What Is a Sponsored Research Agreement?

First of all, what is the meaning of research? Simply put, research means the process of assembling substantial knowledge or data for the purpose of sharing them in appropriate settings. In longer terms, research refers to a systematic inquiry process that includes data gathering, documenting of key information, and analysis and interpretation of that data/information in accordance with appropriate procedures established by certain professional domains and academic disciplines. Research is especially important since it allows people the opportunity to expand their knowledge base, to let them know what they’re really up against in the normal world, and to further build their credibility as an individual.

A sponsored research agreement, which can be sometimes known as a grant, is a legal document in which one party gives funding to a beneficiary to assist the completion of a certain research project or similar activities. In this arrangement, the sponsoring party may be a foundation, government entity, for-profit corporation, research institute, or even a university. The beneficiary party in this agreement is usually a university. The funds that are awarded under this agreement must be spent according to the budget, and the agreement could demand that any funds not spent on the project be refunded to the sponsor.

Since a sponsored research agreement is considered a legal document, it must be written properly and without any fuss. With that being said, a sponsored research agreement will most certainly contain these common elements:

Recitals. This usually serves as the first main part of the agreement apart from the title. But what does it usually mean? Agreement recitals, often known as “whereas” clauses, come before the main part of an agreement. A recital gives the reader a basic picture of the agreement’s objective, the people involved in the agreement, and the reason why they are signing it. They can be included in the opening section of the agreement to connect to information and say that it is factual and correct. Recitals assist to eliminate confusion and any disagreements over the legitimacy of the agreement.Project Performance. This section of the sponsored research agreement states that the beneficiary of the sponsored research funds will practice dedication and commitment and make sensible efforts to carry out the research project under the guidance of a principal investigator, subject to the sponsor providing support in a timely manner. It also states that the beneficiary should provide the sponsor with any other deliverables that are appropriately described.Project Control. This section of the sponsored research agreement states that, unless otherwise expressly stated, the beneficiary will have sole and exclusive authority to conduct, manage, control, and direct the research project, as well as supervise all personnel participating in the research project and manage any subcontractors having to carry out their obligations in the research project. It also stipulates that the sponsor will have a reasonable opportunity to advise and confer with the principal investigator about the research and its progress over the duration of the research endeavor.Replacements. This section of the sponsored research agreement specifies that the beneficiary promises to quickly notify the sponsor of any change in the primary investigator’s employment position that might have a major unfavorable effect on the research project. If the primary investigator leaves the beneficiary or becomes otherwise unavailable to lead the research project, the beneficiary of the agreement will be allowed to change the principal investigator with a similarly competent researcher that is deemed acceptable to the sponsor.Research Conduct. According to this section of the sponsored research agreement, the research activities must be carried out in compliance with a documented research plan, timeline, and budget, as updated from time to time, which must be created and authorized by the committee. The goals of the appropriate projects, as well as each project to be done in conjunction with the study, must be detailed in the research plan. The research plan must also include the activities that will be carried out, the resources that will be used, deliverables, budgets, and dates for all of the above.Reimbursements. This section of the sponsored research agreement states that the sponsor will agree to pay the agreement beneficiary for all fees and expenses racked up by them in conducting research as well as other work on the project determined in accordance with the beneficiary’s standard and customary practices, in accordance with the established project budget. It should also declare that the beneficiary may deviate from the budget if, in the opinion of the principal investigator, the deviations are aligned with and reasonably required to attain the project’s aims and goals.Ownership of Assets. This part of the sponsored research agreement states that the agreement beneficiary will have the sole right, title, and involvement in all assets and other tangible materials purchased, obtained, furnished, manufactured, or used in the research project, whether as in-kind assistance from the sponsor, bought by the beneficiary using payments made to them by the sponsor, or anything else, unless otherwise expressly agreed in writing by the parties.Term and Termination. This section of the sponsored research agreement specifies the effective start and end dates of the agreement, subject to early termination or alteration with mutual consent of the parties concerned. This section further specifies that any party may cancel this agreement for any reason, with or without cause, with previous written notice. The agreement’s termination should have no effect on the parties’ rights and obligations that accrued prior to the termination’s effective date. If the sponsor terminates the agreement, they must also compensate the beneficiary for any work completed prior to the effective termination date.Non Confidentiality Clause. This section of the sponsored research agreement indicates that the parties recognize that they have not and do not intend to disclose any confidential or trade secrets to each other in accordance with this agreement or the project. If a party feels that disclosure of secret or proprietary information is essential to complete the project, that party will quickly send a notice and request that the parties agree to a suitable confidential disclosure agreement on mutually reasonable terms.Publication. This section of the funded research agreement can be separated into two sections: joint publishing and separate publication. In the case of joint publishing, the parties may collaborate to publish the findings of the research in a joint article in an acceptable peer-reviewed journal. Separate publication, on the other hand, allows either party to publish or present the results of the research without the consent of the other party, provided that the other party holds the right to review and comment on the proposed public disclosure in order to protect its confidential information.Warranty Disclaimers. This section of the sponsored research agreement states that the beneficiary party acknowledges that the terms of the agreement are legally enforceable commitments but disclaims all express and implied warranties relevant to the research and allows no guarantees concerning the outcome of any research conducted under this document.Legal Compliance. This section of the sponsored research agreement specifies that the parties agree that this agreement will be applied and construed in accordance with all applicable laws, rules, and requirements. If either party has probable cause to believe that this agreement does not conform to then-current requirements or interpretations applicable to such matters, both parties agree to immediately negotiate in good faith to bring this agreement into strict conformity with such then-current requirements and interpretations.Signatures. Serving as the final important piece of the sponsored research agreement, this is where the signatures of the parties involved are affixed including the date in which the signatures are affixed. The details include the names of the agreement beneficiary, the sponsor of the agreement, as well as the name of the principal investigator of the research project.

How to Write a Sponsored Research Agreement

Agreements usually consist of specific variables such as deliverables, objectives, payment, publication, ownership of intellectual property, and so on. Such clauses present in agreements may make them incredibly daunting to write especially for a novice. But with the help of the following steps, the burden of your writing process should be eased.

  • 1. Identifying the Parties Involved

    This is the first step to be performed when writing a sponsored research agreement. In this first step, the main parties that are involved in the agreement are to be identified. They are the sponsor and the awardee/beneficiary. The agreement sponsor can be a foundation, a government entity, a for-profit agency, a research institute, or a university. The agreement awardee/beneficiary, in most cases, is usually a university that intends to conduct the research project. In addition to the main parties of the agreement, the principal investigator of the research project should also be identified, whose role is to prepare, conduct, and administer the grant of this sponsored research project.

  • 2. Writing the Main Clauses

    After identifying the parties involved in the sponsored research agreement, this step will then follow. In this step, the main clauses of the agreement are to be written down. Some of the main clauses of the sponsored research agreement include the project performance, project control, the scope of work, and the terms for research conduct. Dedication and commitment to the project by the beneficiary should be highlighted under project performance, terms for proper project authority and control will be stated under the project control clause, the scope of work should comprise every research task and the plan on achieving it, and the terms for research conduct will dictate on how the research is going to be carried out with accordance to the scope of work and it should also state what the deliverables of the project are.

  • 3. Writing the Boilerplate Clauses

    After writing the main clauses of the sponsored research agreement, the boilerplate clauses will then follow in this step. Boilerplate clauses essentially mean standard clauses that can be found in the majority of legal documents that exist. Some of the boilerplate clauses that can be found in this type of agreement include the term and termination clause, the warranty disclaimers, the legal compliance clause, and the signature section. The term and termination clause should signify the start and end dates of the agreement, the warranty disclaimer section should disclaim any and all implied and express warranties that are relevant to the research process, the legal compliance clause should specify that the agreement will be applied in accordance to all applicable laws, and the signatures section is where the parties involved, as well as the principal investigator, will affix their signatures and the date of signature.

  • 4. Final Steps

    After writing the boilerplate clauses of the sponsored research agreement, this last step will follow. Actually, it can be broken further down into the verification phase and the signing phase. As the entire draft of the agreement has been completed, the verification phase will then take place. It is recommended that someone who has a vast knowledge of how agreements and contracts work (a lawyer) should look over the draft for any inconsistencies and advise for any amendments in the document. Once the verification process has been completed and the agreement finalized, the signatures can then be affixed which will put the terms of the agreement in motion.


How is a memorandum of understanding different from this agreement?

Firstly, a memorandum of understanding is different from this type of agreement since it is a non-binding document. Compared to a sponsored research agreement, a memorandum of understanding may describe a potential partnership, sponsorship, or future activity, but it does not bind the participants to accomplish or deliver the project unless specifically stated in a subsequent legally binding agreement. A memorandum of understanding may clearly specify that it is non-binding or may relate to the parties’ lack of legal duty in other ways.

How long does research usually take?

How long the research process takes is usually determined by the type of the project, how effectively the topic is covered, what resources are accessible in the library or online, the time allocated for the assignment, and the researcher’s skill. When you suspect that the research process may be complicated, begin early so that you can change your plan or article as needed. Furthermore, some themes will contain a lot of content, while others may have very little. It is common for studies to take longer than expected.

Another example of a research agreement is an unfunded agreement. What is it?

An unfunded research agreement is a contract in which two or more parties agree to work together on a certain research endeavor. The agreement would normally include a statement of work, performance duration, and IP ownership conditions, as well as provisions for effort commitment, resource contribution, visiting researchers, or other value exchange in support of the partnership. In contrast to a sponsored research agreement, in which a grant is normally involved, each party in this form of agreement is responsible for its own expenditures associated with the study.

Getting sponsored when doing research can be a huge advantage as it saves you from getting your money out of your own pocket and instead utilizing the grant that was provided to you by the sponsor. However, as with any other research, huge responsibilities are involved. A sponsored research agreement enables the sponsoring process to occur, and in this article, different sample articles of this agreement exist to provide you with an effective reference should you want to know more about it or if you want to make one.