Financial Responsibility

Responsible Conduct of Research and Participation

Description of the Problem

A researcher’s expenses are paid by a contract or grant to attend a conference at a distant location. The individual buys an economy class airline ticket, and saves money in that fashion. He or she is also able to find a relatively inexpensive hotel room, and inexpensive restaurants for meals.

On returning, the researcher learns that there is the possibility of charging a fixed per diem that is substantially larger than the actual expenses, and pocketing the difference. This is not a situation in which taking the per diem is the only option.


  • Where should one go to find out what the expectations are? 
  • Some institutions may have explicit policies dealing with this. That is, the option may originate with the university but not be allowed by the granting agency, or vice versa. If it is optional, should the individual take the per diem and pocket the difference, or should he or she report only those expenses actually incurred?
  • What should a group leader or department head do to avoid uncertainty?