Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Sign up to learn more about news, events and opportunities with Stanford Global Health.

Stanford Global Health
Research Administration Roadmap

Stanford researchers can use this quick guide to launch global health research projects, access the university’s many helpful resources, and navigate administrative systems to secure fundraising and project startup.

This roadmap has three objectives:

Provide Navigation Assistance

Provide Stanford global health researchers with navigation assistance from study idea to securing funding to initiating study implementation for a global health project within the Stanford system

Highlight Pitfalls

Highlight common administration pitfalls and recommend strategies to avoid them

Connect Researchers

Connect researchers to broader university resources to address their specific issues

Click the + signs in each box below for more information

Develop a global health study idea and research questions.

Discuss your idea with collaborators.

Collaborators could include Stanford faculty, students or fellows, external researchers, or in-country partner organizations.

Develop an early concept note and budget for the project. Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health Research Director and Professor Steve Luby teaches a 2-day Global Health Research Methods Retreat and also developed this global health scientific writing guide.

Identify possible funders whose strategy and interests align with your study objectives.

Once you have a funder in mind, develop a timeline working backwards from the submission deadline. Note the RMG timeline for internal approvals.

If you are responding to a sponsor’s Request for Proposals (RFP) or Program Announcement, note their deadline for submission. Is there sufficient time for you and your collaborators to develop a competitive proposal, AND for you to obtain Stanford approval to submit a proposal? Make a go/no-go decision. 

Clarify the Stanford administrative process and requirements for international work.

We strongly recommend you schedule a meeting with Global Business Services (GBS), Office of Research Administration (ORA), and the Research Management Group (RMG) to discuss the scope of your research. Talking live with all three administrative groups together, and at an early stage, will streamline your administrative process ahead. Please reach out to: They will respond with an intake form to help guide a 30-minute consultation, to ensure a smooth administrative process for you. 

In the meantime, please prepare answers to the following questions:

  • WHERE will the activity take place? 
  • WHEN will the activity take place? 
  • WHO will conduct the activity?
  • And for HOW LONG?


Understand University policy on recovery of indirect costs.

Indirect costs are also known as Facilities & Administrative (F&A) costs. F&A costs are related to expenses incurred while conducting or supporting research, or other externally funded activities, but not directly attributable to a specific project (e.g. space, utilities, administration).

F&A rates are established in accordance with federal policy. They are negotiated between Stanford and the ONR (Office of Naval Research), the cognizant federal agency, which oversees the administration of sponsored agreements at Stanford. A listing of the rates and application can be found on the DoR website.  Stanford is prohibited by statute from reducing its indirect cost rate for a foreign sponsor.

Watch out for this common pitfall at this stage.

Assuming that Stanford will accept reduced Indirect Costs (Facilities & Administrative Rates): Stanford negotiates rates with the federal government.  As a result, the University has established policies on the application of the rates and when a waiver of the negotiated rates to a lesser rate can be requested. University policy only allows indirect cost waivers for sponsors (excluding foreign sponsors) who meet the following criteria:

  • We have proof the sponsor is non-profit
  • The sponsor has a published policy that establishes their indirect cost rate
  • The sponsor does not receive support from a foreign source

If the sponsor meets all of the criteria, an indirect cost waiver should be requested through the Research Management Group. Contact your Research Process Manager.

Develop your global health research proposal and prepare your submission.

Organize and manage the proposal workflow. Develop a scope of work for collaborators and a draft budget early. They can be worked through iteratively and will become the basis for the administrative agreement.

No later than 30-days prior to your sponsor’s deadline, complete a Proposal Intake Form (PIF) in the Stanford Electronic Research Administration System (SeRA) to engage the RMG and be assigned a Research Process Manager (RPM). 

A PIF requires you to identify the sponsor and provide the following:

  • Project start and end dates
  • Draft budget or budget justification
  • Identification of collaborators or potential subaward institutions
  • Copy of the program announcement (if applicable)

For more information refer to the Proposal Intake Form on the RMG Website.

Draft your research proposal. (Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health and Professor Steve Luby teaches a 2-day Global Health Research Methods Retreat, and this global health scientific writing guide produced by him may also be informative)

If you have not yet been in touch with the Global Business Services (GBS)  team, we recommend reaching out to them for a quick consultation on the scope of your in-country activities. GBS will include Stanford’s Global HR as necessary. 

Iteratively revise proposal and budget based on input from collaborators and from RMG.

Work with your RPM in RMG to finalize budget and budget justification, any other funder required documents e.g. biosketches, letters of support, GANTT chart, or Monitoring & Evaluation Plan.

If Stanford is the grantee institution and you will be subcontracting pieces of work to a partner, prepare Stanford’s required paperwork for subawards.

If Stanford is the grantee institution and you will be subcontracting pieces of work, ensure that your collaborator/subaward recipient has the requisite support and understanding to complete the Stanford paperwork required of all subcontractors: 

  • Determine if your collaborators are individuals or organizations.  RMG and ORA can help you determine if the agreement for the collaborator can go through a sub-recipient process or a procurement process. 
  • Ensure that your collaborators are clear on proposal deadlines. 
  • Recognize that iterative development will likely be required.
  • Regular follow-up with collaborators can often address delays.
  • If necessary, consider providing administrative support to the subcontractor in the preparation of their proposal documents.
  • Early in the process, assess if Stanford will require that your collaborator show proof of insurance. If Stanford requests insurance, but your collaborator cannot obtain insurance or meet the Stanford requirement, it is important that you begin negotiating with Stanford legal early enough so that this does not prevent an on-time submission. Your Research Process Manager can assist. 
  • Required subaward documents will vary depending on the donor, but commonly include:
    • Stanford Office of Sponsored Research form 33 (a Stanford form required for nearly every project when the proposal engages a subcontractor)
    • Scope of work (it is generally best for the person putting the whole proposal together to draft this. It is useful to share with collaborators, so that you align on purpose and can then use that to assess budget.)
    • Budget
    • Budget justification
  • For NIH grants:
    • Biosketches in the NIH format
    • Description of facility/environment
    • List of other financial or in-kind support
    • Letters of support
  • Follow email closely for input from RMG/SeRA or collaborators to ensure that deadlines are met.


Watch out for these common pitfalls.

Providing insufficient time for RMG to complete proposal components, perform the review, and submit in time to meet the sponsor deadline.

To manage the workflow and consider any special considerations of the study that may need additional approvals from various University offices, RMG asks that you initiate the Proposal Intake Form (PIF) as early as possible — a minimum of 30-days in advance of the sponsor deadline.  Failure to engage with RMG timely could impact your ability to successfully submit the proposal.

Submit proposal.

For NIH/NSF proposals, RMG must submit on behalf of the Principal Investigator/Stanford.

For other proposals, there is often a choice. If the Principal Investigator submits, they are typically well-placed to address questions that arise and receive feedback from the donor. If the Principal Investigator submits, they need to cc their assigned Research Process Manager on the email. 

Receive Formal or Informal notification of award

Celebrate! Get to work.

Engage the Stanford Office of Research Administration (ORA) to review and sign the award letter or contract from the funder, and set up subcontracts with your partners.

  • Warning: turnaround time for ORA to negotiate the agreement is determined by the complexity of the terms and if they conflict with University policy. This can take time.
  • We recommend that the PI and any senior staff that will be involved in the research schedule a kick-off meeting with ORA, where you provide a high-level overview of the project and administrative needs (e.g. subcontracts). This is an ideal time to discuss  any advance cash flow or county specific financial issues which can present unique challenges.
  • Clarify what ORA needs to advance the process, so that:
    • Stanford has a signed agreement with the funder.
    • You have an open PTA so that you can spend on these funds.
    • You have an agreement with your collaborators so they can be paid for their work on the collaborative project.
    • This may involve the need for School of Medicine assurances if problematic terms cannot be deleted.

Obtain human subjects (IRB) approval to proceed with the work.

Obtain human subjects (IRB) approval to proceed with the work. 

  • Develop an eProtocol.
  • Stanford policy does not allow any spending on a project that engages human subjects until human subjects approval is obtained. Approval may well be a six-month process of developing a specific protocol and working with both local and Stanford human subjects committees. If securing human subject approvals for all activities from all partners delays initiating administrative steps and planning, reach out to Stanford’s Research Compliance Office and explore options that allow the administrative processes to advance. This includes the issuance of subcontracts.
  • For NIH proposals, if the initial score looks fundable, initiate efforts to secure human subjects approval.

Watch out for these common pitfalls.

Assuming that ORA will promptly reach a contractual agreement with the donor:

  • This can take many months depending on complexity or conflicts with University policy. We encourage you to work proactively with ORA to understand all of the pieces that need to be advanced and to work collaboratively to advance them. Follow-up with your ORA Officer weekly.

Mismatch between donor’s expectation of project / research start date, and Stanford’s timeline for completing administrative processes:

  • The Center for Innovation in Global Health is working with Stanford administrators to streamline the process. Nevertheless, it is prudent to set realistic expectations with donors and subcontractors. 
  • Also consider what activities you can advance in the absence of the contractual pieces being in place. This includes advancing the study protocol, potentially engaging stakeholders, and advancing planning.

Once the contracts are in place, you have human subjects approval, and your PTA is open:

  • Submit your collaborator’s subcontract for approval. If there are substantial disagreements between Stanford and your collaborator’s institution (or the attorneys), it is often useful to convene a combined meeting that includes the PI’s and/or senior scientists on both sides with ORA and the attorneys. If the scientists are involved in the conversation, they can usually quickly agree on general principles that the attorneys can then put into a document.
  • Ensure that your collaborator understands how to invoice Stanford.
  • Ensure that your collaborator understands the schedule and likely timeline of receiving payment from Stanford. Consider engaging in a conversation with staff in OSR. 
  • Assess if your collaborator requires forward or ‘hardship’ funding to initiate activities. If they do, this is outside of the usual procedures at Stanford. It is possible to negotiate this, but it requires substantive discussions and a willingness to backstop commitments.
  • Begin study implementation.