Research Contracts

signing authority

RAS is the signing authority for research contracts, not researchers.

Many sponsors require that research funding terms be set out in a contract. The University is committed to entering into research contracts that embody principles of fairness, accountability, open disclosure of research results, and research carried out with the highest possible standards.

Contracts are reviewed and approved in accordance with the University's Contract Review and Signing Authority Policy found on UAPPOL. The Research Administrative Services (RAS) coordinates the review and signing of all research contracts. This includes:

  • research contracts with single or multiple sponsors
  • technical service contracts
  • subcontracts for research involving other institutions;
  • master agreements
  • research network and inter-institutional agreements
  • memoranda of understanding for research projects

RSO has template contracts available for these situations, or we can review contracts provided by sponsors.

Key Concepts

All research contracts have to be reasonable, and, with rare exceptions, have to comply with these key University of Alberta expectations, based on policies, agreements, and status as a publicly-funded institution:

  • Budgets must include indirect costs of research (overhead).
  • No secret research. Researchers must be able to use their research results for internal purposes, and have the right to publish those results in journals or at conferences. Limited delay of publication may be acceptable in certain circumstances.
  • Research results cannot be guaranteed. We do not provide any warranties about research results.
  • Any student who works on a research project must be able to own their thesis work and must be able to defend and publish their thesis without interference or undue delay.
  • Ownership and licensing of research results must follow the University's policies and collective agreements.

Research contracts start with a shared understanding between the researcher and the sponsor about the nature of the research, the sponsor's commitment and the University's key expectations. RAS helps researchers by negotiating appropriate research agreements based on this shared understanding.

To get your contract going, submit your complete application today.

We look forward to working with you!

Submit your application


RAS negotiates and signs research contracts on behalf of the University. Contract negotiations are smoother when researchers involve RSO early in the process.

Researchers who need a contract should follow these steps:

  • Familiarize yourself with the key concepts and contents of research contracts and, ideally, discuss them with your sponsor(s)
  • Develop a research plan (or “scope of work”)
  • Develop the budget for the project. Make sure to include the required indirect costs of research (ICR, or “overhead”), which is 30% as per University policy.
  • Application/Proposal/Project via Online Approvals form and upload your scope of work and budget. Get all declarations signed and send to RAS. If your sponsor has provided you with a letter or contract already, you must upload that too.
  • After RAS receives a complete package of information, your project will be assigned a contract specialist. You can check the status of your project and your contract specialist's contact information using the Researcher Home Page.
  • Your RAS contract specialist will:
    • review your package of information and contact you with any questions or to request clarification
    • contact your sponsor(s) to discuss the contract
    • finalize the contract in accordance with university expectations, policy and researcher preferences
    • sign the finalized contract.

Please note: Before RAS can sign the contract, you will need to review the contract and sign an agreement acknowledgement form indicating that you are aware of, and will act in accordance with, the contract's terms and University policies. Your chair and dean will sign as well.

Reminder: Accounts aren't activated until required certifications are in place (even if the contract is signed). You can apply for certifications before the contract is finalized.

Research contracts

Research contracts typically cover these topics:

  • Scope of work and each party's contributions (“scope of work and budget”)
  • Confidentiality terms and publication of research results
  • Ownership of research results and sponsor's right to use the results
  • Graduate student rights
  • Reporting obligations
  • Other key clauses such as: limits of liability, insurance, indemnities, termination clauses

*This video was created in 2017. ICR, or “overhead”, is now 30% as per University policy.

Other Agreements

RAS is also the university’s delegated signing authority for:

  • non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements (NDAs/CDAs)
  • material transfer agreements (MTA)
  • data share and data transfer agreements (DSAs/ DTA) for research projects that are NOT related to University of Alberta technologies and inventions.
  • applications to government granting agencies for clinical trial purposes

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