Research and Equipment Application Guidelines

  • RA job and hiring plan description: Applications should include a brief description of the research assistant’s specific duties and the time frame for their completion; a list of and explanation of RA duties and qualifications; and explanation of plans for posting and advertising the job; a sample job posting including the required Equal Opportunity Statement. See the Student Employment Supervisors page for information on advertising student jobs. Although you can encourage particular students to apply, jobs must be publicly posted.
  • Graduate research assistants: If you are specifically requesting a graduate student assistant, you must include a rationale as to why undergraduates would not be suitable.
  • The limit on the number of hours funded is 300 per faculty member per academic year. Any request for an exception must include a clear justification.
  • The pay rate is $16.99 per hour for undergraduates and $17.99 per hour for graduate students. Please use these amounts in your budget. The FDF gnosis form will automatically add 12% to this amount to account for benefits. Faculty are encouraged to consider work-study students.
  • University rules on student employment: Students cannot work more than 7.5 hours per day and cannot work 7 consecutive days. Domestic students are limited to 25 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters, and 35 hours per week during Intersession and Summer terms. International students are limited to 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring semesters, and 35 hours per week during Intersession and Summer terms. Overtime pay is not allowed for any student in any position.
  • Faculty supervisors are expected to closely monitor student hours and task completion to assure that research funds are being well used to complete the work for which they were awarded, and to sign off on time sheets. Program Assistants should not be doing these tasks in place of faculty members.
  • Time sheet approvals: USF Payroll is no longer auto-approving time sheets. This means that hourly employees and students will not be paid if their managers do not approve their hours at the end of each pay period. If you have hired a Research Assistant, you are their manager and are responsible for approving time sheets. Payroll recommends that all managers set a calendar reminder to run the USFWorks "team time review" on the 15th and last day of the month to ensure that their direct reports have submitted their time, and again run the report on the 16th and 1st of each month to approve time entered. To do this: On your USFWorks home page, click the Team Time worklet --> Actions --> Review Time. If a delay in payment to the next pay period causes hardship to the employee, a special check request should be submitted to Gale Bettencourt (, Director of Payroll Services, for approval by Dom Daher. 
  • Tracking balances: Applicants must check and report the amount of funding in their FDF accounts at the time of the application. See Post-Award FAQ for further information.

This can include scientific equipment, books, or other supplies. Note: Accounting and Business Services cannot process reimbursements across fiscal years. The fiscal year ends on May 31st, so only expenses incurred in the year before that date can be reimbursed.

  • Scientific equipment: Please include a description of the equipment needed and how it will be used, price quote documents for items above $50 (e.g., an invoice or screen shot of a price list), and an itemized budget with justifications for each budget expense.
  • Books: FDF will support purchases of books for research use that are not accessible through the USF library system. Any exceptions should include a clear explanation of why library use is inadequate for your research purposes. Please include a specific list with the title and author, a description of how these will advance your research, and evidence that they are not otherwise accessible. To bring down costs, please consider purchasing used books whenever possible. 
  • Electronics: In rare cases, FDF will support purchases of equipment such as cameras, scanners, smart watches, and similar digital technology that is clearly shown in your application to be necessary for your work and unavailable through existing USF avenues (including the Dean's Office, departments, and Information Technology Services) as well as other local facilities such as UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, Stanford, San Francisco Public Libraries, etc. Such equipment must be purchased through USF, remains the property of USF, and must be returned to USF after the completion of the project. The FDF does not fund the purchase of computers or their equivalent for general use.

FDF funds can be used to pay research participants, as long as the research falls within the CAS policy for compensating participants. This policy is in response to increased regulation as a result of the ACA and changes in federal tax law. It is critical that we be able to provide evidence sufficient to satisfy an auditor that allocated funds were spent in service of faculty research.

  • All research involving human subjects, regardless of whether compensation is involved, must be reviewed and approved by USF’s Institutional Review Board before the study begins. For each participant, the PI should obtain a signed informed consent form. This should also indicate payment received. If this has been waived by the IRB, a log of payments including date and amount will suffice. The PI is responsible for retaining these forms for seven years and producing them in the case where Accounting and Business Services needs to show proof of proper payment in an audit.
  • Applications for participant compensation must include a description of the study, the amount of proposed compensation per participant (up to a maximum of $50 per participant) and the total amount requested.
  • Cash is the preferred mechanism for compensation of research subjects; however, cash incentives cannot be used for USF staff/faculty subjects. Payments may be a maximum of $50 per participant. For research subjects who are USF employees, please use gift card incentives. See USF's Non-Cash Gifts, Awards, and Incentives Policy.
  • For online studies, researchers should use PayPal (or an equivalent service) to provide compensation to subjects and generate a log that indicates payments made on a particular date to a specific username. Please note that USF does not maintain a corporate or institutional PayPal account; faculty should manage this on their own and seek reimbursement as needed.
  • Reimbursement can be handled by submitting, via Concur, a list containing, for each participant: a name or identifier, the date the payment was received, the amount paid, and the PI’s signature. Please use the Gifts and Cash Incentives Distribution Log Form.
  • In cases where cash flow is an issue, a cash advance can be used to provide funds in advance. Please contact the CAS Office of Operations for details.

Faculty wishing an exception to these rules may request this by contacting Dennis Miller in Accounting and Business Services (, x6371).

Applicants can request FDF funding for other costs associated with the completion of a scholarly project. Applicants should include a quote from the person or entity performing the service. In evaluating these sorts of requests for full or partial funding, the committee will look at whether this is an efficient use of FDF funds and whether there are less expensive ways to achieve the same results.

USF must pay vendors or individuals providing services directly; do not pay them out of your own pocket, as you will not be able to get reimbursed. The vendor should prepare an invoice and receive payment directly from the University. 

These are typically supplementary services such as:

  • Indexing or editing services
  • Journal publication fees
  • Website design
  • Permissions fees or costs of graphics preparation
  • Translation services
  • Transcription services

A note on journal publication fees: The Gleeson Library/Geschke Center, as a member of the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), has entered into a “read and publish” agreement with Cambridge University Press through 2023. The agreement enables University of San Francisco-affiliated authors to publish articles in fully open access or hybrid open access Cambridge journals at no cost to individuals, and make them freely available to read. More information on this agreement can be found here


  • Open access fees: The FDF cannot sustainably support all requests for payment of open access publication fees. The committee may consider such requests on a case by case basis if funding allows. Priority will be given to fees related to fully open access journals or books (i.e., publication is freely available to the public without a subscription or access fee). If the publication is a fully open access journal or book, the application must include a statement explaining a) why you’ve chosen this publication over a traditional venue that does not require open access fees; b) how you have determined that this publication is non-predatory. Fees for “hybrid” (subscription- or fee-based) journals that offer an optional open access add-on requests must include a rationale for why the open access option is necessary for the advancement of your research trajectory. If awarded, support for open access fees will be capped at $2500 per application, with up to one such award per faculty member per academic year. We request that authors with sufficient funding from grants or contracts not apply for FDF coverage of open access fees; we also recommend including open access costs on future external grant proposals. The FDF will not support publication or other fees from predatory open-access journals. Please check one of these lists of potentially predatory journals before pursuing publication: Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and List of Standalone Journals. If you are uncertain about this, please consult the Gleeson librarian in your discipline.
  • Book purchases for non-research use or that are accessible through the library system are not supported.
  • Computers. Information Technology Services (ITS) handles purchase and disbursement of all computers and similar devices.
  • Tablets (such as iPads) are not supported except under strict conditions where research cannot proceed without one; this must be fully explained in the application. However, the Dean’s Office has a limited number available for loan. Please contact your area Associate Dean for further information.
  • Teaching materials: Items needed for the offering of a specific course are not supported. The committee feels strongly that the FDF’s purpose is supporting faculty scholarship. Expenses associated with a course should be borne by the department or program offering the course.
  • Student research that is not directly tied to the applicant’s scholarship or creative work is not supported. The FDF cannot be used as a mechanism to support program functioning (such as funding student thesis research that is not conducted as part of a faculty member’s scholarship), for instance, which should instead be supported by the relevant department or program.
  • ​​Courses: Immersion or training courses, lessons, coaching, workshops, and certifications are not supported. (In rare circumstances, a case can be made for such requests as part of a teaching effectiveness or research application; applicants must first discuss this with their area Associate Dean.)
  • Payments, stipends, honoraria, or other financial support for faculty members or outside colleagues are not supported. For example, you cannot use FDF to bring a colleague here to USF to visit, to take them out for dinner, or to compensate them for their time.
  • Promotional expenses such as gifts or payments to reviewers, book advertising, or book tours are not supported.
  • Costs related to events (e.g., catering, room rental, and so on) are not supported.
  • External cloud-based storage is not supported, as USF provides such services. Please contact Information Technology Services for information and assistance.
  • Software subscriptions (beyond the software suite provided by USF) such as DropBox Pro, Grammarly Premium, Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Premiere, Amazon Drive, and similar programs are not supported unless they are shown to be necessary for the research or professional advancement outlined in the FDF application and an explanation is provided for why available USF resources are not sufficient.
  • Courses, training, and workshops: Immersion or training courses, lessons, coaching, workshops, and certifications will be considered as part of Professional Effectiveness applications. Applicants are encouraged to first discuss such requests with their area Associate Dean. Applicants are expected to be specific regarding the ways in which the proposed course, lessons, coaching, workshops or certifications will enhance their professional (academic or creative) work. For instance, if the proposal is to enhance your teaching effectiveness via a workshop, specify the ways the workshop will do so and for which particular course(s); if the proposal aims to enhance your research or creative work through training, specify the ways it will do so and for which particular project. The proposal should also explain why this professional effectiveness support cannot be found through existing University resources. 

Please do not combine all your receipts or quotes into a single PDF file and upload that one file into each field. Actual receipts or price quotes must be uploaded for each field. Multiple files can be uploaded for each line item by clicking “Choose File” and then “Save” for each separate file. Your application should include the following items:

  • Research/equipment application form, which includes your statement of objectives, itemized budget and budget rationale, and explanations of any exceptions in your request. 
  • For RA applications, this also includes a list of and explanation of RA duties and qualifications and the time frame for their completion; and explanation of plans for posting and advertising the job; a sample job posting including the required Equal Opportunity Statement.
  • Price quotes for equipment, books, and other support services.