Justification of resources - EPSRC

The mandatory justification of resources (JoR) aids reviewers who are assessing proposals, to make informed judgements on whether requested resources are appropriate for the research posed.

Costings should be justified on the basis of full economic costs (fEC) of the project, not just on the costs expected from the research councils.

The JoR should be no more than two sides of A4, and be added as an attachment to the proposal. It should justify the resources required to undertake the research project, taking into account the nature and complexity of the proposal.

The JoR should not be simply a list of the resources required, as this is given in the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system form. Whether the grant is a large programme grant or a small travel grant, all items requested in the Je-S form must be justified in the JoR.

NHS research costs should be justified under the appropriate heading. NHS support and treatment costs should be identified in the JoR document to allow reviewers to consider the overall value for money, however these will not be supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Find out more about eligible NHS costs.

The JoR is a free-text document. So you do not miss any costings from the Je-S form or justifications for the items requested, match the costs to the proposal headings below.

How to write justifications for costs to the proposal headings

Staff - directly incurred posts

Researcher and technician.

Justification needed

Justify why a researcher or technician is needed for the proposed work, and why the proposed time input is appropriate.

Points to consider and answer in the justification

In the justification you should consider and answer:

  • is the work technically difficult enough to warrant a research assistant and why has the particular level of assistant been asked for?
  • have you considered the resource needed to prepare your research data for deposit/sharing with others?

Staff - directly allocated posts

Principal investigator (PI), co-investigator (CoI) and research co-investigator time. (Some universities now keep an auditable record of this effort so it may be a directly incurred post.)

Justification needed

Justify the time the PI and Co-I spends on the grant. A PI or Co-I cannot request time for supervising postgraduate research students, writing publications post project, writing grant applications, or peer review.

Points to consider and answer in the justification

In the justification you should consider and answer:

  • how much time do you intend to dedicate to the project?
  • will you be doing all the research yourself?
  • what work packages are the PI and Co-Is involved with and why?
  • have you factored in sufficient time to work with project partners, or visiting researchers and collaborators?
  • are you managing the staff on the project yourself?

Travel and subsistence

Justification needed

Provide a full breakdown of costs in the Je-S form, such as how many people are travelling, where they are going and why.

Points to consider and answer in the justification

If you plan to visit people to discuss your research, explain why those are the right people to talk to and how they can contribute to you meeting your objectives.

If you plan to attend conferences, comment on the advantages of conference attendance, giving an indication of the number you want to attend during the grant, who will attend, and the type you want to go to. For example, national, international, general, subject specific and so on.

Travel costs incurred when using facilities should be included where necessary.

Where your employer cannot cover the costs and you require support for costs over and above your standard care arrangements to enable you to visit people to discuss your research you do not need to describe the personal circumstances related to this request, rather you should describe the support required and state that it is needed due to caring responsibilities.

Other directly incurred costs

Justification needed

Detail what has been requested and why. Every item requested must be justified, however small.

Points to consider and answer in the justification

All costs under £10,000 are considered consumables. Explain what these are, and why you need them.

If asking for a computer, justify why it is needed for this project, over and above a standard computer that should be provided by your university. If you are asking for a desktop and a laptop, justify why both are needed.

If you wish to request flexible working support, you do not have to describe the personal circumstances that result in the need for flexible working support rather you should describe the support required.

It is expected that the university will provide computers and laptops for PIs, Co-Is, and other research staff on continuing contracts.

You must provide a breakdown of any costs incurred for bulk items.

Impact

Justification needed

Justify any resources requested to support impact activities, where appropriate. For example staff time, travel and subsistence, consultancy fees and public communication training.

Points to consider and answer in the justification

Patent costs and other intellectual property (IP) costs are not eligible. Universities already receive funding for these from higher education innovation funding (HEIF).

Estate and indirect costs should not be requested for Technology Transfer Officers (TTOs). These are project specific resources.

Other directly allocated costs

Justification needed

In some cases, such as use of internal facilities and shared staff costs, the basis of the costing doesn’t need to be justified, but the need for the resource does.

Estates and indirect costs

Justification needed

You only need to justify time.

Research facilities at research organisations

Justification needed

You only need to justify time.

Points to consider and answer in the justification

Explain what you are using the facility for and why you need to use this particular facility.

Pooled technicians

For example workshop or laboratory technicians based at the university – usually not named.

Justification needed

Explain why you are using a pooled technician, and justify the amount of resource requested but not the cost itself.

Infrastructure technicians

For example a university health and safety officer.

Justification needed

If your institution has calculated infrastructure technician rates (separately from estate rates), they should be added to the proposal in the same way as estates and indirect rates, which is as a standard rate or research FTE.

The inclusion of a charge for infrastructure technicians, along with the per-FTE rate in use, does not need to be justified and will not be assessed.

Exceptions

Equipment between £10,000 and £138,000 (including VAT).

Justification needed

Justify all equipment between £10,000 and £138,000 (including VAT). If successful, EPSRC will fund the agreed percentage of the total cost of the equipment.

Points to consider and answer in the justification

EPSRC expects a contribution to the equipment from your institution or project partner. Please note, a letter of support detailing the contribution must be attached to your grant application.

If equipment for a research proposal is needed which will cost more than the current £138,000 threshold, a case for this needs to be submitted as a separate business case.

This does not need to be justified in the JoR on a research proposal but reference to the equipment needed, and contingency plans for if it does not get supported, should be articulated in your case for support.

Main reasons for returning JoRs for amendments

Costs stated in the Je-S form are not fully justified in the JoR, such as investigator time.

Please note that the investigator salary does not need to be justified, only the time asked for.

Costs or descriptions stated in the Je-S form do not match, or are not present, in the JoR or vice versa.

Justifications of why an item is needed are unclear or poor, for example listing items from the Je-S form without any description of why it’s needed.

If the PI time includes supervision of PhD students, as this is not allowed, regardless of justification.

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