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Administrative Research Personnel

Overall Role/Responsibility

This role includes, but is not limited to, the following: business administrator, center administrator, department administrator, financial administrator, research administrator, and research coordinator in departments, centers and institutes.

Provide support for Principal Investigator’s (PI) research pursuits while ensuring adherence to all applicable regulations and policies. Support PI with fiscal and administrative management of research.

Proposals and Awards


Proposal Submission
  • Review funding opportunity announcements
  • Assist PI to develop and coordinate budgets, administrative elements and materials, including materials for subcontracts and cost sharing, as applicable
  • Assist PI to coordinate large proposals with Research Development (ORD)
  • Create and route records in CERES for approvals
  • Coordinate with Sponsored Research regarding timely and accurate proposal development and thoroughly address proposal review comments
  • Assist PI to understand and comply with limited submissions process
  • Communicate proposal deadlines, pre-award processes and policies to PI
Pre-Award Set-Up
  • Review final awarded budget and make any necessary changes
  • Request pre-spending (at-risk/advance) account from Sponsored Research and provide guaranteed non-sponsored chart string, if appropriate
  • Assist PI with “Just in Time” documentation request from sponsor
  • Support PI when modifying project scope by coordinating all associated administrative items, including budget


  • Coordinate with the Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs (ASRSP) office for all financial matters including fiscal compliance, cash application, financial audits, and effort reporting
  • Assist PI to review notice of award and coordinate award setup with Sponsored Research
  • Process, manage and monitor all financial transactions in the research portfolio, including sponsor and cost share funds as appropriate
  • Upon PI request, initiate issuance of subcontracts
  • Work with PI to review and make revisions to project scope, budget or changes in effort and submit change request to Sponsored Research
  • Reconcile accounts, provide timely and accurate financial information and reports to PI, and schedule meetings to review as necessary
  • Correct financial errors and secure departmental approvals
  • Support the PI in managing subcontract administration
  • Review expenses for allowability, allocability, consistency, and reasonableness of costs and work with PI to remove inappropriate or non-compliant expenses; consult with ASRSP, as necessary
  • Verify expenditures throughout the life of the award to ensure they are in accordance with sponsor regulations and University policies
  • Assist PI with reporting requirements requested by sponsor (see Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs, (ASRSP)
  • Support PI with transfer of grants
  • Prepare and submit change requests to Sponsored Research via Ceres for any changes to the project

Material Transfer Agreements (MTA)

  • Initiate a request to Sponsored Research for an MTA prior to any materials being sent to collaborators


  • Review all project expenses to ensure completion and compliance, including the funding and spending of any cost share obligations, as well as outgoing subcontracts; coordinate with ASRSP
  • Assist PI with closeout reporting
  • Complete closeout documentation and ensure that all reporting requirements are met
  • Confirm and monitor program income and communicate with ASRSP, if applicable
  • Work with PI to certify budget statements at the end of the award and return documentation to ASRSP

Effort Reporting

  • Communicate with PI to complete effort commitment profile and to track and monitor effort commitments
  • Communicate with PI to complete salary planning and distribution
  • Enter faculty and staff employment info in FASIS and update as necessary
  • Conduct pre- and post- review of effort reports on a timely basis
  • Communicate with PI about effort in a timely manner
  • Assist PI to manage effort commitment of project members
  • Work with PI to certify effort
  • Monitor effort certification and communicate with PI as needed
  • Process academic salary recovery on sponsored projects as directed by PI
  • Communicate with PI to resolve discrepancies. Report to chair, dean’s office and central units for assistance with unresolved issues
  • Complete Effort Reporting 101 training

Research Conduct

Human Research Participants

  • Protect the rights and welfare of human research participants
  • Complete and maintain current Human Research Protections TrainingI
  • Assist PI to prepare Institutional Review Board (IRB) submissions
  • Assist the PI to ensure the research records, including IRB submissions, regulatory records, study data, and consent forms are updated contemporaneously
  • Assist the PI to respond to compliance activities, including participating in post-approval monitoring
  • Assist the PI to promptly submit Reportable New Information (RNIs) to the IRB


Clinical Trials

  • Ensure clinical trials are conducted in accordance with Good Clinical Practice (GCP)
  • Assist PI to prepare and submit case report forms for clinical trials
  • Reconcile accounts and follow required closeout procedures, including required signatures, and send to ASRSP
  • Ensure that there are no unpaid invoices
  • Ensure that a chart string is provided to ASRSP either for credit and/or debit
  • Support PI when maintaining current and accurate records in, if applicable

Animal Subjects

  • Assist PI to prepare Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocol submissions
  • Confirm submission of IACUC review and approvals prior to implementing animal work and inclusion of the grant for IACUC review
  • Assist PI to confirm that staff receive appropriate training for the procedures they will perform, including Occupational Health and Safety clearance
  • Order supplies
  • Ensure each grant has a separate approved animal study protocol
  • Track billing in relation to appropriate grant and reconcile with Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM)
  • Work with PI to ensure compliance with all federal, state and local regulatory and institutional inspections and compliance audits
  • Assist PI to inform the IACUC when custom antibodies or tissues are obtained from a third party
  • Notify the IACUC Office of external collaborations involving animal work
  • Notify the IACUC Office of animal work supported by funds from another institution
  • Assist PI complete Post-Approval Monitoring (PAM) visits

Research Safety

  • Maintain phone lists and contacts in case of University-wide emergencies
  • Maintain registration for regulated select materials and assist in the development of safety/security/emergency response plans for the affected group
  • Routinely interact with Research Safety regarding surplus materials
  • Assist PI to assure that individuals handling hazardous or regulated materials receive required Research Safety training
  • Accept and review department level safety procedures

Research Integrity

  • Support research in an ethical and compliant manner
  • Identify and attend required training courses
  • Assist PI when communicating and ensuring Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RECR) training requirements for NSF supported undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows as well as all trainees, participants, and scholars supported through applicable NIH awards

Conflict of Interest (COI)

  • Understand research related COI policies and processes
  • Facilitate and support investigator compliance with COI training and disclosures
  • Prior to proposal submission, ensure that all investigators on a project have met COI compliance requirements
  • Ensure that project personnel are appropriately entered into Ceres
  • Coordinate sub-recipient COI requirements and processes as applicable

Patents and Inventions

  • Assist PI to promptly disclose all inventions to the Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) using appropriate the Inventor Portal (must be completed at least 3-4 weeks prior to public disclosure)
  • Assist PI when providing accurate sources of funding on the Invention Disclosure Submission
  • Support PI when communicating timely information to Invention and New Ventures Office (INVO), such as chartstring and/or account information, confidentiality agreements, technology development updates, etc.
  • Coordinate intellectual property or user agreements

Export Controls & International Compliance

  • Adhere to Northwestern’s Export Control Compliance Policy and federal laws and policies
  • Flag proposal terms (e.g., publication or foreign person restrictions, controlled unclassified information (CUI) or classified research) that are counter to Northwestern’s Export Control Compliance Policy and Northwestern’s open and fundamental approach to research.
  • Identify other potential export control issues and refer them to the Export Controls & International Compliance (ECIC) team (e.g., international shipments, technical equipment purchases with “end-user export controls”, international collaborations)
  • Be familiar with contract issues that may occur when dealing with export controls and facilitate the communication between Sponsored Research and the ECIC team
  • Elevate export controls or malign foreign talent program concerns to PI and the ECIC