Sponsored Project Online Training (SPOT)

About SPOT

Sponsored Project Online Training (SPOT) is an online learning expereince resulting from a partnership between the Office for Sponsored Research and a Training Advisory Committee 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 OSR website. To stay on top of current issues in research administration, check out the Presentations page, where you can find slide decks from OSR events.


Microlearning Modules


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.

Introductory Series

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
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
Learning objectives: 1) Provide an overview of the administrative shell components; 2) Highlight the importance and relevance of the administrative shell in a sponsored project proposal; 3) Describe the process and deadlines related to submission and review of the administrative shell by the Office for Sponsored Research
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
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
Learning objectives: 1) Explore in greater detail topics introduce in Proposal Busgets 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
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
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

In-Person Courses

As a complement to the SPOT mini-courses, OSR In-Person Courses are offered on a quarterly basis, alternating campuses. These in-person courses are geared towards to those who are new to research administration and designed to allow learners case-based, hands-on practice of key concepts, such as reading sponsored project solicitations and developing a sponsored project budget.  Registration for in-person courses occurs via myHR/Learn.

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.

Request an Outgoing Subcontract

Request an Outgoing Subcontract

Description: Learn the correct way to submit an outgoing subcontract request using Northwestern's Electronic Sponsored Projects Request (ESPR) system.
Level: All levels
Total viewing time: 4 minutes
 Checklist to Determine Subrecipient vs. Contractor Involvement

Checklist to Determine Subreciepient vs. Contractor Involvement

Description: How to determine if the outside entity is a subrecipient or a contractor.
Level: All Levels
Total viewing time: 6 minutes
 How to Choose: Material Transfer Agreement, Data Use Agreement, Non-Disclosure Agreement

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.
Level: All Levels
Total viewing time: 6 minutes