Volume XLIV, Number 2

Fall 2013

Cover of the Journal of Research Administration

From the Editor's Desk

Jeffrey N. Joyce, Ph.D.
Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

We are again in transition for the Journal of Research Administration (Journal) in more than one way. I was previously the Chair of the Academic Review Board but assumed the position of Editor-in-Chief July 1st, 2013. Dr. Timothy Atkinson resigned the Editor-in-Chief role to concentrate on the responsibilities of a new position he assumed. This transition occurred during the process of reviewing the articles that are published in the for Fall of 2013. Thankfully, Tim had already implemented changes in the review process to shorten the review cycle and to involve the Editorial Board more directly in the review process. The quality and breadth of the articles in this issue reflect that input. The Journal is a source of publications across a wide range of topics and categories. I thank Tim for his contributions to the Journal.

I am also implementing a process to better support the contributions of the authors.The Editorial Board has taken on new responsibilities that I believe will facilitate the review process, allow for the Editorial Board members to actively solicit author’s contributions and work with the authors to facilitate the preparation of scholarly articles that impact our field. We want the Journal to reflect the breadth of the expertise of the broader community of research administrators, development professionals and knowledge transfer experts, their interests and their achievements.

The second transition is towards a world view of research administration and scholarly activity. In this issue we have articles describing experiences in the United Kingdom and Uganda, as well as the United States. Their view point and achievements benefit all research administrators and research development professionals. The international nature of the Society of Research Administrators International (SRA International) is also reflected in the cover art for the Journal.

The articles address subjects that include commercialization assessment strategies, grant development success strategies, university-wide structural changes and use of network analysis to assess the success of a university research center. The challenges for all of us to move the research enterprise forward in this resource limited environment is exemplified by these contributions. The papers examine low-cost means to facilitate grant submission and success, as well as a process established in multiple universities to open research to collaborative ventures between government, industry and the university. This issue also contains a second in a series by an author and his colleagues (Birx et al, The University as an Open Laboratory) on large scale strategies for change the research environment. We will utilize this format to bring to our readers the opportunity to evaluate complex papers in installments. The article by Tumwijukye and associates (Developing African Novice Researchers into Career Investigators - Innovative Options) will be the first in a series by this author regarding development of the strategy and success measures in an environment of very low resources. Finally, there is an interesting assessment of the differences between the chief research officer and the pathway of research administrators, and what this might indicate for the career pathway for members of this society.

I am writing this letter to all of the readers asking that you consider your experiences as a jumping point for a paper to be submitted to the Journal. Out fellow SRA International members, the professionals we mentor and the future of the profession depends on the submission of scholarly articles to the Journal. Your scholarly contributions will ensure a strong Journal and a vibrant community.


The University as an Open Laboratory

Authored by:
  • Donald L. Birx
    Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
  • Ralph M. Ford
    Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
  • Carrie A. Payne
    Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Colleges and universities are two of the most formidable resources a country has to reinvent and grow its economy. This is the second of two papers that outlines a process of building and strengthening research universities that enhances regional technology development and facilitates flexible networks of collaboration and resource sharing. In the first paper, research clusters were highlighted. In this paper, the concentration is on the implementation of research clusters to unlock the potential of the universities as open laboratories. The focus of the open laboratory is on swift translation to practice, leveraging and diversifying limited funding resources, integration across disciplines, and facilitating community partnerships to build global competitive advantage in research and development. The strategies described were undertaken at large public universities and in a smaller college environment which are representative of many colleges and universities. The analysis of the factors influencing research and development in today’s competitive environment, alongside key research management interventions, provides a framework for adapting the concepts to fir the needs of a full range of education institutions and environments.

Critical Success Factors for Knowledge Transfer Collaborations between University and Industry

Authored by:
  • Tatiana Schofield
    Imperial College Consultants

In a fast moving business environment university-industry collaborations play a critical role in contributing to national economies and furthering a competitive advantage.  Knowledge transfer from university to industry is supported by national governments as part of their innovation, national growth and competitiveness agenda. A university-industry landscape involves multiple stakeholders with multiple, and often contradicting, objectives and organizational mind-set and cultures. The paper is based on a systematic literature review of the effectiveness  of  university- industry collaborations from a holistic perspective in order to identify  drivers  and  barriers  to  a fruitful collaboration. A dedicated section explores knowledge transfer in the  emerging  market context to provide an international dimension to a growing international trend in university- industry collaboration. The key findings on success factors relate to organizational and individual contexts, knowledge attributes and relational aspects. The literature  research  findings  are  further tested through a survey of  key  stakeholders:  university  managers,  researchers,  industry  managers and government representatives, revealing differences in perception among various stakeholders’ groups. The paper provides an insight into drivers and potential barriers in university-industry collaborations. The findings enable developing a practical framework for the universities to support their decision-making process. The framework can be used a support tool for evaluating university- industry collaborations both generally and in the international context.

Developing African Novice Researchers into Career Investigators: Innovative Options

Authored by:
  • Henry Tumwijukye
    Makerere University- Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration
  • Mahnaz Motevalli
    Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
  • Sophia Nambi
    Makerere University- Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration
  • Isaac Kyeyune
    Makerere University- Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration

Over  the  last  decade,  Sub-Saharan  Africa  has  experienced  an  increased  volume of funding and training activities to support research capacity development. However, there are persistent deficits in the number of active investigators conducting independent research with their own grants. To address this deficit, research institutions need to find an optimal balance between the types of trainings conducted: the long-term trainings involving post graduate programs in particular disciplines and short-term, hands-on courses involving “learning by doing”. This article examines the impact of a five-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) seed training award aimed at strengthening grants administration infrastructure at Makerere University- Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration (MU-JHU) in Uganda, focusing on early career investigators. Using short-term, hands-on courses in grants management, the trainees were equipped with specialized skills to enable them to independently apply for grants. As a result, the number of early career investigators with their own grants rose from four to 16 within four years. This article describes the impact of well- designed, need-based short-term training courses with a hands-on approach and the critical role of supportive, skilled research grant administrators in nurturing early career investigators.

Profile of the Chief Research Officer at Major Research Universities in the United States and Examination of the Current Pathways to the Position

Authored by:
  • Julie A. Nash
    Montreat College
  • Dianne A. Wright
    Florida Atlantic University

A study to construct a profile of the Chief Research Officer (CRO) was conducted through aggregation of data through a survey instrument distributed to CROs at 240 Carnegie Classified research institutions. Resumes of CROs were voluntarily submitted and job descriptions were obtained and content analyzed. The career pathways and the profile of the CRO are described based on the data collected. The data revealed that the CRO typically is a white male, over 50 years of age, married with children, holds a terminal degree and makes over $100,000 per year. Four career pathways were determined to exist. The least traveled pathway to the position of CRO was found to be through lower level staff positions occupied by individuals simply progressing through the ranks of research administration within the higher education institution’s research office. The most often traveled career path to the position of CRO was found to be the academic pathway.

Networks of Neuroscientists: Professional Interactions within an Interdisciplinary Brain Research Institute

Authored by:
  • Jenny Godley
    University of Calgary
  • Keith A. Sharkey
    University of Calgary
  • Samuel Weiss
    University of Calgary

This paper uses social network analysis to evaluate how the formation of an interdisciplinary brain research institute affected interaction and collaboration among neuroscientists at one Canadian university. The research institute, formed in 2004, has about 100 members representing ten different departments across the university campus. We conducted a whole network survey of the members in 2010, asking them to report on their professional interactions (advice seeking, co-supervising, co-teaching, co-authorship, holding grants, and organizing conferences together) with each of the other members during the five years before and the five years since the foundation of the Institute. Whole network measures examined include density, isolates, average degree and multiplexity. We compared these measures over time. Our findings indicate that professional interactions among the neuroscientists have increased since the founding of the Institute. The main networks of collaborators are now clustered around the three organizational themes of the Institute, which were formalized in 2010. We also examined how individual-level characteristics of the scientists affected professional interaction. We show that departmental co-membership, office co-location and Institute themes are all significant predictors of interaction among neuroscientists at this university since the foundation of the Institute. Social network analysis is a useful tool for evaluating the impact of the establishment of an interdisciplinary institute on scientists’ relationships.