Applying for funding: completing the ‘justification of resources’ section of a grant
The budget and justification of resources sections of grant applications can seem daunting but like all things, they get easier with practise. Here are our tips:
- Contact your University finance team early giving them advance notice. While you are calculating the costs of consumables, they can register the grant application on their system, cost salaries and calculate University overheads etc. They may require scanned documents (e.g. payslips) and additional details (e.g. number of hours/week each member of the team will work on the project) so do not leave contacting them until the last minute.
- Check the funder’s website carefully as to what can and can’t be included in the costings. Every item should be carefully justified regarding cost and essentialness to the project. The costings may be subdivided into different sections; check whether funding can subsequently be moved between sections or not.
- It is important to get the costings right. You don’t want the project to be so expensive it is un-fundable (ideally it should offer ‘value for money’) but equally, you need to be able to deliver the project within the requested budget (as once the budget is approved, requests for further funding are usually not allowed).
- If you predict that your project will cost more than the funder’s limit, consider how the deficit will be funded and consider including this in the application (e.g. does your PI/supervisor have access to additional funds, is it possible to request consumables/equipment in kind from collaborators/industry partners etc).
When costing the consumables:
Either ask someone in your lab who is carrying out similar work for a detailed list of consumables or create a list while you’re undertaking pilot work:
- Systematically record at each step exactly what you use and how much. Do this either per sample or per batch. Don’t forget non-specific lab materials / reagents e.g. plasticware, plate seals, pipette tips etc.
- Factor in control samples, replicate samples and pipetting errors.
- Calculate the total cost. Bear in mind that most items (e.g. reagent kits) will have to be purchased in ‘whole’ units.
- Check your calculation for mistakes.
- Costs may change or suppliers may be taken over by alternative manufacturers, so record the date when you calculated costs, product number, product manufacturer and product cost. You may need to consult this list for subsequent grant applications, so keep it up to date.
- Costs to consider (re-read your application making a note of everything associated with a cost):
- sample/data acquisition, packaging, transport & storage
- IT equipment e.g. encrypted memory sticks / software / hardware
- services e.g. sequencing / statistics / bioinformatics / professional literature search
- reagent shipping costs (may be applicable)
- lab equipment, maintenance or servicing
- participant recruitment (e.g. reimbursement of time/travel expenses)
- PPI meetings (travel, venue, catering, expenses)
- conference / meeting registration, travel, accommodation & subsistence (check University regulations as they may specify the amount that can be spent per day)
- publication and poster printing costs
- non-specific lab materials/reagents e.g. water, ethanol, plasticware, plate seals, pipette tips, gloves (find out whether any of this is ‘communal’ and ordered by the Lab Manager or needs to be purchased from your grant)
- salaries e.g. PIs, post-docs, technical staff, administrative staff, student stipends. You will need to know grade, salary point, %FTE/hours per week to be spent on the project.
- University overheads and VAT
Items purchased in bulk may be cheaper: consider ordering jointly with other researchers in your lab or contacting company reps to ask if a discount is available (although check expiry dates).
Prices of reagents may increase throughout the lifetime of the project. Speak to your finance team about whether you need to account for this.
Find out whether you will “inherit” any equipment / reagents at the start of the project (e.g. from a previous doctoral Fellow or pilot work). This may save money, but first check whether you will be expected to replace this/contribute funding towards it.
Ask someone familiar with the project to sense-check your costings.
Write the justification of resources – justify why each item is essential to the project and how much it will cost. Be specific and detailed regarding techniques, number of samples etc. Pilot work is useful to justify the cost and to demonstrate that the project will be deliverable within the requested budget.
Send the costings and justification of resources to the finance team in good time for their approval.