2.   Vocabulary

Terms & Definitions  

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Stanford Policy
* Definitions and
Categories of
Sponsored Projects


* PIship:
Eligibility and
Criteria for Exceptions


Resources and Tools 
* Glossary of
Research Administration

(UCLA web site)


A gyroscope like the one pictured above is now being used by Stanford and NASA researchers to test Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. The research project is known as GP-B (Gravity Probe-B).

Like the language of science, the vocabulary of sponsored projects administration includes acronyms, abbreviations and "terms of art." Explore the glossaries in the panel on the left to see what the language looks like. Both of these glossaries are extensive, and may take several seconds to load on your computer.

This page introduces some of the fundamentals, starting with "sponsored project."

A sponsored project is an externally-funded activity that is governed by specific terms and conditions established in a written agreement between the sponsor and Stanford University.

Generally, sponsored projects involve a detailed level of financial accountability, including, for example, statements of work and project periods, line-item budgets, and audits.

Is it a GIFT or a GRANT?

The existence of a "deliverable" to the sponsor (beyond a simple report of how the money was spent) is another indicator of a sponsored project. Over 80% of Stanford's sponsored projects are supported by GRANTS. These agreements can be viewed as "assistance" and are significantly less restrictive than CONTRACTS, which may be thought of as "procurements."

GP-B, for example, was made possible because of grants which supported theoretical work and contracts for the production of specific hardware.

A sampling of
Stanford Acronyms

Sponsored projects come in different varieties: Sponsored Research, Sponsored Instruction, and Other Sponsored Activities (see policy for examples). Most sponsored projects at Stanford are Sponsored Research, but there are a significant number of Sponsored Instruction and Other Sponsored Activities as well. These different types of projects are charged different F&A (indirect) cost rates. More on that in the discussion of project finance.

The title of "Principal Investigator" (PI) is another important piece of research vocabulary. The PI is the individual with the technical and administrative responsibility for the project.

Information for
Stanford PIs

At Stanford, sponsored projects are awarded to the University - not to an individual - and the University delegates authority to manage the project to the PI. PIs are responsible for determining the intellectual direction of the research and scholarship, and for the training of graduate students. For that reason, PIship is a privilege reserved to members of the Stanford faculty.


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