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Develop the budget and justification

Need assistance with budgets or budget justifications?

It is essential to the success of the project to carefully and accurately assess all of the financial needs of the research project, and to be able to justify the necessity of these expenses. Developing an accurate budget can take time, particularly if the project includes Key Personnel from other departments, will involve external consultants, involves technologies or international activities, or includes sub-awards or agreements with other institutions or partners. 

Principal investigators should work closely with their grants administrator or financial practice manager as early as possible when developing budgets and justifications. Contact if you are unsure who to contact or do not have these departmental resources available to you.

    Budgeting personnel effort and salary

     For Key Personnel, effort commitment indicated in the application budget is considered a minimum commitment necessary to complete the proposed project aims. Effort commitment levels are described in the project budget in person months (calendar or academic).

    If effort commitments of a Key Peron are modified or adjusted prior to receipt of the award (at JIT, or Just-in-Time) or during the course of the project (with prior sponsor approval, if required), this modified effort commitment becomes the new minimum effort commitment.
    Effort commitments

    For all personnel on the research project, budgeted effort must be adequate to complete their responsibilities associated with the scope of work. 

    Additional guidance

    Institutional Base Salary (IBS)

    Institutional Base Salary (IBS) is the basis for both calculating salaries when developing a proposal budget and for managing effort on a funded project. All salary costs applied to sponsored projects are based on the total amount of work done in support of Duke University activities only. This includes instruction, research, administrative activities (committees, chair, director, etc.), and clinical trials and excludes supplemental/extraordinary pay, outside consulting, and study section honoraria.

    Duke Appointment Model and converting person months

    Duke Appointment Model

    Effective July 1, 2022, Duke University School of Medicine and School of Nursing are implementing a Faculty Appointment Model which represents a faculty member’s efforts in support of Duke University as a percent of 12 calendar months.

    Duke University School of Medicine and School of Nursing Faculty will have 100% appointments unless they also have additional professional effort that includes: outside clinical obligations (PDC), VA Appointments, formally approved Flexible Work arrangements, direct-paid DKU Appointments, direct-paid NUS Appointments, or other reduced schedules.

    Access guidance and resources about the Duke Appointment Model.


    Converting person months

    A “person month” is the metric for expressing the effort (amount of time) principal investigators (PIs), faculty and other senior personnel devote to a specific project. The effort is based on the type of appointment of the individual with the organization; e.g., calendar year (CY), academic year (AY), and/or summer term (SM); and the organization’s definition of such. For instance, some institutions define the academic year as a 9-month appointment while others define it as a 10-month appointment. Access this guide to calculating person months.

    Entering and managing salaries in SPS

    As of September 2021, SAP salary and effort information feeds into SPS so that all relevant parties working on grant applications can access salaries for individuals participating in research.

    Access the Managing Salaries in SPS guide for step-by-step guidance and how-to videos for entering salaries in SPS. This is mandatory training for SPS users with editing/viewing rights.

    Additional budget and cost considerations

    When developing the budget, consider how each proposed cost relates to the scope of work of the proposed project. See below for the various types of costs that should be included in a proposal for funding:


    Funder-specific guidance on budgets and justifications

    Select the type of project for more detailed guidance on developing your research budget and preparing a budget justification: