Roles and responsibilities of research account holders


Research account: An individual research grant, contract, award, account, sub-grant – these are identified in the accounting flex fields (AFF) by a unique 6-digit project account number.

Research Account Holder (RAH): The faculty member under whose name the research account is held. The RAH most often has the role of Principal Investigator (also referred to as grantee or grant holder) however, there are instances when the RAH may act in the capacity of co-applicant, or supervisor of a trainee, or some other role. The RAH responsibilities apply regardless of the role within the project.

Research Financial Analyst (RFA): Member of the Office of Research who is responsible for the financial reporting on a research account.


This document outlines the roles and responsibilities of the RAH to ensure effective and responsible financial, ethical, and human resource management of research funds and adherence to sponsor agency

Roles and Responsibilities

  • RAHs are responsible for the overall financial management of their research accounts.
  • RAHs must authorize, in writing, all transactions related to their research accounts unless there is written delegation of authority from them for others to do so. RAHs must ensure that a copy of this delegation of authority is retained by their Department.
  • All travel claims and advances must be authorized by the RAH (or delegate) and have a one over one authorization. For travel claims and advances for RAHs or other researchers (including visiting researchers), the one over one authorization must be from the Chair, Director, or Dean.
  • RAHs must ensure that all expenditures comply with University policies and procedures.
  • RAHs must ensure that all expenditures comply with the terms and conditions of the granting program/contract and are in accordance with:
    • the purpose of the account or program,
    • the approved budget, and
    • are necessary to the research endeavour being undertaken.
  • Any significant deviations, either from the original objective and/or original budget, must receive prior authorization from the sponsor/ agency.
  • RAHs are responsible for ensuring that agency compensation limits (maximum and minimums), where these exist, are respected.
  • RAHs are responsible for monitoring and reviewing, on a regular basis, all financial transactions that have been processed to their research accounts. Any discrepancies or errors must be communicated in a timely manner to their RFA.
  • RAHs are responsible for ensuring that there are sufficient funds available in a particular account to fund all expenditures charged to that account. RAHs are accountable and responsible for all deficits resulting from over expenditures, expenses deemed ineligible by the research sponsor, and for failure to comply with the rules and regulations of the funding agency and/or University of Waterloo policies.
  • RAHs are responsible for ensuring that they are in compliance with Waterloo and sponsors’ guidelines on research involving:
    • live, non-human vertebrate animals and animal tissues.
    • human participants, human tissue/fluids, observational recording & secondary data not in public domain.
    • biohazardous agents.
    • radioactive materials.
    • environmental Impact.
    • field work in Canada or abroad.
    • conflict of interest.
  • RAHs must ensure that the Office of Research is informed if any funds are to be transferred to or received from another institution. The Office of Research will ensure that the appropriate paperwork (e.g. a “Transfer of Funds” agreement) is in place to support such transactions.
  • RAHs are responsible for informing sponsor agencies and the Office of Research, in a timely manner, of any changes in their status (e.g. maternity/parental leave, termination, sabbatical, long term disability).
  • For Tri-Agency grants and awards (i.e. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)), RAHs must operate in compliance with the Tri-Agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Roles and Responsibilities in the Management of Federal Grants and Awards.