As a principal investigator conducting research at Harvard, you have an obligation to the institution, to granting agencies, and to the public at large to carry out your work with the highest possible standards of integrity and commitment to excellence. Please ensure that your research and the work of your research staff always are conducted with the following fundamental principles in mind:
The Office for Sponsored Programs (OSP) is the University’s central research administration office that manages the administrative processes related to externally-funded research and ensures compliance with the regulations and policies associated with the funding. OSP is responsible for sponsored research across the entire lifecycle of the award, including pre-award, post-award, and cash management functions, and manages all three phases of the lifecycle for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and other Cambridge-area faculties. At HMS, the pre-award phase is administered by Sponsored Programs Administration. At HSPH, pre-award functions are managed by the Office of Financial Services and Administration.
Harvard’s affiliated teaching hospitals are independent corporate entities with their own grants management and research compliance offices and staff. Harvard Medical School faculty based in affiliated hospitals must comply with their hospital’s research policies and practices, as well as with the research integrity policies of Harvard Medical School and Harvard University.
OSP has subscriptions to two major research funding databases, the Community of Science, and the Sponsored Projects Information Network (SPIN). Please contact OSP to register for subscription services. For federal opportunities, Grants.gov is the entry portal for all federal awards, and contains links to specific funding agency web sites. More information can be found on the Find Grants page.
All grants from federal agencies have a collection of certifications, assurances, and obligations that must be documented and submitted with grant applications. Obligations are related to the management of funds and accounting practices. Some assurances are fairly broad and well known, such as prohibitions against discrimination in hiring and political activities, confidentiality of research information, especially as it relates to human subjects, and management of intellectual property. In addition, there may be obligations as conditions of non-federal awards. OSP will help you determine assurances and obligations that are specific to a particular funding opportunity, but you should be aware of the range of federally required mandates for institutional practices and others more closely related to research projects. It should be noted that while there are some assurances and obligations that are uniformly present across all federal grants, others are particular to specific granting agencies as well as to grant programs themselves.
Awards received by principal investigators are subject to institutional policies and processes designed to capture appropriations and spending. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars A-21 and A-133 describe in detail the cost principles and auditing standards for federal awards. Please work with your departmental and financial administrator as well as OSP to ensure that proper practices are set up for efficient and timely reporting of financial information related to your grants and contracts.
The role of faculty to actively and effectively mentor the development of young researchers is critical. The Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity website provides information that may be of value in considering this role. Please be sure to direct researchers working for you to the proper training they need, such as ethical conduct in research, environmental matters, and laboratory practices. More information about training may be found on this website’s Education & Training page.