Submitting a research project proposal is legally binding in most cases. An official grant award notification or funding approval letter usually represents an agreement between the sponsor and the university based on the terms named in the proposal and the approval letter. If, at a later date, these terms cannot be met due to a lack of resources, or other mandatory requirements (such as data protection) cannot be fulfilled, the sponsor can demand compensation from the university.
For this reason, all proposals that are binding for the university must be reviewed internally by the Legal Services team before they are submitted. However, if you are submitting a proposal to the German Research Foundation (DFG) or completing the initial steps of a multistage proposal process, this review is not mandatory.
When preparing your research proposal, the following points in particular should be checked over in due time and, where necessary, approved by the Legal Services team:
If the nature of your project means that you have to work with personal data, you should discuss your research project with the Legal Services team at an early stage. This is because both you and the university are subject to numerous regulations regarding the use of personal data. For example, appropriate technical and organizational measures must be in place to protect data from unauthorized access, and, where necessary, a catalog of procedures (Verfahrensverzeichnis) containing a formal description must be created. If the project is tendered or subcontracting is used, specific contractual agreements must be put in place.
It is important to discuss data protection early on in your project’s life cycle as breaches of data protection regulations can significantly impact your project. For example, any data that has been processed incorrectly must be deleted. Breaches can also lead to fines or time-consuming inspections by supervisory authorities.
The Central Office for Data Protection at Universities in Baden-Württemberg (ZENDAS) provides detailed information, in German, on data protection for research projects on its website. If you would like guidance on data protection for your project, the university can put you in touch with ZENDAS. Please contact the Legal Services team as soon as possible as reviews completed by ZENDAS may take some time.
The Act on Higher Education of the Land of Baden-Württemberg (LHG) and guidelines provided by the European Union state that if a research project is commissioned by an external organization, the project’s budget must include indirect costs i.e. overheads, and an appropriate profit markup as well as the direct costs.
When planning your finances, please contact Mr. Herrmann as early in the process as possible, as if these indirect costs are calculated after the proposal has been submitted, a funding gap equivalent to 35% – 40% of the total funding for the project arises. The respective chair is then responsible for paying the difference to close this gap.
The type of project you are involved in may mean that tax is, or will become, payable. When putting together your project proposal, you must include value-added tax. The Legal Services team works with Division IV to ensure that the tax payable on your project is clear at an early stage.
Personal data is any data that can be used to identify an individual, such as a person’s name, or, if combined with other data, can infer a person’s identity.