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 manages the process and will contact the Dean/VPR.

    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 5-10 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 Research Compliance


  • 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 Research Publication Services (RPS) 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 work closely with members of PRA to finalize your budget.

    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 come from and reflect the research proposal.  The development of a comprehensive 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 sponsor.

    There are two types of costs associated with research projects: direct costs and indirect costs.

    Direct costs are project-specific and 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 costs include, but are not limited to, administrative and accounting support, library facilities and communications systems.

    Please refer to the guidance document "Developing a Budget for Research Proposals" in the Resources section (Pre-Award), for further information, (login required).


  • 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 sponsor external collaborators with their baseline funds, please contact  the pre-award team for support.  The Research Services pre-award team will collate and review the external collaborator's scope of work (outlining tasks and activities), deliverables and budget.   Faculty sponsored research collaborations follow the usual internal review and approval process, except such requests using baseline funds are also reviewed by the VPR.  Once internally approved, Research Services will initiate agreement negotiations


  • 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.  This information is collated by the Research Services at application stage.  If awarded, it is KAUST HR who will manage the Consultancy Agreement process.  Please note that by default Consultants do not have rights to publish or have rights over IP or patents. Under certain circumstances and request by the KAUST PI, Consultants may have the right to be named as co-authors on any publications resulting from the consultancy work.