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SPA Newsletter - Fall 2023


Greetings from SPA/OSP/CGA!

In Research Administration, one thing we can always rely on is change. While our field is always adapting to changes in regulations and sponsor requirements, we also endeavor to make proactive improvements to systems and processes.

This issue of the SPA Newsletter includes articles with information to help you keep up with changing sponsor requirements, such as the NIH prior approval requirements for Data Management and Sharing Plans and updated guidance on NIH's attribution requirements. Other articles describe changes to processes or new resources that we developed to assist with expanding reporting expectations. These articles include information on the new Current & Pending Report in BI, a new system requirement for Subject Areas to be assigned to proposals, and a new webpage with RPPR tips for administrators.

Along with providing updates, this newsletter also recognizes some of the many exemplary research administrators that we have here at MSU. The recipients of the Fall 2023 Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award are announced, along with the SPA/OSP/CGA 2023 Quality FIRST awardees. Congratulations to the awardees and thanks to all of you for working to support research at MSU!

I hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter. For suggestions for future content or feedback on this issue, please contact Erin Schlicher,, or me, My thanks to the authors and contributors who made this newsletter possible.

Twila Fisher Reighley
Associate Vice President for Research, Sponsored Programs

New Areas of Research Field in Kuali Research

by Erin Schlicher, SPA

Various data users on campus have expressed an interest in being able to analyze and report on MSU's research activities and impacts by subject area. To better capture information on research areas at MSU, a new field will be added to the Supplemental Information option in Kuali Research (KR) on December 1, 2023. This enhancement was developed in close coordination with MSU's International Data Working Group, with input requested from the Council of Research Deans (CORD), the Sponsored Programs Advisory Committee (SPAC), and the Sponsored Program Research Opportunities & University Training (SPROUT) committee. Unit preaward offices may need to modify their processes to request category and subcategory information from faculty. Please keep in mind that the subject area information is required before the proposal can be routed. Therefore, we encourage units to request this information from faculty as early in the proposal development process as possible in order to avoid possible submission delays.

Once the enhancement goes into effect, at least one, and up to three, subject areas will be required to be assigned in the Proposal Development document (PD). Subject Areas will be required on a go-forward basis and will not be added retroactively. The Areas of Research section includes drop-down selections for Category and Sub-Category, as shown below.

Screenshot of the areas of research section in Kuali Research

The Category field includes the following six broad academic disciplines, along with a “Non-Research” option: Arts & Humanities; Clinical, Pre-clinical & Health; Engineering & Technology; Life Sciences; Physical Sciences; and Social Sciences.

Once a Category has been selected, the Sub-Category drop-down will populate with the selections related to the chosen category. A sub-category must be selected to pass the system validations. For a full listing of the Categories and their associated Sub-Categories, please refer to the Subject Areas Mapping Table. The classification structure is based on Clarivate's Institutional Profiles Research Areas schema, which can accommodate MSU's broad research scope, while also allowing MSU's proposal and award data to be linked to its publication and bibliometrics data from the Web of Science, which also uses the Clarivate classification schema.

Once you have selected the desired category and sub-category, click the Add button to the right of the Sub-Category field to add your selections to the PD. Once your selection has been added, it will be displayed beneath the drop-down fields, as shown below.

Screenshot showing the sub-category after clicking the add button.

Only one category and sub-category selection is required, but up to three can be added to the PD to allow for multi-disciplinary projects.

Screenshot showing up to three category selections added.

If the Areas of Research section is not completed, the following error message will appear. You will be required to add at least one category and sub-category before you will be able to route the PD.

Screenshot of KR error message

Thank you for assisting faculty with this new requirement. For more information, please refer to the KR Areas of Research Job Aid.

Image of fall leaves on the Red Cedar River.
Photo courtesy of University Communications

NIH Attribution Requirements

by Erin Schlicher, SPA

Most NIH researchers are familiar with the requirement that “all HHS recipients must acknowledge Federal funding when issuing statements, press releases, requests for proposals, bid invitations, and other documents describing projects or programs funded in whole or in part with Federal money” (see NIH Grants Policy Statement Section 4.2.1). However, some researchers may not be familiar with the NIH's specific attribution requirements. As a reminder, the NIH requires the following three statements of acknowledgement:

  1. A specific acknowledgement of NIH grant support
  2. An acknowledgement of the level of NIH funding that indicates:
    1. The percentage and dollar amounts of the total program or project costs financed with Federal money and
    2. The percentage and dollar amount of the total costs financed by nongovernmental sources
  3. A disclaimer that says, “The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”

For researchers who receive funding through one of NIH's Institutes, Centers, or Offices, there can be some confusion around whether to cite the IC, the NIH, or both, as the source of support in statement #1. Specific ICs may have their own formatting guidelines for attribution statements, but a good rule of thumb is to cite both the IC and the NIH using the following NIH-provided format: "Research reported in this [publication/press release] was supported by [name of the Institute(s), Center, or other NIH offices] of the National Institutes of Health under award number [specific NIH grant number(s) in this format: R01GM987654]."

Please keep in mind that if a researcher has more than one NIH award, only the award(s) that directly supported the research described in the article or presentation should be cited. The NIH has recently stated that they are paying increased attention to the issue of over-citation as part of their efforts to support proper stewardship of taxpayer funds and verify that the results of NIH funding are properly reported. More information on the NIH's attribution requirements can be found on their Communicating and Acknowledging Federal Funding webpage.

New Current and Pending Report in Business Intelligence

by Laura Johnston, OSP

A new Current and Pending Report, RA029, is now available in MSU Business Intelligence (BI). The report was developed to assist with completing Current and Pending Support disclosure forms, also known as Other Support. These disclosure forms are often required for all Senior Key Personnel included on federal research proposals and/or awards.

The report only includes activities routed in MSU's Kuali Research Administration System and is not an all-inclusive list of what may need to be included on disclosure forms. For assistance with determining what needs to be disclosed, please visit the Current and Pending / Other Support Requirements by Sponsor webpage.

For instructions on the report, please see the Current and Pending Report – RA029 Job Aid. For questions on the report, contact the KR Helpdesk, and for questions on disclosure requirements contact your OSP Proposal Team.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Research Administration

by Erin Schlicher, SPA

Generative AI has the potential to significantly impact many aspects of sponsored research and research administration. At some institutions, research administrators are already beginning to leverage AI to help streamline processes, enhance decision making, and improve efficiency. Although the possibilities are exciting, the risks and potential liabilities of this rapidly evolving technology are not fully understood. As such, we recommend that those interested in using generative AI tools proceed with caution at this point.

The MSU Interim Guidance on Data Uses and Risks of Generative AI outlines the University's expectations and recommended practices for users of generative AI tools, along with information about the risks and limitations of these tools.

The MSU Interim Guidance cautions that since no generative AI product has a formal agreement with MSU at this time, “users should assume that all consumer generative AI products make data publicly available.” Please keep the following recommendations in mind (adapted from guidelines issued by Arizona State University's Office of Research Integrity and Assurance):

  • Users should not place any federal, state, sponsor, or MSU data into a generative AI tool. Once the data is placed into consumer AI tools, the data becomes available to the public and open source.
  • When working with vendors or subcontractors, you may want to ask about their practices of using AI. Additional terms and conditions may need to be included in any resulting agreement to ensure responsible and ethical use of AI tools by collaborating organizations.

NIH has clarified that generative AI technologies cannot be used in the peer review process (see NOT-OD-23-149) and we expect federal agencies to release additional guidance as the applications and risks of AI tools become better understood. We plan to watch for news out of the agencies and periodically provide updates to campus.

NIH RPPR Tips for Administrators Webpage

by Kristy Smith, CGA

In late July, CGA updated guidance on our website to assist department administrators and faculty in their completion of Research Performance Progress Reports (RPPR). The update can be found on our Sponsor Information page under the National Institutes of Health section.

NIH requires that RPPRs be submitted periodically based on the terms of the award. CGA often receives questions related to NIH RPPR submissions from both MSU and NIH. The NIH RPRR Tips for Administrators Webpage is intended to address the most frequent inquiries and assist MSU Principal Investigators and Research Administrators in completing an RPPR with information that meets NIH's expectations and requirements.

Audit Corner

by Evonne Pedawi, CGA

The purpose of this section is to keep campus updated on sponsored program audits at MSU, as well as national trends in audit activity. Audits are an important part of sponsored programs as they provide an opportunity for sponsors to verify that MSU is complying with the award terms and conditions.

Audit activity continues to be very high for sponsored programs. More and more agencies have hired accounting firms to conduct these audits and as a result we have had more questions and challenges when it comes to supporting allowability. We have also seen that interim questions by sponsors during the life of the project are increasing and demonstration of compliance is required before payments or administrative actions are approved. We have seen that these audits and reviews, although primarily conducted virtually, have also been on-site which is not something we have experienced since prior to COVID-19. As always, we appreciate the responsiveness of faculty and staff during these audits and reviews.

Any audit related questions can be sent to me at or to Kristy Smith at

Image of fall leaves on the Red Cedar River.
Photo courtesy of University Communications

HFH + MSU HS: Post Award Updates

by Kristy Smith, CGA

image of Henry Ford health and MSU logo

Sponsored program proposals have been submitted under the Henry Ford Health + Michigan State University Health Sciences (HFH+MSU HS) applicant organization, representing the partnership, for more than a year. Awards are starting to be received, and while some post award procedures have been finalized regarding HFH+MSU HS awards, many are still in process with MSU and HFH.

Please see the following updates regarding post award for HFH+MSU HS sponsored program awards.

  • If the award includes costs at both HFH and MSU, two separate budgets are required so that the appropriate amount can be set up on each account.
  • If the award includes costs that will be incurred at HFH, a separate RC/RG account will be set up in KFS for those costs.
  • HFH is responsible for the costs and compliance of the award portion conducted within their budget.
  • HFH Principal Investigators and Co-Investigators on HFH+MSU HS awards must have MSU appointments utilizing job codes specifically set up for this arrangement. This is critical as the appointment drives the account set-up process in KFS.
  • Accounts set up for costs incurred at HFH will have a campus code of HF in KFS.
  • Regardless of where costs are incurred, HFH+MSU HS awards will utilize MSU's negotiated F&A rates.
  • Account Explorer will show a unique banner at the top when an account is for HFH costs. Account Explorer banner image.
  • Costs incurred at HFH will be transferred systematically once a month to the applicable RC/RG account. Due to this frequency, expense information will not be as current in HFH accounts as non HFH accounts (which update daily) in Account Explorer, PI Portal, and BI reports.
  • MSU will draft and execute subawards for HFH+MSU HS awards, regardless of where the subaward costs will be incurred.

Information related to HFH+MSU HS proposals can be found at National Institutes of Health (NIH) | MSU Office of Sponsored Programs/Contract and Grant Administration MSU Sponsored Programs Administration. Questions related to post award processes for HFH+MSU HS awards can be sent to

2023 Quality First Award Recipients

by Erin Schlicher, SPA

Image of 2023 Quality First Winners
2023 Quality FIRST winners Tyler Neal (left) and Mike Wolf

The Quality FIRST staff recognition program recognizes SPA/OSP/CGA team members who have served MSU in an exceptional manner by exemplifying our office values: Quality, Fairness, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Teamwork, i.e., "Quality FIRST”. The 2023 awardees were recognized during a staff event held in September.

Congratulations to Tyler Neal (CGA Audit and Compliance Group) and Mike Wolf (Sponsored Programs Administration), the winners of the 2023 Quality FIRST Awards! Tyler and Mike consistently demonstrate the values of quality, fairness, integrity, respect, service, and teamwork that form the core values of SPA/CGA/OSP and MSU.

Image of 2023 Value Award Winners.
2023 Value Award winners: From left, Tracy Halloran, Henry Kokenakes, Nicol Springer, Kayley Cusack, and Julie Pohl. Not pictured: Tracy Walker

In addition to the Quality FIRST Awards, six Value Awards were presented to staff members who have shown excellence in a particular Quality FIRST core value. Congratulations to the 2023 Value Award winners:

  • Quality: Henry Kokenakes (CGA Reports Group)
  • Fairness: Nicol Springer (OSP Proposal Team 1)
  • Integrity: Tracy Halloran (Sponsored Programs Administration)
  • Respect: Kayley Cusack (OSP Proposal Team 2)
  • Service: Tracy Walker (OSP Contract Team 1)
  • Teamwork: Julie Pohl (CGA Audit and Compliance Group)

Thanks to the 2023 awardees for their outstanding service and valuable contributions to SPA/OSP/CGA and MSU's research community!

NIH Prior Approval Required for Changes to Data Managment and Sharing Plans

by Erin Schlicher, SPA

On September 27, 2023, NIH issued NOT-OD-23-185, announcing that any changes to an approved Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Plan must be submitted using the Prior Approval Module in eRA Commons. NIH will no longer accept requests to update DMS plans outside of the Prior Approval Module, including requests sent via email. Prior approval requests must be submitted by a Signing Official at least 30 days in advance of the requested change, and the currently approved DMS Plan will remain in effect for the award until the request is approved by the funding NIH ICO (Institutes, Centers, and Offices). For more information about NIH's Data Management & Sharing requirements, please visit the DMS Resources for MSU website. For assistance with a prior approval request, please contact CGA's Awards Group.

Fall 2023 Research Admin Spotlight Award header image

by Twila Reighley, AVP for Research; Erin Schlicher, SPA

The offices of Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA), Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and Contract and Grant Administration (CGA) are honored to recognize excellence and exemplary service through the Research Administrator (RA) Spotlight Award. We are happy to announce that Marcy Bishop and Dana Applebee were selected as the Fall 2023 awardees. Congratulations Marcy and Dana, and thank you for playing an integral role in advancing MSU's research mission! We appreciate your dedication and hard work.

Photo of Marcy Bishop

Marcy Bishop
Assistant Director Division of Engineering Research College of Engineering

Marcy has been with MSU for over eight years. As Assistant Director in DER, she manages a team of six research administrators and provides back-up to the Director as needed. Her duties include triaging and assigning incoming proposals, answering questions and troubleshooting issues as they occur, on-boarding and training new staff, keeping her team up to date on changing policies and submission mechanisms, and assisting with just-in-time requests and budget modifications. She particularly enjoys working on the large institute and center proposals, “they've taken the place of my pandemic jigsaw puzzles (not to mention the MDHHS master agreement)!”

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“The DER team provides a constant opportunity for continuing education on all aspects of proposal development and submission. No one is ever afraid to ask questions or challenge answers; our little debates makes us all better research administrators. And of course, I have to mention the daily stream of random memes, hilarious dad jokes, and food/restaurant chatter! In addition, I appreciate the opportunity to once again work directly with faculty as well as the administrative staff in all of the EGR academic units. Of course, every day I am proud to be a Spartan—being back working on campus is the best!”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

“Invest in a great pair of reading glasses, and be prepared to read, read, read. Comprehension is key; never be afraid to ask your colleagues questions, and be open to differing opinions. Take tons of notes, and maintain your sense of humor. It will take a while before you learn to “pick your battles” and that's okay!”

Photo of Dana Applebee

Dana Applebee
Research Administrator/Fiscal Officer Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Health College of Human Medicine

Dana has been with MSU for nearly ten years. She is responsible for the oversight and management of post award and financial activities within the Charles Stewart Mott Department of Public Heath, and her team currently provides post award support for about 90 active grant accounts.

What do you enjoy most about your job here?

“The people here are great! We work hard, but we have fun too. I like that I am constantly learning new things and can think creatively to problem solve and come up with new ideas to improve our processes. I also know that my position makes an impact, which is very motivating. We are a newly established department that is growing rapidly, so the unknown of what is yet to come is exciting (and a little scary!).”

What advice do you have for new research administrators?

  1. "Be patient with yourself and be flexible. There are so many moving pieces in research administration, and it can get really overwhelming. Also just know that the minute you have a solid plan in mind, everything will change. It never fails!"
  2. "Organize. Figure out the best way to organize your asks and your inbox so that you aren't constantly circling back and questioning yourself."
  3. "Network and build relationships. Use other people on campus for advice. Not just within your department/college, but with central administration, other departments, and other institutions. There are people out there that will have helpful suggestions and ideas for things you might be struggling with."
  4. "Get to know your faculty and their projects. Touch base often to avoid surprises."

Grossing Up Payments on Sponsored Programs Accounts

by Tyler Neal, CGA

Photo of pines in evening in front of Spartan Stadium

Sponsored program awards often include payments to third parties unaffiliated with MSU, such as external contractors and students and staff from other universities. The payee in these instances is considered a vendor to MSU and is paid via Disbursement Vouchers or Purchase Order. The Controller's Office reviews these payments to determine when tax must be withheld, as required by federal laws and applicable tax treaties. When applicable, the individual being paid will only receive a portion of the original planned payment, with the remainder sent to the Federal government by MSU directly. This can create complications, as the third party may receive less than expected.

Per the Manual of Business Procedure Section 77 Part IV.D, the payment can be “grossed-up” by adding a note to the KFS document asking Accounting to gross-up the payment via a specified account. This ensures the individual will receive 100% of the originally planned payment, with the withholding tax being covered by the second account. Note that the grossed-up portion of the payment will also have additional tax assessed.

A simple example of this would be paying a $1,000 stipend to a student attending another university in the U.S, where there is an income tax withheld at 34.25%.

  • Standard: The MSU account(s) are charged $1,000, however the student receives $655 and $345 is sent to the government for the tax withheld.
  • Grossed Up: Asking Accounting to gross-up the payment would result in a charge to the MSU account(s) of $1,521; the original $1,000 going to the student and $521 will be sent to the government for the tax withheld.

When a unit chooses to gross up a payment, they are paying a third party's tax liability. MSU does not have a university wide policy regarding when payments should be grossed-up (it is the unit's decision), so these situations are not treated consistently across campus. As a result, the additional cost of grossing up payments is generally unallowable on sponsored program accounts. Additionally, paying an increased or inflated amount is not to the direct benefit of the award/sponsor and therefore would not meet the allocable criteria in the Federal/State Cost Policy. If your unit chooses to gross up a payment on an RC account, a separate, unrestricted account should be used for the tax withholding. During the proposal stage of your project CGA recommends that you consider whether a situation like this may occur and budget accordingly.

Additional questions on grossing-up payments on sponsored program accounts should be directed to the Audit and Compliance team,

Photo of fall maple leaves and a wet sidewalk

What's New in ERA Training?

by Amy Bane, SPA

Check your ERA status in Ability:

Did you know that you can check the status of your ERA certification in Ability? Here's how you can check which ERA courses you have registered for and taken each year:

  1. Image of Ability login button.On the login screen, select the Ability Login button and use your single sign-on credentials.
  2. Image of My Transcript button.After you have logged in, click on My Transcript.
  3. Courses that count toward ERA certification will have a course ID that begins with [SPA].

Log Your External Training and Conferences:

We often hear that people forget to send us their information about external trainings and conferences that they attend. To make this an easier process for you, we created a new external credit form, where you can submit your information and upload supporting documentation in one location.

Unable to attend a course you want to take? Watch it in our video library!

We understand that schedules are busy and that you may not be able to attend an ERA course you are interested in. Did you know that you can receive credit for a course by watching the video recording? Links to our videos are listed on our ERA webpage. Please complete the video completion form that is attached to the video to receive credit.

ERA Certification Requirements:

ERA certification and recertification requirements have been updated to focus on the required number of training hours, rather than the required number of courses. This change was made to accommodate the addition of our short courses, and to give participants greater flexibility to choose the training path that works best for them.

Initial Certification:

Completion of the four Core courses and 12 elective credits are required for initial ERA certification. Participants have two years from the date they complete their first course to complete these requirements. Possible initial certification pathways include:

  • Complete the 4 Core courses and 3 full-length electives
  • Complete the 4 Core courses, 2 full-length electives, and 2 short-course electives
  • Complete the 4 Core courses, 1 full-length elective, and 4 short-course electives


Your ERA certification can be renewed annually by completing 8 hours of ERA coursework or equivalent research-related training. Possible recertification pathways include:

  • Complete 2 full-length electives
  • Complete 1 full-length elective and 2 short-course electives
  • Complete 4 short-course electives
  • Attend SPROUT-approved conferences or training programs (see the ERA webpage for more information) and send proof of attendance to Amy Bane ( Each hour of training completed will count as one ERA credit toward your recertification.

Training, Education, & Resources

by Amy Bane, SPA

Essentials of Research Administration (ERA) Series

SPA/OSP/CGA, in collaboration with SPROUT and an extensive network of MSU staff involved in pre-award, post-award and compliance aspects of research administration, provide a certified training series for research administrators and other support staff with responsibilities for research proposals, grants, contracts, and pre- and post-award administration at MSU.

2023 Schedule: ONLY ONE live Zoom session remains in 2023, along with four eLearning courses in D2L. Please register in the Ability LMS on To register for eLearning, please email Amy Bane ( to be added to the course in D2L.

Hot Topics December 5
International Research I eLearning in D2L
International Research II eLearning in D2L
Contracts and Other Agreements eLearning in D2L
Animal Care and Use Requirements eLearning in D2L

2024 Schedule*: 4 Cores and 16 Electives, along with eLearning options, will be available in 2024 and are open to anyone with a valid MSU NetID. We are offering both long courses and short courses to better fit your busy schedule! Each session name below is hyperlinked directly to the corresponding registration page in Ability.

Please enable pop-ups from Ability in your browser settings in order to access the course registration pages.

Course Date Elective Credits
Core 1, Part 1: Principles of Pre-Award Research Administration (first half 1/16 and second half 1/23)1 Jan 16 & 231 N/A
Core 2: Principles of Pre-Award Research Administration, Part 2 Jan 30 N/A
Core 3: Principles of Post-Award Research Administration Feb 6 N/A
Core 4: Compliance Feb 20 N/A
Subawards April 23 2
Effort Reporting and Cost Share April 30 2
University Procurement and Logistics for Research Administrators May 14 4
Intellectual Property May 21 4
Post-Award Receivable Process and Financial Transactions June 4 4
Audits June 11 2
Proposal Development in KR Aug 6 4
Beginner’s Hands on Budgeting in KR Aug 13 4
Reporting & Data Collection Sept 10 4
Export Control Sept 24 2
Departmental Post-Award Account Management Oct 8 4
Fee-for-Service & Service Centers Oct 22 4
Advanced Budget Development in KR (registration coming soon) Nov 12 4
NIH Agency Specifics Nov 19 2
NSF Agency Specifics Nov 26 2
Hot Topics Dec 3 4

*All classes will take place via Zoom.

green sparty helmet logo

Client Feedback Surveys

by Mike Wolf, SPA

At SPA/OSP/CGA, we strive to provide excellent customer service in all stages of research administration, from proposal development to the final closeout of an award. We continue to use client feedback surveys to solicit feedback on our proposal, award, and post-award processes. Ratings response details are available on the SPA Metrics section of our website (two-factor authentication required).

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