Help with Budgets

Research project budgets guide project spending and therefore must be based on accurate information and match sponsor eligibility requirements.

Getting Started

While there is no magic formula for developing a budget, here are the basic steps to developing a good budget:

  1. Determine the eligible expense categories and maximum amount allowed by the sponsor.
  2. Define project tasks, timelines and milestones and determine the actual resources and costs required to complete these. Consider whether contingencies are needed (and confirm they are eligible expenses).
  3. Categorize these costs (i.e., salaries, supplies, equipment), per year.
  4. Ensure that project scope and budget match.
  5. Include indirect costs of research (ICR) as permitted by sponsor and required by university policy.

An Exemplary Budget Will Include:

  1. Well-justified expenses
  2. A brief description of trainees and employees that outline their roles in the project
  3. Budget calculations that are clearly illustrated and easy to follow
  4. Budget overlaps with other grants clearly explained
  5. Contingency for the unexpected (e.g., experiments may need to be run more than once)
  6. Only eligible expenses
  7. Expenses that are linked to specific research objectives, milestones, or aims
  8. A justification section that follows headings in the budget itself

Additional Considerations

  • Budget justifications in applications and proposals are often considered by reviewers as a good indicator of the feasibility of the research. For example, the SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Insight Grant, Partnership Development Grant and Partnership Grant considers budget and budget justification under its Feasibility criterion.
  • How accurate or how flexible does the budget need to be? Can funds be spent across budget lines (actual expenses can fall within the total budget estimate), or must they be spent exactly as budgeted? Does the sponsor allow carry over of unspent funds from one year to the next?

Additional Resources

Budget Help
Human Resources Agreements, Salary Scales + Benefits
Travel Policies + Procedures
  • Schedule of Allowable Travel Expenses
  • The Government of Canada lists Travel directives, which include meal and incidental allowances, kilometric rates, currency exchange and more (See Appendices C, B, and D, respectively). These are updated bi-monthly, and may be more accurate than UAlberta estimates.

Consultation + Special Services Costs
  • Animal services - For the use of core facilities, equipment, etc., contact the department/faculty that operates the facility or owns the equipment for user fee rates.
  • Support for accessibility in project communications (e.g., Sign Language interpretation, Braille transcription, accessible formatting) can be found on the Accessibility Resources page.
  • Transcription services vary in costs depending on the quality of the recording and the language. The Translation Agency of Alberta lists transcription costs at $3/minute for non-English languages.