Institutional Approval for Grant Applications

Under the UAPPOL Research Administration Roles and Responsibilities Procedure, Research Administrative Services (RAS) is responsible for approving and signing research applications (proposals) on behalf of the University, where RAS approval indicates the proposal meets applicable University policies and procedures and sponsor requirements.


Please be aware that these instructions apply to both internal and external sponsors.

  • Attach a copy of the complete application as a single PDF attachment. Do not attach multiple partially-completed working documents for internal approvals (Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc).
  • A complete application includes the application form (when applicable) with all accompanying documents. Once the application is submitted to RAS, the team members and budget can no longer be modified except for changes based on the feedback provided in the application review.
  • Proposals must be received by RAS during core business hours at least 5 business days in advance of the sponsor deadline.
  • An 8-business-day internal deadline applies for CIHR project grants, NSERC Discovery Grants, SSHRC Insight Grants due to high application volumes.
  • Earlier internal deadlines also apply for Canadian Foundation for Innovation and Canada Research Chairs. Please refer to the Research Services funding opportunities database for more information.

NOTE: Departments and faculties have their own earlier internal deadlines for proposal review and approval. Make sure you check with your department and faculty on their deadlines.

The RAS administrative review includes the following: 

  1. Checking that the proposal is complete and conforms to sponsor eligibility and guidelines
  2. Reviewing the budget pages for sponsor and U of A eligibility of expenses 
  3. Ensuring compliance with the sponsor's Indirect Costs of Research policy
  4. Reviewing eligibility of partner organizations and contributions (program-driven)
  5. Reviewing letters of support to determine if they contain the required information
  6. Identifying unique and/or complex terms and conditions (e.g., terms that would prevent students from being able to work on the project for thesis-based work, publication restrictions, or limits on future use rights)
  7. Working with applicant and sponsor, as required, to address any issues prior to the application being submitted
  8. Checking that the proposal meets the relevant University policies and procedures


Applications received after the 5-business-day internal RAS deadline (during core business hours) will only be checked for compliance with U of A policy and sponsor compliance requirements (e.g., Financial Conflict Of Interest (FCOI), certifications and declarations) as it relates to the institutional approval only as outlined below:

  1. Verifying the sponsor and institutional eligibility of applicants (Principal Investigators (PIs), Co-PIs, Partners, Institution)
  2. Checking for sponsor compliance (e.g., FCOI, certifications, and declarations)
  3. Ensuring that all required signatures/approvals are in place from both the Sponsor and the U of A 

Principal Investigators and department and faculties roles and responsibilities as they relate to proposal submission are outlined in the UAPPOL Research Administration Roles and Responsibilities Procedure.


U of A co-principal investigators or co-applicants on applications with lead investigators at other institutions must create a new application request via the Researcher Home Page (RHP) and obtain online approval prior to submitting their application for review and approval by RAS. The following documents must be included (as a single pdf document only):

  • A copy of the lead institution’s application (even if it is still a draft document) AND the University of Alberta scope of work and budget submitted to the lead institution.
  • A copy of the U of A letter of support/commitments (when applicable)
  • A copy of the signature page (when applicable)

Please note: When U of A researchers are co-applicants on an NIH grant, additional documentation is required.


After RAS reviews and approves the application, it is typically the applicant's responsibility for making the suggested changes and submitting the application to the sponsor in advance of the sponsor's deadline.

Where RAS is required to forward the application electronically on the sponsor’s online system, the application must be submitted by the applicant by 10:00 a.m. the day of the deadline.

For NSERC Discovery grants, SSHRC Insight grants and CIHR Project grants, the application must be submitted on the sponsor’s online system no later than 10:00 a.m., 1 business day prior to the sponsor’s deadline.

Remember: Be aware of your sponsor's and internal deadlines.


Many agencies use a two-stage application process: a letter of intent (LOI) followed by a full proposal or application. LOIs are reviewed and signed by Research Administrative Services only if:

  • the agency requests a University of Alberta signature
  • the LOI may result in an award, i.e., a development grant to assist with the preparation of the full proposal or
  • the application is an institutional application, i.e., the university is the applicant and not the individual researcher(s)

If the above applies, the following signatures are required: the principal investigator (PI), their chair and dean, all co-investigator signatures and Research Administrative Services (on behalf of the University). (effective Dec. 9, 2020).

To create your signature page, use the Quick Reference Guide - Request for New Application/Proposal/Project via Online Approvals form.

Please note: On RAS forms, original ink signatures are not required. Wet ink, scanned, digital or electronic signatures and online approvals (when available) are all acceptable. On sponsor forms, it depends on what the sponsor requires. On research contracts, RAS has discretion to consider non-ink signatures in certain situations. See below for more details on signature requirements. For additional information or clarification, please contact your Research Partner.

Signature Requirements

Signatures for Studentships and Fellowships

Students do NOT need to obtain a signature from Research Administrative Services (RAS) on studentship/fellowship applications if:

  • the granting agency does not require an institutional signature; AND
  • awarded funds are paid directly to the student.

Students may need to contact Research Administrative Services on occasion. If a research application requires an RAS signature on behalf of the University of Alberta, students and postdoctoral fellows must contact their Research Partner.

Examples of studentships/fellowships that DO require an RAS institutional signature are:

  • Alberta Lung Association scholarships
  • Alberta Paraplegic Association studentships & fellowships
  • Associated Medical Services student awards
  • Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation Junior Personnel Program
  • Canadian Lung Association fellowships
  • CIHR fellowships/studentships
  • MITACS Accelerate Program
  • Miscellaneous studentship/fellowship programs

Students or postdoctoral fellows who are uncertain if a studentship/fellowship application requires an institutional signature should contact their Research Partner at least five business days before the deadline date. Students are encouraged to talk to their department contacts as well to see if there are other internal deadlines. 

University of Alberta Approval/Signature Requirements

In addition to the signature requirements of the sponsor, the University of Alberta (U of A) also has signature requirements.

All applications and proposals submitted for external funding must be approved by the:

  1. U of A principal investigator;
  2. All U of A co-investigator(s);
  3. U of A principal investigator department;
  4. U of A principal investigator faculty; and
  5. Research Partner, Research Administrative Services on behalf of the institution.

To initiate the approval process, a Proposal Request must be created and submitted via the Researcher Home Page. Instructions can be found in the Quick Reference Guide - Request for New Application/Proposal/Project via Online Approvals.

Note: External co-investigator signatures are only collected if required by the sponsor. 

In addition to the approvals, an email or letter from the U of A co-investigator's department or faculty MUST be included if new or additional resources are being committed by the department or faculty (except when the co-applicant(s) are from the same department as the principal investigator).

U of A co-investigator approval is obtained through the online approval process.

Requesting Vice-president Signature on Letters of Support

Occasionally letters of intent (LOI) and applications/proposals require a letter of support signed by the Vice-President (Research and Innovation). In all cases, the process for obtaining these letters is managed by the research facilitator. Those approaching the Office of the Vice-President (Research and Innovation) directly for letters will be referred to the Research Partner.


  1. Principal investigator confirms internal deadlines (Department/Faculty/RAS) and provides the following to the Research Partner:
    • Letter of intent/application/proposal
    • Proposal number (eg. RES00xxxxx)
    • Documentation confirming U of A support
    • Draft letter of support
  2. Research Partner:
    • Confirms the letter meets sponsor guidelines
    • Confirms the letter expresses U of A support accurately
    • Recommends Vice-President (Research and Innovation) signature on the letter
    • Provides the signed letter of support to the principal investigator

Signature Requirements for Research Chair Applications

Please note that in addition to the approval requirements noted above, all research chair applications, including letters of intent, must be approved by the Vice-President (Research and Innovation) on behalf of the institution. Your Research Partner will coordinate getting the approval from the Vice-President (Research and Innovation) on all chair applications once all the other required approvals are obtained.

Meaning of Signatures

Principal Investigator

The principal investigator's signature means that the principal investigator:

  • Agrees to abide by the sponsor's and University of Alberta's regulations governing awards
  • Will use the grant only for the purpose for which it is awarded
  • Identifies certification requirements for use of animals, human subjects, and biohazardous materials
  • Agrees to abide by the sponsor's and the University of Alberta's regulations regarding animal care, ethical considerations in the use of human subjects in research, and biohazards
  • Agrees to provide copies of certification approvals to Research Administrative Services prior to starting the project
  • Certifies that the information provided in the application is complete and accurate
  • Has included all the costs of the project in the budget, including indirect costs where permitted by the agency
  • Has a full understanding of the sponsor's and the University of Alberta's policies with respect to graduate student rights, confidentiality provisions, conflict of interest/commitment, and treatment of intellectual property, and
  • Fully understands and accepts the sponsor’s timelines, reporting obligations, and other deliverables


The signatures of the co-investigators mean that they:

  • Also agree to the above and
  • Agree that the principal investigator will administer the grant on behalf of the group

Dean(s) and Chair(s)

The signatures of the dean(s) and chair(s) certify that:

  • The investigator(s) meets the sponsor's eligibility requirements
  • The department(s) and faculty(ies) are willing to administer the research funds in accordance with University and sponsor policies
  • They are aware of the proposed project
  • Adequate space and other resources will be available to carry out the research in a responsible manner according to University of Alberta policies, e.g., intellectual property, conflict of interest/commitment, one-over-one signatures, delegation of signing authority and
  • The budget information has been reviewed to ensure that it is appropriate and realistic, and that it contains appropriate indirect costs where allowable

Research Administrative Services/Research Partner (RAS/RP)

The signature of the RAS/RP certifies that:

  • The research is consistent with University and sponsor policies, including those associated with animal care, biohazards, and ethics approval with respect to human subjects
  • The institution will release funds to the investigators once all conditions and necessary certification requirements have been met and
  • The University of Alberta will administer the funds on behalf of the investigator in full compliance with both sponsor and University terms and conditions

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