Institutional Signature FAQ

What does it mean to get ROLA approvals?

  • The ROLA grants management system collects electronic approvals for each application and contract that requires institutional approval for submission.
  • Each department and faculty have established an e-approval routing collecting e-signatures from the PI, administrator, department chair, faculty research officer and the Associate Dean, Research or delegate.
  • Each e-signature represents differing levels of responsibility and commitment for the conduct of the research and the support of resources; and
  • See Meaning of Signatures.

What happens if someone in the e-approval queue is away?

Each department and faculty can designate alternative signatories in the event of vacation, illness or leave. Please contact to make these changes.

Do I need "to do a ROLA"?

ROLA Proposals are required to capture approvals for any funding involving research and/or research-related activity. For a research account to be opened and a speed code generated for funding coming to Western, a ROLA proposal must be initiated and submitted.

Why does ORS need to review my application?

The Vice-President (Research) is the institutional signing authority for Western on grants, contracts and agreements. On behalf of the VPR, the Office of Research Services must verify that all applications, contracts and agreements comply with institutional policies and the requirements of the external funding agencies.

What happens if I submit an application or sign an agreement without consulting with ORS?

Western Research reserves the right to refuse to accept funding for an awarded research application, project or contract that was not reviewed prior to submission to a funder. This will be based on the level of risk to the institution and commitments that were made without prior approvals.  At the very least, by-passing mandatory internal approvals will result in delays in accessing research funding.

My student/postdoc is applying for research funding. Why do I need to complete a ROLA proposal?

Western requires that the faculty supervisors with research-eligible appointments must act as the account holder for all funds administered by the University. Therefore, if your student/postdoc is applying for research funding, you must submit a ROLA proposal for the application. Faculty supervisors are also required to secure any applicable certification protocols required for the student project.

Funding for a graduate student that is awarded to them directly (i.e., Tri-Agency awards) will be administered through SGPS.

Can my Department Chair or Dean sign my application, notice of award and/or contract?

No, please forward grant applications and any research-related documentation that requires signature to the Office of Research Services for review.  The appropriate member of the team will review the documentation and obtain the institutional signature for you.

How far in advance should I submit my application for review if there is no specified deadline?

When there is no specified sponsor deadline date (aka “rolling deadline”), Western Research will work on the application as time allows and based on the completeness of the draft received. We will endeavour to meet your target date if it does not put applications with hard deadlines at risk. A complete copy of your application must be sent to for review a minimum of five business days prior to your target submission date.

What is the requirement for signatures if I am a co-PI on an application?

  • A ROLA Proposal with PI, Chair and Associate Dean (Research) signatures needs to be processed through the Office of Research Services (ORS) for approval. This allows ORS to review commitments being made in the application.
  • A full copy of the sponsor application (minimally, front signature pages, proposal summary, budget pages and budget justification) is required.

What is the requirement for signatures if I have a co-applicant from another institution on my proposal/application?

  • A ROLA Proposal with PI, Chair and Associate Dean (Research) signatures needs to be processed through ORS for approval. This allows ORS to review commitments being made in the application;
  • Signatures on Sponsor Application for all required parties (Co-PI & Co-PI Institution), if mandated by Sponsor; and
  • A full copy of the sponsor application is required

What if there is no space on the application for an institutional signature?

Regardless of whether there is a designated location on the form, an authorized institutional signature and ROLA Proposal are required for all applications for research funding (see MAAP 7.5 & MAAP 7.8).

What does ORS do upon receipt of an application?

Due to a large volume of applications received by the ORS team, it can take several full working days to review a grant application against funding guidelines.

Timelines depend on the complexity of requirements from the funder and the number of internal individuals required to review specific aspects of the application and sponsor guidelines. A review often entails the following:

  • Guidelines are obtained to ensure complete review of the application. Guidelines are often readily available online, but in some cases, guidelines are provided directly to researchers (PI) by sponsors, and ORS must request these from the PI;
  • Guidelines are reviewed for eligibility of the applicant or institution to apply, liabilities and warranties, intellectual property issues, indirect costs requirements, terms and conditions or reference to an Agreement (any Agreement, if available, is also reviewed, as application signatures may commit Western to terms stipulated in an unseen Agreement);
  • Confirmation of a researcher's eligibility to hold a research account at Western;
  • If an appointment is not yet on the HR system, or a PI is ineligible, the Department and/or Faculty or Faculty Relations must be contacted to complete HR documentation and inclusion in the HR system;
  • The grant application is reviewed to ensure compliance and accuracy with respect to guidelines, significant contributions, CVs of the PI/Co-applicants/Collaborators, budgets and required administrative information;
  • Ensure all signatures have been obtained, as required by agency/sponsor, e.g.,. co-investigators and partner institutions;
  • Confirm a ROLA Proposal is submitted with department and faculty e-approvals. These signatures commit the Department and Faculty to resources outlined in the research proposal and provide awareness to the Chair and ADR of applications being processed for their areas;
  • The PI is contacted if there are any comments or concerns
  • The Sponsor may be contacted for clarification of guidelines, if necessary, or to assist PI with any questions; and
  • The application can be routed to the Research Contracts and Partnerships team for review if there are specific term and conditions, industry involvement and/or contract requirements.

Aren't all application guidelines the same?

The variety of applications received in any one day may involve numerous different sponsors and/or programs, all of which are governed by separate policies, submission guidelines and technical requirements. To ensure proper risk management for Western, each application and its governing guidelines must be reviewed. Some guidelines are more ambiguous or complex; and subject to interpretation, particularly if new institutional requirements are being requested. In these situations, in-house consultation within ORS may be required before signatures can be finalized, which require additional time.

Is there an advantage to providing ORS with advanced notice of my potential application?

ORS encourages early contact, which helps to ensure there are no “surprises” at signature time. Program guidelines can be reviewed, providing the opportunity for discussion on any specific issues or requirements.

Additionally, last-minute signature requests are problematic, as proper review requires time and required signatures may be missing. Since the types of sponsors and applications can vary across campus, there may be major deadlines in certain disciplines for which others are not aware. A last-minute application may not receive the attention or quick turnaround expected.

Please forward website link or a downloaded PDF of the application form and guidelines to to ensure that the opportunity is uploaded to the ROLA Funding Opportunity page.

What are common errors found in applications?

Common application errors include:

  • Wrong CV type and/or CVs that are not up to date and do not accurately capture current pending and awarded funding;
  • Applications that do not meet Sponsor’s priority areas and/or eligibility criteria for submission
  • Applications that do not adequately address specific sections of the proposal and satisfy evaluation criteria;
  • Budget errors: adding errors, totals from one page do not match totals on summary pages;
  • Inadequate budget justifications, or numbers do not match the budget;
  • Missing or incorrect indirect cost-recovery (overhead). Indirect costs MUST be included at the maximum allowable rate provided within sponsor guidelines;
  • Missing or incorrect signatures (Institutional signatures for Western are ONLY through ORS); and
  • Spelling or grammatical errors, incomplete sections; and missing pages or sections of applications.

Last-minute requests for signatures increases the risk to Western that critical elements have been missed in the review, and researchers run the risk that a signatory may not be available, or that the application requires additional revisions prior to receiving a signature.

The principle investigator or project lead is responsible for ensuring that the application is complete and accurate prior to its submission