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Research Operations Office


A vital part of the research proposal is to ensure that a robust budget is developed for the work to be undertaken. The UK Government require all universities to estimate the full cost of the project (Full Economic Costing) using the TRAC methodology irrespective of whether or not the funder will pay the fEC.

fEC was introduced in September 2005 to ensure that universities were monitoring the true cost of their research and where possible, recover that cost. For additional information on fEC Cambridge fEC website and TRAC Guidance .

Please speak to your Departmental Administrator or Research Grants Administrator for guidance on costing your project.

Q. What does Directly Incurred mean?

Directly Incurred costs are those items that are specifically purchased for the project. These are charged on the basis of the cash amount spent and are verifiable and auditable from the accounting records. It is usually a funders audit requirement that DI costs can be traced back to a source document (i.e. invoices for non-pay expenditure and payroll for staffing)

Examples include

  • Research Associates/Assistants
  • Administrative/Technical staff recruited specifically for the project
  • Contractors
  • Travel 
  • Purchased materials and services
  • Meetings and publication
  • New equipment purchases & maintenance
  • Studentships

Q. What does Directly Allocated mean?

Directly Allocated Costs are estimated costs of shared services or facilities used by the project. Examples include:

  • Principal Investigator and Co-Investigators allocated time. Cambridge requires a minimum of 10% of time. If this is not allocated – Research Operations Office will require an email from the Head of Department indicating their support of this.
  • Estates charges including (but not exhaustive) facilities management, utilities, rates, rents, insurance, cleaning, security, existing equipment and research facilities (with the exception of a limited number of charged out directly allocated research facilities)
  • Major Research Facilities and Small Research Facilities
  • Pool technicians, administrative staff, and other staff allocated to the project
  • Infrastructure Technicians. This category is added to Lab based departments only. Link to which rates will be allocated to your department.  ‘Which Estate rates (lab or office) should I use’

Q. What are Indirects?

Indirect costs covers those central administrative and services costs such as:

  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Legal
  • Library Facilities
  • Registry
  • Research Operations Office
  • UIS (University Information Services)

Q. What about Researcher Salary Costs?

These can be either Directly Incurred (DI) or Directly Allocated (DA).

  • The costs of research staff dedicated to the project are Directly Incurred.
  • The costs of academics that work on several projects and activities are generally Directly Allocated.

The key distinction between these is that:

  • Directly Incurred costs are charged on the basis of actual salaries and actual time; whilst
  • Directly Allocated costs are charged on the basis of standard charge-out rates (salary pay bandings) and estimated time (no timesheets are required).

Q. What constitutes FTE (Full Time Equivalent)?

7.5 hours  per day

37.5 hours per week

220 days per annum

44 weeks per annum

1,650 hours per annum

Useful links

X5 Login

Exchange rates 

fEC rates

Financial regulations

Human Resources


Research facilities and equipment

ResearchProfessional (finding funders)

Subsistence rates

Travel rates



For routine queries relating to X5, contact your Departmental Administrator.

If further support is needed, contact your Research Development Team at the Research Operations Office.