Government and private agencies or organizations support research (or other) projects by using one of several award mechanisms. Applications for the following three types of funding mechanisms must be processed through the Office of Sponsored Research:

  1. Grants. A grant is an award made to the College to fund activities in which the funding agency has an interest but takes no active part in the conduct of the project. A grant proposal typically includes a detailed budget estimate in addition to a project description and always requires the signature of an official representative of the College. Grant funds must be spent according to the rules of the agency. Financial reporting is required, the award is subject to external audit, and unexpended funds must be returned to the agency at the conclusion of the project.
  2. Contracts. A contract is similar to a grant in that it is an award made to the College and therefore requires institutional approval at the time of submission and oversight after the award has been made. It differs in that it is a legal instrument in which the Wellesley project director promises to perform certain designated services and/or provide specific deliverables.
  3. Subawards and subcontracts. A subaward or subcontract is a formal agreement between an institution that has received a sponsored award (“lead institution”) and an institution that will perform substantive, programmatic work in support of proposal goals (“subawardee”). The College may be either the lead institution or the subawardee; ordinarily, the lead institution is where the majority of work will take place. A subaward agreement defines the subawardee’s involvement in the research project and typically involves a specific time commitment from an investigator. In addition, the subaward agreement incorporates the appropriate terms and conditions from the agreement between the originating sponsor and the lead institution; this is typically referred to as "flow-down". A subaward proposal generally includes a scope of work, a corresponding budget and budget justification, and a statement of intent to collaborate on the proposed research signed by an authorized organizational representative of the subawardee.

Fellowships and Gifts/Donations

  • Fellowships. A fellowship is an award made directly to an individual and carries with it many fewer restrictions than a grant. A proposal for a fellowship usually does not require as detailed budget information as with a grant application, and (except in certain special instances) does not need any signature other than that of the applicant. A faculty member who receives a fellowship usually has to provide a report on the work completed while supported by the fellowship but ordinarily does not have to provide an accounting for how the fellowship funds were spent. Most of the procedures and regulations of the Office of Sponsored Research do not apply to fellowship applicants, although the Office of Sponsored Research often provides assistance to faculty members seeking fellowship support.
  • Gifts/donations. A gift/donation is a contribution of funds or property with no reciprocal benefit to the donor. The donor may stipulate that the contribution is to be used for a designated purpose, but detailed expenditure or technical reports are usually not required as a condition of the award. Most of the procedures and regulations of the Office of Sponsored Research do not apply to gifts/donations. Please contact Development for assistance with gift processing.