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5.2 Directly Incurred Costs

Directly Incurred costs are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project, are charged as the cash value actually spent and are supported by an audit record. They include:

  • Staff: payroll costs requested for staff, full or part-time, who will work on the project and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail during the life of the project.
  • Travel and Subsistence: funds for travel and subsistence for use by staff who work on the project where these are required by the nature of the work.
  • Equipment:  The cost of individual items of equipment dedicated to the project and costing more than £10,000 (including VAT). Items of equipment costing less than £10k should be requested under 'Other Costs'.
  • Other Costs: Costs of other items dedicated to the project, including consumables, books, survey fees, purchase/hire of vehicles or recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the project. Items of equipment costing less than £10,000 should also be included under this heading.
    • Publication costs: Following the publication of the revised RCUK policy on open access, and the decision to provide research organisations with block funding for publication costs, STFC will no longer provide funding in research grants for any publication costs associated with peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers. Publication costs associated with research outputs other than journal articles and conference papers, such as books, monographs, critical editions, catalogues etc may, however, continue to be included in grants as a Directly Incurred Other Cost provided the costs will be incurred within the period of the grant.



5.2.1 Directly Incurred Staff Posts

  • Directly incurred staff posts include all staff, full or part-time, who will work on the project and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail during the life of the project. For staff dedicated to one project, the payroll system provides a full audit trail. Staff whose time is dedicated to more than one project should use other time recording systems. e.g.timesheets.
  • If a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator is retired, the expectation is that their level of involvement in a project would be covered by a contract with the Research Organisation. The cost of their time attributed to the project is thus likely to be a Directly Incurred cost.
  • Applicants should provide details of the salary costs for the time to be spent working on the project. The total salary costs for any individual on all Research Councils grants and fellowships must not exceed 100%.
  • Salaries and allowances, including employer's liability for national insurance and superannuation, should be at the current rates.
  • Salary increments over the period of the project should be taken into account, but possible future pay awards should not be anticipated.

5.2.2 Named Research Staff

  • Funds for named research staff will normally be awarded at the level requested, although STFC reserves the right to offer support at an alternative level or to reduce the hours requested.
  • STFC may replace funding requested for named research staff with funding for unnamed staff at a lower salary banding, if the post is a new named staff post and the reason is scientifically justified; or if the programme of work has changed and requires a different set of skills and experience.
  • Proposals for funding for named research staff may seek provision for expected promotions during the lifetime of the research grant where the possibility is foreseen by the employing Research Organisation. The grounds have to be justified in the proposal and the promotion must be made in accordance with the policies and procedures of the employing Research Organisation. (see The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers).
  • To note, it is also possible to request a named researcher as a directly allocated post, funded under ODA costs. In this scenario the term stated above relating to provision for expected promotions will not be applicable.

5.2.3 Unnamed Research Staff

  • Funds for unnamed research staff will normally be awarded at the relevant salary banding normally awarded by the Research Organisation for a newly qualified Post Doctoral Research Assistant (PDRA).
  • Provision may, however, be made for an appointment at higher banding where the proposal so requests it and has made explicit, to STFC's satisfaction, that the research responsibilities would justify such an appointment and that the project would offer the opportunity for the future career development of a more experienced individual (see The Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.)

5.2.4 Other Directly Incurred Staff

  • Funds for named or unnamed technical and computing staff, who will undertake work directly related to the proposed project and whose time can be fully supported by a full audit trail during the life of the project may be sought as a directly incurred cost.
  • Other non-research staff who will work on the project and whose time can be fully supported by a full audit trail during the life of the project e.g. secretarial and administrative staff may be sought as a directly incurred cost.

5.2.5 Travel and Subsistence

  • Travel and subsistence costs for journeys, conferences and workshops that are directly related to the research project and will be undertaken within the grant duration can be sought as a directly incurred cost.
  • The costs of additional childcare, beyond that required to meet the normal contracted requirements of the job, and that are directly related to the project, may be requested as a directly incurred cost if the institutional policy is to reimburse them. However, childcare costs associated with normal working patterns may not be sought.
  • Travel costs should normally be based on the most suitable and economical form of travel with the expectation that these should only include travel by standard class by train and economy class by air (Economy Plus for long haul). STFC will consider funding more expensive, but less carbon emitting forms of travel where this is permitted by the Research Organisations policies. However, the cost of carbon offsets is not an admissible cost on research grants.
  • The costs of travel insurance should normally be included in the Indirect costs of the Research Organisation, but may be requested as a separate directly incurred cost where it can be shown that the cost arises specifically as a result of the project funded by the grant, is not covered by the existing institutional policies, and is separately identifiable and audited.

5.2.6 Equipment

  • Equipment costs may cover the purchase of equipment outright, or in part, sharing across a number of projects where appropriate or contracting out a specific task.
  • Funds for equipment purchases in excess of £10k (inclusive of VAT) may be sought as a directly incurred cost, provided that the equipment is essential to the effective conduct of the research and is not already available to the host Research Organisation. Single items of equipment costing less than £10k should be included in Other Directly Incurred costs.
  • The justification for requested items of equipment costing between £10k and the £138k (115k excluding VAT) must include evidence that the option of using existing equipment has been investigated. The proposal should state the percentage contribution to equipment costs requested from STFC. In general, STFC expects to contribute around 50% of the cost of such equipment items, although this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
  • However, subject to STFC's prior approval, equipment costs associated with the construction of unique items of equipment (e.g. particle detectors for particle physics accelerators, instruments for spacecraft, facility development etc.) may be funded in full (i.e. at 100%), although STFC reserves the right to request institutional contributions where appropriate... If you think that an equipment request in your proposal may fall into this category, you must consult the appropriate Secretariat prior to the submission of your proposal.
  • For single items of equipment over the £138k (115k excluding VAT), three quotes should be attached.
  • A 2 page business case will be required for all items of equipment above the 138k (115k excluding VAT), outlining the strategic need for the equipment. A standard template is provided for the application of such equipment.
  • The procurement of equipment, including maintenance must comply with all relevant national and EU legislation and the Research Organisation's own financial policy and procedures.
  • The Research Organisation's own professionally qualified procurement staff should be involved in the procurement of equipment and services at or above £25,000, excluding VAT. The procurement staff must be consulted before the procurement process begins, and, where appropriate, at the market research stage, and must approve the order/contract before it is placed with the supplier. Additional documentary evidence for the estimated cost should be included with the proposal.

5.2.7 Other Directly Incurred Costs

Other Directly Incurred Costs are items dedicated to the project, for example:

  • Consumables. In most cases, office consumables such as photocopying, printing, postage, general transport costs, stationery, computer consumables and telephone costs, and also utilities costs, are not expected to be accounted for at the project level and should be found from indirect costs. However, items of this type may be charged as directly incurred where use is exceptional (for example, high electricity use). These exceptional costs would then need justification in relation to the research need; and there should be a clear statement indicating that these are separately accounted for and charged to the project as actual costs.
  • Publication costs associated with research outputs other than journal articles and conference papers, such as books, monographs, critical editions, catalogues etc.
  • Recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the project.
  • Field work.
  • Reprint charges.
  • Consultancy charges.
  • Computer costs dedicated to the project; e.g. specialist stationery supplies, software licences not associated with central computing facilities.
  • Items of equipment costing less than £10,000 (including VAT) including replacement or upgrades of existing equipment.
  • Equipment-related items (if not included as part of the Research Organisation's estates costs), e.g. maintenance; relocation; rental charges; access charges for major or small research facilities (specify the nature of the facility and the basis of charging: note that, in accordance with TRAC, the total FEC of a grant containing charges for use by the project of research facilities must not include any net depreciation costs if the facility was purchased with Research Council funding) The case for support should describe the service being sought, the usage and the basis of charging.
  • Personal costs. Personal costs incurred by staff supported on the grant, such as relocation charges, home telephone/internet charges, etc. may be requested as directly incurred costs if their reimbursement is consistent with institutional policy, they are specifically incurred by the research project and will be subject to an audit record.
  • Subcontractor costs should appear under other directly incurred costs and are paid at the standard 80% rate.

5.2.8 Visiting Researchers

  • Support may be requested within a consolidated grant proposal to provide funding for senior scientists from the UK or overseas who are of acknowledged standing to visit and work in the Principal Investigator's institution for a period of up to twelve months. Visiting Researcher proposals should be requested as part of the Research Organisation's consolidated grant.
  • Support may be requested for specified individual visitors and general support for unspecified (usually short-term) visitors. The support requested should be justified in the Case for Support.
  • STFC will only pay the salary of a Visiting Researcher for the time that they will be directly working on the project and requests should exclude any contributions from other sources. Visiting Researchers should receive the same salary and conditions as other staff of an equivalent status within the Research Organisation.
  • Estates, Infrastructure technician and indirect costs may only be requested for individual visits in excess of six months, regardless of whether the support being requested includes a salary contribution or is only travel and subsistence. Estates, infrastructure technician and indirect costs should only be requested for the time the Visiting Researcher will be directly working on the project and should not be requested if they are already funded (for example by another Research Grant to the Visiting Researcher’s home institution).
  • For Visiting Researchers reasonable expenses will be paid for travel to and from the UK by the Senior Visiting Scientist, but not for their families. Subsistence expenses should be related to the individual circumstances of each case and the rates appropriate for visiting workers within the host Research Organisation. The amount requested for the visit should be reduced if a contribution has been received from other sources, e.g. where the visit will be partly funded by the Visiting Researcher's own institution and/or is part of a longer stay.

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000