Federal guidance states that if an organization has a library, then books and journals should generally be provided as part of normal library services and treated as F&A costs rather than being directly charged. As a result, books may normally not be charged directly to sponsored research projects unless the purchase meets all three tests of unlike circumstances, namely:
- Unlike circumstances exist, that is, this sponsored award is different from typical sponsored awards at the University.
- The book cost can be associated with the sponsored project with a high degree of accuracy.
- The awarding agency has approved charging the book cost as a direct cost in the awarded budget.
In addition, the Principal Investigator must provide a written justification supporting the direct charge to the research project.
Examples of allowable book or reprint or copy of article charges:
- Purchase of software, equipment or similar manual to improve efficiency and/or results of PI or lab personnel use of software or equipment used in the specific research project.
- Book associated with a specific research technique or aspect of the research project that will introduce efficiencies to the research, improve quality of results, to get better results from a specific piece of research equipment or from a research experiment.
- Books not available from the library or from other sources or specific books needed so often that a library copy is not sufficient.
Examples of unallowable book charges:
- General or reference texts, including medical dictionaries.
- General software, e.g. a widely used statistical package and associated manuals that will benefit multiple activities.
- Books, manuals, reprints that generally assist the PI in keeping up with his/her field of research.