Books, Journals and Subscriptions

Guideline Date: April 2015     Revision: 1     Last Review: August 2017

Why are books, journals and subscriptions normally treated as indirect costs?

A vast number of books, journals, manuscripts, government documents, maps, microforms, music scores, sound recordings, visual materials and dissertations are available in the University libraries. The libraries serve as an invaluable resource for the University research enterprise. A portion of the cost incurred for the operation of the libraries (e.g., the cost of library materials and staff) is included in the F&A rate charged to sponsored awards. Because library costs are included in the F&A rate, they cannot normally be charged as direct costs.

Examples of books, journals or subscriptions that are considered indirect costs:

  • General or reference texts
  • Books, manuals or reprints that assist the principal investigator in keeping current with their field of research

When may books, journals and subscriptions be charged as direct costs?

If the book, journal or subscription is not available in the library and can be associated with the sponsored project with a high degree of accuracy, it may be charged as a direct cost.

If the book, journal or subscription is available in the library but is needed so often that a library copy is not sufficient, it may be charged to the project if it can be associated with the sponsored project with a high degree of accuracy. In both of these instances, the proposal's budget justification should document and explain why the book, journal or subscription is required for the project. The documentation should address the following questions:

  • Is the subject matter of the book, journal or subscription related directly to the project?
  • Is the book, journal or subscription associated with a specific research technique that will introduce efficiencies to the research and/or improve the quality of the results?
  • Can the book be associated with the sponsored project with a high degree of accuracy?