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SPOT Training

Sponsored Project Online Training (SPOT) is an online learning experience resulting from a partnership between Sponsored Research and a training advisory committee of representatives from departments and central offices to build Northwestern’s first cross-campus sponsored research administration training program. In February 2016, SPOT launched with a series of “mini-courses” and microlearning modules on the Sponsored Research website. To stay on top of current issues in research administration, check out the Presentations page, where you can find slide decks from Sponsored Research events.



Mini-courses are short (20-to-30 minute) interactive videos that cover a range of topics in sponsored research administration. Current offerings are geared for those who are new to research administration and designed to introduce learners to key concepts. Courses are presented via Northwestern’s digital learning platform, myHR/Learn. Click on any of the course titles below to launch the course.

Introduction to Sponsored Research
Learning objectives: 1) Define sponsored research, 2) Explain why institutions engage in sponsored research, 3) Identify the players involved in sponsored research, and 4) Identify the sponsored project lifecycle phases

A Beginner’s Guide to Sponsored Project Solicitations
Learning objectives: 1) Demonstrate how a solicitation provides guidance for developing a sponsored project proposal; 2) Critically evaluate a solicitation for eligibility and feasibility; 3) Identify main components of a solicitation and essential structural information; 4) Discuss supplementary information and how to acquire it

Proposal Development and Submission (Coming soon – update in process!)
Learning objectives: 1) Provide an overview of the administrative components; 2) Highlight the importance and relevance of the administrative components in a sponsored project proposal; 3) Describe the process and deadlines related to submission and review of the administrative components by the Office for Sponsored Research

Budget Management Basics: Projections and Reconciliations
Learning objectives: 1) Introduce the learner to relevant terminology and tools; 2) Provide an overview of the processes of budget projection and reconciliation; 3) Discuss the importance and relevance of budget management to administering a sponsored award

Proposal Budgets 101
Learning objectives: 1) Define key terminology related to budgeting; 2) Explain how to calculate salary cost and fringe; 3) Explain how to chose the correct indirect rate and how to calculate indirect costs correctly; 4) Outline introductory strategies / process for budgeting

Proposal Budgets 102
Learning objectives: 1) Explore in greater detail topics introduce in Proposal Budgets 101, including revising a budget, selecting the correct F&A rate based on project type, and budgeting for special direct cost categories; 2) Introduce additional key budget terms and concepts

How to Read an Award Document
Learning objectives: 1) Identify key information in an award document; 2) Recognize the type of an basic features of the funding mechanism that has been awarded; 3) Be able to use an award document to determine the actions required to fulfill obligations to the sponsor

Setting up an Award
Learning objectives: 1) Define terminology relevant to award set-up; 2) Verify that all required elements are in order so that an award can be set up; 3) Understand with which offices and resources you will need to interact throughout the set-up process

Award Closeout: Basics
Learning objectives: 1) Understand the responsibilities of different participants in the closeout process; 2) Be able to access and use tools that facilitate closeout; 3) Identify the actions and documentation required for closeout to occur

Microlearning Modules

Microlearning modules are a series of roughly 5-minute functionally-oriented videos with each video addressing a discrete task or topic.  The modules can be thought of as dynamic how-to guides and are meant to be used as supplements to system user guides and other job aides.

Description: How to determine if the outside entity is a subrecipient or a contractor.
Total viewing time: 6 minutes

How to Choose: MTA, DUA, NDA
Description: How to choose the right type of agreement between Material Transfer Agreements, Data Use Agreements and Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Total viewing time: 6 minutes

The “No Tears NRSA”: How to Successfully Prepare and Submit and Individual Fellowship Application
Description: Learn how to complete the required administrative components and successfully develop and submit a “No Tears NRSA” application
Total viewing time: 13 minutes

Subcontract Invoicing (NEW!)
Description: Learn about the subcontract invoice routing process, the roles and responsibilities of those involved, and the required data elements on a subcontract invoice
Total viewing time: 9 minutes