Research Finance and Project Management

Having a broad understanding of Research Finance and Project Management is important for those looking to pursue a career in research. While Research and Innovation Services can support the costing and financial management of research projects and activities, it is useful as a researcher to know the key categories and how research is funded.

Full Economic Costs

Full Economic Costing (fEC) is an approach to costing that was introduced across the entire HE sector in 2005 and aims to ensure the sustainability of the research infrastructure (both human and physical).

Under fEC all costs must be included in the project costing:

  • Marginal/direct costs such as PIs/Co-Is, new Research Assistants, travel & consumables and any other direct project costs
  • Use of facilities & services such as labs and offices, and the support of central services and staff in your schools/departments

While marginal costs are easy to identify, the use of facilities and services are not. As a result, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) came up with a method of calculating rates for estates and indirect costs. These rates are based on the University’s TRAC (Transparent Approach to Costing) return.

Transparent Approach to Costing

The Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) return is submitted annually. Costs are determined through workload allocation. Costs are apportioned to teaching, research and other using various cost drivers, e.g. the space survey drives the estates costs; staff numbers drive HR
costs. This determines the full cost of research, which is then used to calculate the fEC rates.

Cost Categories

It is important to know your funder and their eligible costs. These do vary significantly. All funders have rules on what counts as a valid cost and this model may vary depending on the funding scheme. Always make sure you check what costs are eligible and consult with Research and Innovation Services.

Directly Incurred (DI) costs: Project Staff, Travel and Subsistence, Equipment, and other costs
(consumables, surveys, hire, consultancy)

Directly Allocated (DA) costs: Investigators, Co-investigators, Estates Costs (set by the University)

Indirect costs: Set by the University (covers departmental administration such as
personnel, finance, library).

Exceptions: International Co-Investigators.

Online Resources

Costing and Pricing a Research Proposal (Vitae) Planning Your Research Project (Vitae) 7 Tips for Successful Project Delivery (Vitae)