Research Development

About Research Development

The Research Development (RD) certificate is designed for specialists who work with researchers to improve the number, size and quality of their grant proposals, and who participate in the development of strategies and practices to enhance and expand the institution’s research agenda. The certificate’s aims are to:

  • support new and ongoing initiatives that will grow the institution’s position in sponsored research
  • provide strategic direction and expert support for the institutional research enterprise
  • develop investigator capacity to submit more and better individual proposals
  • improve the success rate of proposals submitted by the institution, especially those targeted to larger, more complex grant programs.

    Ultimately, holders of this certificate should be equipped to play a proactive role in fostering the professional development of researchers and expanding the institution’s overall portfolio of funded research. Participants in this certificate program can serve in a variety of roles in their institution, whether central or in a college/ department/ center/institute location, and may combine direct research development work with other research administration functions. Certificate holders might be part of a central academic affairs function or part of/complementary to research administration. Some certificate seekers may participate in strategic planning or institutional initiatives related to complex, large-scale collaborative projects while others may work with individual researchers. Research development is an ongoing process that will continue to change and respond to the larger research environment, funding opportunities and emerging issues.

    Certificate Course Requirements

    Research Development is comprised of two half-day workshops, four required sessions and three elective sessions. The required courses are listed below. The electives may vary from meeting to meeting.

    Required Workshop

    Must take both.

    Fundamentals of Research Development 


    This workshop is intended for individuals with fewer than three years' experience in research administration or more experienced research administrators transitioning to research development. The workshop is designed to give newcomers to research development a big picture of the profession. Topics covered will include the role of the research development professional, how research development complements and differs from research administration, orienting investigators to the research environment and research development, overview of proposal development, and the agency review process.

    Strategic Planning for Institutional and Individual Research Development 


    Effective research development programs need to incorporate best practices and respond and adapt to local institutional culture. This workshop will introduce participants to strategic planning for research development programs: what they are, types of effective infrastructures and staffing, tools, strategies and services for individual and institutional research development, and emerging trends in research development.

    Required Sessions

    Must take four.

    Participants must complete four sessions, one from each core content area. Session titles vary from meeting to meeting.

    Proposal Development: Overview and Proposal Components

    This topic area covers the basics of proposal development and the role of the research development professional in identifying funding sources; interpreting application guidelines; coaching and assisting investigators in developing proposals.

    Examples of workshops and sessions that would meet the Proposal Development requirement include:

    • any introductory or basics sessions on specific funding agencies,
    • proposal and budget development,
    • specific proposal components such as abstracts,
    • aims and objectives,
    • letters of intent,
    • pre-proposals,
    • white papers,
    • logic models, and
    • submitting the complete grant application.

    Developing Investigator Capacity

    This topic area covers educating and mentoring investigators in effective proposal development, establishing individual strategic funding plans, facilitating contact with funding agencies.

    Examples of sessions that would meet this requirement include:

    • any introductory session on designing and presenting faculty workshops,
    • strategies for working with inexperienced or inactive investigators,
    • communicating with agency program officers,
    • understanding the agency review process.

    Collaborative and Large-Scale Projects

    This area covers identifying and managing the development of large-scale, collaborative projects for research, outreach or education. Topics in this area include:

    • identifying and forming teams,
    • providing project management for proposal development,
    • drafting non-technical proposal sections,
    • coordinating multiple authors and providing editorial assistance for proposal narratives,
    • organizing red team and external reviews,
    • communicating with and coordinating external partners, and
    • managing limited submission grant opportunities.

    Examples of sessions that would meet this requirement include sessions on:

    • specific grant programs,
    • team science,
    • managing conflict,
    • developing templates,
    • samples,
    • boilerplate language,
    • coordinating internal and external review teams,
    • conducting workshops on large-scale,
    • collaborative proposals and other relevant topics.

    Research Development Management and Infrastructure

    Sessions in this topic area include:

    • professional growth and management for the research development specialist,
    • identifying and training RD staff,
    • coordinating RD across the institution,
    • managing a hybrid position in research development and research administration,
    • collaborating with other research administration offices and functions,
    • managing limited submission proposals,
    • managing internal grant programs,
    • collecting and managing research development metrics,
    • publicizing and
    • recognizing research success, and other relevant topics.

    Elective Sessions

    Must take three.

    The elective sessions will vary from meeting to meeting on topics related to the above areas of focus and the changing research and funding environment.