From grant application to project closeout
Today most funding bodies have requirements that go far beyond excellent research ideas. Such requirements may include, for instance, open science, as well as legal, financial and ethical issues.
In addition, funders’ requirements vary according to the particular stage of the project cycle. To help you tailor your grant application or the management of your grant to a given funder’s agenda and requirements, we have compiled a list of questions and issues you should take into consideration—from the moment you consider applying for a grant through to the time you close out your funded project.
Applying for a grant
Questions and issues to take into consideration before applying for a grant
Getting to know the funder
• Does your research fit the scope of the call?
• Is the agency likely to fund what you want to do?
• What and whom have they funded before?
• Are you eligible to apply?
• Follow the guidelines. Some calls can have two or three documents of guidelines to follow; make sure to familiarise yourself with all of the relevant guidelines. Failure to follow the guidelines might result in your application not being reviewed or funded.
Karolinska Institutet internal deadlines
• Some of the large national funders require a signature and letter of support from the Vice-Chancellor. Funders can also require that applications are prioritised internally by the university management to ensure that only a limited number of applications are selected and submitted to the foundation. Contact us at Grants Office if you have any questions about these internal prioritisation processes. We will announce their deadlines in the Grants Office Newsletter, on our webpages, as well as in emails sent to each department.
• For applications to the European Commission, always contact Grants Office before the deadline. Please note that we handle a large number of applications for each call; therefore, contact us in good time for budget and strategic advice or similar. For signatures, contact Grants Office five working days before the deadline.
We offer information seminars and workshops for some of the programmes; these are announced in the Grants Office Newsletter and on our Facebook page.
• For applications for US federal funding, you must contact Grants Office at least four weeks (for Prime applications) or two weeks (for Subaward applications) before the application deadline.
• Applications to other international funders, when you are applying with Karolinska Institutet as host institution, may need a signature from the Head of Grants Office. Contact Grants Office at least five working days before the deadline.
• What are the eligible costs?
• Will all indirect costs be covered?
• Does the agency fund stipends?
• Is there a need for co-financing?
• Is there a budget template that can or must be used?
• Always contact and inform your department’s administration and Grants Office when applying for international funding.
Intellectual property issues
• Be extra careful about intellectual property (IP) rights when the funder is a company or when you have a company in your consortium.
• Remember that the “Professors’ privilege” (lärarundantaget) is unique to Sweden.
• If you have any questions or need guidance, please contact Grants Office and the Legal Office.
• Do you need to provide ethical permits as part of the application? For which parts of the project do you already have valid ethical permits, and for which will you need to apply for new ethical permits?
• Do you need to fill in any special ethical forms?
• Make sure to be as detailed as possible when describing how you (will) handle any ethical concerns within the project.
• If you have questions, please contact Grants Office.
• Do you as a researcher, in the actual project, belong to Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm County Council (SLL) or maybe another higher education institution?
• Does the funder have requirements regarding percentage of employment?
• Are you affiliated with, rather than employed at, Karolinska Institutet?
• On which premises, e.g. Karolinska Institutet or SLL, will you run the project? And within which organisation will your project costs arise? Make sure you apply with the organisation most appropriate for your project.
• If applying for recruitment grants that require employment as part of the grant conditions, please be aware that this needs to be done in accordance with national regulations, as well as Karolinska Institutet’s internal rules.
• Who is eligible to sign your application? Most applications can be signed by the Head of Department, but others must be signed centrally, e.g. by the Head of Grants Office or in some cases even by the Vice-Chancellor or the University Director.
• For applications to international funders that require a Grants Office signature, you must provide us with an application assurance form (an internal Karolinska Institutet document that can be found on Grants Office´s website that must be signed by the Principal Investigator, Head of Department and Head of Administration.
• For applications going through one of Karolinska Institutet’s internal prioritisation processes, you must provide us with a form signed by Head of Department.
• Please note that obtaining central signatures can take up to five working days.
• Who can submit the application? In most cases, the applicants themselves submit their own application. For US federal grants, however, applications must be submitted centrally, by Grants Office.
Grant preparation and signing of agreement
Once you receive the notice of award and before the project can start, a contract between the funding agency and the grantee is prepared. Depending on the funder, the phase of grant preparation can include different sets of actions as well as preparation of additional agreements.
All grant agreements with the European Commission and with US federal agencies must go through Grants Office and the Legal Office. This is to ensure that all legal and financial aspects are appropriately addressed. Contact Grants Office as soon as you get your notice of award. Please note that the Legal Office has a turnaround time of 14 days. Grant agreements with other international funders, which according to the rules of delegation require a signature by the Head of Grants Office, should also be sent to Grants Office. To obtain the signature from Grants Office, you must provide us with your application assurance form signed by the Principal Investigator, Head of Department and Head of Administration.
The grant agreements should be archived at the department of the main applicant, together with your application and your signed application assurance form.
Science and finances go hand in hand in grant management. The scientific management is naturally handled by the Principal Investigator, while the financial part of most grants is managed by the administrations at the departments.
For projects funded by the European Commission, the financial management is handled by the Grants Management Office at Karolinska Institutet. Please note that projects funded by the European Commission must be audited after reaching the amount of 325,000 Euros of direct costs. It is therefore extremly important to ensure that only costs that fulfil the requirements set out by the European Commission are claimed in the financial reports. To ensure good financial management Grants Management Office will inform the Principal Investigator of every new project about the rules and procedures.
For projects funded by US federal agencies and US foundations, the grantee’s department manages the financial aspects, in some cases with support from Grants Management Office. However, the financial reports must be signed and submitted by Grants Office. All US-federal projects are audited on a yearly basis and hence it is very important to ensure that only eligible costs are charged to the projects. Most of the non-financial scientific reports must also be signed by Grants Office. There are also other reports to submit, both internally and externally, such as reports for Financial Conflict of Interest, Effort Reports and other yearly follow-ups.
At the end of the project, a final scientific and financial report are to be submitted. Some funding agencies may require additional reports, make sure you know what kind of reports are needed.
For the European Commission, the grant holder has 60 days to prepare the reports. The final report should often be accompanied by an audit certificate. After receiving the final reports, the European Commission effectuates the final payment to the consortium/project within 90 days if no further questions arise.
For some US grants it may be possible to extend the duration of the grant. Please note that if you want an extension, you must submit a request to the funder in good time (usually listed either in the guidelines or in the notice of award); such a request may have to go through Grants Office, as is the case for US Federal projects.