Research Development and Support (RDS) is responsible for advising on, negotiation and arranging sign-off by an authorised delegate of the University for all research and research related contracts or agreements on behalf of Flinders University staff and higher degree students.
Under the University’s Policy on Delegations of Authority to Enter into Contracts, individual staff members are not permitted to enter into contracts with external organisations on behalf of the University unless authorised to do so. Therefore staff members are generally not authorised to sign off on research contracts and agreements where a signature is required by an authorised University delegate. It is important that in the first instance all requests for the initiation of research and research related contracts / agreements be forwarded to email@example.com.
All researchers are required to ensure that they are familiar with University policy pertaining to research practice, which is available at the Research Policies & Procedures page.
Any contracts and agreements where the activity under the contract is the conduct of research, or where the contract relates to research activity (such as a material transfer agreement or a research sub-contract), need to be sent to Research Development and Support (RDS) for administration and sign-off. Contracts which are not related to research activity need to be processed through your College's Head of College Services. If you are unsure whether your contract is a 'research contract', you should seek advice from RDS in the first instance.
The most common research and research related contracts and agreements are listed on our website here.
Whether you have received an external contract for review or need a contract drafted, the earlier you notify RDS, the more smoothly the process of sign off on the document and funding release (if applicable) will occur. This is particularly true when there are a number of external parties on a contract, as the review and signature time of these contracts tends to be quite lengthy.
Please provide Research Development and Support (RDS) with as much information as you can when initiating a contract request. This may include:
- Any urgent timing issues which may need to be taken into account in prioritising the processing of the request;
- Contact details for the other party(ies) to the agreement;
- A copy of any initial proposals, research plans, budgets* or similar provided to the other party(ies) to the agreement;
- A copy of any related agreements;
- An approved Co-investment Form if relevant; and
- Information on any existing intellectual property which may be relevant to the arrangements being put in place, either University or third party owned and details of potential new intellectual property which may be created. Further details about Intellectual Property can be found here.
*With the exception of a contract associated with a grant from an organisation listed on the Australian Competitive Grants Register, all research contracts and agreements are priced to compensate the University for its infrastructure costs, in accordance with the Cost and Recovery Pricing Policy.
In order to arrange sign-off of a contract by the correct University Delegate, RDS will also require a completed Certification Form. This may have been submitted to RDS at the time the funding application was submitted. If this is the case, please provide RDS with the full title of the corresponding application.
There are a few exceptions to the requirement for a Certification Form to be completed but please contact RDS if in doubt. Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) are one such exception. A separate Material Transfer Agreement Form will need to be completed and submitted together with the proposed agreement, or request for an MTA to be prepared.
When you provide a contract initiation request to Research Development and Support (RDS), it will be evaluated to ascertain the required review and sign-off process.
Typically, consultancies, government tenders, fee for service and commercialisation activities will require the input of personnel within the Legal Services Unit or Flinders Partners: the University’s commercialisation agent; whereas research grant awards and contract research matters are handled via RDS.
A Contract Officer from RDS will contact you to confirm the receipt of the contract request. The Officer may then request further information as necessary and let you know what will be happening next.
The agreement may require negotiation, or in some circumstances, formal legal review prior to submission for sign-off, to ensure it is consistent with the University’s policies and procedures, including risk management requirements. Ethics or Biosafety approvals, agreements with students and/or subcontracts may also need to be put in place concurrently with the processing of the original agreement.
University policy stipulates that funds will not be released until such times as any required sub-agreement/s, ethics approvals and/or student IP assignment(s) have been received by Research Development and Support, and that the contract has been fully executed by all contracting parties.
If you are the lead CI on a research project, you are responsible for the conduct of the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract. In addition, a CI must conduct the project in line with applicable internal policies and procedures, such as the University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy. This involves compliance in relation to matters such as expenditure according to allowed budget heads, production and submission of required progress/final reports, and receipt of necessary ethics/biosafety approvals.
The CI is therefore required to be familiar with the terms and conditions of the contract governing the research project. As a reminder of this, upon issue of a fully executed agreement to the CI, Research Development and Support (RDS) will also issue the CI with a Chief Investigator Notification (CIN). This is a reminder to the CI that they must read and understand all conditions applying to the research, as well as comply with specific obligations, such as those outlined above.
Where a contract contains unusual or particularly onerous terms and conditions, which are non-standard for research-related contracts, RDS will draw these to the CI’s attention in the CIN. This would apply where the contract specifies, for example, a complete ban on academic publications or where IP ownership in project output does not rest with the University.
Many funding organisations require detailed information about the University as part of their application process or within their contracts. Below is a list of commonly requested details for Flinders University, which can be used for applications and contracts:
In order to meet the requirements of a funding contract, Flinders University may be requested to commit funding towards your project, commonly as a joint commitment from the relevant College and from the central University Research Budget (URB). In the context of co-investment, the contribution from the College or Faculties involved is at least equal to the financial contribution being sought from the URB.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) has established a strategy, guidelines and procedure for researchers who are seeking funding support.
Once you have read and understood the Flinders University Co-investment Strategy, you can download the Co-investment Request Form here.
All contracts or agreements require a fully completed Certification Form. This ensures that your proposed research has the required internal University authorisations, and is recorded and reported on by the University.
You can download the Certification Form here.
Where researchers wish to send or receive materials to or from external organisations for use in their research, a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), will often be required. MTAs are appropriate where the owner of the material wishes to formalise the permitted uses of the material, the ownership or sharing of ownership of the material, (and any research outputs arising from the use of the material), and also where it is desirable to clearly establish with which party the risk and liability in relation to the use of the material will lie.
If you wish to arrange for an MTA to be put in place, or for an external MTA to be reviewed, please follow the instructions contained in the Materials Transfer Agreement which can be downloaded here.
Further resources you may find useful…