Glossary & Acronyms



Generic name for grant, contract or other agreement which is enforceable by law, and which must be executed for George Mason by an authorized official.

Allocable Costs
Costs that are chargeable or assignable to a cost objective on the basis of relative benefits received or other equitable relationship.

Allowable Costs
Determined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the sponsor’s requirements and/or university policy. OMB Uniform Guidance defines allowable costs as those that are: 1. Reasonable; 2. Allocable to the project; 3. Given consistent treatment by use of generally accepted accounting principles; 4. Conform to any limitations or exclusions set forth by the sponsored agreement or OMB Uniform Guidance. Contact the assigned Grant & Contract Officer for advice on questions regarding the allowability of expenditures.

Under federal law, the process that leads to a grant or cooperative agreement, as opposed to a contract.

A formal examination of an organization’s or individual’s accounts or financial situation. An audit may also include examination of compliance with applicable terms, laws, and regulations.

Authorized Official
The individual formally authorized to bind the institution to grants, contracts and other agreements; the official “signer” for the institution.

Funds that have been obligated by a funding agency for a particular project, or the document memorializing this transaction.


A type of donation or gift. Bequests and gifts are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support.

Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)
An announcement of a federal agency’s general research interests that invites proposals and specifies the general terms and conditions under which an award may be made. A Broad Agency Announcement is not considered a formal solicitation under Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR).

An estimate of expenditures proposed to be incurred in the performance of a proposed statement of work.

Budget Adjustment/Modification
The act of amending the budget by moving funds from one category or line item to another. See University Policy No. 4 on budget adjustments.  Budget Adjustments, can arise from changes in project need/scope, or per request of the sponsor.

Budget Category
A portion of the budget designated for specific expenditures, e.g., salaries, operations, travel, equipment.

Budget Period
The interval of time, usually twelve months, into which the project period is divided for budgetary and funding purposes.


Cancellation, Termination, Stop Work Order
A contractual clause (usually Termination Clause) that says a party can terminate or cancel an agreement or contract with a set number of days of written notification. Mason requires at least thirty (30) days written notification to allow the University to reassign faculty, staff, and students working on the project. A Stop Work Order can require ceasing work without necessarily terminating the project.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)
A catalog of federal domestic assistance (CFDA) number is a five-digit number assigned to most grants and cooperative agreements funded by the federal government. The assignment of the first two digits of the CFDA reflect the major federal agency.

A statement signed by an authorized representative of the university indicating that the university will adhere to certain conditions and will or will not undertake certain actions. Several certifications are required before receiving federal funds.

Certified Research Administrator
An individual who has met the requirements of the Research Administrators Certification Council’s (RACC) eligibility requirements and has demonstrated a level of knowledge necessary for a person to be a professional research or sponsored program administrator.

Change Order
A written order signed by the contracting administrator, directing the contractor to make changes in the processes, goods and services under a contract. The contract will have a changes clause that specifies the authority of the contracting officer to order such changes without the consent of the contractor.

Clinical Trial
A clinical trial is an interventional or observational prospective research study involving human subjects that is designed to answer specific questions about biomedical (e.g., drugs, treatments, devices) or behavioral interventions (e.g., diet modifications, physical activity) through the compliant collection and analysis of safety and efficacy data as measurement for health outcomes.

In an interventional clinical trial, research subjects are assigned to a treatment or other intervention and their outcomes are measured. In an observational clinical trial, interventions given during the course of clinical care are observed and outcomes are measured by the researchers. Pre-clinical laboratory studies or studies in animals are not considered clinical trials.

Close Out
Close out is the act of completing all internal procedures and sponsor requirements to terminate or complete a research project.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
A compilation of all final regulations issued by federal agencies and published annually by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The CFR is divided into numbered “Titles”, primarily by federal agency.

Adherence to the requirements imposed, often by federal regulation, and the responsibilities institutions assume in their receipt. The institution signs certifications or representations regarding compliance for most proposals or awards. It is important that the institution have systems in place to ensure compliance and maintain adequate records to demonstrate compliance.

Competing Proposals
Proposals that are submitted for the first time or unfunded proposals that are resubmitted; either must compete for research funds. Ongoing projects must compete again if the term of the original award has expired.

Confidentiality Agreement
An agreement between too parties whereby they agree to maintain confidential information received from the other party. Mason wants such information be clearly identified as proprietary and/or confidential, and wants a time limit specified for maintaining confidentiality. In reviewing a confidentiality agreement, the university’s right to publish must be protected.

Conflict of Interest (COI)
When a University employee is in a position to influence the conduct of a project for financial or personal gain due to responsibilities or arrangements with an outside entity.

Consistently Treated Costs
Costs that are treated alike when circumstances are alike, particularly as to whether costs of a given type are treated consistently as either direct costs or as facilities and administration (F&A) costs.

Consortium Agreement
Agreement between two institutions that allows collaborative work on a single project by investigators of the two institutions. The lead or prime institution receives an award from the sponsor which directs that a subaward or subcontract be issued to the collaborating institution.

Individuals, organizations, or businesses that provide analysis, advice or service to solve problems in their area of professional or technical expertise. (Also see Consultant Agreement).

A consultant/vendor is one who provides goods or services for a fee, but not as an employee of the hiring entity. Consultants are experts outside the university who provide their professional services for a fee. They are more appropriately treated as vendors. OMB Uniform Guidance identifies vendors as:
1. Providing goods and services within their normal business operations;
2. Providing similar goods or services to many different purchasers;
3. Operating in a competitive environment;
4. Providing goods or services that are ancillary to the operation of the Federal program; and
5. Not subject to the compliance requirements of the Federal program.See Outside Entities for more information on the difference between a vendor/consultant and a subrecipient.

Consultant Agreement
An agreement between an individual or organization (consultant) and the university whereby the consultant provides services of an advisory nature. The university may enter into an agreement of this type when the necessary expertise is not available within the university community. Consultants cannot be a Mason or State of Virginia employee.

Continuation Project (Non-Competing)
Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only. A project can be approved for multiple-year funding, although funds are typically committed only one year at a time. At the end of the initial budget period, progress on the project is assessed. If satisfactory, an Continuation award is made for the next budget period, subject to the availability of funds. Continuation projects do not compete with new project proposals and are not subjected to peer review after the initial project approval.

A mechanism for procurement of a product or service with specific obligations for both the sponsor and recipient. Each contract document contains a statement of work or services to be performed (scope of work) and represents a legal obligation by the contractor. Since a contract is a purchase or procurement, there will always be a deliverable.

Cooperative Agreements
A contract whereby the sponsor is substantially involved in the project and outcome of the research results. The sponsor and university work collaboratively and the reporting requirements are usually more strict.

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI)
A courtesy title for a senior investigator who is not the Principle Investigator (PI), generally with responsibility for the conduct of a portion of the research or other activity described in a proposal or an award. NSF recognizes this title when there are multiple senior investigators, but states that ” the first one listed will have primary responsibility for the project and the submission of reports.” Few other funding agencies recognize the title.

Intellectual Property protection for a “writing”, which protects the specific expression. The treatment of copyrighted works resulting from sponsored projects varies from project to project. All agreements will reserve the right for faculty to publish scholarly and academic works; however, provisions covering the use and distribution of reports and software will vary from agreement to agreement.

Cost Accounting Standards (CAS)
Federally mandated accounting standards intended to ensure uniformity in budgeting and spending federal funds, originally applicable to commercial concerns.

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
An increase in wages or salary to compensate for an increase in the cost of living.

Cost-Reimbursement Type Contract/Grant
A contract / grant for which the sponsor pays for the allowable and allocable costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount.

Cost Sharing
Cost sharing is the portion of project expenses related to a sponsored agreement that is contributed by the University but not directly charged to the sponsored project fund.  Three types include Mandatory, Voluntary Committed and Voluntary Uncommitted. All are referenced below.

Cost Transfer Request (CTR)
An after-the-fact reallocation of the cost associated with a particular project, program or activity.

Council of Governmental Relations (COGR)
A professional organization supporting university business officers.

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Deadline Date
The date by which a proposal must be postmarked, or must be received by, a sponsor to be considered. In order to support the increasing number of proposals being submitted, the George Mason University Research Council has adopted a policy that requires proposals be submitted to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) four (4) business days in advance of the sponsor’s deadline.

A financial condition when expenditures exceed the funds available. Also known as overrun.

An objectively measurable product or service that is a direct result of a project effort or a procurement. Deliverables must be stated as an integral part of the proposal and award documents. The deliverable for many projects can be a report or other objects, and in a time and effort project will be a specified amount of effort as demonstrated by the effort reporting system. A good deliverables list is very noun oriented.

Direct Costs
Direct Costs are expenses that can be identified specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly assigned to such activities relatively easily, and with a high degree of accuracy.

Transfer of equipment, money, goods, services, and property with or without specifications as to its use. Sometimes donation is used to designate contributions that are made with more specific intent than is usually the case with a gift, but the two terms are often used interchangeably. (Also see Gift).


Electronic Personnel Action Form (EPAF)
The method used by department Human Resources (HR) liaisons to hire employees on temporary assignments into the live Banner application. For example, departments hiring wage, student wage, adjunct faculty, and graduate assistants will all use the EPAF process. For additional information on using EPAF, go to Human Resources and Payroll website.

Funds that have been set aside or “claimed” for projected expenses pending actual expenditure of the funds. This is commonly used for subcontracts on a sponsored award.

A fund usually in the form of an income-generating investment, established to provide long-term support for the institution, including for faculty/research positions.

Entity Identification Number (EIN)
The number the Internal Revenue Service assigns to every employer, also “Federal Identification Number” (FIN), that uniquely identifies that taxable entity. Use of this number enables a sponsor to identify the correct recipient to receive the funds awarded under a contract or grant.

An article of non-expendable, tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost which equals or exceeds $5,000. Additional information is available for equipment under $5,000; please contact OSP on how to address equipment in your proposal, as it does impact the budget of a project. The decision to obtain equipment not budgeted for in the original proposal may require prior agency approval, even if within the budget adjustment threshold. Check your award terms and conditions.  Loaned equipment is property provided by an outside party for use by the institution for sponsored project or research related activities.

Expiration Date
The date signifying the end of the performance period, as indicated on the Notice of Grant Award.

An additional period of time given by the sponsor to an organization for the completion of work on an approved grant or contract. An extension allows previously allocated funds to be spent after the original expiration date. Most federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allow, on research grants only, an extension of the final period of up to one year by the institution with adequate notice to the sponsor. (Also see No-Cost Extension).


Facilities and Administration Costs (F&A)
Also referred to as indirect costs (IDC) and overhead, these are costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a sponsored project, an instructional activity or any other institutional activity. F&A Waiver is an institutional agreement that F&A costs will be charged at a lower rate than the sponsor’s published rate. These waivers are obtained on a case-by-case basis from the Director of Sponsored Programs and must be approved by the Vice President for Research. F&A Exceptions are published F&A rates of non-profit foundations which are lower than George Mason’s established Federal negotiated rate.

Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)
The primary regulation used by all federal executive agencies in their acquisition of supplies and services with appropriated funds.

Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP)
A cooperative initiative among 10 federal agencies and 155 institutional recipients of federal funds.

Federal Identification Number (FIN)
The number the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assigns to every employer, also “Entity Identification Number” (EIN) that uniquely identifies that taxable entity. Use of this number enables a sponsor to identify the correct recipient to receive the funds awarded under a contract or grant.

Final Budget
Defined as a budget with costs compliant with University policies and OMB Uniform Guidance. Calculations should include appropriate salary escalation factors, current fringe rates, graduate student health insurance, current tuition rates, correct indirect rate applied with relevant direct costs excluded.

Final Report
The final technical or financial report required by the sponsor to complete a research project.

Fiscal Year (FY)
Any twelve-month period for which annual accounts are kept. Mason’s and the Commonwealth of Virginia Fiscal Year are July 1 through June 30; the U. S. Government’s Fiscal Year is October 1 through September 30.

Fixed Price (FP)
Funding mechanism used to support an activity at a fixed funding level in exchange for deliverables outlined in the agreement. See University Policy No. 4013 on fixed price agreements.

Fringe Benefits
Fringe benefits, also known as employee-related expenses (ERE), is a normal and required direct cost category for most educational institutions. These costs need to be estimated for all employees proposed to work on a project.

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Gifts and bequests are awards given with few or no conditions specified. Gifts may be provided to establish an endowment or to provide direct support for existing programs. Frequently, gifts are used to support developing programs for which other funding is not available. The unique flexibility, or lack of restrictions, makes gifts attractive sources of support. (Also see Donation).

A grant is awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A federal grant, as opposed to a federal cooperative agreement, is used whenever the awarding office anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement with the recipient during the performance of the activities. The principal investigator (PI) of a research grant has significantly greater flexibility in making changes to the research plan than the PI of a research contract. As with any agreement, a grant has terms and conditions which must be followed.

  • A challenge grant provides monies in response to monies from other sources, usually according to a formula. The grant usually has a fixed upper limit and is common in the arts and humanities, but is less common in the sciences.
  • A matching grant requires a specific portion of the cost be obtained from other sources, as mandatory cost sharing. The required match may be more or less than the amount of the grant. Matching grants are common in the sciences for large equipment grants.
  • A small grant is often limited to a beginning researcher and typically obtained for one year only.


An honorarium is a token of appreciation paid to an individual for services performed for which payment is not required. There is no contract, the fee is not set or negotiated by the recipient, and the honorarium may not be paid to a third party. Typically, honoraria are paid to guest lecturers or expert for brief appearances at the University. The honorarium payment request form is available on the Fiscal Services website.


Incremental Funding
A method of funding contracts that provides specific spending limits below the total estimated costs, usually with target dates. These limits may be exceeded only at the contractor’s own risk. Each increment is, in essence, a funding action.

Indirect Costs (IDC)
Indirect Costs (IDC), also referred to as facilities and administration costs (F&A) and overhead, are costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and, therefore cannot be identified readily and specifically with a sponsored project, an instructional activity or any other institutional activity.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
A committee responsible for oversight of protocols for research that involves animals. More information can be found at 

Institutional Review Board (IRB)
A committee responsible for oversight of protocols for research that involves human subjects.  More information can be found at 

Intellectual Property (IP)
In very general terms, intellectual property (IP) is the result of using one’s intellect to create something new and different from whatever was known before. IP is also a legal concept, inasmuch, as like other property, it can be owned, sold, rented, given away, etc. IPs are protected by patents, copyrights, trade secrets, trademarks, and know-how (secrecy). By state law, Mason must retain title to any and all intellectual properties (patents, copyrights, trademarks) developed with significant use of general funds, except with prior approval from the Governor.

Inter Personnel Act (IPA)
An Inter Personnel Act (IPA) provides for the temporary assignment of personnel between the Federal Government and Mason.

International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
The International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR) refers to the regulations implemented by the Department of State that control the export of articles, services, and related technical data that are inherently military in nature, as determined by the State Department. These “defense articles,” “defense services,” and related “technical data” are listed on the United States Munitions List (USML). Even some articles and technologies that are not readily identifiable as inherently military in nature—for example, research satellites—are included on the USML.


Key Professional Personnel
Key professional personnel (or key personnel) are all individuals who participate in the scientific development or execution of the project. Typically, key personnel have a Ph.D. Ed.D., or M.D., but may also include the master’s or baccalaureate level, provided they contribute in a substantive way to the research.

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Limited Submission Review
Limited Submission Review is a type of request for proposals (RFP) restricted by sponsors in terms of the number of proposals that may be submitted by a single institution.  For more information on limited submissions, as well as how to subscribe to a listserv for limited submission opportunities, please contact:


Mandatory Cost Sharing
Cost sharing required by the sponsor in order that the proposal be considered. Mandatory cost sharing must be recorded by the University, reported to the sponsor in the final fiscal report, and considered in preparing the F&A rate proposal. (Also see Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing).

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is commonly used as a confirmation of agreement upon terms when an oral agreement is reduced to writing. It sets forth the basic principles and guidelines under which the parties will work together to accomplish their goals. It is uniquely tailored to each individual circumstance and may be funded or unfunded. It is also known as a Memorandum of Agreement.

Any change made to an existing sponsored agreement.

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)
The portion of direct costs on which the indirect costs are based, namely: salaries and wages, fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to $25,000 on each subcontract. This cost basis is outlined in Mason’s federally negotiated rate agreement:

Monitor Effort
Monitor effort or payroll certification is a project-based method of certifying effort on federally sponsored projects to certify that salary charges are reasonable in relation to work performed.


National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA)
The National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) is a professional organization for research administrators.

No-Cost Extension (NCE)
No-cost extension is used if the PI needs more time to work on the project and did not reach all goals and original scope of work for the project. No-cost extension is not meant to simply “spend out” the remainder of the award.

Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA)
A legally binding contract agreeing to treat specific shared information as confidential, proprietary or trade secret and to not disclose it to others without proper authorization. At Mason, Principal Investigators are required to sign these agreements acknowledging their responsibilities to safeguard the confidential information of an outside party during the course of discussions and any resulting research projects.


Off-Campus Facilities & Administrative Cost Rate
An off-campus rate is applicable to those projects conducted in facilities not owned or operated by the university, which include charges for facility rental as a direct expenditure, and for which more than 50% of the project salaries and wages are for effort conducted in the rental facility.

Office of Inspector General (OIG)
Federal government offices who are charged with deterring, detecting waste, fraud and abuse.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a federal agency that provides directives regarding management of federal funding.

Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) – Mason
The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) provides guidance and support to the university’s community in its research efforts.

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A participant is a non-Mason employee who is a recipient of a service or training session associated with a workshop, conference, seminar, symposium or other information sharing activity funded by a sponsored award.

Participants do not perform work or services for the project or program other than for their own benefit.These participants are not required to deliver anything or provide any service to the University in return for these support costs.

Participant Support Allowance
A participant support allowance is provided to help defray personal expenses such as meals, incidentals and minimal transportation costs incurred by a participant. The Travel Reimbursement process should be used for significant travel costs.

Participant Support Costs
Participant support costs are payments for costs incurred for involvement in a workshop, conference, seminar, symposium, or other training activity. Exclusions may apply, please contact OSP with questions.

Payroll Certification
Monitor effort or payroll certification is a project-based method of certifying effort on federally sponsored projects to certify that salary charges are reasonable in relation to work performed. Payroll Certification is an alternative to Effort Reporting that uses a project based methodology and utilizes the concept that “charges are reasonable in relation to work performed”.

Peer Review
A process utilized by some federal and private agencies, whereby committees of research investigators in the same area of research or with the necessary expertise (from other institutions) review and recommend applications to the funding agency.

Petty Cash
Petty Cash is the method used to pay subjects for participation in a research study. Petty Cash is a system designed to give a set amount of cash to an individual (custodian) who will then disburse the cash to research participants as appropriate.Petty Cash is charged against a grant or state account, but the money only is reflected against the grant when it is spent (i.e. when expenditures have been noted to the Accounts Payable Department through the Petty Cash Reimbursement/Closing process). This is money given to a custodian for a specific purpose-this is not a ‘slush fund’ for any expenses that may arise.

Prime Sponsor

When funding is flowed through one entity prior to the funds reaching Mason, the overall funder is considered the Prime Sponsor (or Pass Through Entity). Example being NSF providing a grant to Virginia Tech (VT), who then in turn provides a subaward to Mason. In this case, NSF would be the Prime Sponsor (or Pass through Entity) to Mason and VT would be the Sponsor.

Principal Investigator (PI)
Typically, a faculty member who submitted a proposal that was accepted and funded by an external sponsor, also referred to as the project director. The PI has primary responsibility for technical compliance, completion of programmatic work, and fiscal stewardship of sponsor funds. University Policy Number 4012 refers to Principal investigators,

Private Sector Entity
A private sector entity is a private agency, professional association, private foundation, corporate foundation, corporation or other such entity.

Program Income
Program income is gross income earned by the recipient that is directly generated by a supported activity or earned as a result of the award. Program income includes, but is not limited to, income from fees for services performed, the use or rental of real or personal property acquired under federally funded projects, the sale of commodities or items fabricated under an award, license fees and royalties on patents and copyrights, and interest on loans made with award funds.For federal awards, program income is to be identified by the recipient and handled in one of three ways: 1. Additive Method: added to available funds and used for program objectives 2. Cost Share Method: used to finance the cost shared portion of the project 3. Deductive Method: deducted from the allowable federal costs of the program. Except for research awards, the Deductive Method applies unless the awarding agency specifies to the contrary in its regulations or in the award. The Additive Method applies to research awards by default unless the awarding agency specifies another alternative.

The Proposal is defined as: a complete proposal package including a draft technical narrative. The package must include all required proposal components as specified by the sponsor, along with all completed sponsor forms.A complete proposal must have the following elements:

  • Proposal summary or abstract
  • Statement of Work, also referred to as SOW
  • Technical narrative
  • Final budget
  • Final budget justification
  • Biographical sketches
  • Subcontract documents for each proposed subcontractor
  • Complete COI disclosure for each federal project
  • Additional documents as required by the sponsor
  • Cost share approvals must accompany the items above

All proposals submitted by a university employee to an outside entity that may directly lead to a sponsored project award, require initial review and coordination through the Office of Sponsored Programs prior to submission to a potential sponsor, utilizing a Proposal Development and Banner Routing Workflow.

Proprietary Information
Research sponsored by non-governmental entity or individual that involves restrictions on the distribution or publication of the research findings or results following completion, for a specified period or for indefinite duration.

Public Sector Entity
A public sector entity is a federal, state or local government agency or municipality.


Quasi-Governmental Organization
A quasi-governmental organization is an organization that has characteristics of both public and private entities.


Reasonable Cost
A cost may be considered reasonable if the nature of the goods or services acquired or applied, and the amount involved, reflect the action that a prudent person would have taken under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision to incur the cost was made.

Process by which funds available for spending are reallocated between budget categories to allow best use of funds to accomplish project goals. (Also see Budget Adjustment).

Applicable to grants and cooperative agreements only. A competitively reviewed proposal requesting additional funds extending the scope of work beyond the current project period.

A contractual clause giving the sponsor the right to have a deliverable ordered from another organization at the original contractor’s expense, if the contractor fails to deliver. This is an unacceptable clause.

Request for Proposal (RFP)
A request by a sponsor for proposals for a given objective.

Research and Related Activities
All formal investigative efforts (whether funded or unfunded) by faculty, students, and staff that are designed to develop or contribute to generalized knowledge, including analyses of secondary data.

Research Misconduct
It means fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.

Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

  • Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting them.
  • Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
  • Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

See University Policy No. 4007 on research misconduct.

Research Misconduct Proceeding
Any actions related to alleged research misconduct taken under the Misconduct In Research and Scholarship Policy No. 4007, including but not limited to allegation assessments, inquiries, investigations, Federal oversight reviews, hearings, and administrative appeals.

Research Record
The record of data or results that embody the facts resulting from scholarly inquiry, including but not limited to, research proposals, laboratory records, both physical and electronic, progress reports, abstracts, theses, oral presentations, internal reports, journal articles, and any documents and materials provided to a university official or a Federal agency by a respondent in the course of the Misconduct In Research and Scholarship Policy No. 4007.

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. George Mason University supports the principle that all individuals involved in research, regardless of funding source, must become familiar with the professional and ethical standards expected in an academic research setting.


Salaries and Wages
Costs for Mason employees to engage in work performed.

Scientific Review Group
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Peer review panel to which each grant proposal is sent for peer review. Formerly named “Study Section”.

Secrecy Agreement
A secrecy agreement, nondisclosure agreement, proprietary agreement, and a confidentiality agreement are all the same thing. The purpose of this agreement is generally to protect proprietary information regardless of whether it is technical, financial, trade secrets, business information, or any other item that the party is disclosing, that they do not want divulged beyond the party signing the agreement.

Senior Personnel
Professional personnel who are responsible for the scientific or technical direction of project. The principal investigator has final responsibility if there are more than one senior investigators on a project.

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)
Federal grant program created to provide support to small business concerns and investigators for research projects that have potential for commercialization. The SBIR program requires that the primary employment (over 50%) of the principal investigator for the grant be with the small business. The small business concern may conduct the entire SBIR project without outside collaboration, or it may sub-award some of the grant to a university.

Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR)
Federal grant program created to provide support to small business concerns and investigators for research projects that have potential for commercialization. The STTR program allows (but does not require) that the principal investigator for the grant be primarily employed other than with the small business. The small business concern must sub-award some of the grant to a university or other research institution because the goal of the program is to transfer technology developed there.

Society of Research Administrators (SRA)
The Society of Research Administrators is a professional organization for research administrators.

The organization that funds a sponsored program received by the institution.

Sponsored Activities
Include programs and projects financed by federal and non-federal agencies and organizations which involve performance of work other than instruction and organized research. Other Sponsored Activities are established primarily to provide non instructional services beneficial to individuals and groups external to the institution. Some examples include: Travel, Conferences, Social Service, Community Service, Health Service and Program Operation.

Sponsored Instruction
Is defined as teaching and training activities funded by grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements from federal or non-federal sponsors. Sponsored Instruction includes agreements that support teaching/training activities, whether offered through regular academic departments or separate divisions.

Sponsored Research
Includes all research and development activities that are sponsored by federal and non-federal agencies and organizations. This term involves systematic study directed toward fuller knowledge or understanding of the subject and includes activities involving the training of individuals in research techniques (research training) where such activities utilize the same facilities as other research and development activities and where such activities are not included in the instruction function. Sponsored Research generally includes hypothesis testing and has a defined scope of work, a work plan, time frame and reporting requirements to the sponsor.

Stipends are payments provided as subsistence allowance to help defray living expenses during a training period for trainees and fellows at the University. However, Mason is not using stipends payments any longer. Instead, use fellowship, honoraria, or participant support allowance.

Subaward, Subcontract, Subgrant or Subagreement
A document written under the authority of, and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement), that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the prime award to another institution or organization. Subaward or Subgrant is usually used in relation to an agreement under a federal grant.

Subrecipient is a research collaborator to which the University may assign certain rights (i.e., ownership of intellectual property) and flow-down the terms and conditions and other requirements (human subjects, OMB Uniform Guidance) from the prime award. Section B210b considers an organization to be a subrecipient when the following criteria are present:

  • It determines who is eligible to receive what federal financial assistance;
  • It has its performance measured against whether the objectives of the Federal program are met;
  • It has responsibility for programmatic decision making;
  • It has responsibility for adherence to applicable Federal program compliance requirements ( i.e.,
    flow-down terms and conditions of the prime award, human and animal subject requirements and applicable OMB Uniform Guidance); and
  • It uses the Federal funds to carry out a program of the organization as compared to providing
    goods or services for a program of the pass-through entity.


Teaming Agreement
An agreement involving two parties who wish to combine resources to submit a proposal for a government contract. The agreement will specify which party will serve as the prime award recipient and which will serve as the subaward recipient should the proposal be selected for funding. The prime award recipient is then legally obligated to issue a subaward to the subrecipient within a reasonable amount of time after receipt of award.

Technical Data
Recorded information, regardless of form or characteristic, of a scientific or technical nature. Often referred to as the “science” of a proposal. Most sponsors require technical progress and final reports. Most funding sources require the PI to submit a final technical report within 90 days of the end date of the award.

Terms and Conditions of an Award
All legal requirements imposed on an agreement by the sponsor, whether by statute, regulation(s), or terms in the award document. The terms of an agreement may include both standard and special provisions that are considered necessary to protect the sponsor’s interests. All applicable terms must be included in the award document, often by reference only.

Total Direct Costs (TDC)
The total of all direct costs of an approved project or activity.

Total Costs, Total Project Costs
The total allowable direct and indirect costs incurred by the institution to carry out an approved project or activity.

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Unfunded Agreement

Any agreement Mason engages in with another entity that includes no funding. Funding maybe attached to the agreement at a later date or issued as a task or task order under the agreement. Examples of this would include Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Teaming Agreement (TA), Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) or Data Use Agreement (DU).

Uniform Guidance (UG)
Federal regulations for management of grants and cooperative agreements, formerly OMB A-21, A-110 and A-133.

Unilateral Award
An award made by a sponsor to an organization without considering competitive proposals. Unilateral awards are most often made when unsolicited proposals receive favorable treatment.

Unrestricted Funds
Monies (or an accounting category for such funds) with no requirements or restrictions as to use or disposition. Grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements are considered to be restricted funds, while gifts are usually considered unrestricted funds.


Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing
Cost sharing that is not mandatory, but is offered by the University in the proposal. Included are salaries in excess of applicable reimbursement caps. Voluntary committed cost sharing must be recorded by the University and considered in preparing the F&A rate proposal. (Also see Mandatory Cost Sharing).

Voluntary Un-Committed Cost Sharing

Cost sharing that is not mandatory and not offered by the University in the proposal.

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