Budget Justification

Many funding applications call for a justification of the budget you are requesting from them (direct costs), other contributions (partner investigators/organisations) and how the University is supporting the project within the institution (indirect costs). These are usually outlined in separate sections.

Direct costs

  • Research assistance: outline the role and say why this is crucial to the conduct of the research. Say what skills are required for the position.
  • Travel: outline why you are going, how long you will be away or explain how you arrived at the total number of kilometres.
  • Maintenance: if you want to include phone, postage etc. this must be special to the project e.g. survey mailouts.
  • University Levy: contribution towards infrastructure costs.

Indirect costs

  • Investigator salaries proportional to the time allocated to the project.
  • Infrastructure e.g. office space, meeting venues, computer access.
  • Professional development (workshops for specific skills).
  • The research environment e.g. opportunities to work with other similar/related researchers and postgraduates.
  • Access to specialist resources such as libraries and or unique databases.

Always seek advice from your Research Development Officer (RDO) if you have any queries.

Advice on writing grant budget justifications

Use your research plan to make a note of all expenditure items; group items under the required headings (personnel, equipment, travel, etc).

Use WORDS more than numbers to explain WHY the item you have listed is essential to your project. In other words, be DESCRIPTIVE – itemise costs, destinations for travel, daily allowances. Ensure you nominate where you got your estimates from (the ATO, Expedia, etc). Include the precise conference name and location if you can, you can use previous costings for estimating what you will need (usually around $5000 for international conferences).

The Budget Justification is not a list that sits alongside the budget: it is the rationale. It must illustrate that the proposed project is feasible, achievable, well thought out and COST EFFECTIVE.

Say WHAT you need, WHY you need it, WHEN you need it and HOW much it will cost.

Your budget will be scrutinised, so don’t try to play the odds by under- or over-inflating your costs. They need to be realistic. But build in possible exchange rate changes or EB salary increases.

Check everything listed in the Project Description appears in the budget and budget justification (and vice versa).

TRAVEL: Do not simply state it is essential; state it will allow access to someone or something that would otherwise be lacking without it. For example, outline:

  • why email correspondence would be inadequate if you are travelling to see someone specific; you may be seeking guidance on a technique or method that requires face-to-face communication
  • why you need to stay for the length of time you have proposed
  • if the conference is prestigious
  • any project benefits gained from the travel
  • any direct publications that may result
  • if a conference will allow meetings with a group of experts in your theoretical or methodological area

TEACHING RELIEF: A tricky request. You must explain in detail WHY you need to be travelling or focussing on something that will take you away from teaching. WHY does the work need doing during semester-time and why can’t an RA do it?

RA: What HEW-level are you requesting to appoint and WHY do you need that level? What skills will that level imply? Name them. What activities will those skills allow them to undertake? What responsibilities?

FIELDWORK: Note which aim each fieldwork component will address and how long you will stay in the field… and WHY that long.

EQUIPMENT: How is the equipment specific to the project? Why can’t it be accessed via the University? Provide full details and specifications.

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