Indirect Costs of Research

Information on the use of Research Overhead and the Government of Canada’s Research Support Fund at the University of Northern BC (UNBC)

As a designated research-intensive university, UNBC has a mandate to foster and support research. This is done in many ways including, but not limited to:

  • Personnel who support research grant applications (e.g. review, revision, submission);
  • Personnel who support research grant administration (e.g. contract management, purchasing, finance);
  • Personnel who support UNBC’s internal grants program (e.g. Research Strategic Initiatives Grants);
  • Personnel who support communications, certifications (e.g. Research Ethics Board, Animal Care and Use Committee);
  • Personnel who support research infrastructure (e.g. Enhanced Forestry Lab, Research Data Centre);
  • Funds for internal grants;
  • Funds for internal scholarships;
  • Research infrastructure (e.g. equipment purchases and upgrades, operating costs of research space);
  • Research resources (e.g. library acquisitions, Romeo Software, memberships in scholarly organizations).

Research Support Funds (RSF)

Research Support Funds (RSF) come from the Tri-Agencies (NSERC, SSHRC and CIHR) and are provided to institutions based on a 3-year running average of Tri-Agency grants received. Information on UNBC’s allotment of RSF and how it is used can be found on our public accountability site:

Overhead Funds(OH)

Overhead Funds (OH) come from non Tri-Agency grants and contracts – for example grants from the Provincial Government, NGOs, and industry. UNBC expects a rate of 25%; table 1 shows how this lines up with other institutions.

Comparison of Overhead Rates with other BC Institutions


Government, NGO






Exceptions for verified posted rates by funding institutions



25% minimum

Exceptions when funder policy does not allow OH or has a lower rate – policy must be attached to application




Application for variance, includes a section completed by the funder







Exceptions for publicly posted rates.

Distribution of RSF and OH at UNBC

RSF: 40% University general operating (GOP), 60% Office of Research and Innovation.

OH: 30% University general operating (GOP), 70% Office of Research and Innovation.

The Office of Research’s use of RSF, OH, and GOP funds

The Office of Research has three sources of funds – RSF, OH and general operating (GOP). These are used collectively to support the activities listed above. What activities are covered by RSF and OH vary but in general it is as follows:

  • RSF: partial support of Office of Research and Innovation personnel. Use of these funds are governed by the general principles of the Research Support Fund Program, which must be reported to the Tri-Agency Institutional Programs Secretariat and posted publicly on UNBC’s website each year;
  • OH: course buyouts for chairs of certification bodies, UNBC contributions on grant applications, honoraria, university memberships to scholarly organizations, contributions to research equipment purchase and maintenance, software, among others;
  • GOP: staff salaries, internal grants (RSIG), student scholarships.

Rationale for current OH distribution model

  • The Office of Research and Innovation has funding available to support research under one umbrella. Faculty looking for a UNBC contribution on a grant application, funds to repair equipment, funds for a pilot study and other requests can make a single request to the ORI, rather than asking the Program Chair, Dean and ORI for funding;
  • It allows UNBC to be more strategic in how resources are used, including how GOP funds are utilized to support scholarly activities;
  • Enables leverage of limited resources;
  • Enable support of pan-institutional memberships, course buyouts for REB chair etc. that benefit all Faculties and students.