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ROADS FAQs

Application

The ROADS Development Unit can provide letters of support for McMaster researchers who are identified as principal applicants or co-applicants on grant applications. To prepare a letter of support we will require a copy of the application to be submitted, and a completed application approval form. Please contact the Development Unit Senior Advisor for your Faculty for assistance.

The Development Unit supports researchers through the identification of funding opportunities, provision of information sessions, and review and editing of grant submissions. Your ROADS Senior Advisor will provide you with guidance documents, examples of successful applications, and review and critique of draft text. ROADS will also assist in policy interpretation and liaise with Agency representatives as required.

Please contact the Development Unit Senior Advisor for your Faculty for assistance.

All proposals for research funding from McMaster applicants and co-applicants must be signed by one of the research administration offices (ROADSMILOHRS) on behalf of McMaster University prior to submission.

To obtain institutional approval, a copy of the proposal and a completed application approval form, including the signatures of your Department Chair and Faculty Dean, must be submitted to the office (ROADSMILOHRS) responsible for administration of the program which you are applying.

Yes. All proposals for research funding from McMaster applicants and co-applicants must be approved by one of the research administration offices (ROADSMILOHRS) on behalf of McMaster University prior to submission.

To obtain institutional approval, a copy of the proposal and a completed application approval form must be submitted to the office (ROADSMILOHRS) responsible for administration of the program which you are applying.

All proposals for research funding from applicants and co-applicants in the Faculties of Business, Engineering, Humanities, Science and Social Sciences must be approved by ROADS or MILO on behalf of McMaster University prior to submission.

To obtain institutional approval a copy of the proposal and a completed application approval form must be submitted to the office (ROADSMILOHRS) responsible for administration of the program which you are applying.

Indirect costs (overhead) are expenses incurred in the conduct of research that are not directly attributed to a specific research effort but are still a valid cost of doing research. Examples of indirect costs include: central research and financial services, certification offices, heat, light and hydro, libraries and computer services, etc.

The University requires that the appropriate Indirect Cost Rate be applied to each research project budget, at a minimum, as indicated below.

In instances where a sponsor has implemented a written and formal policy for the provision of Indirect Costs, then, provided that sufficient documentation has been supplied to the research office responsible for administering the funding, the sponsor’s maximum rate will be applied.

a) 65% of the salary costs and 2% of the travel costs of Federal government contracts

b) 40% of the direct costs of industry funding

c) 30% of the direct costs of a clinical trial sponsored by industry

d) 30% of the direct costs of field research (when approved by the Faculty)

e) 30% of the direct costs of industry funding when such funding is successfully leveraged through the Ontario Centres of Excellence

f) 25% of the direct costs of industry funding when such funding is successfully leveraged through the Tri-Agencies and certain Provincial granting programs

g) 25% of the direct costs of non-industry grant funding (e.g., not-for-profit organizations.

Please consult McMaster’s Indirect Costs Associated with Research policy for additional information.

Note: indirect costs may not be requested on applications to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

There are many important numbers assigned and requested by Canadian and Foreign agencies/sponsors.  In order to receive the correct information please contact the Development Unit Senior Advisor for your department.

General Considerations

  • Relates to the purposes and goals of applicant agency
  • Strictly adheres to the content and format guidelines of the applicant agency
  • Is directed toward the appropriate audience (i.e. those who will review the proposal)
  • Clearly addresses the review criteria of the funding source
  • Is interesting to read
  • Uses a clear, concise, coherent writing style, free of jargon, superfluous information, and undefined acronyms (i.e. it’s easy to read)
  • Is organized in a logical manner that is easy to follow
  • Uses headings so that information can be found easily
  • Calls attention to the most significant points in the proposal through the use of underlining, differences in type, spacing, titles, and appropriate summaries
  • Is paginated from beginning to end, including appendix when directly appended to the proposal
  • Makes appropriate use of figures, graphs, charts, and other visual materials
  • Is so meticulously proofread that it has few (if any) grammatical errors, misspellings, or typos

The Proposal

  • Has a title that is appropriate, descriptive, and (perhaps) imaginative
  • Unless it is brief, has a table of contents that is straight-forward and accurate
  • Has a clear, concise, informative abstract/executive summary that can stand alone
  • Has clearly stated goals and objectives that are not buried in a morass of narrative
  • Follows naturally from previous/current programs or research
  • Documents the needs to be met or problems to be solved by the proposed project
  • Indicates that the project’s hypotheses rest on sufficient evidence and are conceptually sound
  • Clearly describes who will do the work (who), the methods that will be employed (what), which facilities or location will be used (where), and a timetable of events (when)
  • Justifies the significance and/or contribution of the project on current scientific knowledge or a given population of people or a body of writing/art and socio economic benefit when appropriate
  • Includes appropriate and sufficient citations to prior work, ongoing studies, and related literature
  • Establishes the competence and scholarship of the individual(s) involved
  • Doesn’t assume that reviewers “know what you mean”
  • Makes no unsupported assumptions
  • Discusses potential pitfalls and alternative approaches
  • Presents a plan for evaluating data or the success of project
  • Is of reasonable dimensions (i.e. not trying to answer all of the questions at once)
  • Proposes work which can be accomplished in the time allotted
  • Demonstrates the individual(s) and/or organization are qualified to perform the proposed project; doesn’t assume that the applicant agency “knows all about you”
  • Documents facilities necessary for the success of the project
  • Includes necessary letters of support and other supporting documentation
  • Includes vitae which demonstrate the credentials required (e.g., Don’t use a promotion and tenure vitae replete with institutional committee assignments for a research proposal)
  • Includes a bibliography of cited references

The Budget

  • Has a budget which corresponds to the narrative: all major elements detailed in the budget are described in the narrative and vice versa
  • Has a budget sufficient to perform the tasks described in the narrative
  • Has a budget which corresponds to the applicant’s agency’s guidelines with respect to content and detail

PROPOSAL TITLES

Weak: Genetic Diversity in Luidia clathrada
Better: Genetic Diversity in the Starfish Luidia clathrada

Weak: Three Plays by Eugene O’Neill
Better: A Comparison of Female Characters in Three Eugene O’Neill Plays

Weak: Improving Math Education in Elementary Schools
Better: Innovative Instructional Materials to Improve Math Education in Elementary Schools

Weak: Preparing a New Agenda for Minority Education at the University of Iowa (What’s at the University…the agenda or minority education?)
Better: Minority Education: Preparing a New Agenda for the University of Iowa

Weak: Special Studies Directed at the Simplification of Analytical Procedures Concerned with Identification of Blood Proteins
Better: Methods to Simplify Analytical Procedures Used to Identify Blood Proteins

Weak: Uses of Marine Plant Species in Food Production to Bring About Reductions in Food Costs
Better: Uses of Marine Plant Species in Food Production to Reduce Food Costs

Weak: New Perspectives in Learning
Better: New Perspectives in Learning: A Program to Facilitate the Retention and Graduation of Minority Students

Weak: Regulation of K Secretion by the CCD
Better: Regulation of Potassium Secretion by the Cortical Collecting Duct

Weak: CT Versus MR in the Diagnosis of Brain Disorders
Better: Computer Tomography (CT) Versus Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MR) in the Diagnosis of Brain Disorders

Award

The office which assisted with development of the application (ROADSHRSMILO) will arrange for agreements to be signed, where necessary, and facilitate the authorization of research account activation once all required certifications are in place.

For applications administered by ROADS, once you have received confirmation of your award please ensure that ROADS has received a copy of the award letter and that the appropriate application approval form  has been completed and forwarded to the ROADS Administration and Support Unit. Subject to the nature of the award, as outlined below, the Administration and Support Unit will facilitate account activation through mosaic to the Research Finance office.

  1. If the award letter does not require an Agreement or Institutional signatures, the Administration and Support Unit will review the information on file and contact you directly if clarification is required. For example: a copy of the original application was not on file, confirmation of certification approval, etc.  OR
  2. If the award does require an Agreement or Institutional signature, the Administration and Support Unit will await direction from the funding agency/sponsor (most funding agencies/sponsors have their own Agreement format). In addition, the Administration and Support Unit will contact you (the researcher awarded the funds) to ensure that certain conditions including the scope of work as defined in the Agreement are acceptable to you.  OR
  3. In certain larger projects or multi institutional projects the Administration and Support Unit will work with other institutional research offices to co-ordinate the Inter-institutional Agreement process, for example CFI and MCU inter-institutional projects.

If the cheque is for an existing project with an assigned account number, please forward the cheque with any accompanying correspondence to the Research Finance office, Room 305 Gilmour Hall, McMaster University.

Please ensure the following information is included:  the researcher’s name, the title of the project, the research account number, and any other identifying information to help match the cheque to the project.

If the cheque is for a new award/project then please refer to the question –  I have a new award – what are my next steps?

Charitable gifts are processed via the University Advancement team at McMaster. Please reach out to the Director, Advancement Services & Operations through advgift@mcmaster.ca if you have any questions.

There are cases where it is not always clear if research income qualifies as a charitable gift for CRA purposes, or where it’s not clear if ROADS or University Advancement should be processing and arranging administration of the funding. In those cases, please reach out to either the University Advancement contact above or to your respective ROADS contact for guidance.

When unsolicited funds are received to support your research it is important that you contact a ROADS Administration and Support Advisor. The Advisor will review the information and provide direction as appropriate, which may involve a new account set-up or the addition to an existing account.

Post Award

  1. To authorize the set up of a new account ROADS requires:
    • A copy of the agency award letter or a letter from the sponsor on company letterhead, signed by an official of the sponsor defining the terms of reference of the funding support; i.e., as an unencumbered grant for use for the research program (project title, researcher name) and any expectations or deliverables for the funding (timelines);      OR
    • If the funding is to be provided in the form of a research agreement (grant, contract, or service contract) ROADS requires a copy of the agreement defining the expectations and obligations of each party.
  2. A scope of work and budget (including overhead required by University policy, as applicable per agency).
  3. A completed application approval form.
  4. Proof of approval of human ethics, animal care, or biohazard approval, where applicable or disclosure to our office that the research does not require certifications.  The principal investigator is responsible for providing the copy of the letter of approval from the appropriate authority to ROADS.

All research involving human or animal subjects, biohazardous materials, radioactive substances, or controlled goods and/or technology must receive clearance from a McMaster ethics, animal-care, biohazards, radiation safety or controlled goods review board before research can begin. A research account will not be opened until all applicable approvals are in place. Please see Ethics Review and Certifications for additional information.

In some cases researchers can apply for an “In Principle Authority” and have part of their funds released.  This is very limited. For further information please contact the office of the McMaster Research Ethics Board directly.

Once all the initial award and/or agreement information is received and complete, the Administration and Support Unit will process the new account request in Mosaic. Research Finance will notify you when the account is open. Consult for further information on processes and policies.

ROADS will arrange for the Office of Research Finance (RF) to open your account once required certifications are in place. Assistance with your account will then be provided by RF. The Research Accountants in RF help researchers access the grant money they have been awarded and assist researchers in adhering to university policies, the terms of the grant agreement, and granting agency rules. More information about RF, including a list of Research Accountants, can be found here.

The administration processes involved in the establishment of a research record and account set-up involve many steps and delays can occur for a variety of reasons, for example:

  • ROADS has no record of the award, agreement or contract;
  • The agreement or contract is in the process of being reviewed, negotiated, or signed;
  • Certifications (human ethics, biohazards, or animal) are outstanding and/or ROADS has not been notified that the certification has been approved;
  • The award start date is in the future.

For clarification on a specific situation please contact an Administration and Support Unit Senior Advisor.

Researchers are responsible for knowing what expenses are allowed by the funding agency/sponsor.  Information on eligible expenses can often be found in the application information or on agency/sponsor web sites under an administration of grant funding heading.  If it is unclear whether an expense is eligible, please contact your Research Accountant in the Office of Research Finance.

Researchers are responsible for research progress and final reports as set out in agency/sponsor guidelines and/or agreement conditions.  Certain institutional reports will be coordinated through ROADS, for example: CFI, CRC, ORF-RI, ORF-RE and ERA reports. Note: many agencies/sponsors have made receipt of deliverables a pre-condition of advancing subsequent instalments of research funding.

Financial reports and statements for research awards are coordinated and authorized by the Research Finance office.

The ability to extend an end date is subject to the agency/sponsor award guidelines and/or agreement.  First, review the agency/sponsor administering your award guidelines. If the agency/sponsor allows extensions, contact your Research Finance Accountant who will provide guidance and next steps

For information about travel, please visit the Office of Financial Affairs Travel website.

For information about Purchasing, please visit the Office of Financial Affairs Strategic Procurement website.