Issue No 10: August 2005
Total of $60m funding announced for public policy research
Q&A: PIs taking leave exceeding 183 days
Visit to Lingnan University
Oxygen-scarce oceans threaten fish survival
Natural anti-fouling compounds found in study of coral and sponges
Shellfish used as a fish farm biofilter
World's largest child bilingualism database helps linguistics research
Morpheme awareness clue to Chinese language ability
Ancient language links to modern Chinese

Will a CERG project be terminated if a PI goes on no-pay / professional leave exceeding 183 days within the project period?

The spirit of the leave arrangement is to safeguard against PIs going on no-pay / professional leave exceeding 183 days within the project period and getting into paid employment (part-time / full-time) with a non UGC-funded institution. In these cases, we consider the PIs are no longer eligible for their CERG projects. Therefore, PIs who have taken no pay / professional leave for more than 183 days within the project period should apply for a temporary waiver of eligibility requirements from the RGC. If such application is turned down, the project will be terminated.

What will be the CERG project termination date if a PI is no longer eligible under the183-day no pay / professional leave rules?

PIs and institutions must submit a request for temporary waiver of eligibility requirements in good time to allow the RGC sufficient time to consider the request.
If a request is submitted well before the leave but is turned down by the RGC, termination will be effective from the date of the RGC’s notification letter to the PI through the institution. After the project’s termination, only expenditure such as payment to research assistants and equipment already ordered is allowed. Payment of salaries to research assistants is allowed for a maximum of three months after the termination date but, in any case, not beyond the start of the PI’s no-pay leave.
If a PI’s request is submitted after the start of the leave, the CERG project is liable to be terminated retrospectively, effective from the start of the leave. The institution concerned must return expenses spent on the CERG project during the leave period.

Change of PI
Can an institution apply for a change of PI before the start of the project where a PI has to leave the institution unexpectedly?

As a matter of policy, no change of PI will be approved within the first six months of a funded project including the period before the start of the project. However, a change of PI after the first six months of the project may be considered when justification is sound.

What are the requirements for a Co-I to become a PI if the need for a change of PI arises?

To take over as PI, a Co-I must have been involved in the project from the beginning. This is compulsory. However, meeting this requirement does not guarantee approval for change of PI. Approval is still subject to the responsible panel member being satisfied on the Co-I’s qualification, research track record and capability.

Declaration of a relationship with nominated external reviewers
How can PIs/Co-Is be sure whether a certain relationship with a nominated external reviewer should be declared in the CERG application?

The list of relationship categories that need to be declared is long but, as a matter of principle, PIs or Co-Is are advised to declare if in doubt. Declaring a relationship will not harm an application. The responsible panel member will need adequate information to choose the appropriate external reviewers.

Declaration of submitting similar proposals in the same CERG exercise
Shall PIs/Co-Is declare similarity of two proposals if they truly believe that they are not similar?

It is the judgment of the RGC rather than the PI’s or Co-I’s which decides whether two proposals are similar. It is therefore always advisable for the PI or the Co-I to declare similarity. Even if they believe the proposals are not substantially similar, they should still make the declaration but elaborate the difference in the proposals to avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding.