Proposal Approval Process


Proposal Approval Process

The Faculty of Engineering attaches a great importance to research funding and you are strongly encouraged to apply for research grants, contracts, and awards to expand and further develop your research activities. This process is designed to resolve, in advance, questions concerning budgeting, staffing, space utilization or other priorities, and to provide a written record of institutional commitments for additional space, staffing or matching funds for projects, rather than be a critical review of your application prior to submission.

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 two (2) business days for the 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 four (4) business 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. Please note that the checklist is updated from time to time. We ask that you discard all previous versions of the checklist, which are saved on your computer. OSR will only accept the latest version.
  2. Complete the Checklist. It must be signed first by the researcher, then by the Chair/Director, and finally by the Dean/Associate Dean (Research & Innovation). If an Acting Chair/Director signs the required documents, please ensure to include your unit’s memorandum regarding the delegation of signing authority. Please make sure that the OSR Checklist clearly identifies the investigator, the agency, and the program.
  3. At least 48 hours before the internal OSR deadline, please provide us with a copy of your complete proposal package (signed OSR Checklist, application form(s), drafted agreements, and any other supporting documentation required). You can provide these documents to us in any of the following three ways (listed in order of preference):
    a) via e-mail, to agapi.agapitos [at] (Agapi Agapitos), cc’ed to [at], signed and scanned;
    b) via e-mail, to the e-mail addresses above, signed with electronic signatures; or
    c) in hard copy and signed, to Macdonald Engineering, Room 378, during regular business hours.

Delays will be incurred if the package is incomplete. This does not need to be the final version, but it should be very close to completion; in particular, the budget should be finalized.

The Dean/ADR cannot sign your OSR checklist without having seen the proposal.

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. 

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 Federal agency grants often allow indirect costs on direct salaries and wages at 64%). Please consult with the OSR in advance of finalizing your funding request if you are uncertain how or what to claim in this category.

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)     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

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

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.

Please consult with the OSR in advance of finalizing your funding request if you are uncertain how or what to claim in this category.


If permitted by some funding sources, any personal salary requested on a project 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, after all overhead costs have been deducted.

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.

For questions about the requirements for obtaining the Dean’s signature, please do not hesitate to contact agapi.agapitos [at] (Agapi Agapitos), Research and Grants Administrator, in our office. Grants, contracts, or award/prize nomination dossiers can also be emailed for preview or advice. This is particularly encouraged when you are preparing a proposal for submission to an agency or sponsor that has unusual requirements (such as a restrictive policy on indirect costs).  If given sufficient notice (preferably three weeks), we will undertake a review of your proposal, although it is usually preferable to ask an experienced colleague within the same general field to provide a review if you can.

Confidentiality (CDAs or NDAs)

Confidential information exchanged between two parties normally requires the signing of a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement. This agreement describes what information is to be disclosed between the parties, the purpose and conditions of the disclosure and the terms of confidentiality.

Such agreements demonstrate understanding of the confidential nature of the information, and they express in written form a party's obligation to keep that information confidential.

Examples of confidential information are:

1.     Confidential proprietary information of one or both parties that is the basis for potential future collaboration.

2.     An actual invention reported to the OSR and in the process of being commercialized.

3.     An unreported discovery.

4.     A promising line of research.

McGill’s Faculty of Engineering members are often asked to sign NDAs with various parties in advance of meetings and discussions. The Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) should be notified prior to such visits as they review all confidentiality agreements to ensure they comply with McGill policies and coordinates signatures on behalf of McGill University. In particular, please refrain from signing an NDA on the spot while visiting a company.

Please note that only OSR Contracts and Agreements Officers have the signing authority for these agreements.


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