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Frequently Asked Questions

Please feel free to contact Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity staff about other specific questions that you might have.


Preparing a Grant:

Institutional Signature Sheet (ISS):

Rank & Title and your CV:






Use of Funds:


What is the typical timeline & tasks to complete an application?

For a thorough application anticipate starting the process 6 months to a year in advance. See the Tips and Guidelines for Writing Grant Applications web page for resources and a full timeline.

Are there examples of grant applications?

Yes! We have various grant applications on file at the Research & Scholarly Activity Office. Some faculty members have given us permission to share their applications to assist others. Please make an appointment with the Grant Facilitator to make your request.

What is the purpose of the Institutional Signature Sheet (ISS)?

The ISS records important information at the time of application submission in order to facilitate disclosure to all relevant persons.  The ISS is also important to identify: potential institutional processes or certifications that may be required (e.g. ethics) so that the Principal Investigator (PI) can be aware and plan accordingly; cash and in-kind commitments so that pertinent information (e.g. amount, cost centre) is not forgotten; use of research facilities; and faculty who are engaged in research activities that are outside of their normal workload appointments.

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016


What types of applications require an ISS

The following require an ISS even if there are no cash or in-kind commitments from VIU:

  • grant applications
  • contract applications/ scope of work type documents
  • Notice of Intent (NOI)
  • Letter of Intent (LOI)
  • curriculum development or scholarly activity where human participants are involved, e.g. through surveys, interviews or focus groups, or through the use of personal information such as medical records
  • letter of support where institutional cash or in-kind resources are pledged

Are there any exceptions?
Yes, NSERC Discovery and SSHRC Insight grant Notifications of Intent (NOIs) do not require an ISS as these documents are provided to the granting agency for purely administrative purposes.  However, the full applications for these programs do require an ISS.

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016Top

I am participating in an application where VIU is not the lead institution.  Do I still need to complete an ISS?

If you are participating in the application as a Co-Applicant -YES.
If VIU will receive any funding or equipment/resources if the application is approved - YES.
If VIU is committing to provide a cash or in-kind contribution to the project, if approved - YES.
If you are participating in the application as a Collaborator - NO (unless VIU is receiving or committing funding or resources).

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016


I am participating in an application where VIU is not the lead institution.  Whose name should I put on the ISS, mine or the researcher from the other institution?

You would put your name on the ISS as Applicant and you can put the other researcher(s) name(s) in the Co-Applicant field.  Add the other institution’s name or acronym in the Lead Institution field.

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016Top

Who needs to sign the ISS? 

The ISS needs to be signed in this order by the:

  • Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Dean
  • Person responsible for the facilities you intend to use (if not your Dean)
  • Person providing the cash contribution (if not your Dean)
  • Associate Vice-President, Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016


What do the signatures on the ISS mean?

The signature of the Principal Investigator signifies:  their commitment to carry out the project if approved; that they will comply with the terms, conditions, policies and procedures of the funding agency (or sponsor) and all research-related guidelines, policies and procedures of VIU; and that they have informed their Dean of any impact on faculty and staff time, student program, space, facilities, services, utilities and resources. 

The signature of the Dean confirms: their awareness of the project and their approval of any in-kind commitments noted. 

The signature of the individual responsible for the VIU facilities or equipment signifies:  that they are aware and approve the use of either facilities or equipment under their management and control.  Where the Dean is responsible, this section does not need to be signed. 

The signature of the individual providing the cash contribution signifies:  that they are aware of the project and commit to provide the funds upon approval of the project.  The source of the funds (cost centre) must be identified in the VIU Cash Commitments section of the ISS. Where the Dean is providing the cash contribution, this section does not need to be signed.  

The signature of the Associate Vice-President, Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity signifies: the applicant is eligible to hold a research grant or contract at VIU and that the institution will administer any funds received in accordance with granting agency policies or sponsor contract terms and conditions.  In the case of institutional grants, the signature also signifies their awareness and approval of the application (e.g. Canada Foundation for Innovation, Canada Research Chairs, VIU Research Awards Committee funding, etc.).

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016


Does the ISS need to be circulated for signature with the final version of my application?

No, we understand that a grant application is an evolving document and that time is usually in short supply so it is fine to circulate a draft of the application with the ISS. However, the draft application must be complete (in that all relevant sections have something written) and must include the full and final budget.  It is important that no changes be made to the institutional cash or in-kind commitments following signing of the ISS.

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016


The funding agency prohibits paying indirect costs (overhead). What do I do?

Print the email from the agency or an excerpt from their website or policy document that specifies they do not pay indirect costs.  Complete an Indirect Costs Waiver Form (attach the agency information) and obtain the necessary signatures.

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016


I have been told that if I include indirect costs in my budget my grant will be turned down.  What do I do?

Talk to the funding agency and ask them to refer you to their indirect costs policy so you can print the document.  If they do not have a written policy maybe they would be willing to pay a reduced percentage.  Or, depending on the requirements of the financial reporting, the indirect cost (overhead) recoveries may be able to be incorporated into the direct costs of the project. Ask your Facilitator for help.

The preceding section was updated: November 29, 2016


What title do I use on my grant application? Professor? Assistant Professor? Teacher? Other?

Use Professor; however, somewhere in the CV section or the application you should explain you are at a university which does not have a traditional rank and title system. If you do not explain this, a reviewer may think you are a 'Full Professor' in the traditional sense i.e. at a university with a tenure and evaluation system and all that it may imply, but your CV may not align with their expectations and that may compromise your application.

Am I tenured according to SSHRC, CIHR and NSERC since we don't have a traditional rank and tenure system here at VIU?

At VIU, if you hold a 'Regular' faculty position which is defined as faculty with a renewable contractual appointment of one year or more (according to Article of the VIUFA Agreement), then SSHRC considers that to be the equivalent of tenure. SSHRC is currently transitioning to the Canadian Common CV (CCV). For those SSHRC applications that require the CCV, see the below screenshot and instructions.

NSERC is currently transitioning to the Canadian Common CV (CCV). Some applications require a Form 100 (Personal Data Form) and other applications require the CCV. For a Form 100 use the title 'Professor' and select 'No' for 'Tenured or tenured track appointment' and indicate whether your appointment is full-time or part-time then proceed to fill out Appendix B of Form 100. Check the boxes: 'academic appointment', and for the box 'is this position of a limited duration' check 'No', and you can write: This is a full-time, continuing appointment at a University which does not currently have an academic rank and title system. Research and scholarship are a recognized component of the workload of University professors.

If your application requires a CCV see the screen shot below as a guide for how to input information into the required fields. The fields “Position Type” and “Academic Rank” are optional and none of the choices in the drop down menu are applicable to VIU Regular VIUFA positions.


The preceding section was last updated: June 2015

What should a CV contain? Do you have examples?

A CV not only contains information about your academic background and professional experience but it is reviewed very carefully by grant peer review committees. For example, they will look at it to help answer questions like:

  • What did you do in your Masters and Phd? Have you done research since? If so, was there a natural step from your degree to the research or did you go off in a totally different direction? They want to see if you are developing a line of inquiry and will look at various sections of your CV to check for hints showing there is a logical progression in your career/research path.
  • Have you done research where you were the lead researcher (this shows that you are an independent researcher)?
  • Did you complete the research? If they cannot see a completion date, then they might assume you have not finished and hence have not proven that you can successfully manage the research project process or the administration of a grant (budget management, reporting back, supervising staff, etc).
  • Did you publish or present the results of your research as this shows that your research was not just a professional development activity (knowledge in rather than knowledge out) and, if your research was funded, they want to see that society benefited from you receiving those funds. For most disciplines, peer reviewed journal articles still carry the most weight with reviewers so you should try to publish in these journals when possible.

Your CV tells about your education and experience but it also tells the reader a whole lot more about you. SRCA can access sample CVs in several areas upon request. Please ask your Facilitator.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

Can I hire a student research assistant? Will granting agencies pay for them? How much should I budget?

Yes, you can hire students and VIU encourages this as involving students helps mentor them and provides very satisfying experiential learning experiences. However, be sure to assign jobs that are beneficial to them and relate to research and/or learning. Detailed information and instructions are available on the Research Personnel - Employment and Awards webpage. Hiring for any duties that would normally be performed by a member of a bargaining unit (e.g. CUPE) needs to be done in accordance with the relevant collective agreement, so guidance from HR staff is recommended.

Granting agencies will usually pay for students but you need to read the grant guidelines for specifics and follow the approved budget. Many granting agencies prefer (but don't necessarily require) that you involve students. Also keep in mind that federal and provincial subsidies are often available, but be aware that there are deadlines for applying. Check with the Centre for Experiential Learning regarding the possibility of internal student subsidies. Often internal subsidies (e.g. VIU Research Awards Committee grant, VIU Work Op Program) can be used to match the funding offered by external sources.

Hiring of students is done in accordance with Vancouver Island University Board Policy 32.01 Employment of Students. Employment is also subject to the Employment Standards Act of BC, the BC Human Rights Code, the Workers' Compensation Act of BC, and Vancouver Island University Board Policy 43.26 Employment of Relatives.

SRCA, with input from Human Resources, Finance, and Payroll, has developed a resource for the employment of students and other research personnel. This resource provides information on how to advertise a job opportunity (if required), what's a reasonable pay rate, what statutory employer contributions apply (CPP, EI, WCB, vacation pay), and what to do and who to ask for assistance in creating the appointment. Full details are available on the Research Personnel - Employment and Awards webpage.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

What per diem travel rates should I use?

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

Is there a budget template I can use?

Yes! Below is a sample budget and two budget templates. If these do not meet your needs, contact Shelley Lumsden at (250) 740-6196.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

What is the formula for calculating institutional overhead (indirect costs) contributions on research-related activity?

The actual overhead rate will vary, depending on the activity and the funder (see Indirect Costs Recovery and Distribution on Research Grants and Contracts); however, generally, for research activity the institution expects a 25% overhead contribution and calculates the contribution on total revenue

The following are examples of the calculation to determine total revenue required to meet the overhead expectation while still allowing sufficient funds for direct project costs. We've used both a 25% and a 15% overhead calculation example.

Scenario 1:  Direct project costs of $75,000; overhead expectation of 25%
$75,000/.75 = $100,000 – total revenue expected

$100,000*.25 = $25,000 - VIU overhead charge

  $75,000 remains to cover direct project costs
$75,000*1.25 = $93,750 – total revenue expected
  $93,750*.25 = $23,437.50 - VIU overhead charge
  $70,312.50 remains to cover direct project costs (a shortfall of $4,687.50)
Scenario 2:  Direct project costs of $75,000; overhead expectation of 15%
$75,000/.85 = $88,235.29 – total revenue expected

$88,235.29*.15 = $13,235.29 - VIU overhead charge

  $75,000 remains to cover direct project costs
$75,000*1.15 = $86,250 – total revenue expected
  $86,250*.15 = $12,937.50 - VIU overhead charge
  $73,312.50 remains to cover direct project costs (a shortfall of $1,687.50)

The same calculation principle applies to non-research activity.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016



How do I acknowledge faculty/student collaboration and/or funding support in published material?

Faculty that receive funding support for their research or scholarly activity should acknowledge the funding source with a statement in their publications or other appropriate method of dissemination. It should acknowledge both funding support and acknowledge collaboration with other faculty and/or students.

For acknowledging collaboration:

Where appropriate in their published work, the faculty member(s) shall indicate affiliation with Vancouver Island University and acknowledge their indebtedness to students and their academic colleagues in relation to their own research.

See also the Publicizing your grant or contract page.

For acknowledging funding, also include statements such as:

"This publication [or event] was supported by funds received from the Vancouver Island University, Community Engagement Accelerator grant and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council."

See also the Publicizing your grant or contract page.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

What do I need to know about publishing my research results?

You will need to be aware of the policies set out by your funding agency.  Here are some examples: 

  • CIHR - Under a new policy, which applies to all grants awarded after January 1, 2008, grant recipients who receive whole or partial funding from CIHR must make every effort to ensure that their peer-reviewed research articles are freely available as soon as possible after publication.
  • SSHRC – Research Data Archiving

If you are funded by a different agency, check your funding agency’s policies.

I sent in my NSERC - Notice of Intent to Apply for a Discovery Grant. Now I am writing up my Discovery Grant but I want to change the title of my application and the budget. Can I do that or do I have to stick with the Notice of Intent information?

The notice of Intent is only used to get a rough idea of how much funding may be requested, and the approximate number and discipline areas of applicants. This information helps NSERC’s program staff plan the review process. This means you are free to change the title or budget amounts, or the focus of your research; in fact everything on your full application can be different from your NOI.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

Is my research area or discipline suitable for a Social Sciences & Humanities Research grant?

Read through the SSHRC webpage Subject Matter Eligibility.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

Can I re-allocate a portion of the student salaries budget to travel or supplies?

It depends on the funder and the type of grant. For example, with NSERC Discovery Grants a grantee may deviate from his/her proposed research activities. Funds for salaries may be reallocated to supplies or travel as long as all expenses directly relate to the project for which the funds were awarded. Other grants may have different rules, so it is important to check the program description on the website to verify rules pertaining to the use of funds. If you aren’t sure, contact the Research Services Manager.

The preceding section was last updated: November 29, 2016

What is the difference between a research grant and a research contract?

The lines blur between the two, but generally:

  • Grant - Refers to funds that are awarded to the recipient to enable the performance of self-directed research, where there is no contractual obligation for performance.
  • Contract - Refers to funds that are assigned for research purposes through a legally enforceable agreement which may include conditions setting forth specific terms governing the conduct, direction and scheduling of the tasks to be performed; designating ownership of proprietary rights to the research results; laying out the financial regimen to be followed; and other restrictions required by the research sponsor.

The preceding section was last updated: June 2015

What is research?

Applications or proposals for external funding and contracts that involve a research activity must go through Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity. This checklist can assist you in determining if an activity or project could be considered research at VIU. If you answer “yes” to two or more questions, follow the Contracts Application Life Cycle or the Grant Application Life Cycle required by the Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity Office or contact Roisin Mulligan (grants in the sciences) or Bettina Ruhstein (contracts and other grants).

Criteria Yes No

1. Research Centre, Research Institute or Research Chair at VIU: Will it be carried out by or at a research centre or research institute at VIU, or by a research chair at VIU?


2. Students: Does it involve a student’s thesis-related work?


3. Funding Source: Is it being funded by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council), CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research), CFI (Canada Foundation for Innovation), CRC (Canada Research Chairs Secretariat), Vancouver Foundation or Mitacs?


4. Human Participants: Are human participants involved (e.g. through surveys, interviews or focus groups, or through the use of personal information like medical information) except where the work is confined to publicly available information, quality assurance or quality improvement studies, or internal program evaluations (see Tri-Council Policy Statement on Research Involving Humans (TCPS2 – 2014) – Articles 2.2 – 2.5)?


5. Animals: Are vertebrate animals involved (includes fish and some higher invertebrates – e.g. cephalopods but excludes shellfish) except where the work is confined to publicly available information  (see Canadian Council on Animal Care Policy on Categories of Invasiveness in Animal Experiments)?


6. Biohazards, Radioactive Materials, and Controlled Goods: Are biohazardous materials (e.g. bacteria, viruses, toxins, medical waste, human tissue, blood), ionizing radiation or controlled substances (e.g. drugs, prescription medications, chemicals) involved?


7. Data Collection: Does it apply cutting edge techniques to collect data or collect data in a new way?


8. Data Analysis: Does it involve data analysis other than the testing, evaluation or analysis of information or materials owned by the sponsor or publicly available?


9. Discovery of New Knowledge: Could it result in the discovery of new or incremental knowledge (e.g. patentable inventions, outcomes published in peer publications)?


10. Techniques: Does it apply existing techniques to new situations?


11. New Teaching and Learning Techniques: Does it involve studying/developing new or novel teaching or learning techniques?


12. Ownership of Intellectual Property: Does the sponsor or any other party involved require rights to intellectual property that may be developed?


13. Moral Rights: Does the sponsor or any other party involved ask VIU to waive moral rights?


14. Restrictions on Publication: Does the sponsor or any other party involved require restrictions on the publication of project data or results?


15. Confidentiality: Will you be using any proprietary or confidential materials or information?  Does the sponsor or any other party involved require that VIU agree to any confidentiality provisions?


The preceding section was last updated: December 2015

Are students covered by insurance?

Are students working or volunteering for a faculty member or adjunct faculty covered by insurance while engaged in research? This would include current students, recent graduates (ie. they just graduated in June and are working for a researcher over the summer), and students registered at other institutions.

There are 5 types of insurance that may be of concern to faculty supervisors:

  • Workers Compensation Insurance (Worksafe).
    • If a student is being paid as an employee, then they are covered.
    • If a student participates in an eligible practicum component of a VIU program, they are covered. An eligible practicum is defined as:
      • an assigned, unpaid and supervised practical work experience which takes place at the host employer's premises or place of business; and
      • a required component of a program that is included in the course description of VIU's course calendar, and which must be completed as a requirement for program completion and/or graduation.
  • Medical Insurance.
  • Liability.
    • Liability covers the institution, not the student. For example, a student trips and falls, then the VIU insurance would cover any lawsuits.  VIU is insured through a self-insuring program entitled Universities, Colleges and Institutes Protection Program (UCIPP). Coverage is provided under the Ministry of Advanced Education which includes universities, colleges and institutes in British Columbia. Registered students are covered (with some exceptions), to the extent liability arises from activities in connection with the institution,"while they are engaged in activities related to the applicable syllabus of education, or pursuant to their engagement in any occupational, vocational or similar training program operated by or on behalf of the institution or arising out of their participation in any sponsored activity".
    • In other words, the activity must be VIU sanctioned and under the supervision of a VIU researcher.  Examples would be any activity in a VIU course (e.g. directed studies, a field school, practicums, any course the student is registered in, etc.) or a research activity under the supervision on a faculty member.
    • VIU also carries volunteer insurance for non-students who are working as volunteers for VIU sponsored activities (eg. Milner Gardens).
  • Automobile insurance.
    • ICBC covers automobile insurance. If students are required to drive, they must have adequate insurance to cover the type/amount of driving. Students should review their coverage with ICBC. Likewise, the owner of the vehicle must have the correct insurance coverage if they require the student to drive it.
  • International travel
  • Criminal background checks – this is not insurance but faculty and students need to be aware that if they are working with vulnerable persons (elderly, disabled, minors under the age of 19) then they will need to have a criminal background check. The Manager of Admissions will handle this for VIU students who are engaged in this activity as part of a practicum.

The preceding section was last updated: January 22, 2016

What guidelines apply to international travel for employees and non-employees?

Current employees require pre-authorization for travelling internationally from their Dean/Director, then the Provost and Vice-President Academic (see Temporary Operational Guidance below).  A copy of the approval email is to be attached to the Employee Expense Claim form.  Prior approval to incur the expense is also required by the cost centre holder.

Non-employees do not require pre-authorization for international travel.  Expenses are to be reimbursed through a Cheque Requisition with original receipts attached and itemized on a summary sheet of expenses, and it must be clearly stated in the “Detail/Explanation of Payment” section that the individual being reimbursed is not an employee.  Expenses (e.g. airfare) are only reimbursed after the travel has taken place.  Cash advances are not permitted; however, expenses such as hotel and air travel can be covered directly by the institution (e.g. purchase orders, purchase cards).

While pre-authorization at the institutional level for international travel is not required for non-employees, approval of the expense(s) is still required by the cost centre holder. 

Whether the travel is international or domestic, boarding passes are required for all airfare claims.

For questions on the above process, contact Shelley Lumsden at (250) 740-6196.


EFFECTIVE April 1, 2012

Temporary Operational Guidance concerning approvals around International Travel.  This guidance will be replaced when Policy 42.08 ‘Reimbursement of Travel and Other Expenses’ is revised.

International Travel & Expense reports

Currently there is a requirement that all international travel be authorized in advance.  In addition, the expense report (which is submitted after a trip) requires approval by the Executive or Dean of International.


Prior approval of International travel – Why is this necessary?

International travel is often the target of criticism from the public and at times may be seen as a ‘perk’ by others.  In addition, it is typically more expensive than domestic travel.  Because of this sensitivity, it is important that the Executive have an opportunity to approve international travel in advance of the trip so that they have an opportunity to stop the trip if they feel it will cause problems.  It also provides the Executive with good information about the rationale and purpose of travel abroad.  Should they be challenged on a specific trip they will have the information to discuss the merits of the travel knowledgably.

Who can approve International Travel?

International travel can be approved by the Executive--VP’s & President (or designate) and the Dean of International.  “Senior Approver” from this point onward refers to the appropriate member of the Executive or the Dean of International.

Approval for international travel should always be requested through Deans and Directors with approval sought from the Senior Approver most closely tied to the Dean or Director’s division. 

What is required to show an international trip is approved?

A simple e-mail can be used as evidence that a trip is approved.  The Senior Approver should be e-mailed (by Deans & Directors) with details of the proposed trip.  Details should include the person who will be traveling, location, reason for travel, as well as the estimated cost.  If the Senior Approver approves the trip they will respond to the e-mail indicating their approval.

Do I need a Senior Approver to approve my expense report after my trip?

No.  The expense report is being redesigned to remove the requirement for the Executive or Dean of International to sign the report.  Instead, all expense reports with international travel should include a copy of the e-mail evidencing that the trip was approved by the appropriate Senior Approver prior to the travel occurring.  Expenditures on the expense report must be approved by a person with sufficient signing authority on the cost centres charged.

What if I submit an expense report without an e-mail indicating that the travel was approved in advance?

The expense report will be returned to the employee to attach the approval for out of country travel.  Should the approval be requested after the travel has taken place, it will be up to the Senior Approvers discretion as to whether or not the expense report will be paid.


Please contact Leslie Bajkov at (250) 740-6232 or Wendy Young at (250) 740-6565.

The preceding section was last updated: June 4, 2014

Updated: November 29, 2016