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Sponsored Project Activity Types – A04


This procedure illustrates the major categories of sponsored projects, i.e., organized research (including both sponsored research and University research), sponsored instruction, and other sponsored activities. It establishes procedures to meet the requirements of Uniform Guidance effective December 26, 2014, regarding the definition of University Research. It also describes the types of sponsored project agreements awarded to the University.


This procedure applies to all sponsored projects subject to OHIO Policy 19.045 (opens in a new window) Administering External Grants and Contracts set up as separate accounts in the OHIO Financial Management System (FMS) and funded via a fixed price agreement.


Classification Definitions

A. Organized Research 

Research and scholarship activities include rigorous inquiry, experiment, or investigation to increase the scholarly understanding of the involved discipline. Organized research activities are funded by both external sponsors (Sponsored Research) and OHIO (University Research) and must be separately budgeted and accounted for. Together, these categories comprise the Organized Research distribution base, used to calculate the Organized Research Indirect (facilities & administrative) Cost rate.

Any research activity that does not meet the criteria to be defined as Sponsored Research or University Research (Sections D.1 and D.2, below) must be classified as Departmental Research, and must be assigned to the Instruction and Departmental Research task service type in the accounting system. Examples of Departmental Research include new faculty start-up funds which are provided on a non-competitive basis, funds from a faculty member's designated and/or Foundation accounts expended for research that are not used to cover costs incurred on behalf of externally or University sponsored research, and University support of faculty salaries for non-sponsored research.

1. Sponsored Research (SR)

Research activities are properly classified as Sponsored Research if the research activity is sponsored (funded) by an external organization, i.e., a federal, state, local, or private organization or agency. The following are examples of sponsored research projects, and, in all cases, these awards are made to OHIO:

  • Awards for OHIO faculty to support their research activities
  • External Faculty "Career Awards" to support the research efforts of the faculty
  • External funding to maintain facilities or equipment and/or operation of a center or facility which will be used for research
  • External support for the writing of books, when the purpose of the writing is to publish research results
  • Awards to departments, units, or schools for the support of the research activities of OHIO students or postdoctoral scholars, e.g., research training grants
    • Externally funded Research Training Grants

      Externally funded research training grants are categorized as Sponsored Research (rather than Sponsored Instruction) where the primary activities of the trainees will be research.

      The following characteristics indicate that a sponsored agreement should be treated as a research training grant:
      • The primary purpose of the sponsored agreement is to provide research training to selected OHIO students or postdoctoral scholars
      • The award is made to OHIO, with the provision that OHIO may name the trainees
      • If a trainee leaves OHIO, the university may reassign the support to another qualified trainee
      • Funding is normally provided to support the trainee, rather than to accomplish a specified statement of work or research project. Note that a research project may be described in a proposal for research training grant support, but the primary purpose of the award is to support the trainee.

2. University Research (UR)

  • Research activity is properly classified as University Research if the activity is supported by funding that meets the following criteria:
  • Derived from non-sponsored OHIO institutional funds, and
  • Provided through a competitive application and award process, and
  • Supported by statement of work or line of inquiry, and
  • Providing assistance for a proposed activity which is characterized by the same factors which distinguish sponsored projects including:
    • A requirement to return any unexpended funds at the end of the project or
    • Detailed financial reporting (beyond an acknowledgment of funds) or
    • Terms for the disposition of property (e.g., equipment, deliverables, data, or intellectual property)

3. Cost Sharing (CS)

Cost sharing expenditures committed to be borne by OHIO rather than by the sponsor must be included in the OR base when the related sponsored activity is research. 

B. Sponsored Instruction (SI) 

Sponsored Instruction is defined as teaching and training activities funded by grants and contracts from federal or non-federal sponsors. Sponsored Instruction includes agreements which support curriculum development as well as teaching/training activities (other than research training) whether offered for credit toward a degree or certificate, on a non-credit basis, or through regular academic departments or by separate divisions, summer school, or an extension division.

Sponsored Instruction includes:

  • Curriculum development projects at any level, including projects which involve evaluation of curriculum or teaching methods; such evaluation may be considered "research" only when the preponderance of activity is data collection, evaluation, and reporting
  • Projects which involve OHIO students in community service activities for which the OHIO students are receiving academic credit
  • General support for the writing of textbooks or reference books, videos, or software to be used as instructional materials.
  • Cost sharing expenditures committed to be borne by OHIO rather than by the sponsor must be included in the Sponsored Instruction base when the related sponsored activity is instruction. 

C. Other Sponsored Activities (OSA)

Other Sponsored Activities (OSA) are defined as projects funded by sponsors that involve the performance of work other than Sponsored Instruction or Sponsored Research.

OSA may include:

  • Travel grants
  • Support for conferences or seminars
  • Support for OHIO public events 
  • Support for students, staff, or teachers in elementary or secondary schools, or the public, through outreach-related activities
  • Projects that involve OHIO faculty, staff, or students in community service activities (where the OHIO students are not receiving academic credit for their involvement)
  • Support for projects pertaining to library collections, acquisitions, bibliographies, or cataloging
  • Programs to enhance institutional resources, including data center expansion, computer enhancements, etc.
  • Cost sharing expenditures committed to be borne by OHIO rather than by the sponsor must be included in the Other Sponsored Activity base when the related sponsored activity is OSA. 


Correct classification of funds is required. Errors in classification must be corrected upon discovery. Indirect (F&A) cost waivers or reductions will not be granted to remedy incorrect classifications of costs. 


Questions regarding this procedure can be sent to


There are no forms or templates for this procedure.

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Review/Revision History

Created on 12/21/2022