Effort Reporting Glossary

Page Updated: January 23, 2020

Cost Sharing

The portion of the total costs of a sponsored project that is borne by the UW rather than the sponsor. This can take the form of salary support for project personnel or other material contributions such as equipment or third party donations.

  • Mandatory Cost Sharing
    Cost sharing that is required by the sponsor as a condition for proposal submission and award acceptance.
  • Voluntary Committed Cost Sharing
    Cost sharing not required by the sponsor as a condition of proposal submission, but proposed in the sponsored project budget or budget justification. Once offered by the institution and agreed to by the sponsor, this becomes an obligation that the institution must fulfill.

    Cost sharing that is proposed in the budget or the budget justification becomes a commitment upon execution of the award agreement.

    When cost sharing proposed in the narrative is specific and quantified, it also becomes a binding commitment upon execution of the award agreement.
  • Voluntary Uncommitted Cost Sharing
    Cost sharing that is neither pledged explicitly in the proposal nor stated in the award documents. This typically occurs when an individual expends more effort on a sponsored project than his or her commitment requires. This type of cost sharing, or "extra effort," is above that agreed to as part of the award and is not required to be documented, tracked, or reported.


The time devoted to a particular activity, expressed as a percentage of the total time spent on UW activities.

  • Committed Effort
    The amount of effort proposed in a grant proposal or other project application and accepted by the sponsor, regardless of whether salary support is requested for the effort. Committed effort may be adjusted with the approval of the sponsoring agency.

    Commitments are recognized, and effort must be tracked, for the principal investigator/project director, all co-investigators, and all key personnel listed in the Notice of Grant Award. If the award does not have a key person section (or listing), UW policy states that the only key person is the PI/PD. In these cases, only the PI/PD has trackable commitments.
  • De minimis Effort
    Infrequent, irregular activity that would normally be considered "so small" that it cannot (and should not) be accounted for. Activities can be considered de minimis in amount when, in the aggregate, they represent less than one percent of the individual’s total UW effort.

    Depending on the nature and extent of the activity, and on the amount of time it requires in an effort period relative to the individual's total UW effort for the period, the types of activities that may qualify as de minimis effort include service on ad hoc committees, participation in department and division meetings, and basic activities of University life.

    Grant proposal writing and well-defined, regular administrative activity cannot be considered "so small," and therefore must not be treated as de minimis activity.
  • Total Professional Effort
    All professional activities performed by a faculty or staff member, regardless of how (or whether) the individual receives compensation.
  • Total UW Effort
    The portion of total professional effort for which an individual receives Institutional Base Salary (IBS) from the University of Wisconsin. This is the individual's full workload for purposes of effort certification. By definition, an individual's total UW effort must equal 100% – never more or less – regardless of the number of hours worked or the appointment percent.

    Total UW Effort includes:
    • Externally sponsored research, including all activities that the federal government recognizes as allocable to sponsored projects
    • Departmental/university research, including UW-funded projects
    • Instruction/university supported academic effort, including classroom teaching, presentations to students/trainee groups, mentoring trainees unless specifically part of a sponsored project, and participation in resident training
    • Administration (e.g. Department Chair, Program Director, Dean)
    • Service on institutional committees, including IRBs, IACUCs, and governance bodies
    • Clinical activities, except UWMF clinical activity
    • Effort expended on preparing proposals for new or continuing sponsored projects
    • Activities related to pursuing intellectual property
    • Public service activities directly related to UW professional duties
    • Paid absences, including vacation time and sick leave
    Total UW Effort excludes:
    • Paid consulting outside of the UW
    • Unpaid consulting outside of the UW, except when performed as part of an individual's assigned responsibilities in the primary position
    • University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation compensated clinical activities
    • Service on an NIH study section or NSF peer review panel
    • Other advisory activities for sponsors, regardless of whether compensation is received
    • Peer review of manuscripts, regardless of whether compensation is received
    • Leadership in professional societies
    • Veterans Administration Hospital compensated activities, which are documented in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
    • Volunteer community or public service not directly related to UW effort
    • Unpaid absences
    • Lectures or presentations for which the individual receives compensation from a source other than the UW
    • Other special activities resulting in payment of a bonus or other one-time extra compensation
    • Other activities over and above or separate from assigned responsibilities in the primary position, including service as the primary editor of a journal

Effort Certification

The university's means of providing assurance to sponsors, especially the federal government, that:

  • Faculty and staff have met their commitments, paid or unpaid by the sponsor, to sponsored projects
  • The salaries charged to sponsored projects are reasonable in relation to the work performed

Effort Coordinator

An administrator who facilitates the effort certification process by answering certifiers' questions, monitoring certification activity, and following up with delinquent certifiers. Effort coordinators in the UW's departments, centers, colleges, and schools provide local assistance to certifiers. Each college and school determines the placement of effort coordinators within its organizational structure and identifies appropriate administrative personnel to serve in this capacity.

Effort Statement

A document that applies to a defined time period and reflects the committed effort, cost sharing, and salary associated with that time period. Once certified, it also reflects the actual effort.

Institutional Base Salary (IBS)

The annual compensation paid by the University of Wisconsin for an individual's appointment, whether that individual's time is spent on research, instruction, administration, or other activities. Institutional base salary excludes any income that an individual earns outside of duties for the University of Wisconsin.

  • IBS includes salary from these sources:
    • Extramural grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements from federal (UW fund 144) and nonfederal (UW fund 133) sponsors
      • Includes: UW Hospital and Clinics Authority affiliation agreements, and affiliation agreements with Marshfield Clinic, Aurora Health Care, and other health care providers
    • Gift funds administered through Research and Sponsored Programs (UW fund 133, document type 2)
      • Includes: UW Medical Foundation contribution to the UW base salary, paid to the university as gift funds and to the individual via the UW payroll system
    • Federal formula funding (UW fund 142 – Hatch/McIntire-Stennis; UW fund 143 – Smith-Lever/Extension)
    • Intramural grants (awarded through the VCR’s Fall Competition and other allocation processes)
    • UW Startup packages
    • UW Retention packages
    • Other UW funds, including but not limited to:
      • State of Wisconsin general program revenue (UW fund 101, commonly referred to as "departmental funds")
      • Extension funds (UW fund 104)
      • Auxiliary funds (UW fund 128)
      • WARF funds (UW fund 135)
      • General operations receipts (UW fund 136)
      • Federal F&A return (UW fund 150)
      • Endowment trust fund income
  • IBS excludes compensation from these sources:
    • UW Medical Foundation Clinical Practice Plan (paid directly to an individual by the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation)
    • Veteran’s Administration Medical Center
    • WARF royalties (paid directly to an individual)
    • Outside professional work, including but not limited to:
      • Consulting
      • Compensated peer review activities
  • IBS includes salary from these salary components:
    • Regular salary
    • Summery salary
    • Regular hourly wages
    • Overtime wages, for hourly employees
    • Sabbatical leave
    • Paid professional leave, such as vacation and sick leave
  • IBS excludes compensation from these salary components:
    • Bonus payments
    • Temporary supplements
    • Tuition remission
    • Lump-sum payments

The principles that apply in defining an individual's IBS at the proposal stage must be applied consistently when charging salary to sponsored projects and certifying effort.

Student hourly wages for work unrelated to sponsored projects are excluded from IBS. Some student hourly effort is charged to sponsored projects, but most is not. An individual who works on a sponsored project may have a second, student hourly appointment as, for example, a lifeguard, fitness instructor, or recreational sports official, where such work is unrelated to his or her sponsored effort. This is not considered professional effort, and the corresponding wages would not be included when proposing salary or effort for a sponsored project.

Key Person

A person who contributes to the scientific or scholarly development or execution of project in a substantive, measurable way. In the context of establishing commitments and tracking effort, a key person is defined as the principal investigator, all co-investigators, and all individuals explicitly listed as key personnel in the proposal. In situations in which the proposal does not explicitly list key persons, the University defines key personnel as the principal investigator and all co-investigators on a sponsored project.

In the context of obligations related to a significant change in work activity, a key person is defined as all individuals who are named as key personnel in the Notice of Grant Award (NOGA). Often, the principal investigator/project director is the only person specifically named in the NOGA.

Short-term fluctuations in devoted effort
Periods during which the devoted effort is less than commensurate with the salary charged to a sponsored project, followed by periods during which it is more than commensurate, such that it all “evens out” and the appropriate effort is devoted to the project. A deficit is acceptable for a period of not more than two months, provided the overall distribution is reasonable over the longer term. This is in contrast with a significant change in work activity, which represents a permanent or longer-term change.

Significant changes in work activity
A withdrawal from a sponsored project, a disengagement from the project for more than three months, or a 25 percent (or greater) reduction in time devoted to the project. A significant change in work activity on the part of a principal investigator, project director, or key person who is listed in the Notice of Award requires prior approval from a federal sponsor.

3.1 Classifications of Effort

For purposes of effort certification, this encompasses:

  • The services that benefit common or joint university or department activities in organized research units, academic departments or programs, and the offices of the deans, the provost, and the chancellor
  • Proposal preparation, for new or competing renewal applications

Departmental/University Research
Research, development, and scholarly activities that are not funded by a sponsored project from federal or non-federal agencies or organizations. Departmental/University research includes internally funded research, regardless of whether the activities are separately budgeted and accounted for.

For purposes of effort certification, this is the preparation, evaluation, and delivery of the teaching and training activities of the University, regardless of whether offered on a credit or non-credit basis. Also includes instruction-related activities such as thesis advice, mentoring of students except as directly related to the faculty member's sponsored research, and similar activities.

Student mentoring that relates directly to a faculty member's sponsored research is considered a research activity that may be allocated to the sponsored project.

Basic activities of University life
For purposes of effort certification, this includes preparing expense reports, certifying effort, and other activities that are intrinsic to a faculty or staff member's daily routine. These activities are not viewed as serving a separate university function or administrative purpose, apart from the research, teaching, clinical, or administrative function(s) in which the faculty or staff member is otherwise engaged.

This does not include proposal preparation.

If such "housekeeping" activities become more than de minimis in amount for any reason, it may be necessary to reflect them in an administrative or other component of total effort.

Research patient care
Clinical patient care that is solely rendered as part of the requirement of a clinical research protocol and would not have been required or provided but for that research. This excludes patient care that is part of the normal standard of care, even if provided to a research subject.

For purposes of effort certification, this is membership in either a standing committee such as an admissions committee, governance body, IACUC, IRB, or other similar group, or an ad hoc committee such as a search committee or task force. Service on an ad hoc committee or task force may qualify as de minimis effort, depending on the extent of the individual's involvement.

Sponsored Project
A project funded by an award from a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement under which the Institution agrees to perform a certain scope of work, according to specified terms and conditions, for a specific budget. A sponsored project requires detailed financial accountability and compliance with the sponsor’s terms and conditions.

UW Clinical Activity
Clinical activity, other than research patient care, for which an individual is compensated directly by the University of Wisconsin rather than by the UW Medical Foundation. For example, faculty and staff in the Schools of Pharmacy and Nursing are typically involved in patient care activities for which they are paid directly by the University. On the other hand, faculty and staff in the School of Medicine and Public Health are typically compensated through the UW Medical Foundation.

UWMF Clinical Activity
Time spent preparing for, providing, and following up on the clinical care needs of patients through the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation (UWMF), other than research patient care. Examples include actual treatment of patients, reviewing medical records, charting patient treatments, ordering and reviewing tests and consultations, consulting with colleagues on patient care issues, or supervising residents or medical students while providing clinical care.