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Sponsored Research Incentive (SRI)

The Sponsored Research Incentive (SRI) program provides incentive intended to encourage units and their faculty and researchers to seek external support for their research/creative activities. The Vice President for Research and Partnerships sets aside internal funds that are distributed as SRI based upon the academic appointment of the principal investigator(s).

The current university policy on SRI funds provides for the distribution of an amount equal to 18% of the indirect cost recovered by the university's research enterprise to the generating colleges. The amount of indirect costs used to determine each year's distribution is based on the net indirect costs generated the preceding year.

SRI distributions are sent annually to the appropriate Dean’s office for further distribution and/or investment, along with a simple breakdown showing the indirect cost recovery data by College/Dept/PI. It is expected that these funds will be utilized and aligned to further the university’s Lead On” Strategic Plan and in support of the university’s Research Mission, as outlined in the VPRP Strategic Framework. An annual report from each Dean detailing how these funds were utilized is due September 1st of each year.

Deans have discretion to distribute SRI funds in a way that best serves the research mission of their college, in alignment with the “Lead On, University” Strategic Plan (explicitly Pillar 1: “Become a Top-Tier Public Research University” and Pillar 5: “Enrich and Positively Impact Oklahoma, the Nation, and the World through Research and Creative Activity”) and with the Vice President for Research and Partnerships’ Research Strategic Framework.

The objective is to balance the grant revenue generation of each individual department and/or research group within a department with furthering the research goals and aspirations of the colleges and the university. Deans may wish to consider utilizing some portion of the SRI funds to promote transdisciplinary research initiatives and convergence among and across disciplines and across colleges. Deans may wish to return a portion of the SRI funds directly to each department proportional to its grant revenue generation, but they should only do so with guidance to department chairs regarding appropriate uses of SRI funds.

SRI funds are to be used directly to facilitate and augment research productivity. Among examples of logical uses of these funds are the following scenarios:

  • an exceptionally productive research team has an opportunity to compete for even larger external grants but needs to demonstrate the availability of cost-sharing funds;
  • an emerging research team has the opportunity to compete for the first time for funding on a very large scale, but requires an additional investment of funds for PIs to buy out teaching time, to enable fuller focus on the grant application, and to purchase necessary equipment to be competitive in seeking this award;
  • two or more departments in the college or across colleges include a group of faculty whose research interests intersect and have the potential for the kind of convergence that will make them competitive for a major funding award, but need time to work with program officers to develop a competitive grant narrative.

Further applications of SRI funds may include the following:

  • in order to encourage faculty to seek external funding and opt for a full year rather than a half-year sabbatical, as at peer aspirational institutions, a portion of SRI could be applied to top up salaries to the full amount;
  • faculty may benefit from augmented summer faculty development awards in colleges without this tradition;
  • competitively awarded course releases may assist faculty toward the completion of major book and article projects.

SRI funds are not to be used for academic program oriented Maintenance and Operations (M&O) costs, either at the college or department level. However, it is important to note that SRI can be used for the following applications, as examples, because they directly impact individual faculty research and creative endeavors and are often excluded as allowable expenditures directly on grant funds (e.g., State of Oklahoma research grant policy stipulations):

  • travel to conferences;
  • foreign travel outside the U.S.;
  • purchase of computer or electronic equipment of any kind;
  • purchase of data storage, software, or software licenses;
  • purchase of maintenance-type supplies, replacement parts, or equipment repairs;
  • publication costs;
  • research associate, technician, or faculty summer, sabbatical, or course release and/or graduate student salary; and any other research needs faculty identify.

If you have any questions about a faculty member’s credit/SRI split, reach out to Cindy Clark (ris@ou.edu). Additional questions may be directed to Kristi King (kking@ou.edu).