Application Process: Important information for KAUST Principal Investigators

Internal Approval process

  • The approval process is relevant to all research applications (funded, unfunded, internally funded, baseline funded and externally funded).  The pre-award team will contact and seek final approval to submit from the Dean.

    Please contact the pre-award team as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for Research Services to undertake a ​sponsor & program compliance review and to ensure  all documents are prepared in a timely manner and are final before being sent to reviewers for internal approval.  Internal approvers require a minimum of 5 working days to evaluate proposals.  Please note:

    • ​If Research Center resources are required then Center Director approval is needed.

    • If Core Labs resources are required then the Core Lab manager/s  need to confirm that the (a) proposed Core Lab requirements are feasible, and (b) estimated budget is appropriate​

KAUST Institutional Biosafety and Bioethics Committee (IBEC) procedure

  • It is the Principal Investigator responsibility to obtain IBEC approval prior to submitting applications to Research Services for internal approval if any of the following apply:

    • Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules.
    • The use of infectious agents.
    • The use of biological toxins, organisms that generate biological toxins, or recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules that can be used to express biological toxins.
    • The use of human blood, blood derivatives, body fluids, cell lines or unfixed tissues.
    • The use of other biohazardous agents that may pose an environment risk or risk of harm to human, animals or plants.
    • Research on vertebrate animals (including marine animals).
    • Research on human subject participants (i.e. obtain data through intervention or interaction with a living individual or obtain identifiable private information about human research subjects). This includes surveys, questionnaires and behavioral research.
    • Plants or seeds.

    For further information: or 808-4808 ​​


  • It is the author’s responsibility to check proposals prior to submission to Research Services.

    iThenticate® is a professional similarity detection software system. The University’s license for iThenticate® is administered by the Office of Academic Writing Services and the system is available for use by faculty members and administrators.

    The Research Services now uses iThenticate® to check all proposals to avoid submission of plagiarized content to funding agencies, including KAUSTs internal funding office.

    iThenticate® can also be used to check all manuscripts prior to submission to journals.


  • ​Research Services is the only office authorized to provide budgetary information to sponsors, and collaborators. 

    Please do not discuss or estimate budgetary amounts and be aware that your ‘contributions’ to all unfunded research collaborations must also be calculated correctly by the pre-award team. ​

    Please be aware that internally funded (KAUST Competitive Research Funds) and externally funded proposals are costed differently. Different rates can apply and different cost items are eligible.


    The budget for a research project is a funding plan that identifies different cost categories related to the goals as stated in the project proposal. The budget should naturally come from the research proposal. It is important to remember that a budget is an estimate of the costs to be incurred during the project. The development of a comprehensive and rigorous budget is crucial to the success of a proposal, as sponsors and their reviewers are trained to discern incorrect budgets.

    Budgets must be prepared according to well-established cost principles. Allowable costs for research projects must: 

    • Be reasonable: the estimate should be consistent with the cost for the same or similar goods or services in the area in which they are acquired at the time of acquisition.
    • Be allocable: the cost of goods or services must clearly be identifiable as related the research effort.
    • Be consistent through the application.
    • Conform to any limitations or exclusions as requested by the document or the sponsor.

    Two general types of cost are associated with research projects: direct costs and indirect costs.

    Direct costs relate directly to activities or services in a sponsored project. Examples of direct costs are personnel, consumables, equipment, consultants, travel, alteration and renovation (installation of special equipment), consortium and contractual (part of the research project to be run at another institution).

    Indirect cost includes, but is not limited to, administrative and accounting support, library facilities and communications systems.

    Budget preparation

    As mentioned above the main guide for a budget preparation is the research narrative itself. A well prepared budget is consistent with the proposal’s outline and should reflect all necessary cost components required to complete the work. The budget should neither be under or over-estimated.

    The budget preparation should begin with an analysis of the different objectives and activities necessary to determine the specific cost.

    For example, the synthesis of a candidate drug against cancer requires the synthesis and analysis of the potential drug as well as its intermediates, the different in vitro and in vivo studies (toxicology, pharmacology and efficacy) and documentation (regulation compliance) necessary to test the drug in a clinical trial. All these activities would require personnel time, supplies (consumables) and specific equipment, storage and transportation costs.

    Listing activities and breakdowns of the associated costs provides a clear outline for budget explanation. Detailing specific cost of each element of a project/study demonstrate a real planning effort to reviewers.


  • Please contact Research Services at to determine if a Non-Disclosure / Confidentiality Agreement (NDA/CDA) is required before discussing a proposal/scope of work with an industry sponsor.  Please note that NDAs and CDAs (like any agreement), can only be signed by a KAUST authorized signatory at Technology Management or the Office of Sponsored Research.                   

    Finally, Principal Investigators must remember that the confidentiality of information is crucial when working on industrial sponsored research projects. All research personnel and students involved in such project must sign a confidentiality statement.

Baseline Funded Research (funding external collaborators)

  • ​If faculty wish to fund external collaborators from their baseline funds, please contact  the pre-award team for support.  Internal approval will be required as well as an agreement outlining tasks, deliverables and payment amount.​


  • Whenever possible, external collaborators should be engaged through their institution (as a Subaward), however, if your research will require a consultant, a Consultancy Agreement will be required outlining tasks, deliverables and payment amount. Research Services will work with KAUST HR to finalize such an Agreement.​​