Research Application Information

  1. Research Application Process
  2. Application Process Details
  3. Using Your Research Funds

Research Application Process

All proposals for research funding must be submitted for approval via the My Research - Applications (MRA) electronic review and approval system prior to submission to the sponsor. MRA has replaced the paper-based RIS form as the method for obtaining department/centre and divisional (UTSC Vice-Principal Research) approval prior to submission to the OVPRI. No application will be reviewed or receive institutional endorsement until it has been submitted through MRA.

To secure the required approvals, you must create an online submission through MRA, and attach a copy of your full proposal for review by your Chair/Director and then the UTSC Vice-Principal Research. Each UTSC department/centre has its own procedures about how and when an applicant must secure departmental approval. Please contact your department/centre to learn about the specific requirements and timelines. Your UTSC department/centre will set earlier internal deadlines than those for review and approval by the Vice-Principal Research.

For review and approval of all research funding applications, the Office of the Vice-Principal Research requires, at a minimum, a copy of the research proposal and the final budget and budget justification.

Please see U of T’s current Research Administration Policy for more details on the principles and procedures for the development, approval and administration of research projects conducted at the University of Toronto.


Approval of the Chair/Director and the UTSC Vice-Principal Research confirm:

  • The applicant is a faculty member eligible to hold research funding at the university (consistent with any agency requirements with respect to rank), who is undertaking independent research and who has time, space, and basic facilities available
  • Any cash or in-kind contribution to the research project by the applicant’s academic unit as outlined in the proposal.
  • The department, faculty or division’s willingness to administer the research funds, in accordance with university and sponsor policies.
  • The research is consistent with university and sponsor policies, including those associated with animal care, biosafety and ethics approval with respect to human subjects.
  • The awareness of the proposed activity by those who supervise investigators, allocate space and other resources, and provide administrative support to the research activity.


Institutional Endorsment relies on the prior assurances and the approval signatures provided by the division and indicate the university’s willingness to administer the research funds on the investigator’s behalf, consistent with the university’s policies. In particular, the institutional signature indicates that:

  • The applicant is a faculty member eligible to hold research funding at the university (consistent with any agency requirements with respect to rank), who is undertaking independent research and who has time, space, and basic facilities available
  • The research is consistent with university and sponsor policies, including those associated with animal care, biosafety and ethics approval with respect to human subjects
  • Administration of, and accounting for, funds received by the university on behalf of the application will meet the sponsor’s terms and conditions

University of Toronto Strategic Research Plan

Applicants to some research funding programs may wish to refer to the University of Toronto Strategic Research Plan and User’s Guide as they prepare their application. Excellence, Innovation, Leadership: The University of Toronto Strategic Research Plan, 2012-2017 (SRP) is structured on seven thematic areas that engage the U of T research community and its partners in the challenges that face global society in the 21st century.


Application Process Details

If you have co-applicants from other Universities/Institutions

  • Complete an MRA on-line form.
  • Obtain a signed copy of the Co-applicant’s page (e.g. NSERC Form 101 page 2) showing the signature(s) of their university representatives * NSERC requires that the lead university obtain approval from the other institutions involved in the application process prior to submission.
  • Submit the MRA on-line form with your proposal and co-applicant(s) page(s) to obtain the approval of department Chair/centre Director and UTSC Vice-Principal, Research.
  • If a subgrant of research funding is included in a research funding proposal, it should be indicated on the MRA on-line form and institutional sign-off should be obtained from the institution that the funds will be sent to, including their institutional approval of the project budget.

If you are a co-applicant on another institution's application

  • Complete an MRA on-line form and indicate the lead institution (i.e. not UofT).
  • Sign the Co-applicant’s signature page (e.g. NSERC Form 101 page 2).
  • Submit the MRA on-line form with the required attachments (e.g. proposal, Co-applicant’s page) to obtain the approval of departmental Chair/centre Director and UTSC Vice-Principal, Research.
  • The OVPRI will endorse the Co-applicant’s page and send it to the other institution

Multidisciplinary collaboration

Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with researchers in other fields. For example, if the eligibility requirements are met, social sciences and humanities researchers may participate as co-applicants in NSERC's Strategic Network Grants Program and SSHRC’s Partnership Grants and Partnership Development Grants programs permit funding to teams that include participation from researchers from outside the social sciences and humanities.

Eligibility to apply

UofT applicants and co-applicants with non-standard appointments are advised to have their eligibility verified and confirmed well in advance of a competition deadline. Please refer to the University of Toronto eligibility guidelines. Applicants and co-applicants to a sponsor’s research program should first determine their eligibility to apply. They must meet the eligibility criteria, both at the time of application and during tenure of award.

Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (OVPRI) - Contact Information

There are two units within the OVPRI that administer research funding:

  • Research Services Office (RSO) – agencies (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) and foundations, institutional programs (e.g. CRCs, CFI, ERA, ORF)
  • Innovations and Partnerships Office (IPO) – industry-sponsored research, industry matching programs such as Network Centres of Excellence, Mitacs, NSERC industry-university matching programs (e.g. CRD, Strategic Network Grants, Industrial Research Chairs, Engage).

Please see the OVPRI contact page to find the person you’re looking for or search the Funding Opportunities Database to find the contact person for any opportunity posted on the database.

Developing a budget

Budgets must be prepared in accordance with a program’s specific guidelines. Conditions vary from program to program, so please make sure to review all information provided by the sponsor concerning eligible budget categories and amounts that can be requested.

Common budget categories are Salaries & Benefits, Indirect Costs, Travel, Equipment, and Construction. You may also refer to the University’s Guide to Financial Management for further information on how to construct a budget.

Indirect Costs/Overhead

Indirect costs (also known as overhead) must be included in all research proposals in which they are an allowable expense. The University's applicable indirect cost rate will apply unless a sponsor has its own indirect cost rate.The University of Toronto Standard Indirect Cost Rate is 40% of total Direct Costs.

Direct Costs means the costs of a project that can easily and accurately be identified as such. Examples include but are not limited to salaries, wages and benefits of research personnel, materials and supplies, travel, equipment and rental of space.

Indirect Costs are defined as: costs of a project, which cannot be directly attributed to it, usually because they are incurred for objectives common to multiple projects, multiple researchers or multiple functions of the University. Examples include but are not limited to building use and depreciation, equipment depreciation, physical plant and maintenance (including utilities, hazardous waste disposal, security), insurance, financial administration (including purchasing and accounting) and libraries.

Please see U of T’s current Guideline on Full Cost Recovery in Research to learn more about recovering the full costs of your research and which indirect cost (overhead) rate applies to your proposal.

The current UTSC process for allocation of indirect costs (IDC)/overhead recovered from research sponsors is:

100% of the indirect costs/overhead earned on UTSC faculty research grants and contracts flows directly to UTSC according to the following distribution formula:

  • 50%  of the total is deposited into a UTSC OTO fund to cover UTSC’s central overhead costs and St. George (UT Central) charges on revenue.
  • 50%  of the total is transferred by UTSC Financial Services in a split between the UTSC academic department (30%) and the Principal Investigator (70%).  In other words, of the total indirect costs/overhead on a research project UTSC’s policy allows the return of 15% to the academic unit (department/centre) and 35% to the PI.

A department chair/centre director may, under certain circumstances, be asked to support a partial or full waiver of the 50% share that is allocated to the unit and its PI. In doing so, the action results in the loss of a revenue stream to both parties. Any indirect cost waiver must be in writing and must be approved by the Vice-Principal Research.

Using Your Research Funds

Funded Research Digest (FRED)

VP Research & Innovation staff will establish funds and budgets based on the information in the award notice. Only the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the President have authority to accept research funding on behalf of the University and only their staff can set up the award so that an investigator can start spending. It is critical that you ensure that the OVPRI contact receives a copy of the award notice promptly. Once notification of your award has been received, a FReD (Funded Research Digest) is created in the administrative system. The FReD identifies the fund centre, fund, cost centre or internal order numbers and budgets established for expenditures, and summarizes the terms and conditions of the award. The OVPRI contact and the sponsor’s contact are indicated on the FReD. The FReD can be viewed at any time on My Research on Line (MROL). Click here for more information on how to read a FReD


To transfer research funds from the university to another organization, a subgrant agreement must be established between the university and the recipient organization. The nature of the subgrant agreement will depend on the work being undertaken and the obligations that the university has with the research sponsor. You should consult with Research Services regarding the subgrant or subcontract agreements and issues that arise when transferring research funds between institutions.

Sharing Information, Equipment & Materials

The Innovations & Partnerships Office within the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation administers all research-related agreements. Information and agreement templates for sharing information, equipment and materials can be found on the IPO website.