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Grants, Sponsored Awards, Research Contracts

What is Research Administration?

Research Administration encompasses the activities that support faculty and staff involved in research projects across the University, regardless of funding source.

It takes a village! HLS faculty and staff work with the University Office for Sponsored Programs, HLS Finance Office and the HLS Dean’s Office in a cooperative process which takes brilliant ideas and helps shape them into the vital funded programs Harvard University is renowned for.

What does HLS Research Administration provide?

  • Guidance, review and approval of proposals for external funding
  • Oversight of sponsored spending including transactional processing on sponsored funds and review of financial reporting
  • Guidance concerning research compliance policies and systems, e.g. Institutional Review Board
  • Support for navigating sponsored research process and requirements through Harvard’s Office for Sponsored Programs (OSP)
  • Support for visiting scholar and research fellow appointments

Grants versus Gifts

Sponsored awards are funding arrangements in which the University provides a defined deliverable to the sponsor in exchange for the funds. Most gifts, on the other hand, have limited terms and conditions, are not tied to a budget, and do not have the same “benefit exchange” component.

To determine whether you are asking for a grant or a gift:

For gift questions and support, contact Francisco Martinez in the HLS Development Office. Gifts for research projects are processed by our Development office but are still subject to Harvard University research policies.

HLS Research Proposal Process and Timeline

Sponsored awards have a “lifecycle” (i.e., at a high level, pre-award and post-award) and are managed accordingly in concert with OSP.

Faculty should notify our office of your intent to submit a proposal for external funding at least one month in advance of the submission deadline. We can help you prepare your proposal for submission to OSP and ultimately to the funder.

OSP must receive complete proposals through GMAS at least 5 business days prior to the submission deadline. The timeline is in place because of the high volume of proposals reviewed by OSP every day. Submitting proposals inside the 5-day window will move the proposal to a “first in, first out” queue and it may not be reviewed with enough time to make edits that would help strengthen your proposal or are required by HLS or University policy. For general questions from the OSP proposal team, contact


Preparing a Proposal

Contact us for help in preparing your proposal so the HLS and OSP review processes run smoothly. Submit the proposal for OSP review in the GMAS system. Once the proposal has been submitted to the funder, we wait for the funder to make a decision. Please note, federal proposals are quite complex and require their own separate system, so it is advisable to allow significant lead time to complete them.

Setting up the Award

If the proposal is successful, Harvard receives an award agreement that may require negotiation by OSP. Should you receive this notice directly, please forward it to OSP and HLS Finance immediately! While negotiations are underway, you may request an at-risk account (allows spending on a new fund in anticipation of an award) through the GMAS system.

After negotiations and all approvals are completed, OSP will create a new fund and spending can begin. If the funder awards a different sum than the proposed request, you will need to adjust and resubmit your budget accordingly.


Managing the Award

Award management includes regular reporting, budget monitoring, and compliance.

Contact Information

Research Fellow Appointments (non-employee): please contact Gina Cinelli.

Please reach out to Jason Calieri if you are interested in making connections with others involved in research administration at HLS.