Frequently Asked Questions


  • Q. Where is the Research Services unit located?

    • Admin Building (#16) Level 3​
  • Q. What is the difference between Research Services and the Competitive Research Funding (CRF)?

    • Put simply: Research Services supports/represents the applicant/university, (to a sponsor) or acts as the recipient of funding. The Competitive Research Fund (CRF) is one of the sponsors we apply to and receive funding from. The CRF does not apply for, or receive funding; it is KAUST's internal funding unit.
      The Research Services team is tasked with providing administrative, financial and contractual support to faculty in acquiring and administering external funding. Research Services assists in obtaining or participating and managing externally and internally sponsored research projects. Every university has an institutional and central office such as the Research Services unit which supports faculty in applying for funding, developing and negotiating agreements (NDAs, MTAs) and contracts, grant management and ensuring post-award compliance with sponsor terms (e.g. reporting).
  • Q. I am new to KAUST. I’d like to learn about what research funding & support is available. Where do I start?

    • Contact the pre-award team by email and/or come and see us. A team member will meet with you and go through sponsor and funding information relevant to KAUST, explain internal procedure and introduce you to the broad remit of the Research Services unit.


  • Q. What support does the Pre-Award team provide?

    • Information about sponsors, specific sponsor application process and procedure as well as KAUST internal processes and procedures. The Pre-Award team can advise, support and help you in proposal development such as reviewing the non-technical elements of a proposal and ensuring all required components are included and page limits adhered to. We are the point of contact for you for budgeting and will help you develop your budget to ensure compliance with sponsor and internal terms and conditions. The Pre-Award team will undertake the necessary internal approval before any application is submitted. If you are considering applying but are unsure where to start, what documents you need, contact us and we will help you, (e.g., we can provide you with a draft budget as a starting point).

  • Q. I have been invited to collaborate on a research proposal by an external colleague. I cannot apply for any funding so do I still need to contact Research Services?

    • ​Yes. Unfunded collaboration is still research activity and effort which should be recorded. In most cases internal approval will still be required. Please email as soon as you know you may take part and we will check and ensure we are eligible to apply and support you.

      Also, although unfunded, your contribution/s (cash or in-kind) should be captured; your effort (% time), and any cash contribution you will make. It is very common that sponsors will want (even require) this information so it needs to be calculated properly.

  • Q. I have been asked to provide an approximate budget for a pre-proposal. Do I still need to contact Research Services?

    • ​Yes. It is very important that any (pre-proposal or an estimation of in-kind contribution), and all budgetary information is accurately calculated to avoid common mistakes such as

      (i)  not including all costs: if you under-cost a sponsor may not allow a change in your final/full budget,

      (ii) not including indirect costs, and

      (iii) using incorrect rates.

  • Q. What documents are required from Research Services before proposal submission? (1)

    • ​Every submission requires the following Research Services documents for internal approval, (1) proposal approval form (“PAF”), (2) budget form, and (3) your proposal. Forms 1& 2 are internal forms and must not be sent externally.

  • Q. What documents are required from Research Services before proposal submission? (2)

    • ​The pre-award team manages the Current and Pending Support form (“CPS”). The form captures and summarizes all research activity (funded or unfunded) and is updated after each application.

  • Q. What else is required before I submit my proposal to Research Services for internal approval?

    • ​It is the Principal Investigators responsibility to

      (i) undertake a similarity software check. 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, (for iThenticate® registration/account set-up, please email Academic Writing).

      (ii) ensure that the Institutional Biosafety and BioEthics Committee (IBEC) has reviewed the proposal (if required).

  • Q. Where do I find the Research Services forms?

  • Q. When does Research Services check proposals?

    • ​Generally, applications are reviewed in the order they are received. However, sometimes proposals may be reviewed according to a sponsor deadline.

  • Q. When do proposals need to be submitted to Research Services?

    • ​Research Services requests that the proposal together with the approval form (“PAF”) (completed and Principal Investigator signed) and final budget form are sent at least 10 working days before the sponsor deadline. In case documents are received at a later stage, Research Services cannot guarantee the completion of the approval process.

  • Q. Who is eligible to apply for funding/ be principal investigator at KAUST?

    • ​(i) External sponsors: KAUST Faculty (assistant, associate and full professor). Research Scientists* (R5 and R6 only) may apply where their salary can be fully funded.  For internal (Competitive Research Funding) applications: only KAUST faculty can submit proposals. (*unless a sponsor-specific criteria states otherwise).

  • Q. Do I need to include indirect costs on proposals?

    • ​The Pre-Award team will check the budget against sponsor terms and conditions to ensure all costs are eligible. If an eligible cost, the Pre-Award team will include indirect costs in the budget.

  • Q. I have been sent a budget template to complete by my collaborator. It’s different to the Research Services budget form. What do I do?

    • ​Your Pre-Award contact will develop the budget using the Research Services budget form and then will transfer the information into the sponsor template for you. It is very common that sponsors have their own template and have different headings for budget items.

  • Q. I need to provide an institutional letter. What do I do?

    • ​The Research Services unit is the authorized institutional office at KAUST to provide, or to obtain such institutional letters. Please contact

  • Q. What happens if my proposal is successful?

    • ​Pre-Award will review award documentation and will work with Contracts colleagues where necessary. The award will be handed-over to the Post-Award team when all documentation is final and complete, (e.g. budgets, agreements, contracts). Once handed-over, the grant will be set-up by a member of the Post-Award team who will meet with you, and continue to support you for the duration of the grant.

Awards and Contracts

  • Q. I want to receive materials from another institution, what do I need to do?

    • ​Please fill out the Incoming Material Transfer Agreement Form. If you require IBEC approval, please contact The form will require the Principal Investigator’s signature, the Dean’s signature and IBEC approval (if required). The form is not the agreement. Once the Awards and Contracts team receives the completed form with the necessary approvals, a contracts administrator will draft/negotiate an agreement between KAUST and the other party to receive the materials. Upon finalizing the agreement with the other party to receive the materials, we will then send a copy of the fully executed agreement to the Procurement team so that they may facilitate the receipt of the materials into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

  • Q. I want to send materials to another institution, what do I need to do?

    • ​Please fill out the Outgoing Material Transfer Agreement Form. If you require IBEC approval, please contact The form will require the Principal Investigator’s signature, the Dean’s signature and IBEC approval (if required). The form is not the agreement. Once the Awards and Contracts team receives the completed form with the necessary approvals, a contracts administrator will draft/negotiate an agreement between KAUST and the other party to send the materials. Upon finalizing the agreement with the other party, we will then send a copy of the fully executed agreement to the Export Logistics team so that they may facilitate the shipment to the party receiving the materials from KAUST.

  • Q. What do I do if my budget needs changing during the contract period?

    • ​Please contact your Post-Award Administrator to check on what approval is required by the sponsor. In some cases, this requires a contract amendment; in others the sponsor authorizes the recipient institution – i.e. the Research Services unit - to manage budget changes.

  • Q. Can other changes be made to a contract after it is executed?

    • ​Again, it depends on the terms and conditions of the grant or contract. Sometimes changes to the scientific work plan are considered part of the annual reports, in other cases they would require a contract amendment if the changes are substantial. A Principal Investigator transferring to another institution requires a contract amendment in most cases if the Principal Investigator takes the award with him, or a change of Principal Investigator at KAUST needs approving

  • Q. What if I began working on a project before the contract start date?

    • ​You cannot charge any expenditure to the project that was incurred before the project start date. You should never start working on a project before the contract is signed by the sponsor.

  • Q. I've received a contract from a company for a research project which needs signing. Can I sign this?

    • ​No, all contractual paperwork for externally sponsored research should be signed by an authorized University signatory, as a legal representative of KAUST. The Divisions, Departments and Centers cannot legally bind the University, and all contracts should state KAUST as the contracting party, not the Department or the Principal Investigator. Principal Investigators are especially discouraged from signing contracts to avoid personal liability. A signature from anyone other than authorized representatives of KAUST may make a contract invalid. All contractual paperwork should be sent to the Awards & Contracts Team.

  • Q. How long will it take to put a contract in place for my research project?

    • ​The time it takes to negotiate contracts varies considerably. It depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the project, number of collaborators and the availability of the sponsor and their other commitments. It will also take some time to get internal approval from General Counsel and Technology Management, depending on their availability. Research Services will work very closely with you throughout the negotiations and will inform you of the progress of the discussions and any potential delays.

  • Q. Can I have a subcontractor to carry out part of my research project?

    • ​Generally, a subcontractor is a service provider. In the context of research projects, it is not normally someone who carries out research but someone who covers a small, ring-fenced part of the project that the KAUST Principal Investigator is unable to do. Subcontractors can carry out work such as analyses of samples, studies, or provide materials for research but they would not be considered for carrying out major research work within a project. In the contractual context, subcontractors do not normally own any intellectual property they generate; that is owned by the main contractor.

  • Q. I am currently discussing a research project with an industrial sponsor. At what stage do I need to involve an Awards & Contracts Specialist?

    • ​Since your Contracts Specialist will be negotiating and approving the contract, it is a good idea to involve them at an early stage so that you and the sponsor are aware of the terms that KAUST would usually expect in a research contract, and that they understand your project and issues. This will speed up the negotiation process. Also, remember to request a Non-Disclosure Agreement from Technology Management if you are discussing any confidential topics with the potential sponsor; you don’t want to give your ideas away for free.

  • Q. I have a project with an industrial sponsor. What do I need to send to Research Services to start the contract negotiations?

    • ​We need certain information before starting the negotiating process to help us negotiate a contract for a specific project efficiently:

      • Completed project proposal with summary, detailing all costs to be incurred in the project as well as all funding/income;
      • Details of the industrial sponsor, including contact details of the main contact for negotiations;
      • Details of any collaborators (external and internal);
      • A list of all background intellectual property (IP) owned by KAUST or the sponsor that you envisage using for the project;
      • An idea of project results / intellectual property, if any, that you envisage arising from the project;
      • Any information regarding the sponsor's expectations about ownership or licensing intellectual property;
      • Details of any separate projects that you have done, are currently conducting, or wish to conduct with different collaborators/sponsors that may impact on IP ownership in this project.
  • Q. Is there a conflict between patents and publications?

    • ​Any type of disclosure (whether orally, in a publication, demonstration, advertisement or article in a journal), by the applicant or anyone acting for them, could threaten a patent application. In order to prevent this, it is essential that the applicant does not make any disclosure related to the invention, except when the disclosure is made under conditions of strict confidence.

      Also, once the patent application is filed, in many cases it is wise to delay a publication on research results that are subject of a patent application. The duration of this delay depends from case to case, but is never longer than 12 to 18 months after the patent is filed. For further information on patent applications, please contact Technology Management. Technology Management can help you define an adequate publication strategy that balances academic interests and commercialization interests.


  • Q. How do I know if my proposal was awarded funding?

    • ​In most cases, the Principal Investigator will receive a letter from the sponsor notifying him/her of the funding decision. In some cases, notifications may be sent to the authorized signatory in Research Services who would notify the Principal Investigator of the decision.

  • Q. I have been awarded funding for my proposal. Now what?

    • ​Please send the award letter or email notification with all accompanying documents to the Pre-Award team so the budget and start date can be checked. Any contracts or terms and conditions must also be reviewed by the Awards & Contracts team.

  • Q. What reports are required under my research contract?

    • ​Each contract is different. The reporting requirements will be listed in the project factsheet that the post-award team will send you after the project account has been set up (pocket ID in SAP). If in doubt, contact your post-award administrator.

  • Q. How does sponsor pay me for my research?

    • In the majority of cases invoices submitted for reimbursement will be based on actual expenditure posted to the project’s pocket ID unless sponsor specific guidelines prescribe a different frequency or format for the billing of the contract, grant or agreement. The post-award team is responsible for generating invoices and invoicing sponsors through the SAP GM billing system.

      Sponsors remit payment via wire transfer or check deposit upon receipt of the invoice. If a check is sent directly to a Principal Investigator/research center/division, the recipient should immediately identify the fund to which the payment is to be applied to; note this information on the check stub and send it to the Research Services.

      In the case of some public funders, installments are payable upon receipt of cost statements, which are usually lump sum payments based on forecasted expenditure. In case of any underspend, such advance payments will be reduced to avoid overpayment.

  • Q. What procurement rules do I need to consider?

    • ​Contact Procurement for the latest information. If it is to import scientific materials as opposed to ordinary consumables, please fill in the Material Transfer Agreement request available from the Awards & Contracts team and submit it to

  • Q. How can I employ staff on my award (distinguish existing vs. new hire)?

    • ​Contact your Business/Center Manager to arrange for staff to be charged to a specific research grant.

  • Q. What if I want to spend funds differently than indicated in my proposal or award budget?

    • It depends on the sponsor’s guidelines. For most internal grants awarded through CRF 25% re-budgeting within any budget category is allowed based on the total amount approved for that category over the project period of performance. The re-budgeting should not result in a change in the amount of the overall approved budget. Rebudgeting for external grants depend on sponsor’s terms and conditions. Please work with your POA on such requests.

  • Q. My grant is ending soon – do I have to do anything?

    • ​Yes. As an award recipient final expenditure report and a final progress report is required usually within 90 days of the period of performance end date or as stated in the reporting requirement section of the fully executed contract. This information is also provided on the project factsheet.

  • Q. When are reports due?

    • ​Due dates are specified in the factsheet and in the fully-executed contract reporting section as well as on the factsheet.

  • Q. What about over and underspend on the grants?

    • ​Again, that depends on sponsor’s terms and conditions. In cases where sponsor doesn’t ask for funds to be returned, the balance goes to a university account. Overspends are charged to Principal Investigators baseline and in cases where Principal Investigator has no baseline, the Division or Center addresses the over expenditure.