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Purchasing on a Research Cost Object

Important policies when purchasing on a research account.

Justifications on Research Requisitions

Please see our page All about justifications for a full explanation of justification requirements and examples.


If you’re submitting a requisition that’s purchasing on a research account, you’ll need a more detailed justification in order to prove compliance with the research sponsor.

The justification must include the specific use or benefit to the sponsored project the purchased goods/services will provide.

Please note the below unallowable GL’s, which you may not use when purchasing on a research account:

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Meetings — Food and Beverages (421000) may be allowable on a federal award if the meeting’s primary purpose was the dissemination of technical information beyond MIT, AND the meeting was necessary and reasonable for successful performance of the federal award. Refer to VPF for more information.
Purchases for Office Supplies (420258) or Equipment (421827 and 421818) must include in the justification exactly how the purchased materials will be used for the sponsored project in order to prove compliance. Equipment purchases may require prior sponsor approval.

For more information on justifying allowable purchases of equipment and supplies made on research accounts, please refer to VPF's Sponsored Programs Reference Manual in the below sections titled "Purchasing Equipment on Sponsored Research Projects” and “Technical Materials.”

Page 46-47 of VPF's
Page 46-47 of VPF's Sponsored Programs Reference Manual. Click to enlarge.
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Page 31-32 of VPF's
Page 31-32 of VPF's Sponsored Programs Reference Manual. Click to enlarge.

Effort on a Research Account

If you’re purchasing on a research cost object, the requester will need to have effort on the cost object being purchased on. This means that the requester has permission to purchase on the sponsored cost object.

Page 29 of VPF's
Page 29 of VPF's Sponsored Programs Reference Manual. Click to enlarge.
If the requester (the person who created the requisition) does not have effort on the listed account, then the requisition will be sent back.
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