Project closeout is a critical component of all research projects. If it is done well, closeout can provide the platform for future research projects and research funding, but if it is done poorly can potentially make it difficult to gain future funding for the individual and the organisation or even have negative consequences.

There several components to project closeout, and these are usually set out in the funding agreement or contract that was executed prior to the start of the project. These components usually include:

  • final progress reporting, where the lead investigator provides a progress report covering the entire period of the grant and a listing of any research outputs such as journal articles, conference presentations, Higher Degree by Research (HDR) completions. In some cases, the funding agency may also require publication outputs to be available via open access.
  • a final financial report or funds acquittal, where it may be a requirement under the funding agreement for any unspent funds to be returned to the funding body.
  • any special requirements that may have been detailed in the original funding agreement. Each funding agency will have their own specific requirements in this regard, so familiarity with the individual agreement governing the project is important.

Final progress reporting

Final progress reports detailing the research project’s progress and outcomes over the entire duration of the funding period are normally submitted to the funding agency through the Office of Sponsored Research. The funding agreement will outline the final report requirements, including the period of time for the report (e.g. whether for the final year of the project or the entire period of the grant).

Late or outstanding reports may affect the eligibility of future applications to the funding body (including Australian Research Council (ARC) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)). Final reporting is also an excellent opportunity for researchers to outline the achievements of the funded project to the granting agency and profile not only the outputs of the research, but the known outcomes and impact.

Financial reporting

Contract and Grants Accounting (CGA) within Finance and Business Services (FBS) is responsible for the preparation of all certified financial statements and acquittals in accordance with the conditions specified for all externally granted projects (see PPL Finance Reporting [9.10.03]). This is to ensure that financial statements are fully reflective of the UQ ledger and certified to the relevant accounting standards.