. Once the funding has been awarded, you need to think about the best way to fulfil these resource needs; this could include recruiting new people or reallocating people already employed at the University on a different project. PIs and their School are responsible for making these resource decisions in line with University policies.
  • Any staff who work on your project and are paid through the University of Reading's payroll are University of Reading employees, even when the funding is provided by a grant or other funding partner. You and they must therefore follow all the University's policies for recruitment, remuneration, day to day management, financial commitments and all other related areas.
  • You need to ensure that you are realistic and allow enough time to recruit someone into a role. To recruit staff, you will need to create a job description, submit a staffing request form (SRF) to Human Resources through the Human Resources Recruitment section, advertise the role and carry out selection activities. Once you have chosen your preferred candidate, you may find that they have a notice period of up to 3 months. These processes may not be required if you have a named researcher on your grant application - HR will be able to advise you on the recruitment processes required in that instance. Please note that non-EU staff may require a visa and this may take an additional period of time.
  • If there is a possibility that the post or the individual you recruit will be based outside of the UK then you MUST take additional advice from HR on the appointment before commencing the recruitment process. There are additional requirements and potentially additional employment costs if the post will not be based in the UK.

Questions to consider

  • Have you reviewed the resourcing options available to you for fulfilling your project needs, in order to select the best way forward?
  • Have you begun the necessary staff recruitment processes as soon as possible in order to have them in the role for the start of your project?
  • Have you talked to your staff about complying with the terms and conditions of the funding, including providing information about allowable expenses? For example, if your bid included a specific amount for new equipment, they will only be reimbursed for that amount.

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES/Research Accounts teams or HR to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School will:

RES/Research Accounts will:

HR will:

Make decisions about the appropriate way to resource your project

Non-financial approval of SRF (Heads of School)

Financially approve any staffing request forms (SRFs), by checking the budget in the contract

Recruit any staff or students that are required for your project, working with HR as necessary

Advice & support with advertising & selection activities

Ensure that all staff, external consultants or subcontractors are familiar with and comply with relevant University policies and procedures, and the funder's terms and conditions

Underwrite student stipend, where required, until the contract is in place

RES Contact details and Graduate School team

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact RES and HR as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Create role description and have role graded by HR

1-2 weeks depending on HR availability

Staffing request form (SRF) submitted and approved

1-2 weeks but varies depending on HoS and Research Accounts availability and questions

Advertise role (staff)

Advertise for 4 weeks usually

Carry out staff selection activities

c 2-4 weeks, depending on activity details & availability for interviews

Notice period for incumbent

Potentially up to 3 months

Links to further detailed information/resources

PhD students

Key information

  • Your funding application should have included the costs for all student resource needs. Once the funding has been awarded, you need to think about the best way to fulfil these resource needs. PIs and their School are responsible for making these resource decisions in line with University policies.
  • Student recruitment: Once your funding has been accepted by RES and a project code has been set up, please contact your School PGR Administrator and Christine Macfarlane ( christine.macfarlane@reading.ac.uk) at the Graduate School to discuss the process for advertising and recruiting your student. The Graduate School will advise on how to advertise your studentship, the recruitment process and how to finalise awarding the studentship, once you have selected the successful candidate.
  • Student applicants will need to apply to the specific studentship they are interested in AND to the University for a formal offer of a place to study here, to ensure they meet the entry requirements. Applicants are advised to submit a PhD application at the point of expressing an interest for a studentship.
  • Students involved in your project will also need to follow all relevant University policies and abide by the terms and conditions of the funding you have received. The University's Graduate School provides support for doctoral researchers.

Questions to consider

  • Have you reviewed the resourcing options available to you for fulfilling your project needs, in order to select the best way forward?
  • Have you begun the student recruitment processes as soon as possible in order to have them in the role for the start of your project?
  • Have you talked to your student(s) about complying with the terms and conditions of the funding, including providing information about allowable expenses? For example, if your bid included a specific amount for new equipment, they will only be reimbursed for that amount.

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES/Research Accounts teams or HR to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School should:

RES/Research Accounts will:

Make decisions about the appropriate way to resource your project

Recruit any students that are required for your project, working the Graduate School as necessary

Ensure that students are familiar with and comply with relevant University policies and procedures, and the funder's terms and conditions

Underwrite student stipend, where required, until the contract is in place

RES contact details and Graduate School Team

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact RES and HR as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Studentship recruitment activities: advert creation and go live

c. 7-8 days

Advertise studentship

Min. 2 weeks

Application and formal offer of place to study

c. 4 weeks from submission of the application form by potential student

Links to further detailed information/resources

While you carry out your research

Key information

  • The PI or Co-PI takes the lead with ongoing project management of the research project. This includes ensuring meeting the requirements of the contracts you have in place with your funder and/or partners, as well as compliance with the relevant University policies and procedures.
  • The PI or Co-PI is responsible for encouraging research staff to participate in training courses and other personal and professional development opportunities, including attending conferences. HR provide information about this for PIs and research staff; the Graduate School provides information for doctoral researchers.
  • While you are carrying out this research, it is worth thinking about your next and future grant applications, in order to allow enough time to plan for continuity of funding for your research career.

Questions to consider

  • Have you familiarised yourself with the terms and conditions within your contract and/or agreements in order that you can maintain compliance for the duration of the project?
  • Have you developed contingency plans in case unexpected situations arise? It will be easier to solve issues if you have given potential situations some thought in advance.
  • Are you regularly reviewing and acting upon the training and development needs of your team and yourself?

Do you need to speak to The Research Accounts Team about an extension or variation to your budget?

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES teams to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School will:

RES teams/Research Accounts (RA) Research Engagement Team (Library) (RETL) will:

Carry out the research activities as outlined in the funding application/contract/agreement

Provide information and advice to researchers and Schools about the terms and conditions of funding

Ongoing project management of activities, spending etc, including monitoring compliance with University policies and procedures and with relevant contracts/agreements with funders and partners

RA - Raise statements of expenditure, submit financial claims and issue invoices to funder at the time points agreed in terms and conditions or contract

Monthly review of financial reports to check everything is correctly allocated and within budget

RA - Quarterly and annual summary monitoring of budget and spending (will only contact PI if there are queries)

Carry out data management, impact and engagement activities

Data Management & Impact - support with ongoing data management, impact and engagement queries

Regular review of training and development needs, with support from HR and Graduate School as required

support for research staff and students

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact us as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Respond to requests for information, advice and support

1-5 days

Raise statements of expenditure and issue invoices to funder

1-5 days

Quarterly and annual summary monitoring of budget and spending

Ongoing

Links to further detailed information/resources

Associated areas and requirements

Key information

  • If you submitted a data management plan for your funding application, you will need to add more detail to make it applicable in practice - giving it consideration at an early stage will make it easier to share your data later in your project and allow you to focus on carrying out your research. You will need to comply with your funder's requirements for data management and sharing if they have them. The Research Data Manager can advise you.
  • You should think about any intellectual property and patents which could result from the research. If new IP or patents will result from the research this should be discussed with the IP Manager.
  • You should also make sure that the impact and engagement activities, which you detailed as part of your funding application, are factored into your project planning. The Research Impact Team can advise and potentially support you, during your project and afterwards.
  • The University's Code of Good Practice in Research helps you find information and support about further areas associated with your research, including data protection, research ethics and health and safety.
  • The University has useful information on ethics as a downloadable ethical framework on the governance and policies page.

Questions to consider

  • Have you considered your data management plan and how you will implement it during your research?
  • Have you planned your impact and engagement activities?
  • Have you read the University's Code of Good Practice in Research and followed all the guidance within it?

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES teams to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School should:

Research Impact/ Research Engagement team (Library) will:

Read and comply with the University Code of Good Practice in Research

Develop and follow your data management plan

Library - Provide advice and support with research data management

Develop and follow your impact and engagement plan

Provide advice and support with impact and engagement activities

Contact other sources of support for associated areas e.g. the library team for publishing support

Library - Providing advice and support with publishing

RES Contact details

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact us as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Respond to queries and requests for information and/or advice

Normally within 48 hours for initial query

Links to further detailed information/resources

Reporting

Key information

  • Your contract will set out how, and when, you are required to report on your research. It is important that you comply with these requirements, as your funder may delay or withdraw funding if you do not.
  • You and/or your project administrator will need to carry out a monthly review of your financial reports to check everything is correctly allocated and within budget on your project code. The Research Accounts teams will also carry out quarterly and annual summary monitoring of budget and spending; they will only need to contact a PI if they have any queries or concerns.
  • You will also need to regularly monitor the performance (research and financial) of any partners you have on the project. This will enable early identification - and resolution - of potential issues should they arise.

Questions to consider

Have you familiarised yourself with the reporting requirements and system of your funder, so that you are prepared for what you need to do and when? You may find it helpful to set up a system for recording your research impact activities.

  • Have you made sure that you and/or your administrator are able to review the relevant financial reports on a monthly basis?
  • Have you agreed with any partners how you will monitor their performance (research and financial)?

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table explains the actions you need to take and those which you can expect the RES teams to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School should:

RES/Research Accounts (RA) will:

Familiarise yourself with the reporting requirements of your funder (and informing RA about the requirements)

Provide information about reporting requirements via PI information pack

Complete and submit the reports that are required

Undertake a monthly review of financial reports to check everything is correctly allocated and within budget (monthly financial reports are automatically generated and sent by email from the finance system to the named PI/Co-I)

RA - Quarterly and annual monitoring of budget and spending (will only contact PI if there are queries)

RES Contacts page

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact us as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Provide information and advice about reporting

Normally within 48 hours for initial query

Links to further detailed information/resources


Amendments

Key information

  • Speak to RES before you speak to your funder about any change to your research contract (e.g. extensions due to staff changes, project partners leaving or changes in how you want to spend the money) - we can help you decide the best way to speak to them and/or we may already have knowledge of amendments they will agree to.
  • If you do not let your funder know of major changes, they may refuse costs; this will have an impact on your School finances as the costs will need to be met from the School's budget.
  • Remember you will need to inform your funder about changes to your end date, even if there is no impact on costs - for example, if a student or member of staff is taken ill and needs to suspend work for a period of time.
  • When there are changes within partner institutions, such as researchers moving to a different institution, this is likely to have an impact on the contracts or agreements that we have in place with them. Contact the Research Contracts Team for advice and support as soon as you realise a change may be needed. You will also need to inform your Research Accountant.

Questions to consider

Are you regularly reviewing whether there are any changes which you need to inform your funder and/or partners about?

Have you spoken to The Research Accounts Team and/or RES for advice before contacting your funder?

Have you contacted the Doctoral Research Office (dro@reading.ac.uk) to complete a suspension/extension request form if your student requires it? If so, have you ensured that there is sufficient time in the grant to cover the student's suspension/extension?

Who is responsible for each part of the process?

This table is intended to help you understand the actions you need to take and those which you can expect RES to carry out on your behalf.

PI/Researcher/School will:

RES will:

Project manage the research project so that variations, such as extensions or budget variation, can be identified as early as possible

Inform RA as soon as possible about the need for any changes e.g. extensions, change to spending

Discuss and agree contract amendments with PI and partners/funders (following liaison with RA)

Discuss changes with funder and/or partners

Discuss changes with funder and/or partners

RES Contact details

Timescales

These timings are indicative - the time taken for a specific project may vary depending on factors such as complexity and partner requirements. Please contact us as early as possible.

Activity

Approx. timeframe

Discuss and agree contract/subcontract amendments with the PI and funder/partner

Depends on complexity of amendment and number of partners involved - straightforward changes, e.g. a change of delivery date with no amendment to funding, involving only 2 parties can usually be agreed within a week if the funder is content, but more complicated situations will take longer.

Links to further detailed information/resources

Contacts list

Checklist of key tasks/decision-tree/list of questions

  • Decision Tree

  • Grants Checklist

FAQ