Blog Viewer

Operational and Fiscal Management of Core Facilities: A Survey of Chief Research Officers

By SRAI News posted 01-15-2020 05:32 PM


Operational and Fiscal Management of Core Facilities: A Survey of Chief Research Officers

In a series of articles, we will present the newest in research administration from the Journal of Research Administration. Read the full JRA here.

Sharing research equipment and personnel across investigators and laboratories has a long-standing history within research universities. However, the coordinated management of centralized, shared resources (i.e., core facilities) that provide access to instruments, technologies, services, expert consultation, and/or other scientific and clinical capabilities by Chief Research Officers (CROs) represents a more recent shift within the academy. While a number of recent surveys and studies have focused on the experiences of core facility directors and users, there has not yet been a targeted survey of CROs. Partnering with the Association for Public and Land Grant Universities Council on Research, fifty-eight CROs (or their designee) from research universities completed an electronic survey on core facilities (response rate = 35%). Core facilities formally reported to a range of entities within the university (and many to multiple entities), including the CRO office (83%), colleges/schools (67%), institutes/centers (42%), and departments (42%). Forty percent of respondents indicated that their university does not have a formal process to become and/or retain status as a recognized core facility. CROs also perceived that different types of core facilities directors differed in their general effectiveness (F(3,179)=6.88, p<.001); professional staff and administrators were rated as significantly more effective at directing/supervising core facilities than were tenure/tenure-track faculty (Tukey’s posthoc; p<.005). Core facilities were funded through a variety of mechanisms, with the most common being use fees (96%), central and/or decentralized funding of directors or staff (77%), annual general fund allocation (62%), a designated portion of Facilities & Administration (F&A) reimbursements (46%), and internal grant programs (31%). Funds for purchasing new equipment within core facilities came from a number of sources, with the most common being external grants (87%), central institutional funds (83%), college/school/department funds (73%), use fees (50%), F&A resources (50%), and donations (27%). There are significant challenges to managing and funding core facilities; the present study provides new insights into the various strategies and tactics being taken by CROs to address these real and perceived challenges.

Read the full manuscript here. 

Authored by 

Jason R. Carter, Michigan Technological University

Douglas L. Delahanty, Kent State University

Jane E. Strasser, University of Cincinnati

Alicia J. Knoedler, University of Oklahoma

Gillian Wilson, University of California Riverside

Ralph K. Davis, University of Arkansas

Don Engel, University of Maryland, Baltimore County