Setting Up A New Research Project

Please see below for information on the next steps in setting up a new externally-funded research project and the professional services support available, from the receipt of notification of the award from the funder to the start of the research project.

When you are notified of an award, please forward a copy of the application and award letter or notification to the email address for your College:

Once we have received your email, we will allocate a Research Grant Set-up Facilitator to help set up your award. Please note that as the team operates flexibly across the University, this may not always be the named contact for your College.

How do I accept an award?

Your new award needs to be accepted within the time period stipulated by the funder.

The process for accepting an award will vary according to the funder. The terms and conditions attached to your award should detail this or the Facilitator assigned to your case will be able to advise on the acceptance process.

The terms and conditions may require review by the Research Contracts team before the award can be accepted if this is a new funder or one that the University does not regularly apply to.  Your facilitator can provide advice on this.

Nationally-funded grants are typically accepted by the Research Finance pre-award team. Internationally-funded grants are usually accepted by the EU and International Team. A few schemes require the PI to accept the award directly.

Start Date Notification

A start certificate may need to be submitted. This will be detailed in the funder’s terms and conditions

Your new award may require a start certificate or similar document to be submitted to the funder. This will vary according to funder and the terms and conditions attached to your award will detail this. This will typically be done by the same team that accepts the offer.

How do I arrange contracts?

To request a contract, download and complete the ‘Request for Contract Services’ form and email it to newcontracts@contacts.bham.ac.uk

All research projects require a legal agreement with the funder and with any partners. For Research Councils and other funders that give regular research funding to UoB, we can accept their terms without the need to have them reviewed by Contracts.  

You should follow the same process regardless of whether you are asking contracts to review a contract created by a funder/partner institution/industry partner or if you require a new contract to be created.

Only authorised signatories are able sign research agreements on behalf of the University – these CANNOT be signed by academic staff.

Complex contracts with multiple parties and/or involving significant risk to the University can take a number of months to conclude.  For this reason, it is advisable to submit the new contract request as early in the process as possible.

In addition to the main Research Agreement with your funder, other types of agreement might be required depending on the needs of the individual project, and could include collaboration agreements, sub-contracts or material transfer agreements. Please see the Contracts webpage for information on types of Contracts.

How do I complete an Ethics and Governance Review?

The Ethics Self-Assessment Form (SAF) must be completed for all research as soon as notification of the intention to award funding is received to avoid delays in opening your Research account.

If the SAF indicates a need for further ethics review by one of the Ethics Committees, you cannot start data collection or contact participants until the committee has confirmed the granting of ethical approval for the project.

Completion of the SAF also acts as the request to initiate the governance process for sponsorship for any research projects involving the NHS or a social care context.

For further information or guidance on the University’s ethical review processes, contact the Research Ethics team.

How do I complete a Pink Form? [MDS only]

For all MDS Research projects, the online “pink form” must be completed. If this was not completed at application stage, it must be completed as soon as possible after award notification to avoid any unnecessary delays in opening your Research account

Please contact the College Research Support Office for advice and guidance on completing your pink form.

How do I recruit staff for an award?

If you wish to appoint research staff on the project a vacancy template will need to be completed in the WCN system.

Recruitment is a lengthy process – it is important to start the recruitment process early enough to ensure that an appointment can be made in time or the start of the project.

The PI will need to tailor the generic job descriptions to the posts to be appointed. These templates cover the typical range of academic appointments, but others are available upon request for more specialised roles, e.g. project managers.  Once populated by the PI, the job descriptions must be checked by HR to ensure that the grade of the role is compliant with equality, fair pay and minimum wage legislation. The Job Family Frameworks are also useful in differentiating between the expectations of different Grades. There are standard pay scales for all Grades except 10, which covers Professorial staff and senior Professional Services staff whose pay is set according to their experience and performance.

The PI will need fill out the vacancy template (AV1). Once completed, this will be uploaded to the WCN system by a designated contact in the School or College. Please contact your Facilitator to help identify the correct contact. 

Once the vacancy template has been submitted, Research Finance will check that the funds are available in the project budget for each proposed appointment. HR will then instigate the recruitment process and set up a case on the HR Portal.

The HR Recruitment team will:

  • advertise the vacancy
  • collate and provide the PI with a longlist of applicants
  • contact candidates directly to organise interview times and dates
  • make a formal offer of employment to the selected candidate.

Applications should be shortlisted by at least two people from the interview panel, who should fill in the spreadsheet from HR and return it to them to indicate which candidates they would like to invite to interview. During the shortlisting and interview process, the procedures for redeployment candidates and Guaranteed Interview Scheme candidates should be followed. All staff must have completed the University’s Recruitment and Selection training before they can sit on interview panels. The PI must verify at interview that a candidate has the right to work in the UK. Further guidance is available in the Recruitment Manager Toolkit

If studentships are funded on a research award, the PGR Administration team within the College will be able to advise on the recruitment for these, including advertising posts, the admissions processes required, and timelines for these.

If the award includes funding for the appointment of research staff who will be employed to work on the project, there are a few different options:

  • HR Contracts: for contracts of more than 13 weeks, via WCN
  • Worklink: for UoB students (part-time)
  • E-Ploy: for contracts of 13 weeks or less for non-students
  • Self-employment: The individual (or their company) should be set up as a supplier and be paid via invoice

For advice on any part of the recruitment process, contact the College’s HR Advisor on 0121 415 9000 or via the HR Service Portal.

How do I make purchases?

No purchasing commitments should be made without a signed Purchase Order (PO) and wherever possible the University’s approved suppliers should be used. Where possible the PI should order IT equipment through IT Services by placing an order on the Service Desk.

A Purchase Requisition Form needs to be completed to request a PO. This is approved by the School, as they can authorise purchases from the Research Account. Each College has its own form which will specify who to return it to in the College Finance Office. They will issue a purchase order which sets out the University’s terms and conditions. The supplier should then issue an invoice, quoting the PO reference. Please note that any invoices sent without the PO reference will not be paid and will need to be reissued with the reference.

The procurement procedures that need to be followed vary depending on the value of the proposed purchase. Written quotations are required for purchases of £501 or more. If the proposed purchase costs £5,001 or above, you should obtain at least three competitive written quotations, or apply for single source approval from an authorised signatory. For purchases of £25,001 or more, a formal tender process is needed.

If a supplier is not on the University’s approved supplier list and they are the most appropriate supplier to use, they can be set up by Procurement. There are two forms to fill out: one by the PI and one by the supplier: these are then sent to the Procurement team.  If the University of Birmingham is paying someone who could alternatively be paid via payroll, the PI should complete an IR35, which is a HMRC form, to determine whether the supplier should be paid as a company (via invoice) or as staff (with NI and tax deductions).

A Conflict of Interest may arise when the University is using a supplier that a member of the research project team has a personal connection to, for example, if the company is either owned by a partner/relative or the academic is an owner/director of the company.

In such cases, in order to comply with the University’s Financial Rules and Regulations and Human Resources, the academic should complete a Conflict of Interest form. 

The completed form should be sent to the Head of School or College for approval. Once approved, a copy needs to be sent to the College Finance Team for their audit file.

Further information is available online, including contact details for the Procurement Division.

How can I arrange facilities and infrastructure for the project?

Due to the shortage of office and facilities space, it is important to notify Facilities of any space requirements as early as possible.

Please contact your School Operations Manager or Institute Manager for advice on local arrangements for facilities, space and IT infrastructure.

Do I need a Data Management Plan?

If required by the funder, the PI will need to complete a Data Management Plan for their project in order to ensure compliance with the University’s policy on Research Data Management.

Full details of what is involved in the development of a DMP and resources to support this are available from Library Services

How can I comply with Open Data/Open Access requirements?

All University researchers should be familiar and ensure their research data and research publications are managed in line with the University of Birmingham Research Data Management Policy and Research Publications Statement. These policies require all research data, irrespective of funding source, to be managed using an appropriate Data Management Plan and for research publications to at minimum meet the Open Access requirements of the REF.  

Most funders also mandate specific Open Data and/or Open Access requirements as a condition of their funding. For example, UKRI Research Councils (e.g. AHRC), the Wellcome Trust, and the European Commission have specific requirements on how publications should be made Open Access and how data is to be collected, shared, stored, archived, and made ‘open’. It is imperative you are aware of your funder’s mandates, address their requirements in your Data Management Plan, and carry out that plan appropriately during and after the project as specified by the funder.

If you are unsure of those requirements, The University of Birmingham’s Library Services provide links to funder-specific guidance on both Open Access and Open Data. They also provide general guidance on good practice in Research Data Management and how to make your publications Open Access appropriately and any specific questions can be addressed to openaccesspublications@contacts.bham.ac.uk or research-data@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

What happens next?

Research Finance will open a project account once they have formal and binding confirmation that the funding will be received and any contracts between the funder, the University, and any collaborators have been set up.

Once the account is set up, the PI will receive an RA1 which shows the split of the categories of funding and the account code, which is needed for any spending against the grant.

For funders on the University's Trusted Funder List, this account can be set up prior to the final award notification, if all other requirements have been met.

Still stuck?

For more advice and guidance on any aspect of the grant set-up process, you can contact the Research Grant Set-up team at any point: