Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About SRG Funds

Travel

How should I write a budget justification under travel expense?

The Office of Research Support and International Affairs (RSIA) needs very specific details of travel plans. Please include a list of costs for lodging, food, etc. If driving is the mode of travel, mileage information for each site must be submitted. If flying, RSIA needs the estimated cost of the flight and ground transportation. The more details provided, the faster the paperwork can be processed with the Finance Department.

How are travel arrangements made?

The researcher works with the secretary of his/her department to complete travel forms following standard University procedures. When the trip is complete, the travel form showing actual expenditures is submitted to the RSIA executive secretary, and via Interdepartmental Invoice (II) the funds budgeted for travel will be transferred to the account of the researcher's department. If the funds must be transferred prior to the travel, the researcher or his/her department's secretary should submit a copy of the travel form showing expected expenditures, and an (II) will be used to transfer the funds to the department's account. Documentation of expenses is submitted to the RSIA executive secretary after travel is completed. The cost of travel to present at meetings is not covered; therefore, the grantee should request such support from his/her department or unit.

How do I prepare for international travel to collect my data?

Researchers are advised to prepare paperwork for their travel as early as possible, since University approval is time-consuming. RSIA cannot offer assurances that such travel will be approved by the University administration. Faculty, staff, and students must contact the International Affairs division of RSIA for more details.

Materials and Equipment

Does the Small Research Grant (SRG) provide software?

The fund doesn't cover the cost of software, such as *SPSS or Survey Monkey, that may be considered a general work tool. In some cases, RSIA will provide funding to purchase specialized software for use in research, and either RSIA or the researcher's department will retain ownership and remove the software from the researcher's computer when their study is completed.

RSIA has a list of software packages that are well-suited to meet the data collection needs of researchers and students, many of them available at no cost and unencumbered by proprietary licensing restrictions. The software list is available at Research Resources

*A note about SPSS: SPSS is installed on many University computers. Staff and faculty should speak with their department chair if they need it installed on their computer, as it may already be licensed under their department. Graduate students should speak with their program and/or department chairs regarding SPSS on department computers intended solely for graduate student use. Graduate and undergraduate students may access SPSS in the Student Academic Center computer lab (JSAC 1100).

Does the SRG cover equipment expenses?

The fund does not cover the full equipment cost, but follows a cost-sharing approach in which RSIA and the grant recipient's department split the cost. All equipment purchased with funds from SRG becomes the property of the department with which the researcher is affiliated. This equipment should be used by other students in future studies.

I need a laptop and video recording equipment. Can I include these in my budget?

The fund does not support the purchases of computers or laptops. RSIA loans computers to researchers, depending on the availability. We can loan you a video camera and tripod, but you will need to include the cost of mini DVs in your budget.

Can I make a request to purchase an iPhone or iPad for my research study?

iPads and iPhones are not eligible expenses for these funds.

Personnel

May I hire a student assistant to work with me for my study?

The hiring of student assistants under this fund is limited. SRGs are intended to support individuals in conducting their own research study. RSIA wants the primary investigator, whether a faculty or staff member or student, to be fully engaged in the research activity. Creating "tiers" of researchers and assistants is not appropriate for the spirit or the dollar level of SRGs.

Student workers make an average of $10 to $20 an hour, and this is a reasonable range for studies involving low risk interviews or observations.

Nevertheless, on rare occasions, RSIA may support the use of SRG monies to hire students as research assistants to faculty or staff researchers only. The conditions for such approval are that the monies are used for a distinct research study (not merely supporting an ongoing operation, work relationship, or general research agenda); the researcher has mastery of the field of study, and as such offers students a unique opportunity to learn from the researcher; and RSIA has assurances that students will substantially benefit from the relationship and participation in the research activity. As part of consideration of such a request for student wages, RSIA requires researchers to fill out the General Inventory of Student Research Skills (GISRS). This entails thinking about the tasks that students will do during the study and highlighting what and how the student will learn. This may necessitate the researcher adding a discussion or mentoring activity with the student. The response of the researcher to the task of adapting and applying the rubric on research learning will be used in making a decision on funding. If the grant is awarded, RSIA expects the researcher to discuss the learning objectives with the student, assess their progress afterwards, and report to us. The info is reported by RSIA's learning assessment coordinator to the Office of Academic Quality as part of the unit reports on student learning assessment.

Can I hire a consultant for my research study?

In conformance with Gallaudet policy, RSIA does not allow faculty, staff, or students to hire an in-house consultant. However, faculty or staff only may hire a consultant from off campus. RSIA will need the name and background information of the consultant, why this person is suitable for the job, and why you need a consultant. Please see the section about hiring student workers, as well.

Please see RSIA's Research Support Services, which may offer resources or means that mitigate the need for a consultant.

Research Subjects

Am I able to use the SRG to cover food/drink expenses during a focus group?

All purchases of food and drink fall under the "entertainment" policy of the University, which states in part, "All entertainment expenditures [within a division of the University] must be approved in advance by the budget head [Dean of Graduate School and Continuing Studies]." Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable. Prudence should be exercised when entertaining guests of the University, whether in Washington, D.C. or out of town. While RSIA might approve funding, it is the researcher's responsibility to seek approval from the Graduate Dean for food and beverage expenses. A department secretary can help with making the request by memo with a copy of the award letter. Only actual costs are reimbursed. At this time, RSIA will provide a copy of an award letter to the Dean with a highlight of this section; the final decision is up to the Dean. Submitting receipts for food and drink is required for reimbursement considerations. If you fail to obtain this approval, your request for reimbursement will not be accepted.

How much should subjects be paid?

Research subjects should be paid enough to compensate them for their time and trouble, but they should not view research participation as a way to make money. $10-20/participant is commonly acceptable reimbursement when the study involves less than one hour of a participant's time. Compensation for responding to short surveys that require less than an hour should be at the lower end of the pay scale.

Other Questions

I am a student and the SRG application seems to indicate that it is eligible only for a master's thesis, a pre-dissertation, or a dissertation. Can I ask for funding if my research is not one of these?

Yes, you may still apply if your project has received approval from your advisor or the responsible faculty member.

Do I need to get Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval?

A researcher who intends to conduct a study that involves people must apply for and receive unconditional IRB approval before beginning the research.

Can I use SRG funds to cover past research expenses that I paid on my own?

SRG funds cannot be used for out of pocket expenses incurred prior to the date of the award.

Can a research team apply for a SRG?

Faculty/Staff - Only one faculty or staff member may apply for funding of a study. If faculty or staff members seek to build a research team, they should consider applying for external funding. They may also consider applying for a Priority Research Fund grant, which can support multiple investigators and assistants.

Students - Yes, you can apply with your group, but only one student can serve as the point of contact person with RSIA staff.

Why was my requested budget cut?

Due to high demand for funding, RSIA is places a higher priority on full funding of student applications for dissertations and theses. While RSIA tries to provide support for other studies, faculty and staff applicants will likely see their budgets reduced. This is not a reflection of the quality of the proposal; rather, limited funding must be stretched to support a growing number of studies from across the campus. Also, please be reminded of RSIA's long-established priority to encourage research by new investigators: funding priority is given to the proposals of applicants who are at the developing stage of their research program compared to applicants with more extensive research experience.

RSIA encourages researchers who have already received funding to seek external funding to continue and/or expand their research activity.

How long does it take to get a funding decision?

Up to four weeks. The process may take longer if sharing feedback and revisions to the proposal are needed.


Amended policy in distribution of non-federal funds for campus research

On the use of gift cards to compensate research participants

The Office of Finance at Gallaudet University prefers that participants in research studies be compensated in one of two ways: the participant takes a cash voucher to the Cashier's Office or the researcher pays out of pocket and seeks check reimbursement afterwards. Alternatively, the university can prepare checks and send them to the participant afterwards. These three methods satisfy an accounting requirement that the university have documentation to the effect that a named individual did actually receive the money. All researchers are expected to endeavor to use these methods for paying compensation to participants in their research studies.

An exception may be made when the research participants are offsite and participates in a remote manner as in filling out a research survey. However, prior approval must first be given by theInstitutional Review Board and the research advisor and budget unit head. In such circumstances, it may be acceptable to use gift cards purchased from an online vendor. However, documentation must be provided to ensure that the gift cards are going directly to the participants without the researcher having actually touched the card (hence, the advantage of online gift card vendors). The researcher should choose a vendor of gift cards that provides a standard invoice showing that the cards went directly to the participants (shown by name and/or email address). Amazon does provide the necessary information on their gift card invoices. It is the full responsibility of the researcher to ensure that the generated invoice will be acceptable to the Office of Finance. As a side note, the researcher should be aware that some gift card vendors charge substantially more in handling fees than other vendors.

Another exception may be permitted when, for protection of anonymity, the identity of the research participant is not to be documented on financial paperwork that is given to the administration. The rationale for maintaining anonymity must be stated explicitly in the research design and approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) which is charged with protecting human subjects in research. In this case, it would be acceptable to black out the names and/or email addresses whether on cash voucher, check request, or gift card invoice. As such, Finance at least sees an individual records of each payment to a distinct individual. However, it is required that the researcher or research group themselves maintain a list of the names and contact information for the research participants in the event that the university's auditor should request additional information. Additional information on this policy can be provided by the Office of Finance, Division of Administration and Finance, GallaudetUniversity.