Navigating the research opportunities and support services at a new university can be overwhelming, and the UGA Office of Research is here to help. The links below will guide you through the steps to get your research program started, as well as stay on top of the latest news about and for UGA faculty researchers.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions getting started.
Starting Your Lab
Getting started at UGA
Obtaining graduate faculty status to advise students
Pinpointing international research resources
Marketing for and recruiting researchers
Budgeting for researchers
Mentoring research assistants
Mentoring postdoctoral trainees
Understanding cost sharing and summer salary
Funding Your Work
Finding internal funding opportunities
Finding external funding opportunities
Finding new venture funding opportunities
Finding a collaborator / consultant
Building a team
Identifying roles and responsibilities
Connect with UGA Research
The UGA OneSource team has put together a “Getting Started” page with helpful links to help you with issues such as onboarding to UGA, travel, purchasing, paid leave and approval, and other tasks and responsibilities.
If you plan to (1) serve as major professor to doctoral students, (2) serve as a major professor to Master of Arts or Master of Science students, and/or (3) teach 8000-9000 level courses, you will need to be a member of the Graduate Faculty. Appointment to the Graduate Faculty usually begins during the hiring process, and Graduate Faculty status may be received during the first semester of employment. If the appointment process was not part of the initial hiring, you should contact your department head to determine the appropriate steps. For complete information, see Graduate Faculty Information.
A variety of federal regulatory issues and laws can coincide in the event of hiring or otherwise supporting internationals working or conducting research in labs. Research lab directors who utilize international researchers—be they students, faculty, or visiting scholars or researchers—should coordinate closely with the International Students, Scholars, & Immigration Services (ISSIS) unit within the Office of Global Engagement (OGE). Most often, international students will be on F-1 or J-1 visas, research scholars will be on J-1 scholar visas, and employees will be on H1B visas, but other categories and circumstances also exist for bringing international researchers to UGA. For instance, a recent graduate may come to UGA as part of his or her Optional or Curricular Practical Training (OPT or CPT) that is tied to the F-1 or J-1 visa.
Lab directors must ensure that anyone conducting research in his or her lab is authorized to do so under UGA policies as well as government regulations. All international faculty, staff, and students receiving paid compensation must have a valid immigration status that allows work and compensation, and the appropriate employment authorization documents. Additionally, they must maintain their visa status for the duration of their stay at UGA. Please visit the ISSIS website for more information on types of possible visa sponsorship categories. Lab directors should also note that employment and research visas are tied to particular work and particular labs, meaning that foreign nationals cannot switch labs without notifying the ISSIS office, and possibly USCIS, and receiving approval for this work/location change.
A few notable circumstances restrict the ability of an international to conduct research. These include:
- Failure to maintain visa status
- Lack of valid employment authorization documents
- Delay in approval of visa (occurs most often in relation to H1B employees)
In the event of a delay in approval of a work or research visa or EAD card, internationals are not allowed to continue to work on a “volunteer” or any other basis. Such practices violate labor laws, specifically the Fair Labor Standards Act, and can result in severe penalties to the institution, the lab director, and the foreign national.
Additionally, visitors on tourist or business visas or visitors legally in the U.S. as part of the Visa Waiver Program are not allowed to conduct research. In certain cases, business visitors may be allowed to observe lab practice, but under no circumstances should anyone in the U.S. on a tourist or business visa or as part of the visa waiver program participate in or conduct research in labs at UGA.
Recruitment of technicians, postdocs, or research scientists to help with your research projects is handled through the Equal Opportunity Office (EOO), Human Resources (HR), Office of Research and/or Office of Faculty Affairs, depending on the specific position. Your unit’s HR/business manager will be able to help you with the correct procedures and requirements for the type of position you need to recruit. There are a number of staff positions in the research classifications that are maintained by HR. Office of Research – Research Personnel maintains policies and procedures for both postdoctoral trainees and research scientists.
Under Office of Research – Research Personnel, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs reviews and approves all postdoctoral scholar appointments at UGA, works with campus administrators to develop policies affecting postdoctoral scholars and collaborates with the UGA Postdoctoral Association to provide postdocs with information and resources that will enhance the postdoc experience at UGA. Research Scientists are non-tenure track faculty positions and Office of Research – Research Personnel works with the Office of Faculty Affairs to administer the guidelines for the appointments and promotions of Research Scientists.
As you create budgets for proposals to fund your research, it is important to keep in mind the true costs of research personnel. UGA has established fringe benefit rates for all levels of employees, and this is budgeted and charged as a direct cost. These funds pay for the institutional contribution to health insurance (including for graduate students), retirement benefits, and other charges. Don’t forget that salary + fringe are considered direct costs against which IDC must be calculated (at the standard rate, if allowed by the sponsor).
Graduate students are hired into sponsored projects as Research Assistants. The Graduate School defines the annual assistantship rate for each degree level; note that by law graduate students cannot make more than 0.5 EFT of the annual rate, since they must remain students for at least half their effort (for which they pay tuition or receive a waiver). Even then, each degree program can set Research Assistant salaries to different amounts and normally exercise some control so students are treated consistently. Consult with your unit’s business manager or Graduate Coordinator for the current (minimum) rate in your unit. Remember to add fringe benefits to pay for graduate health insurance.
At UGA, the postdoctoral experience emphasizes scholarship and continued research training after completing a doctoral degree while conducting research with a faculty mentor. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (under Office of Research – Research Personnel) reviews and approves all postdoctoral scholar appointments at UGA, works with campus administrators to develop policies affecting postdoctoral scholars and collaborates with the UGA Postdoctoral Association to provide postdocs with information and resources that will enhance the postdoc experience at UGA.
UGA’s postdoctoral policy clarifies the purpose of postdoctoral research appointments and sets compensation minima, time limits on these temporary appointments and other guidance and policy. There are three postdoctoral position types at UGA. The appropriate type for your project/lab is based on a number of factors, and your unit’s HR/business manager will be able to help you select the position type you need to recruit and the correct procedures for appointment. Office of Postdoctoral Affairs maintains guide and FAQ documents on the webpage, and staff can be reached with questions at the contact information also listed on the webpage.
Most UGA faculty have a 9-month (0.75 FTE) appointment and are allowed to work and request summer salary support for up to 3 additional months (0.25 FTE). Summer salary can be supported from sponsored projects or other sources.
When preparing proposals for sponsored projects the faculty member should consider (1) how much of his/her time will be spent performing the project and (2) when the work will be performed – during the academic year or during the summer. Based upon these variables, their academic and/or summer time (salary and fringe benefits) should be built into the proposal budget to ensure sufficient funding to compensate for work performed. Sponsored Projects Administration can help answer questions about sponsor salary guidelines/limitations when preparing a proposal.
Additionally, obtaining sponsored projects funding – during the summer and/or the academic year – may impact your academic and institutional commitments. Please discuss with your college/school chief business officer and human resources liaison potential impacts, including but not limited to possible salary savings.
Starting Your Lab
If you are pursuing laboratory-based research, part of your offer negotiations may have involved assignment and renovation of research space. If you find that renovation of your assigned space is required to perform your research, consult with your unit head regarding a request for renovation funding.
If you are involved in laboratory renovations, it is important to keep in mind what is provided by UGA Facilities Management and what is the responsibility of the unit. Generally, Facilities Management is responsible for maintenance of fixed items, while the unit covers the cost of renovations as well as movable things like office or laboratory furniture. Computer network installation is particularly important to consider; you should reach an agreement with your unit head about how that will be paid.
The Office of Research Safety (ORS) oversees laboratory safety for all UGA research laboratories. Its mission is to aid faculty in promoting a safety conscious culture at UGA. Before you conduct research in a laboratory, you should contact ORS director Esequiel Barrera (email@example.com) to discuss required and customized training needs, dependent on the type of research materials, equipment, and instrumentation to be used. The guidelines for opening a laboratory must be completed before you can begin working in the laboratory. Similarly, the guidelines for closing a laboratory must be followed when vacating or relocating a laboratory space to ensure the proper handling, transfer, or disposal of regulated materials in the laboratory. Safety policy references can be found in the UGA Laboratory Safety Manual along with procedures for laboratory inspection, hazardous waste handling, chemical procurement and tracking, radiation safety, and shipment/receipt of research materials.
You will need to acquire small equipment, supplies, chemicals, etc., for your research laboratory. The Office of Research operates Research Stores, which provide a relatively seamless way to procure most things at convenient locations across campus. You will use a UGA account number for startup funds or sponsored funds to pay for most transactions.
TIP: Every department/school/college has established custom processes for submitting orders. Your best bet is to meet with your unit’s business manager and with colleagues in similar research areas to learn the ropes.
It is likely that you will not be able to provide in your own research laboratory/office all the capabilities required to carry out your research program. For example, in the sciences, central facilities to provide DNA sequencing services or a particular type of spectroscopic analysis (e.g., NMR, Mass Spectrometry) are much more efficiently operated as shared-use facilities. Although the Office of Research attempts to maintain a list of available core research facilities, this area changes rapidly and you should consult experienced colleagues in your research area about whether there are either shared-use facilities or other research laboratories that provide access to instrumentation or services you require. It is not uncommon for core research facilities to charge a fee for services that is used to recover the costs of maintaining the facility, so you should be prepared to pay for access. These costs should be built into the budgets of proposals you submit.
You should also be aware of a unique core sharing service that exists among the major research schools and universities in Georgia. Sponsored by the Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Core Exchange of the Georgia Core Alliance (link at bottom of core research facilities page) provides access to the cores of all partner universities, with the same rate structure and priority of use available to the host university’s faculty.
TIP: Review the chart of Roles and Responsibilities for Restricted Projects.
Funding Your Work
Depending on your area of research, you may have been provided startup funding to help you start your research program. Regardless of whether your received funding, or how much you received, it won’t be enough to continue your research for long. UGA provides other internal funding opportunities (mostly supported through the University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc., UGARF) that are designed to “seed” research projects that can be developed into long-term (typically sponsored) research programs.
These seed grants are available in areas across the spectrum of research and scholarship at UGA; you can find out more about them at the Internal Grants page of the Office of Research website. Sometimes individual departments or colleges also provide some minor funding; consult with your unit head. If you are invited to present research findings at an international conference, you can compete for funding for airfare to attend through the Foreign Travel Assistance program.
TIP: Competitions for UGARF seed funding are conducted at various times throughout the year. Look for competition announcements on the Internal Grants page of the Office of Research website, as well as announcements on Research Insights and UGA listservs.
TIP: One efficient way to find funding opportunities is to set up funding alerts that automatically notify you of funding opportunities in your area of interest. The Pivot database available to UGA faculty includes more than 25,000 funding opportunities. You can set up funding alerts to be sent to you weekly. The Office for Proposal Enhancement and UGA Libraries offer workshops to help you set up customized searches and alerts.
The Innovation Gateway startup incubator enables UGA technology-based startup companies to accelerate their growth through access to business resources, programs for enhancing entrepreneurship, and first-rate facilities and equipment. The startup incubator also facilitates access to funding opportunities through Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) Ventures, a program that provides seed funding, grants and other support to early-stage ventures with market potential. Faculty wishing to explore the available resources to form startup companies based upon their research should contact Ian Biggs.
On a campus the size of UGA, there are often faculty researchers in different departments, schools, or colleges who have research interests and expertise that are either similar to yours or complement yours. UGA researchers can find collaborators for research projects through UGA Elements, the professional activity repository used to document scholarly activities for faculty annual evaluations at UGA. It provides an easily searchable database of UGA researcher expertise via publications, grants, teaching and professional activities. Elements is accessible to any faculty/staff with a MyID. Go to UGA Elements, then Menu, Explore, System Search, Simple or Advanced.
The Teaming for Interdisciplinary Research (TIR) Pre-Seed Program provides early–stage developmental funding to facilitate the formation of faculty teams and collaboration around critical areas of research expertise or emerging research topics. This funding level is insufficient to support research, per se, however it may be used for team-building activities such as networking meals, part-time student support, group website development, and travel to meet with potential external collaborators or funding agencies.
The research funding environment is competitive. Take advantage of resources that can help you strengthen your proposal:
- The Office for Proposal Enhancement provides a wide range of services for UGA faculty who are developing proposals for external funding, including opportunities to get expert advice, peer review programs and workshops, and assistance with preparing large, complex proposals.
- You can find useful proposal writing resources, including boilerplate, checklists, templates, tools and guidance from granting agencies on the Office for Proposal Enhancement website.
The money used to pay for the tangible expenses associated with a given research project is referred to as direct costs. This includes personnel (wages and salaries), supplies, operating expenses, small equipment – anything that can be justified as necessary for this project. It is important to request support that is reasonable for conducting the research (neither too little nor too much).
University research could not be performed, however, without support for buildings, laboratories, utilities, libraries, and numerous administrative activities that support the investigator’s working environment. These very real costs also apply to your project and are referred to as indirect costs or IDC.
Universities ask their research sponsors to reimburse these indirect costs as a percentage of direct costs. You must include in your budget a calculation of IDC. Some sponsors set limits on the percentage of IDC reimbursement allowed. The federal government closely controls definitions of the allowable direct costs of research and what can be supported by the university’s IDC rate. Understanding what costs are allowable, which costs are included in the IDC rate, and when you can appropriately charge such items as computers, cell phones, office supplies and books to grants is a major component of fiscal compliance in post-award financial administration.
TIP: Current IDC Rates list Federal and Non-Federal rates for Research, Public Service and Instruction, both on and off the main UGA campus.
Core facility fees
In some areas of research, it is not possible or reasonable for each project to request a particular piece of instrumentation or service, so universities often develop and support shared-use research core facilities. Universities generally do not have the resources to support everything that researchers need. Thus, most core facilities operate with some amount of cost recovery, charging fees for services or products from users. You should anticipate their use and consult with them ahead of time to include core facility fees and justification for them in your proposal.
Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) will help you navigate through the sponsored projects lifecycle: Get Started, Develop and Submit Proposal, Set Up Project, Manage Award and Close Out Account. Training is available to faculty and administrative staff on numerous sponsored projects topics throughout the year.
Proposals are submitted through the Grants Portal. Federal sponsors use a single submission portal called grants.gov. At most universities, a campus office assists investigators with proposal preparation and submission; at UGA, this is SPA.
UGA uses the Grants Portal, an online system, to track, approve, review, and submit proposals and awards for sponsored projects.All projects should be entered into the Grants Portal regardless of type: grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, MOUs, MOAs, etc. An overview of the Grants Portal and its functionality provides an introduction. Training on the Grants Portal also is available each semester at Training and Development, as well as upon request for departments or small groups. Please contact your SPA representative to set something up or if you have any questions.
TIP: SPA will ensure the successful submission of all proposals that are received in complete form at least four business days in advance of the due date. See the SPA “Four-day promise.
The PI, department administrator, department head, dean, members of your Sponsored Projects Administration team, and compliance units all have different roles and responsibilities in managing externally sponsored grants and contracts at UGA. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with these roles so that things don’t fall through the cracks.
The three pillars of the UGA mission are instruction, service, and research. Faculty effort (measured as EFT; 12 months is 1.0 EFT) is distributed among these three areas based on your discipline and particular emphasis.
When your research is funded by a sponsor, the research effort you expend on the sponsored project is charged to the sponsor. In some cases, the sponsor may also provide summer salary, which constitutes additional research EFT. If you work on multiple research projects, you must be careful not to over-commit your total research EFT (i.e., total cannot exceed 1.0 EFT). You can propose well in excess of 1.0 EFT across multiple proposals; you just can’t accept awards that require your EFT to go above 1.0.
General expectations for research performance are outlined in the UGA Guidelines for Appointment, Promotion and Tenure. Each promotion tenure unit (PTU) maintains a discipline-specific set of guidelines that you should obtain from your unit head (normally Department Head or School/College Dean). Your unit head is available for a detailed discussion of these expectations, which should have also been mentioned in your letter of offer. Unit heads provide annual evaluations based on your input of your activities in Elements, the primary source of data regarding the research, scholarship, service, awards and honors of UGA faculty. A pre-tenure review after your third year at UGA (described in the Guidelines) will provide a detailed assessment of your progress toward tenure.
Inventions and other intellectual property created in the course of your employment are managed according to the UGA Intellectual Property Policy. The University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (UGARF) manages the protection and commercialization of UGA intellectual property generated in the course of your research unless specific sponsor agreements dictate otherwise. As you conduct research, you and your team should coordinate with Innovation Gateway to carefully evaluate whether a particular research outcome, technology development, or other creative development has value as a commercialization opportunity. If so, Innovation Gateway will work with you and outside counsel to obtain appropriate intellectual property protection. Principal Investigators and other key personnel are responsible for reminding research group members of the policy and their obligations under the policy. Find out more about how to protect your creations or inventions (intellectual properties) that result from scientific and creative activities.
TIP: If you believe you have particular research outcomes, technology developments, or other creative developments (i.e., inventions or other intellectual property) that should be protected or that may have commercial potential, please contact Innovation Gateway to file a disclosure of intellectual property (described in Intellectual Property Policy, section III.C.) and follow the confidentiality obligations (section III.E).
Research safety, biosafety, animal use, human subjects, export control
UGA enters into binding agreements with the federal or state governments or with private foundations or corporations that fund research that require compliance with many different guidelines about how research is performed. As a UGA employee, you are bound by these agreements and are required to be in compliance. In particular, if your research involves human subjects, animals, or biosafety concerns, you should contact the following offices early in your research planning:
- Human Research Protection Program
- Office of Animal Care and Use
- Office of Biosafety
- Export Control Office
- Research Safety
If you are unsure whether these compliance areas apply to you, err on the safe side and contact firstname.lastname@example.org, Compliance Training Coordinator. In almost all cases, written approval from these offices is required before any research can commence. They can help you determine the relevance to your research project.
TIP: The Office of Research offers training to ensure researchers meet all university, state and federal regulations and laws. Training is offered in person, online, and through Research Compliance Training.
All UGA faculty should be aware of UGA policies regarding Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). General RCR information, including policies on Research Misconduct and Conflicts of Interest, and information specific to NIH, NIFA (USDA) and NSF RCR training requirements is available through the Office of Research website.
TIP: As a matter of policy, all personnel employed on an NSF grant must complete NSF online RCR training. It is imperative that no one be placed on an NSF grant payroll without first verifying that training has been completed. This includes faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and even those who are not UGA employees or students.
Connect with UGA Research
The website for the Office of Research has links to all forms, policies, personnel, tools and resources to support your research program. From every page, you can find:
Offered to faculty and research professionals who are both brand-new to UGA and veterans of many years, the annual Research Orientation will help you learn more about how the Office of Research can support your work. Presenters will share information about sponsored programs, internal grants, research commercialization, integrity and safety, human and animal subjects research, core facilities, research communications, and more. Presenter remarks will be followed by Q&A with attendees.