Pricing a research project

Curtin looks to grow its research activity and it is imperative that the research effort is adequately resourced. It is also important that those funding research projects recognise the value of what is being undertaken and this is partly reflected in the price. Under-pricing research activity is flawed both from an economic and reputation perspective.

A proportion of Curtin’s research activity is priced under stringent guidelines (e.g. Australian Competitive Research Grants). The funding rules of these sources dictate what can be costed to the project, and the price charged is equivalent to the allowable cost.

Where there are no guidelines in place, then at minimum all costs should be met. It is a requirement of relevant legislation and the principles of Competitive Neutrality that Curtin ensures that the price of an externally funded project is established in a clearly defined way.

The Principal Investigator, working with Research Administration, is responsible for determining the price that will be provided to the Head of Area for approval. The price should take into account:

  1. The principles stated above;
  2. A comprehensive costing of the project;
  3. An understanding of the price that would represent an acceptable value to the customer – taking into account that while a customer wants the work at the lowest possible price, they are accessing premium quality research expertise and should pay accordingly;
  4. A defensible position of the proposed price in the context of Competitive Neutrality.
  5. Arguments under points 3 and 4 should be part of the recommendation to the Head of Area for consideration at time of approval.

In some circumstances there are specific exemptions to charging full costs such as for work undertaken for charitable organisations. Curtin may choose to subsidise the work in specific circumstances because of, for example, public good benefits. The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research is the delegated authority for waiving full cost recovery. It must be recognised that under-pricing reduces the resource base of the Faculty and University.