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Re: Indirect research costs

June 5, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 23

Readers commented on overhead costs described in our May 29 issue (page 17).

Top-tier institutions have been charging 50–60% overhead for many years. At the same time, they’ve been on a building boom, creating fancy new research buildings, student centers, athletic facilities, and dorms while replacing faculty with adjuncts. Administrators claim the budgets are “separate,” but this doesn’t pass the smell test. Surely lots of overhead revenue is going to frivolous amenities and extra administration.

Josh Kurutz via Facebook

I think most administrators want their hands in the grant money. The dean of math and science at my college always wanted to justify his need for thousands of dollars from our grant for overhead, aka his own special projects around his department, which is illegal. The politics between administrators and the PI is astounding; as much as we want our scientists, lab techs, equipment, and technology paid for, I think we need to pay attention to the money spent by administrators.

Samantha Barrera via Facebook

Many necessary costs like sprinklers, safe HVAC, EHS, and accessibility simply didn’t exist “back then” and drive ops costs.

Peter Kelly-Joseph (@PeterK_J) via Twitter


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