Collaborator/Consultant/Other Significant Contributor


A consultant is budgeted based on hours of work being performed.  A collaborator is budgeted based on the internal or external base salary and rate of effort (calendar months or percent effort) and other significant contributors do not receive funding, but contribute to the success of the project.

Source: NIH  


Collaborators always play an active role in the research, and the position is sometimes defined interchangeably with co-investigator. As a loose guideline, think of a collaborator as a scientist whose distinct expertise complements your own while a co-investigator shares your area of expertise and therefore contributes in guiding the scientific direction of the overall project. One provides unique expertise, the other umbrella expertise.

Still, many areas of science have their own expectations for each of these roles. So long as the role of each contributor is thoroughly explained in your Personnel Justification and the Letters of Support, your choice between the titles of "co-investigator" and "collaborator" won't be a point of contention for reviewers.

Collaborators are typically listed as key personnel. They may get part of their salary paid from the grant in person months. Collaborators at other institutions could have their salary paid through a consortium agreement (also called a subaward).

Some senior-level collaborators may choose to work part-time for credit (e.g., the potential of future publications), rather than pay.

Harvard Process

Collaborators are budgeted representing effort in calendar months or percent.  Internal collaborators will be paid using their institutional base salary.  External collaborators will be paid through a sub contract agreement using their institutional base salary.


A consultant provides advice or services and may participate significantly in the research.  

Often, he or she helps fill in smaller gaps by, for example, supplying software, providing technical assistance or training, or setting up equipment.

List consultants as key personnel only if they contribute substantively and measurably to the scientific development or execution of a project.

Harvard Process

Consultants do not receive salary from grants but receive a fee as a transaction for their service.

  • Consultants are not budgeted in the personnel section
  • Consultants must be budgeted as “consultant fees”
  • The budget justification must provide the hourly fee and estimated hours needed to complete the work.

If a Harvard employee serves as a consultant on a grant, this would not be submitted through GMAS.  The consultant role is work performed outside an employee’s quantifiable effort.  The agreement is between the individual and the Sponsor, Harvard has no liability.

Other Significant Contributors (OSC)

When there are personnel who commit to contributing to the scientific development or execution of the project but do not commit any measurable effort (i.e., person months) to the project, their role would be other significant contributor (OSC).

  • OSCs are typically presented at effort of “zero person months” or "as needed." If their effort is measurable, you may not list them as OSCs
  • Biographical sketches are required for all personnel identified in the application as OSCs
  • Other support information is not required