Frequently Asked Questions

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Why are offices like OSPA needed? What does OSPA do, anyway? 

All research universities have a central office to oversee sponsored projects (grants and contracts). Grants and contracts are legal agreements for which each university's governing board is liable; consequently, one office on campus is designated to submit grant proposals and accept grant awards on faculty members' behalf. At SIUC, that office is OSPA. Central oversight also is needed to make sure that grants and other research activities comply with federal, state, and University regulations and policies. This "compliance burden" on universities is ever-growing, and irregularities have caused serious problems in recent years for institutions ranging from the University of Minnesota to Johns Hopkins. 
 
OSPA provides services to researchers such as finding grant opportunities, submitting grant proposals, administering grant awards, and overseeing compliances. See our About OSPA page, which lists our services to the campus community and has a directory of staff contacts.


How can I contact OSPA? 

By phone: 618/453-4540 
By fax: 618/453-8038 
By e-mail: OSPA@siu.edu 
By campus mail: Mail Code 4709 
In person: Woody Hall C-206



Which OSPA staff member works with my college? 

We urge all faculty and staff to get acquainted with the OSPA research project specialist who works with their college on proposal submission and grant management. See our directory. This directory also lists OSPA staff you may need to contact for other research- or grant-related matters. 


What are OSPA's deadlines for submitting grant proposals? 

Can be found here: Deadlines.


Where can I find information about grant data and listings of awards? 

Listings of individual grant awards may be found via the Award Listings link on the Reports and Publications menu. Grant fiscal-year totals and breakdowns may be found via the Fiscal-Year Data link on the same menu.


How can I find grants to support my research?


Who's responsible for what steps in writing and submitting grant applications? 

As the principal investigator for the prospective grant, you are responsible for writing the proposal, developing the budget, and lining up any cost sharing or other institutional commitments to the project. OSPA can give you guidance on proposal and budget preparation if you contact us early enough. We also have resources online to help you plan your grant project, write the proposal, and prepare the budget (see Apply). 

When the proposal is finished, you are responsible for filling out the Proposal/Award Checklist, obtaining the signatures of your department chair and dean, and bringing the checklist and proposal to OSPA at least three working days before the submission deadline in the case of an electronic submission (more lead time is recommended) or four working days in the case of a nonelectronic submission. 

OSPA reviews the final budget for accuracy and makes sure the grant application conforms with agency and University policy. We provide the final institutional signature. If the proposal is a nonelectronic submission and you have met the two-day deadline, we prepare necessary agency forms for you and photocopy and mail the proposal (unless you prefer to mail it yourself). 

See The Proposal Process: A Start-to-Finish Outline, section 3.1 of our Sponsored Project Guide. Also see section 5, Proposal Submission.


Does OSPA provide any assistance in preparing grant budgets? 

Our website has a detailed section on budget preparation. One-on-one help is available as well: if you contact your OSPA project specialist in advance of the proposal deadline, he or she will be happy to walk you through the budget process or discuss the areas you're unsure about. We have available a Budget Spreadsheet (Excel file) that you are required to complete.  Fringe benefit rates and the standard indirect cost rate are already built in to the spreadsheet. You may need other rates, such as graduate assistant stipend rates for your college; see our Rates page. OSPA will review draft budgets on request, and we review the final budget before the proposal is submitted to the funding agency.


Why are indirect costs charged on grants? 

All research institutions have an indirect costs assessment on grants (called "facilities and administrative costs" (F&A) by the federal government). F&A covers the overhead involved in administering sponsored projects--from library costs, to personnel costs involved in processing grant-related paperwork, to heating/cooling/lighting of the labs and offices used for grant projects. Thirty percent (30%) of the funds received for indirect costs go to the colleges/schools/departments involved with the awarded project.

Most universities, including SIUC, subsidize some of the overhead costs so that a portion of the recovered indirect costs can support research activities on campus, such as seed grant programs, travel funds, and college/departmental research support.

SIUC’s F&A rates are negotiated with and set by the federal government. SIUC's rates are lower than those of most comparable research institutions, which may run to 60% or more.  Any waiver or reduction of SIUC’s indirect cost rates means that SIUC is subsidizing more of the project than it otherwise would.


What is human subjects compliance? 

Any research, grant-funded or otherwise, that directly or indirectly involves human subjects must be approved in advance and monitored by the University for adherence to ethical standards. This is a federal requirement. The definition of human subjects research is very broad, including not just medical trials and other experiments but also surveys, questionnaires, field work, and collection or study of existing data, documents, records, pathological specimens, or diagnostic specimens. See the Human Subjects web pages for guidance. 

What happens if your research requires human subjects approval but you don't get that approval? If you're a faculty member, you are jeopardizing future funding for yourself and possibly for your SIUC colleagues; you also are potentially inviting a lawsuit from the affected parties. If you're a student, your thesis or dissertation based on your research may not be accepted and you will not be able to graduate. If you have any doubt about whether you need approval, contact the Human Subjects office at OSPA, 453-4533 or siuhsc@siu.edu. They will be happy to work with you.


How do I get my new grant geared up? My department doesn't have staff to help with fiscal paperwork. 

First, make sure you send the award notice to OSPA so that we can review the award agreement and facilitate the account set up process. When you are notified that the account has been set up, acquaint yourself with our manage page for information regarding account setup, modifications, subawards, transfering your project, and completing your project.   You also can call the accountant assigned to your grant at Grant & Contract Accounting, , for guidance.


How do I extend the end date of my award? 

It depends on the type of award. For fixed-fee awards, which don't require agency notification of a project extension, OSPA handles the first requested extension to assure that any obligations ("deliverables"), such as research reports, have been met. After that, you can simply contact your accountant at Grant & Contract Accounting for any desired annual extensions. 

For other types of grant/contract awards, the extension is handled through OSPA. Call the OSPA project specialist assigned to your college for assistance.


What should I do if I think my research may be leading to something patentable? 

Contact the Technology Transfer Office at 217-545-3824.  They will help you determine when to make an intellectual property disclosure to the University and give you advice about protecting potential patent rights. Our tech transfer services include working with you and with patent attorneys to protect your intellectual property and/or identify potential industry licensees. For more information, read Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer: An Overview on our Technology Transfer website.


My graduate students need an introduction to grant writing. Can OSPA help with this?

Yes. We offer a Grant Writing for Graduate Students workshop each semester; look for announcements on OSPA's home page and flyers in departments. We also conduct workshops for colleges, departments, or classes on request, both for graduate students and for faculty. Finally, our Grant Funding for Graduate Students guide is available online as well as numerous resources on our Graduate Student Research page.


Are there resources for undergraduates interested in research? 

REACH (Research-Enriched Academic Challenge) offers small grants for research done with a faculty mentor and sponsors an Undergraduate Research Forum held each spring semester. TheSaluki Research Rookies Program specifically recruits freshmen to carry out research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. REACH website for details. The REACH site also lists other on- and off-campus research opportunities for undergraduates, including undergraduate assistantships. Undergrads who are from certain underrepresented groups also may be eligible for SIUC's McNair Scholars Program, which has a research component and helps prepare undergraduates for graduate school.


Where can I get large-format posters printed for research conferences? 

At IMAGE (Integrated Microscopy and Graphics Expertise), one of OSPA's research support facilities. Call Steve Mueller at 453-3041; he'll work with you on setting up your poster and getting it printed. IMAGE also can produce computer-graphics illustration and do photography for research and scholarly projects.