How do I determine the value of contributed items from third parties?

In general, values for contributions of services and property are established in accordance with Uniform Guidance Subpart E Cost Principles for allowability and the terms of the federal award. All documentation should include a brief statement describing the basis for determining the valuation of services, material, or equipment. 

How do I get purchases approved?

That depends on the method of purchase. VPF will automatically seek RAS advice for questionable purchases made by purchase order or on a request for payment form. Procurement card purchases are approved by the DLC, and therefore it is the DLCs responsibility to confirm that charges are allowable. See the terms of your award to determine what purchases may be restricted, or contact your RAS contract administrator with questions.

How do I know if export control applies to a research project?

Export controls apply if the topic of the research appears on either the U.S. Munitions List (ITAR) or the Commerce Control List (EAR). There are exclusions and exceptions to the application of the regulations.

Furthermore, it depends on both the technologies (i.e., the work scope) and the countries (either foreign destinations or foreign personnel) involved. ITAR applies if the subject of the research appears on the ITAR munitions list. Under ITAR, the country of destination is irrelevant; export of a controlled item to any foreign country or any foreign national would be in violation of the law.

The application of EAR is more complicated. It depends on both the technology involved and the country of destination. For example, you might have a technology that can be exported to Canada but not to Venezuela. In most cases, technologies are very precisely defined, and the definitions affect the applicability of the law. For example, telecommunications equipment involving lasers that transmit at wavelengths above 1750 nm may be controlled, while similar equipment using a smaller wavelength is not controlled.

For more information, please use Stanford's Export Control Decision Tree.

More information about what is affected by Export Control

How do I know that my cost sharing costs are allowable?

As with costs directly charged to the sponsor, allowable cost sharing must be necessary and reasonable for the performance of the project objectives. As with direct charged expenses, cost shared expenses must be reasonable, allocable (i.e., directly benefit the specific project), and consistent with the terms of the award. Allowable cost sharing expenses must be expended (i.e., incurred) during the effective date of the award project. For details on eligibility criteria, see What Is Allowable/Eligible Cost Sharing.

How do I know when an award requires MIT execution?

Some proposals result in unilateral awards; based on the proposal and through budget revisions, the sponsor issues an award document. In these cases, a formal acceptance of the award signature by MIT is not required because our expenditure of funds demonstrates our acceptance of the award terms and conditions. These are known as unilateral awards. NSF and NIH grant awards are examples of such unilateral awards.

When a sponsor requires that an MIT-authorized official sign to accept the award terms and conditions, the award is called a bilateral award. Typically, federal contracts and most foundation and industry awards are bilateral.

How do I know when to budget as a subaward and when to budget as a vendor?

It is important to understand the distinction between subrecipients and vendors.


  • Provide goods and services as part of their normal business operations
  • Do not participate in the intellectual direction of the project and, therefore, would not be included as authors on publications.
  • Provide similar goods and services to many different purchasers
  • Operates in a competitive environment
  • Are not subject to compliance requirements

How do I prepare a research proposal for industry consideration?

In cases where there is no pre-defined proposal format, the Office of Strategic Alliances & Tech Transfer (OSATT) recommends you use the Common Components of a Proposal for guidance.  However, there are additional elements that should be included in an industrial proposal that will assist OSATT in putting together a contract.  The proposal should spell out:

  • What is the research you will be conducting?
  • What is the research the company will be conducting, if applicable?
  • Will you or anyone in your lab be conducting any of the research at the company?
  • Will the company be sending any personnel to MIT to participate in the research?
  • Will you be receiving any materials or data/databases from the company to conduct this research?
  • Will you be sending any materials or data/databases to the company as a part of the research effort (as opposed to sharing the research results in a summary report)?
  • Will you be using any material or data/databases from a third party in this collaboration (i.e. will you need to use material/data/databases you received from another university, company or other institution)? 
  • Will you be collaborating with any third parties (i.e. Broad, a local hospital, another university)
  • Do you have any Background IP that you will be bringing to this research effort?  If yes, can you identify that BIP or provide us with the name of your Licensing Officer at the TLO.
  • Do you anticipate any patentable inventions arising from this research?

OSATT will provide the sponsor with an MIT Industrial Agreement for their review that reflects the research, as we understand it. Please contact OSATT as early as possible regarding industrial agreements.