New Research Administrators

There are a wide array of courses that you will need to avail yourself to as you navigate the ins and outs of research administration.  To help get you started the following classes are recommended.  And, make sure to check out the Onboarding website for basic information to help get you started while you're settling into your new job. 
See also: Training

Recommended Classes and Resource for New Research Administrators

Cost Principles Overview, Classes and Resources

An Overview of Effort Reporting (online)

An Overview of Effort Reporting (SPH - online)

This course provides an overview of the Harvard Chan School's effort reporting policy. Topics covered include:

  • Risks posed to Principal Investigators, faculty members, and the institution if federal effort reporting requirements are not met
  • How federal regulations drive the University's effort reporting policy and procedures
  • Committed effort and "reasonable estimates"
  • The responsibilities of administrators, PIs and faculty members, and researchers and lab staff with regards to effort reporting and certification

Cost Principles Overview, Classes and Resources (online)

You will hear the phrase "Cost Principles" throughout your career. So, it's good to get acquainted with them early on.

What are the cost principles and where do they come from?   The cost principles are federal regulations governing expenditures on federal awards as laid out in the Uniform Guidance.  They are designed to provide that the federal government bear its fair share of total costs (direct and indirect) of a federally sponsored award.  In order to be reimbursable a cost must to allowable, reasonable and necessary, allocable and consistently treated.  The courses listed below will introduce you the sponsored research enterprise and cost principles.

Cost Principles and Direct Costs on Sponsored Awards (online)

Cost Principles and Direct Costs on Sponsored Awards

This online course discusses the types of costs that may occur on sponsored projects and the principles in the OMB Uniform Guidance that govern those costs on federal awards. As a learner, you’ll also play the role o a grant manager in multiple scenarios throughout the course, gaining practice in applying these principles to evaluate specific costs proposed by a Principal Investigator. 

Federal Travel Regulations (online)

Federal Travel Regulations

This online course reviews key aspects of the federal travel regulations related to sponsored travel.


Financial Oversight of Sponsored Funding (online)

Financial Oversight of Sponsored Funding - What Researchers Need to Know/ (online)

This course discusses aspects of compliance related to spending sponsored funds, and highlights areas of oversight that can be challenging for researchers.

Harvard Chan School Effort Management Policy

Harvard Chan School Effort Management Policy

Making and keeping responsible commitments on sponsored projects (page 2 of policy)

An effort commitment represents the sponsor’s understanding of the amount of time the researcher will need to devote to accomplish the project’s aims. This understanding is established via the proposal or other written documents exchanged between the business official in SPA and the sponsor. When making commitments on federal proposals, researchers should keep in mind that the government is explicit in their expectation that the commitment be a reasonable estimate:

The applicant organization is responsible for verifying its eligibility and the accuracy, validity, and conformity with the most current institutional guidelines of all the administrative, fiscal, and scientific information in the application, including the Facilities and Administrative rate. Deliberate withholding, falsification, or misrepresentation of information could result in administrative actions, such as withdrawal of an application, suspension and/or termination of an award, debarment of individuals, as well as possible criminal and/or civil penalties. The signer further certifies that the applicant organization will be accountable both for the appropriate use of any funds awarded and for the performance of the grant-supported project or activities resulting from this application. The grantee institution may be liable for the reimbursement of funds associated with any inappropriate or fraudulent conduct of the project activity. (SF-424 R&R Application Instructions, page G -47

The PI’s signature on the proposal in GMAS represents their concurrence with this language. Although sponsor policy may allow effort changes, all researchers and grant managers should keep in mind the certification language above before making substantive changes in effort regardless of key person status

Subject Matter Resource:  Kristie Froman

Introduction to Sponsored Projects (online)

Introduction to Sponsored Projects

Provides a high-level overview of key concepts related to sponsored programs administration at Harvard.

Overview of Sponsored Projects Administration

Overview of Sponsored Projects Administration is a one day workshop covering basic information on Harvard research administration and the lifecycle of a sponsored award.

Responsibilities of Purchasers, Preparers and Approvers (ROPPA)

Responsibilities of Purchasers, Preparers and Approvers (ROPPA)

One of Harvard’s fundamental internal controls is the proper review and approval of transactions.  Preparing or approving any part of a transaction is a significant responsibility.  This policy defines and codifies the responsibilities of individuals who spend Harvard funds and who prepare and approve transactions.  

Subject matter resource: 

Sponsored Expenditures Guidelines (SEG)

Sponsored Expenditures Guidelines (SEG)

The SEG guidance is based on the interpretation of federal regulations, and adherence is required for all federal awards.  For any costs to be charged directly to a federal award the expense must be:  (1) Allowable under both the provisions of federal guidance AND the terms of a specific award (2) Allocable: the expense can be associated to a project with a high degree of accuracy (3) Reasonable: the cost reflects what a “prudent person” would pay in a similar circumstance (4) Charged consistently as direct expense (versus an indirect cost).

Subject matter resource:  TBD

Uniform Guidance

Harvard Internal Controls, Uniform Guidance and You

Harvard Internal Controls, Uniform Guidance and You

The majority of the University's sponsored research funding comes from the federal government.  The Uniform Guidance governing these funds requires that internal controls are in place to reduce risks of waste, fraud, and abuse   Additionally, Harvard has an obligation to safeguard its resources, adhere to donor and sponsor terms, and comply with all internal policies and external regulations. Individuals who spend funds or who prepare or authorize expenditures on behalf of the University have a stewardship responsibility to ensure those transactions are reasonable, appropriate, and have a proper University business purpose. Responsibilities of Purchasers, Preparers and Approvers (ROPPA) Policy applies to all individuals who make purchases with University funds, or who prepare or approve transactions. Here are classes you should take to ensure compliance with the federal regulations and University policy.

Ethics and Accountability

Ethics and Accountability

Course description :In this dynamic workshop, you will explore the world of fiduciary responsibility and internal controls. Specifically, you will walk away with a clear understanding of your roles and responsibilities in protecting the University's resources while promoting an environment consistent with the University's values and objectives.

Some of the key points you will explore include:

  • Fiduciary Responsibility: what it means, why it is important, and how it applies to your everyday work activities
  • Internal Controls: what they are, why they are important, and how to achieve an effective control environment

Fraud and the Workplace

Fraud and the Workplace

Course description In its 2014 report on occupational fraud and abuse, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) estimated that a typical organization loses 5% of revenues each year to fraud, representing a projected total global loss of almost $3.7 trillion. With FY14 operating revenue of $4.4 billion, Harvard is not immune to the risk of fraud, but is it a typical organization?

Using a combination of case studies, recent examples of fraud in the higher education sector and group discussion, this course seeks to raise awareness of the potential for fraud, to discuss the indicators of fraud and to outline the steps to take if you suspect fraud.

Fraud Awareness and Reporting Policy

Fraud Awareness and Reporting Policy

This policy establishes the overall roles and responsibilities of University employees for reporting and investigating potential fraud at the University. All Harvard University (Harvard) employees have a responsibility to ensure that Harvard’s resources are used for valid and appropriate business needs. Administrators and all levels of management have added responsibility for establishing and maintaining proper internal controls to protect Harvard’s resources from misuse. Administrators and managers should be familiar with the risks and exposures in their areas of responsibility and be alert to any indications of improper activities, misappropriation, or dishonest activity.

Introduction to ROPPA (online)

Introduction to ROPPA is an overview of Harvard’s policy on Responsibilities of Purchasers, Preparers, and Approvers (ROPPA).   It is mandatory for employees who purchase goods and supplies and approve these expenses on the University’s behalf.