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Module 2. UMass Effort and activities that are allocable to sponsor projects

What counts as UMD Effort?

Because you must certify 100% of your UMD effort, it's important to know what counts as UMD effort and what doesn't.

The basic rule is:

Your UMD effort includes all the professional activities for which you are compensated by the university.

Specifically, it includes the following:

1.      Externally sponsored research, including all activities that the federal government recognizes as allocable to sponsored projects
2.      Departmental and university research that is not funded by an outside source
3.      Instruction and university supported academic effort.
4.      Administration, including your role as department chair, program director, or dean
5.      Service on institutional committees such as IRBs, IACUCs, and governance bodies
6.      Effort expended on preparing proposals for new or continuing sponsored projects
7.      Activities related to pursuing intellectual property
8.      Public service activities directly related to UMD professional duties
9.      Outreach activities that directly relate to UMD professional duties
10.    Paid absences, including vacation time and sick leave

When you receive compensation from someone else, the activity is not part of your UMD effort. In addition, some other uncompensated activities do not count as UMD effort.

Specifically, the activities you should not count as part of your total UMD effort are:

  • Consulting outside of the UMD
  • Continuing Education Courses
  • Advisory activities for sponsors, such as service on an NIH study section or NSF peer review panel, regardless of whether you are compensated in any way
  • Peer review of manuscripts, regardless of whether you are compensated
  • Leadership in professional societies
  • Volunteer community or public service not directly related to UMD effort
  • Lectures or presentations for which you're compensated by a source other than the UMD
  • Other special activities resulting in a payment of a bonus or other one-time extra compensation
  • Activities over and above or separate from your assigned responsibilities in your primary position, including service as the
    primary editor of a journal
  • Unpaid absences

Activities that can be allocated to a sponsored project

Your sponsored effort is part of your UMD effort. When you certify sponsored effort, it’s important to know what activities can be allocated to a sponsored project. The basic rule is:
A sponsored project can only be charged for activities that directly relate to the work of the project.

Here are some specific activities that can be charged to sponsored research:

  • Directing or participating in any aspect of the research related to the specific project
  • Writing a progress report for the project, sometimes called a continuation proposal
  • Holding a meeting with lab staff to discuss the specific research project.
  • Activities contributing to and intimately related to work under the agreement, including:
    1. Participating in appropriate seminars
    2. Consulting with colleagues about specific aspects of the project
    3. Delivering special lectures about specific aspects of the ongoing activity
    4. Attending a scientific conference held by an outside professional society to present research results
    5. Reading scientific journals to keep up to date with the latest developments in one's field Mentoring graduate students
      on the specific research project
  • Making an invention disclosure, and some other activities related to pursuing intellectual property – as long as it is directly
    related to the project and the effort occurs within the project award period

    Activities that cannot be allocated to sponsored projects

    Here are some specific activities that cannot be charged to a sponsored project because they do not directly relate to the work of the project:

    • Proposal-writing, except for non-competing continuations (progress reports); this includes:
    1. Developing necessary details to support the proposal
    2. Writing editing and submitting the proposal
    3. Administration, including service as a department chair or dean
    4. Instruction, office hours, counseling for students, and mentoring graduate students on something other than a specific research project
    5. Service on an IRB, IACUC, selection committee, or other similar group
    6. Course or curriculum development not specific to your research project
    7. Writing textbook chapters
    8. Fundraising
    9. Lobbying

    In addition, work that falls outside of the definition of UMD effort would not be allocated to a sponsored project. This includes:

    • Service as the primary editor of a journal
    • Peer review of manuscripts, regardless of whether compensation is received
    • Advisory activities for sponsors, including service on an NIH study section or NSF review panel, regardless of whether compensation is received

    Examples of specific activities and how to classify them

    From the above lists, a few items deserve special mention:

    Type of activity

    1. Writing a proposal for a new sponsored project or competing continuation

    You cannot charge a sponsor for your time spent doing this. You must count this as a non-sponsored activity. It falls under the
    heading of administration.

    2. Mentoring students

    When the mentoring is specific to a sponsored project, this is a sponsored project activity. When the mentoring is of a general nature,
    or specific to something other than the sponsored project, you cannot count it as a sponsored project activity.

    Effort that's too small to count

    • Activities that you do on an infrequent, irregular basis are sometimes "so small" that they cannot (and should not) be accounted for. In any calculations of effort, you can ignore these activities when they add up to less than one percent of your total UMD effort.
    • Activities that may qualify as de minimis effort – depending on their nature and extent, and on the amount of time you devote to them relative to your total UMD effort – include service on an ad hoc committee (like a search committee) and participating in department or division meetings.
    • In addition, some activities are intrinsic to your daily routine and not separate from your teaching, research, administrative, or other duties. Requesting your parking sticker and submitting a travel expense report are examples of such activities. Do not count these in a separate
      category of effort. Grant proposal writing and well-defined, regular administrative or service activities cannot be considered "so small" and therefore don't qualify as de minimis effort.

    True UMD activities cannot be characterized as unfunded, volunteer, or weekend work

    Activities that are closely associated with your UMD professional duties must be reported as UMD effort.
    Some of those activities are:

    • proposal writing
    • instruction
    • university-related administrative duties
    • service on committees

    You cannot characterize them as "unfunded" or "volunteer" activities, or "weekend work," for which no UMD salary is paid,
    because federal regulations prohibit this.

     Go back to main menu The Basics of Effort Reporting or

    Continue to Module 3. Commitments to sponsored projects

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