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Proposal Approval Process


Proposal Approval Process

In order to improve our performance in raising funds for research, and to better track the proposals that involve our Faculty members, all research proposals require approval by the Dean, subsequent to having obtained departmental approval. For the internal review process to be effective, it is advisable to submit your application well before any internal and external deadlines. The Office of the Dean requires at least 2 working days for review and approval of all research proposals. Please note that during peak periods of anticipated high volume of applications (such as NSERC Discovery Grants) you are recommended to submit your proposal at least 4 working days before the deadline of the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR).

To obtain the Dean’s signature for your proposal, please ensure to undertake the following procedure:

  1. Download the OSR Checklist (available here). Please note that the Checklist is updated from time to time. Please discard all previous versions of the checklist. OSR will only be accepting the latest version.
  2. Complete the Checklist and have it signed by your Chair/Director. If an Acting Chair/Director signs the required documents, please ensure to include your unit’s memorandum regarding the signing authority.
  3. Submit your complete proposal package (signed OSR Checklist, application form(s), drafted agreements, and any other supporting documentation required) to Room 378, Macdonald Engineering Building. Delays will be incurred if the package is incomplete when it is submitted to our office. If you are unable to submit hard copies of your application due to travel and/or time restraints, please send an electronic copy of the proposal package, which must include the completed and duly signed OSR Checklist, to agapi [dot] agapitos [at] mcgill [dot] ca with a copy to eproposals [dot] engineering [at] mcgill [dot] ca .
    Be prepared to follow-up with our office on your application submission in order to address any questions that we may have about the documentation. 
  4. Once you have been notified via email that the proposal has been approved, please collect it and submit it to OSR.

Indirect Costs (Research Overheads)

Indirect costs of research are real costs that are borne by the institution which benefit and support research. These costs must usually be included in budget requests to external sponsors of research, including donors. Indirect costs cannot be attributed directly to a specific research project, but they are necessary for the conduct of research in general.  The indirect costs are used for space and utilities, support of core facilities and various research services, management and administration of research (grants and contracts), hazardous waste disposal, etc.

Indirect costs on research grants from funding agencies

a)     It is not necessary to explicitly include indirect costs in the budgets of grants from Tri-Council sources (i.e., NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR) or provincial agencies (FQRNT, FRSQ, FQSR, MESRST), as these indirect costs are provided directly to the university.

b)    In the case of grants from other sources, indirect costs should usually be included in the budget, at a rate of at least 15% of the direct costs of research, unless the funding source explicitly forbids indirect costs in the program conditions, or states a different rate (note that US agency grants often allow indirect costs on salaries and wages at 64%). The appropriate OSR grants officer will be able to inform you of the correct rate.

c)     In some cases, the agency may forbid indirect costs, but will permit administrative costs to be listed in the budget, in which case they must be included.

d)    As of September 1, 2012, indirect costs will be recovered on all grants and/or contracts, regardless of the value of the funding.

e)     Any research proposal that is submitted for Faculty approval, which does not include at least 15% indirect costs, except for those for Tri-Council agencies or provincial agencies, must be accompanied by a covering note that justifies why indirect costs cannot be included.  Absence of such a justification will incur a delay in approval since our office will need to investigate the funding rules.

Indirect costs on research grants and research agreements from industrial sponsors

a)     The budget MUST include indirect costs.

b)    The package for Faculty approval must already have your unit’s signature.

c)     Indirect costs calculations

      i.    Contracts: Indirect cost is 40% of the direct cost of research.

     ii.    Industry grants that will be leveraged (such as via NSERC CRD program): Indirect cost is 25% of the direct cost of research.

    iii.    Any other case with a rate different from those mentioned above should be justified in a covering note or email.

Other institutions exempted from indirect costs calculation can be found at the website of the Ministère d’Éducation, Loisirs et Sport (MELS) in the Liste des organismes pourvoyeurs de fonds agréés (see ‘Useful links’ below for URL).

The university returns 1/3 of indirect costs from contracts to the Faculty, and in turn we distribute 1/3 of the amount we obtain to the researcher (in a research support account) and 1/3 to the researcher’s department.


The following links provide lists of MESRST accredited sponsors:

1) Gouvernement du Québec Agencies*
2) Organismes pourvoyeurs de fonds agrées*(accredited agencies)

*Note: Whenever indirect costs are allowed by these sponsors, they should be included in the proposed budget at the rate allowed by the sponsor (default rate is 15% for grants if no ceiling is indicated)


Honoraria permitted by some funding sources must be clearly stated in the budget. McGill terms of employment require all such income to be taken as honoraria rather than salary.

a)     Honoraria should not exceed 20% of the total budget.

b)    If honoraria are included in a proposal to a funding source that does not permit indirect costs, an administrative fee of 20% of the honorarium value will be applied by the Faculty at the time that the honorarium is received.