Volume XLIX, Number 1

Spring 2018

From the Editor's Desk

Nathan L. Vanderford
University of Kentucky

Change is also afoot at the Journal of Research Administration (Journal). This issue marks my beginning as the Journal’s new Editor-in-Chief. Likewise, I am happy to report that Jennifer Taylor has taken the reigns as the Journal’s new Deputy Editor.

Tim Linker, the previous Editor-in-Chief, has not gone far, as he will be remaining on the Journal's editorial board for the foreseeable future. Tim has served the Journal for over five years; first as an editorial board member, then as Deputy Editor, and most recently as Editor-in-Chief. The Journal has made remarkable progress under Tim's leadership. Just to name a few of his accomplishments, Tim marshaled the Journal to its current electronic, open access format; he oversaw the creation of the successful Author Fellowship Program; he established the Most Valuable Editor Award; and he greatly enhanced the Journal's marketing presence through actions such as creation of a Journal logo and enhancement of the Journal's website and annual meeting presence. On a personal level, Tim has also been a great mentor and friend to me, to many colleagues on the editorial board, and to others in our profession. Please join me now in thanking Tim for all his efforts. I am   also happy to announce that Tim's exceptional leadership, dedicated service, and outstanding accomplishments will be recognized at the Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, October 30, 2018, during the Annual Membership Business Meeting, Awards and Distinguished Faculty Recognition ceremony.

As we move forward, the Journal will remain steadfast in its dedication to publishing scholarly work related to the profession of research administration. The Journal serves as a medium for disseminating our profession’s best practices and novel methods of managing research at our institutions and this issue certainly reflects this purpose.

In this issue, Dr. Jun Song Huang, in his paper titled "Building the science of research management: what can research management learn from education research?," suggests using a methodology from the field of education research, the Design-Based Research method, to study research management as a research topic. Dr. Huang provides an example from education research to illustrate his argument. In her article "American institutional review boards: safeguards or censorship?," Dr. Kristi Hottenstein examines the U.S. Institutional Review Board (IRB) system using the Multiple Streams Theory and explores the question of whether the IRB system provides a safeguard or censorship. In "Research and grant management: the role of the project management office (PMO) in a European research consortium context," Gerben Wedekind and Dr. Simon Philbin describe project management offices and their use within the context of a European Union consortium research project. Marcus Johnson and colleagues present their findings on using Lean methodology to identify and eliminate non-value added steps in the hiring process of staff in a clinical research center in their article titled "Utilization of Lean methodology to refine hiring practices in a clinical research center setting." In their article titled "Assessing research collaboration through co-authorship network analysis," Dr. Jesse Fagan and his colleagues use social network analysis to measure the change in collaborative publications within a cancer center over time as policies were put into place that promoted team science initiatives. Lastly, in a commentary article, I describe some challenges with current faculty hiring practices and encourage research administrators to become involved in improving the way in which their institutions evaluate faculty hires. I hope that you enjoy reading the articles as much as we have enjoyed bringing them to you.

In closing, I extend gratitude to the Journal’s Deputy Director, Dr. Jennifer Taylor, and the entire editorial board for their tireless efforts to bring you this and every issue of the Journal. I also thank SRAI staff, particularly Dilyana Williams and Jim Mitchell, for their support of the Journal. Lastly, if you are a non-SRAI member and wish to have the Journal delivered to you via email, please sign up through the online system at http://www.journalra.org


Building the science of research management: What can research management learn from education research?

Authored by:
  • Jun Song Huang, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Wei Loong Hung, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Research management is an emerging field of study and its development is significant to the advancement of research enterprise. Developing the science of research management requires investigating social mechanisms involved in research management. Yet, studies on social mechanisms of research management is lacking in the literature. To address this gap, this paper proposes importing methodologies and theories from other social science disciplines to study the social mechanisms of research management and to build the science of research management. The paper first articulates what constitutes the science of research management, then proposes to appropriate Design-Based Research (DBR), a methodology in education research, for building the science of research management while at the same time strengthening the theory-practice nexus. A study of education research is then presented to illustrate how DBR is used to enact the theory of homophily which is imported from sociology. It reveals an opportunity to use social designs to develop social relationships among teachers from different schools for networked learning. Such a research endeavor also has potential to advance theories of relationship-building in sociology. Inferring from the example as an analogue to what is suggested for research management, the paper advocates a way to reciprocally connect research management as an emerging research field with more established social science disciplines at large and to advance both the theory and practice of research management.

American Institutional Review Boards: Safeguards or Censorship?

Authored by:
  • Kristi N. Hottenstein, Ph.D.
    University of Michigan-Flint

The United States is a world leader in biomedical clinical research. America’s existing human subject research regulations structure affords sizable protections for the ethical treatment of research volunteers. Early initiatives such as the Belmont Report were specific to federally funded research. Over the past several decades guidelines such as the Belmont Report, along with more stringent policies, have been applied to non-federally funded research and research in the social sciences, and have branched out over areas, which many argue, they were not initially intended. Institutional review boards were codified to protect human subjects, an ethical and noble concern, but arguably these regulations were hastened both in response to a highly publicized research experiment and political considerations. This article explores the creation of the American IRB system through the lens of John Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Theory and examines critical viewpoints surrounding a longstanding inquisition over whether human subject research regulations are safeguards or censorship.

Research and Grant Management: The Role of the Project Management Office (PMO) in a European Research Consortium Context

Authored by:
  • Gerben Kristian Wedekind, MSc MA
    Ernst & Young LLP
  • Simon Patrick Philbin, PhD MBA
    Imperial College London

This paper illustrates how a university-based project management office (PMO) can provide focused support across the entire grant project lifecycle within a European research context. In recent years, EU(European Union) research and innovation grant programs have increasingly shifted to support multidisciplinary consortia composed of industry, academia and end-users, which collaborate to achieve tangible and sustainable socio-economic impact. This scope change, from traditional academic research projects to research and innovation projects, has created the need for professional project management and has provided a fertile environment for PMOs to flourish. The paper includes discussion of an illustrative case study based on the EDEN2020 project - an ongoing, international, multidisciplinary consortium project in robotic neurosurgery that is coordinated by Imperial College London and supported by a grant from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Imperial College’s PMO provides project management and dedicated support to the academic team to enable delivery of the overall consortium project. In so doing, the PMO involved in EDEN2020 clearly adheres to the PMO roles identified by the PMBOK® standard, i.e. supportive, controlling and directive, albeit at different levels depending on the grant lifecycle stage. In EDEN2020, the PMO was predominantly confined to a supportive (advisory) role in the project’s ideation and grant negotiation stages, a controlling (supporting delivery through standardization, templates) role in the proposal preparation stage, and a more directive (leading) role in project implementation. The paper concludes with a recommendation to increase the number of cases under investigation and expand the scope beyond Europe.

Utilization of Lean Methodology to Refine Hiring Practices in a Clinical Research Center Setting

Authored by:
  • Marcus R. Johnson, MPH, MBA, MHA
    Cooperative Studies Program Epidemiology Center-Durham, Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System – Medical Center
  • A. Jasmine Bullard, MHA
    Cooperative Studies Program Epidemiology Center-Durham, Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System – Medical Center
  • R. Lawrence Whitley
    Cooperative Studies Program Epidemiology Center-Durham, Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System – Medical Center

Background & Aims

Lean methodology is a continuous process improvement approach that is used to identify and eliminate unnecessary steps (or waste) in a process. It increases the likelihood that the highest level of value possible is provided to the end-user, or customer, in the form of the product delivered through that process. Lean methodology has been used widely in healthcare and manufacturing settings but there is a limited amount of publicly available information on its use in research settings. The Cooperative Studies Program Epidemiology Center – Durham (CSPEC-Durham) is one of five epidemiology centers established by the Cooperative Studies Program (CSP) and serve as national resources for epidemiologic research and training in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The purpose of this project was to determine the effectiveness of utilizing the Lean methodology to identify and eliminate non-value added steps in our center’s hiring process and to increase its value to center staff.


A team comprised of representatives from each of  the  Center’s  three  operational  cores was assembled: Executive Leadership/Administration, Computational Sciences, and Project Management. This team completed an A3, a tool to organize Plan-Do-Study-Act improvement processes into 9 steps, related to the Center’s interview process. A gap analysis was conducted to better understand the root causes of interview process deficiencies. Lastly, a survey was developed to constantly evaluate effectiveness, efficiency, and staff satisfaction with the revised interview process at the end of each hiring cycle. Pre-defined metrics were displayed in a color-coded dashboard.


As a result of the A3, the team developed a comprehensive set of guidelines, including questions, for the interview process. These guidelines provided clarity to roles, responsibilities, and expectations for staff members participating in an interview panel. The improved interview process resulted in increased staff productivity and morale by reducing the number of work hours spent by staff on an interview process and decreasing the number of days spent on the duration of an interview cycle.


Overall, center staff are satisfied with interview guidelines that were developed as a result of the A3. Additional areas identified for Lean improvement include: revising the interview process for internal candidates, and improving the alignment of interview questions to the evaluation guide used to rate position candidates.

Assessing Research Collaboration through Co-authorship Network Analysis

Authored by:
  • Jesse Fagan, PhD, MA
    University of New Mexico
  • Katherine S. Eddens, PhD, MPH
    Indiana University
  • Jennifer Dolly, CCRP
    University of Kentucky
  • Nathan L. Vanderford, PhD, MBA
    University of Kentucky
  • Heidi Weiss, PhD
    University of Kentucky
  • Justin S. Levens
    University of Kentucky

Interdisciplinary research collaboration is needed to perform transformative science and accelerate innovation. The Science of Team Science strives to investigate, evaluate, and foster team science, including institutional policies that may promote or hinder collaborative interdisciplinary research and the resources and infrastructure needed to promote team science within and across institutions. Social network analysis (SNA) has emerged as a useful method to measure interdisciplinary science through the evaluation of several types of collaboration networks, including co-authorship networks. Likewise, research administrators are responsible for conducting rigorous evaluation of policies and initiatives. Within this paper, we present a case study using SNA to evaluate inter-programmatic collaboration (evidenced by co-authoring scientific papers) from 2007-2014 among scientists who are members of four formal research programs at an NCI-designated Cancer Center, the Markey Cancer Center (MCC) at the University of Kentucky. We evaluate change in network descriptives over time and implement separable temporal exponential-family random graph models (STERGMs) to estimate the effect of author and network variables on the tendency to form a co-authorship tie. We measure the diversity of the articles published over time (Blau’s Index) to understand whether the changes in the co-authorship network are reflected in the diversity of articles published by research members. Over the 8-year period, we found increased inter-programmatic collaboration among research members as evidenced by co-authorship of published scientific papers. Over time, MCC Members collaborated more with others outside of their research program and outside their initial dense co-authorship groups, however tie formation continues to be driven by co-authoring with individuals of the same research program and academic department. Papers increased in diversity over time on all measures with the exception of author gender. This inter-programmatic research was fostered by policy changes in cancer center administration encouraging interdisciplinary research through both informal (e.g., annual retreats, seminar series) and formal (e.g., requiring investigators from more than two research programs on applications for pilot funding) means. Within this cancer center, interdisciplinary co-authorship increased over time as policies encouraging this collaboration were implemented. Yet, there is room for improvement in creating more interdisciplinary and diverse ties between research program members.