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Provost Criteria for Review

Policy Contacts

Rachel Talentino, J.D.
Research Compliance Officer, OVPR

Anna Suojanen
Associate Research Compliance Administrator, OVPR

Criteria and Procedures for Provost’s Review of New Projects or Grants


What is Essential:

The Provost’s Office aims to facilitate academic programs, projects and research at Harvard by providing clear criteria and procedures for University-level review of research proposals that pose management challenges and/or reputational risk, by providing reasonable review and oversight of major projects and programs. Within the Provost’s Office, proposals may be reviewed by the Vice Provost for Research, the University Director for Sponsored Programs, the Vice Provost for International Affairs and, in the case of some international projects, the University Committee on International Projects and Sites (UCIPS) and/or the school dean. In all cases, reviewers will consult with others when relevant. If internal deadlines and requirements are not met and the Provost does not have sufficient time for a thorough review, the proposal will not be approved.


How to Comply:

Proposals should be submitted to a sponsored programs office, Institutional Review Board (IRB), or gifts office following normal procedures.  For procedures related to any sponsored program review, please refer to the Criteria and Procedures for Provost’s Review of New Projects or Grants. Any proposals not submitted to a sponsored programs, IRB, or gifts office may be sent directly to Ara Tahmassian (617-495-9797), Rachel Talentino (617-495-9829), and Todd Washburn (617-496-5974) before the proposal is filed with potential funders. Proposals should be submitted for Provost’s Review in the same form, or substantially the same form, as they will be submitted to the funder. Please reference the Provostial Review Guidance & Examples (not approved by SALC EC yet) for more detailed information on Provostial Review requests.


Why it’s Important:

In order to ensure that academic programs, projects, and research at Harvard have adequate oversight and support, institutional stakeholders determined that a Provostial level review is required if any of the below criterion are met:

  1. The project has an aggregate budget of more than $10 million for U.S.-based projects, or is an international program whose annual budget is greater than:
FAS, HMS $5.0 million
HBS $3.8 million
HSPH $3.0 million
HLS $1.5 million
HKS $1.3 million


  1. The project involves the public use of Harvard University’s name and/or trademark.  Projects which use the name of a Harvard School or other subsidiary unit of the University do not need Provost’s Review, but do require approval of the School Dean.  Further information can be found at the Office of the Provost, check question 2.
  2. The project supports the establishment of any new international site. For this purpose, “new international site” refers to: (1) real estate, including offices and research space, outside the U.S. that is leased for Harvard use for a period of six months or longer; or (2) a project outside the U.S. to which two or more Harvard faculty members, employees, staff members of an affiliated entity, independent contractors, post-doctoral fellows, or students are assigned and placed for a period of six months or longer; or (3) a project that involves significant work in, or the posting of a Harvard faculty member, employee, staff member of an affiliated entity, an independent contractor, post-doctoral fellow, or student to, countries or regions identified as ‘High Risk‘ by Harvard’s Global Support Services.
  3. The project is international and involves human subjects research that requires IRB expedited or full review. NOTE: If a proposal meets this criterion and no other criterion, it can be reviewed at the time of award rather than at the time of submission. Review will occur in ESTR.
  4. The project involves, or is allied with, the direct provision of medical or clinical services.
  5. A majority of funds in the project (over 50%) will not be expended at Harvard but will be expended through vendors or subcontractors other than Harvard, or a majority of project activities will be conducted by persons who are not Harvard staff. Exception: Projects in which more than 50% of funds are expended at Harvard-affiliated hospitals (list here, under “HMS affiliates”) do not require provostial review.
  6. The project has a substantial risk of violating Harvard’s anti-discrimination policy.
  7. The sponsor or project may present a serious reputational risk for the University or may otherwise attract significant adverse publicity to the University.
  8. The project involves activities for which there is inadequate or uncertain program, financial and/or managerial infrastructure, which may be a special concern in projects that take place outside the United States.
  9. The project involves a scope, scale, or type of work that is beyond the University’s teaching and research mission or is especially unusual or complex.

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