Research Term Glossary

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Account Establishment Unit

A unit in the Office of Sponsored Programs that establishes and manages all awards in the Oracle database.  

Advance Budget Request

A request for authorization to spend a limited amount, no more than 25% of total budget, of money during a specified period prior to the receipt of an new funding year from a federal agency.  This need may arise when an award has not been received in the Office of Sponsored Programs by the effective date of the award/funding year or the negotiation or processing of the award is not complete.  


A role in COEUS that is assigned to all key personnel and OSP staff members that are connected to your proposal. Persons to be added as Aggregators will need to have rights and roles in the COEUS system in order to be given this role on a proposal.  In order to certify a COEUS proposal, a person must be given this role.


A request for financial support of a project or activity submitted through a set of forms in a format specified by the sponsor.  Sponsors usually have their own application forms, instructions and submission process that are often listed in the funding announcement.  

Authorizing Official (AO)

The individual, named by the applicant organization, who submits grants, contracts, cooperative agreements and clinical trials on behalf of the institution and whom assumes the obligations imposed by the Federal laws, regulations, requirements, and conditions that apply to grant applications or grant awards. This official is equivalent to the Signing Official in the eRA Commons, NIH system.

Only an AO has the authority to sign and submit proposals on behalf of the institution.

Automatic Carryover

Under expanded authorities for research grants, the authority that is delegated to the recipient to move unobligated balances remaining at the end of any budget period to a subsequent budget period which thereby allows for additional expenditures in the subsequent budget period.


The provision of funds by a sponsor based on an approved application and budget or progress report, to an organizational entity or an individual to carry out a project or activity. Awards do not include: technical assistance, which provides services instead of money; other assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees, and interest subsidies, or insurance; or direct payments of any kind to individuals.

Award Document

This formal documentation, also known as Notice of Grant Award (NGA), from the sponsor outlines the financial contribution to support a specific project. It includes terms and conditions.  The award document must be followed for the life of the project and includes project dates, restrictions and reporting schedule.




The schedule of anticipated expenditures required to perform a specified activity or project, as outlined in a proposal to a sponsor. This is a mandatory document for COEUS approval. The current budget worksheet can be found here.

Budget Period

The intervals of time (usually 12 months each) into which a project period is divided for budgetary, funding and reporting purposes.  Budget periods are generally 12 months long but may vary as determined by the sponsor

Budget Revision

A budget that has been adjusted and altered from its original form. This normally needs sponsor, department and OSP approval


Carry forward

Unobligated funds remaining at the end of any budget period that, with the approval of the sponsor or under an automatic authority, may be carried forward to another budget period to cover allowable costs of that budget period.

Clinical Trial

A prospective biomedical or behavioral research study of human subjects that is designed to answer specific questions about biomedical or behavioral interventions (drugs, treatments, devices, or new ways of using known drugs, treatments, or devices). Clinical trials are used to determine whether new biomedical or behavioral interventions are safe, efficacious, and effective.

Biomedical clinical trials of an experimental drug, treatment, device, or behavioral intervention may proceed through four phases:

Phase I. Tests a new biomedical intervention in a small group of people (e.g. 20-80) for the first time to determine efficacy and evaluate safety (e.g., determine a safe dosage range and identify side effects).

Phase II. Study the biomedical or behavioral intervention in a larger group of people (several hundred) to determine efficacy and further evaluate safety.

Phase III. Study to determine efficacy of the biomedical or behavioral intervention in large groups of people (from several hundred to several thousand) by comparing the intervention to other standard or experimental interventions as well as to monitor adverse effects, and to collect information that will allow the interventions to be used safely.

Phase IV. Studies conducted after the intervention has been marketed. These studies are designed to monitor the effectiveness of the approved intervention in the general population and to collect information about any adverse effects associated with widespread use.


Sponsors require final reports be submitted at the time of or soon after the award end date.  In accepting sponsor funding, we have an obligation to comply with the sponsors reporting requirements including equipment accountability, fiscal reporting, final invention statement and final technical report.  Failure to submit these final reports can lead to closer monitoring by the sponsor, future award delays, and/or the sponsor withholding future funding to the institution.   


The Electronic Research Administration (ERA), tool that is currently used by Stony Brook University.  All proposals that are handled by The Stony Brook Research Office are required to be created, routed and approved in COEUS before submission to a sponsor. There are six mandatory documents that need to be included before a proposal can be submitted for approvals; budget, budget justification, project abstract, facility and equipment, COEUS Proposal Form and FCOI’s for all personnel listed on the project.  In certain cases, other information or forms may also be required.

COEUS Proposal Form

A mandatory internal document that must be included when submitting a COEUS proposal.  The most current version can be found here.  

Cognizant Agency

The Federal agency which, on behalf of all Federal agencies, is responsible for: reviewing, negotiating, and approving cost allocation plans, indirect cost rate and similar rates; monitoring non-Federal audit reports; conducting Federal audits as necessary; and resolving cross-cutting audit findings. The cognizant agency under the applicable cost principles and under OMB Circular A-133 may be different for a given recipient. Our cognizant agency is the Department of Health and Human Services, (DHHS).


An individual involved with the Principal Investigator in the scientific development or execution of the project. Internal personnel cannot be paid consultants on grants and need to be listed as Collaborators.  

Conflict of Interest

Conflicts of interest in the conduct of externally and applicable internally supported activities, may take various forms, but typically arise when an Investigator at the University is, or may be, in a position to influence activities or University decisions in ways that could lead to personal gain for the Investigator or the Investigator's family, or give an improper advantage to third parties in their dealings with the University. Conflicts may also arise when Investigators have outside obligations of any kind that are in substantial conflict with the Investigator's University responsibilities or the public interest.


An external individual who provides professional advice or services for a fee, but normally not as an employee of the engaging party. To prevent apparent or actual conflicts of interest, grantees and consultants must establish written guidelines indicating the conditions of payment of consulting fees. Consultants also can include firms that provide professional advice or services.


A negotiable, legal document specifying work scope (usually milestones), budget, and time of performance.  Contracts usually place more terms and restrictions on a project than are found in grant terms and conditions which represent unilateral agreements. Contract requirements are more specific and less flexible than grants and agency personnel tend to maintain more rigid control of the project

Cooperative Agreement

A support mechanism, similar to a grant, used when there will be substantial sponsor, usually Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities.

Cost Sharing

The costs of a sponsored project which are borne by the grantee institution rather than the sponsor.   Some funding agencies require the grantee institution to demonstrate its financial commitment to the project or the commitment of other funding sources by sharing the project cost.  Cost sharing funds may also come from an outside source in the form of cash contributions, staff effort, or from shared resources of facilities.

Currently the Stony Brook School of Medicine has a 5% limit on cost shared personnel effort at any given time.





Effective Date

The beginning date of an award.  Project costs may not be charged to the project before this date unless specifically granted by the sponsor through a pre-award cost policy.

Effort Percentage

The percent of time expended toward a particular sponsored project as compared to the person’s total institutional effort during a year.  Total cannot exceed 100%, both compensated and cost shared effort.


An article of nonexpendable, tangible property acquired through donation, gift, purchase, capital lease or self-constructions with a life expectancy of more than one year and an acquisition cost which equals or exceeds the capitalization level of $5,000.

Expiration Date (Termination Date)

The ending date of a project.  No charges may be incurred on a project after this date. This is also the date which starts the close out process.



Facilities and Administrative Base

Determines the specific direct cost budget items included in the F&A calculation.  There are several base types: MTDC – Modified Total Direct Cost, TDC – Total Direct Costs, S&W – Salaries and Wages.  

F&A cost are determined by multiplying the F&A base amount by the F&A (IDC) rate.

Facilities and Administrative Cost

Facilities and Administrative (F & A) costs (sometimes called indirect costs or overhead) are costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore, cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity. Examples of these costs are administrative salaries, space, utilities, and library facilities. The University’s federal F & A rates are established through negotiation with our cognizant agency, DHHS, and apply to all federal grants and contracts. Rates for use with industrial sponsors are also based on the federally negotiated rates.

Facilities and Administrative Rate

Mechanism used to assess F&A cost to sponsored agreements which serves to reimburse the institution for these cost incurred to support sponsored research and instruction.  F&A rates are established via negotiated with the DHHS, Division of Cost Allocations.  The current F&A rate is on the Sponsored Programs web site.  These rates change periodically, so you should check them often.   


Merit based graduate fellowship and traineeship awards to pursue research endeavors.  Each fellowship and traineeship will have its own set of guidelines and restrictions, usually set by the sponsor/funding agency.

Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI):

A significant financial interest (SFI; see definition below) that is related to, and that could directly and significantly affect, the design, conduct, or reporting of externally and applicable- internally supported activities. The recommendation that an SFI constitutes a determination of FCOI is made by SBU's COI Committee, with final concurrence by the VPR/ designee. 

Fiscal Year

The annual period of time utilized for maintaining records and reporting.  The Research Foundations’ fiscal year starts on July 1 while the Federal Government’s starts on October 1 and New York State’s fiscal year begins on April 1.

Fringe Benefits

Costs direct charged to a sponsored award in relation to the type of employee being paid.  These costs cover health insurance, life insurance, social security, Worker’s Compensation, Long term disability insurance, NYS Worker’s Compensation and Disability Insurance. Current rates, listed by employee type, can be found here. Please note these rates are subject to change and should be checked before you start a new proposal budget.

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)

A publicly available document by which a sponsor makes known its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements, usually as a result of competition for funds. Funding opportunity announcements may be known as program announcements, requests for applications, notices of funding availability, solicitations, or other names depending on the sponsor and type of program.




Unrestricted funds provided to the institution on behalf of a PI, usually by foundations without any terms, conditions, or other obligations may be made in the form of a gift or donation.  If there are no compliance issues or reporting requirements these award are managed by the Stony Brook Foundation.


Financial assistance mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity that does not hold the grantee to a rigid work plan; more flexible than an contract; grantee or the public are typical beneficiaries.  Grants generally provide the researcher with significant flexibility to determine spending categories and research direction. Usually made in support of basic research.

Grant Period

The time period between “effective date” and “Expiration date” during which expenses may be incurred against the grant or contract.




Income Fund Reimbursable (IFR)

Income Fund Reimbursable transactions (Salary Offsets) are the transactions used to recover the value of the salary and fringe benefits paid to state funded faculty and staff devoting effort to research grants. These funds are transferred as payments from the appropriate grant account to the department's state IFR account as reimbursement for the effort provided to the research project that was initially paid for by the state. These are time sensitive transactions treated as actual personnel appointments to the research grants and directly tied to The Research Foundation effort certification process mandated by the federal government.

Incremental Award or Supplement

A request for additional funds either for the current operating year or for any future year recommended previously.

Indirect Cost

Costs that are incurred by a grantee for common or joint objectives and cannot be identified specifically with a particular project or program.  See “Facilities and Administrative Cost." 

Institutional responsibilities

All professional responsibilities and activities for which the investigator was hired to perform at, and is paid by, this Institution, including but not limited to research, research consultation, teaching, professional practice, institutional committee memberships, and service on panels such as Institutional Review Boards or Data and Safety Monitoring Boards.  

Intergovernmental Personnel Agreement (IPA)

Allows the temporary assignment of employees between federal agencies and state, local and Indian tribal governments, institutions of higher learning and other eligible organizations. 


Just-in-Time (JIT)

Sponsor policy that allows the submission of certain elements of a competing application to be deferred until later in the application process, after review when the application is under consideration for funding. This information sometimes includes current and pending support updates and IRB/IACUC approvals.




Letter of Intent (LOI)

There are two types of LOIs, non-binding that are requested and not required, and those that are mandatory. A non-binding LOI usually includes the name, address, and phone number of the PI, identifies other key personnel and participating institutions, and the RFA or PA identification. Mandatory LOIs sometimes referred to as pre-proposals, have specific requirements and are used to determine if you will be invited to submit a full proposal. If a budget is not a requirement you do not have to complete a COEUS proposal for a Letter of Intent.  



Matching Funds

The value of third party in-kind contributions and the portion of the costs of a federally assisted project of program not borne by the Federal Government. Matching or cost sharing may be required by statute or program regulation. Costs used to satisfy matching or cost sharing requirements are subject to the same policies governing allow ability as other costs under the approved budget.

Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC)

The aggregated direct cost for a given University activity such as organized research, excluding certain cost specified by the code of federal regulations (CFR).  Costs excluded from MTDC typically include equipment over 5,000, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, student tuition remission, rental costs of off-site facilities, scholarships and fellowships and the portion of a sub-contract/award expensed in excess of 25,000.



No-Cost Extension (NCE)

An extension of the project period without additional funding.  If the project is not completed and awarded funds remain unspent toward the end of a project period, many funding agencies will allow the PI to request more time to complete the work with approval to use up to but not exceed the remaining funds. Note: you need a non-monetary reason to request a NCE. A no cost extension must be requested of the agency through OSP using the NCE form, at least 45 days prior to the existing project period end date.  

Non Competing Renewal

A non-competing renewal, also known as a continuation, is a request for funding for the second or subsequent budget period of a grant within an awarded project period.  The recommended funding level for each subsequent year was set is normally established in the initial award and therefore is not an open competition for funding. In most cases a COEUS Proposal is not necessary for a Non Competing Renewal   

Notice of Grant Award (NGA)

The official, legally binding document, signed (or the electronic equivalent of signature) communication from an external sponsor notifying the institution that they are the recipient of an award for a specific sponsored project.  Normally, the notice will outline the scope of the award, amount, time period for the award performance and any special terms and provisions.  



Obligated Funds

Funds that are unexpended but are encumbered at the end of the funding period to cover known obligations.  They are considered to be unexpended funds and need to be considered as active funds to the sponsor. However, if the agency allows, the obligated funds and matching encumbrances are carried forward to the next funding period, for the life of the award.  

Office of Sponsored Programs

A unit of the Stony Brook Research Office which provides support and advice to the campus community with regard to securing external support for sponsored projects and collaborations.  They review, negotiate, approve, submit and provide administrative oversight related to proposals and establishment of awards on behalf of The Research Foundation for the State University of New York/Stony Brook University in accordance with all applicable policies and regulations.




Preliminary proposals requested by the sponsor to be submitted by a hard deadline date.  They follow a relatively loose format, but usually include the project summary and may also require an estimated budget.  A full proposal may then be requested by the sponsor.   Sometimes also referred to as a Letter of Intent. If a budget is not a requirement you do not have to complete a COEUS proposal for a pre-proposal.

Pre-award Cost/Spending

The cost incurred prior to the effective date of the award, directly pursuant to the negotiation and in anticipation of the award, where incurrence is necessary to comply with the proposed delivery schedule or period of performance.   Federal awards usually allow for 90 days of pre-award cost/spending, OSP needs notification from the Grants Management Specialist to activate this on new and transferred awards.  

Prime Institution

The institution receiving the award, funds, from the sponsor.  

Prime Sponsor

The institution/sponsor issuing the original award.   

Principal Investigator (PI)

The faculty member(s) designated by the applicant organization to have the appropriate level of authority and responsibility to direct the project or program to be supported by the award. Who is eligible? The applicant organization may designate multiple individuals as program directors/principal investigators (PD/PIs) who share the authority and responsibility for leading and directing the project, intellectually and logistically. When multiple PD/PIs are named, each is responsible and accountable to the applicant organization, or as appropriate, to a collaborating organization for the proper conduct of the project or program including the submission of all required reports. The presence of more than one PD/PI on an application or award diminishes neither the responsibility nor the accountability of any individual PD/PI.

Prior Approval

The written permission provided by the authorizing granting official from the awarding agency before the recipient may undertake certain activities, such as performance or modification of an activity, expenditure of funds or requests to exceed a certain dollar level or a change in effort level greater than 25%.

Program Announcement (PA)

A Program Announcement is a formal statement about a new or ongoing program. It may serve as a reminder of continuing interest in a research area, describe modification in an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support. Most applications in response to PAs may be submitted to a standing submission date and are reviewed with all other applications received at that time using standard peer review processes.

Program Income

Gross income earned by the grantee organization that is directly generated by the grant-supported project or activity or earned as a result of the award. Program income includes, but is not limited to, income from fee for services performed, the use or rental of real or personal property acquired und the grant, the sale of commodities or items fabricated under the grant, license fees and royalties on patents and copyrights and payment of interest on loans made with grant funds. 

Progress Report

Periodic, usually annual, report submitted by the grantee and used by sponsor to assess progress and, except for the final progress report of a project period, to determine whether to provide funding for the budget period subsequent to that covered by the report.

Project Period

The total time period stated in the in the Notice of Grant Award, including any amendments, for which federal support is recommended.  The project period may consist of one or more budget periods.  It does not constitute a commitment by the federal government to fund the entire project period.  


A set of forms and format to request funding from a specific sponsor.  Sponsors usually have their own applications forms, instructions and submission process.  See the Funding Announcement or RFP for all details regarding sponsor requirements.




Renewal Award

This is an authorization for follow up support for a project.  Renewal awards usually retain the same grantor number but require a separate budget and COEUS proposal be submitted.  This is a competitive process for most sponsors.

Request for Application/Proposal (RFA/RFP)

A specific solicitation for project ideas which may or may not involve a special allocation for funding, unique forms or other restrictions.  

Research Administration

The non-scientific responsibilities of funded projects are referred to as research administration. It includes submitting the proposal, fiscal and non-fiscal compliance and other activities throughout the lifecycle.

Restricted Funds

Funds can only be utilized for sponsor approved activities as per the specific budget and with any/all compliance approvals in place, as noted in the notice of grant award. Often supplements are issued as restricted funds.

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR)

Progress reports are required annually to document grantee accomplishments and compliance with terms of award. They describe scientific progress, identify significant changes, report on personnel, and describe plans for the subsequent budget period or year. This format is now required by most federal sponsors, including NIH and NSF.


An application that has been previously submitted, but was not funded, and is being resubmitted for new consideration. Applicants must make significant changes to the application and can only resubmit once the summary statement is available


An application that proposes a change or set of changes that corrects or improves the proposal, as well as in the terms and conditions of the existing award. NIH grantees use revision applications to request an increase in support in a current budget period for expansion of the project's approved scope or research protocol. Applicants must apply and undergo peer review. The previous NIH term was "competing supplemental.  



Salary Cap

A legislatively-mandated provision limiting the direct salary (also known as salary or institutional base salary, but excluding any fringe benefits and F&A costs) for individuals working on NIH grants, cooperative agreement awards, and extramural research and development contracts. For current and historical salary cap levels, go to Salary Cap Summary. Many other sponsors use this cap as well.

Senior/Key Personnel

The PD/PI and other individuals who contribute to the scientific development or execution of a project in a substantive, measurable way, whether or not they receive salaries or compensation under the grant. Typically these individuals have doctoral or other professional degrees, although individuals at the masters or baccalaureate level may be considered senior/key personnel if their involvement meets this definition. Consultants and those with a postdoctoral role also may be considered senior/key personnel if they meet this definition. In most cases for most sponsors "Zero percent" effort or "as needed" is not an acceptable level of involvement for senior/key personnel.

Service Provider

Is a business that supplies expert care or specialized services rather than preforming actual research related activities. There are many different types of service providers. These companies typically have a narrow focus and customer base.

Significant Financial Interest (SFI)

A financial interest consisting of one or more of the following interests of the Investigator (and those of the Investigator’s spouse and dependent children) that reasonably appears to be related to the Investigator’s institutional responsibilities, i.e., If either the investigator’s interests, or the entity in which the investigator has interests, relies upon the same expertise utilized to carry out the investigator’s Institutional responsibilities as defined above, it is considered an SFI:

  1. With regard to any publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if:
    1. the value of any remuneration* received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure,  and/or
    2. the value of any equity interest** in the entity as of the date of disclosure, when aggregated,  exceeds $5,000.           
      1. *Remuneration includes salary and any payment for services not otherwise identified as salary  (e.g., consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship);
      2. **Equity interest includes any stock, stock option, or other ownership interest, as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value;
  2. With regard to any non-publicly traded entity, a significant financial interest exists if:
    1. the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000, or
    2. the Investigator (or the Investigator’s spouse or dependent children) holds any equity interest (e.g., stock, stock option, or other ownership interest);
  3. Intellectual property rights and interests (e.g., patents, copyrights), royalties from such rights, and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights, upon receipt of income related to such rights and interests.  At SBU, all royalties are to be disclosed, including those received by the Investigator from this institution

PHS/NIH only: Investigators also must disclose the occurrence (over the preceding 12 months) of  reimbursed travel or sponsored travel (i.e., that which is paid on behalf of the Investigator) that is related to their institutional responsibilities* and which totals > $5000 per reimbursing/paying entity.   The disclosure must include the sponsor, destination, duration, and purpose of the travel. Excluded from this requirement is travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by federal, state or local government agency, an institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education.

Significant Financial Interest (SFI) Exclusions

  • Income from investment vehicles, such as mutual funds and retirement accounts, as long as the Investigator does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles;
  • Income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by a federal, state or local government agency, a (United States) Institution of higher education as defined at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
  • Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for a federal, state or local government agency, a (United States) Institution of higher education as defied at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an Institution of higher education

Significant Obligations (SO)

Significant obligations include unpaid postitions held as an officer, trustee, director, employee or consultant for a for-profit or not-for-profit entity, that would reasonably appear to directly and significantly affect (i.e, have a relevant and consequential effect on) the work supported or proposed by the University for external and selected internal funding.

Signing Official (SO)

A Signing Official (SO) has institutional authority to legally bind the institution in grants administration matters. The individual fulfilling this role may have any number of titles in the grantee organization. The label, "Signing Official. With NIH proposals and awards the SO can register the institution, and create and modify the institutional profile and user accounts. The SO also can view all grants within the institution, including status and award information.


An outside agency that provide funding or non-monetary project support.  Examples: Department of Defense (DOD), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) or American Heart Association (AHA).

Sponsored Project

Is defined as a project that binds the institution to a specific scope of work as evidenced by required progress, technical or final reports, or other deliverables; the project has a specified performance period or completion date; and/or a report of expenditures or billing is required. It can take the form of a grift, grant, contact or cooperative agreement.  


A formal cooperative research relationship with another organization, generally a university or non-profit research center, that is part of a sponsored agreement/proposal accepted by the institution and the other organization participating in the research project or provides a required service to complete the research project. If we are the lead institution on the project a Purchase Requisition needs to be issued to the Office of Sponsored Programs to start the subcontract process.

Supplemental Award

A request for additional funds either for the current operating year or for any future year recommended previously.  These funds are usually issued for a specific purpose and often as restricted funds.



Technical Report

A technical description of the project results and additional information as required by the sponsor.  Additional information requested can include an abstract and a list of publications.  

Terms and Conditions (T&C)

All requirements imposed on a grant by the sponsor, whether based on statue, regulation, policy, or other document referenced in the notice of award. The Notice of Award may include both standard and special conditions that are considered necessary to attain the award’s objectives, facilitate post award administration of the project, conserve grant funds, or otherwise protect the sponsor’s interests.


The charge or fee for instruction, as college or university.  When budgeting for Graduate Students you must include tuition cost. 



Unexpended Funds

The funds not spent during the award process.




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