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Policies for applicants and grant holders

Salary

Funds may be requested for the salary costs of all staff, full or part-time, who work on the project and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail. Salary costs sought should be commensurate with the skills, responsibilities and expertise necessary to carry out the role required. The level of salary sought should be justified in the reasons for support requested section of the form. We reserve the right to award support at a different level if considered appropriate.

Salary costs sought should include any increments to which the individual is entitled, as well as anticipated promotions or re-grading, where appropriate. The host institution is responsible, as the employer, for the contracts of employment of the staff concerned, and consequently for any redundancy or other compensatory payments that may be required. Work permits, where required, are a matter for direct negotiation between the host institution and the relevant Government departments.

Spinal Research expects to be informed in a timely manner if matters arising from the above are expected to affect the conduct or progress of the award.

Materials and consumables

All costs should be realistically budgeted and requested in the application form. We will meet the directly incurred costs of materials and consumables required to carry out the proposed research. These costs may include laboratory chemicals and materials (e.g. reagents, isotopes, peptides, enzymes, antibodies, gases, proteins, cell/tissue/bacterial culture, plasticware and glassware, etc.), and photographic supplies.

Animals Funds may be requested to cover charge-out rates for animal house facilities, when animal use is essential to the project. Charge-out rates may include running costs (including the purchase and maintenance of animals, and any experimental procedures involved), plus appropriate estates costs and cage depreciation costs.

Building depreciation costs should be excluded from the charge-out rates applied for on our grants. For institutions that do not use full economic costing methodology to establish charge-out rates for animal house facilities, funds may be requested to cover the purchase costs of animals, food and maintenance charges (e.g. diet, bedding, disinfectant, disposal bags) and labour costs, and for any experimental procedures involved.

Equipment purchase and equipment maintenance. Applicants can request items of equipment essential to the proposed research project.
Inflation: Spinal Research covers 3.5% annual inflation on consumables.

Intellectual Property

Management of intellectual property and maximising public health benefits.

Spinal Research promotes access to research results to the greatest extent possible so that they may form the basis of future discoveries and lead to public health benefits. We recognise that intellectual property protection (patents in particular) is a valuable tool to provide incentives for the translation of research results into products that benefit public health.

To achieve our aims, we believe that intellectual property issues must be approached carefully in light of individual circumstances. We will consider whether the proposed protection, management and exploitation of such Spinal Research-funded intellectual property is an appropriate means of achieving the public benefit.
In order to do this we must have understanding of the proposed protection, management and exploitation strategy in advance of implementation. It is not in Spinal Research’s best interests to unreasonably withhold or delay consent to the proposed exploitation strategy.

Use of animals in biomedical research

Spinal Research recognises that for complex multisystem diseases and pathologies, such as spinal cord injury, it is sometimes necessary to use animals as part of the overall research endeavour. Spinal Research is aware of the responsibility that this places on it to ensure, whenever possible, alternatives to the use of animals are explored. All laboratories must hold a certificate issued by the Home Office and have gained approval for their work from a local ethical and animal welfare committee before any work involving the use of animals is permitted.

Eligible costs 

Spinal Research is a UK-based charity. It should be noted that, as a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities, Spinal Research follows its position statement on full economic costing (fEC) and will only pay for the directly incurred and identifiable costs of research. We fund the full directly incurred costs of all its research awards. However, as a charity, we expect the general running costs (e.g. indirect costs, estate costs, support services) to be provided by Government (or government bodies), through funding to universities.

We will therefore not fund on a proportion of fEC basis. UK universities need to have an understanding of fEC of their research activity, and to be transparent in the way that they account for these costs, in order to ensure the sustainability of the sector. Since September 2005, UK universities have been calculating the fEC of individual research projects. Under the fEC model, traditional definitions of direct and indirect costs no longer apply. Instead, costs are to be classified as:

Directly Incurred Costs – actual costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a project (e.g. staff salaries, equipment, materials, travel)

Directly Allocated Costs – costs of resources used by a project that are shared by other activities and based on estimates (e.g. principal and co-investigator costs, estates costs)

Indirect Costs – non-specific costs charged across all projects that are based on estimates (e.g. HR and finance services, library costs). We will fund the full directly-incurred costs of a research project and fund other costs, at our discretion, where it helps us further our charitable mission.

We will not fund Directly Allocated or Indirect Costs unless specifically agreed. However, awards may also provide other costs where it suits our charitable mission to do so. We are willing to provide funding to meet the full costs of research involving animals. We may also make awards to fund specific building and infrastructure costs.

Research Misconduct

The International Spinal Research Trust is committed to ensuring high standards of research integrity and practice in the research it funds.

As part of this, we expect researchers to follow our guidelines and policies.  We also expect UK research organisations to follow the Universities UK concordat to support research integrity, and those outside the UK to follow appropriate guidelines of a similar standard.

We use the concordat’s definition of research misconduct, and we expect the organisations that we fund to do the same.

The concordat defines misconduct as “behaviour or actions that fall short of the standards of ethics, research and scholarship required to ensure that the integrity of research is upheld.” This includes fabrication, falsification, plagiarism or deception in performing or reviewing research, and in reporting research outputs.

For example, omitting relevant data, manipulating images, or misusing data by deliberately attempting to re-identify people from research data are all research misconduct.

It does not include honest differences in the design, execution or interpretation in evaluating research methods or results, or research of poor quality unless this encompasses the intention to deceive.