Volume XLIX, Number 2
From the Editor's Desk
On behalf of the editorial board, I am pleased to present this issue of the Journal of Research Administration (Journal). Having begun in 1969, the Journal will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. We will be officially commemorating this milestone next year and in anticipation of that, I would like to thank the Journal’s past and present leadership as well as all the authors over the course of our publishing history. We look forward to continuing to serve as the premier research administration journal for our colleagues/peers who wish to continue to be or to become scholarly authors, and to bringing our readership timely resources addressing research administration and management.
In our previous issue, we welcomed Jennifer Taylor from the University of Arkansas as our new Deputy Editor. I am now happy to report that Holly Zink from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City has accepted a role as Associate Editor for the Journal. In this role, Holly will focus on internal operational matters such as ensuring that the author guidelines and other author resources are up-to-date and that they are of maximum use to potential authors. Please join me in welcoming Holly to her new role.
Fall is an exciting time of the year. The changing season and, for many of us, the start of a new academic year, brings a sense of excitement and promise of new opportunities and possibilities. In this regard, we look forward to encouraging your efforts and facilitating your scholarly writing opportunities. As such, we hope to see many of you at the Society of Research Administrators International (SRAI) annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, on October 27-31, 2018. There will be several ways to interact with us at the annual meeting including participating in the free, Journal-provided learning lab, Stepping Stones to Becoming a Peer-Reviewed Journal Author, on Sunday, October 28, 1:30 – 5:00 pm. We look forward to meeting you, so please drop by the Journal information booth located in the exhibit hall. Particularly for those who have not previously written a scholarly article, these will be excellent opportunities for you to learn more about becoming a Journal author yourself! Please send an email to email@example.com if you would like more information.
In this issue, within our Voice of Experience article titled Responding to the FDA-OHRP Requirement for an IRB Contingency Plan, Fanny and John Ennever describe their experience creating institutional IRB contingency plans as required by the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Human Research Protection. In her article, Research Administration Organizations: Results from an Investigation into the Five Disciplines, Angela Silva presents results from a study that investigated whether research organizations are using Senge’s Five Disciplines model as a means of being reflective, adaptive, and proactive in responding to changes. Of note, Angela is an alumnae of the Journal’s Author Fellowship Program and she is the first fellow to publish an article as the result of the program. In Development of a Pilot Grants Program in Social Determinants of Health in American Indian Health: A Program for Increasing the Representation of Underrepresented Groups in Funded Research, Alyson Becker and colleagues describe a pilot grant program that aims to increase the number of individuals from underrepresented groups that obtain extramural funding. In their article titled Enhancing Institutional Research Capacity: Results and Lessons from a Pilot Project Program, Leslie Bienen and colleagues describe a faculty-targeted pilot grant program that is a component of a more comprehensive National Institutes of Health-funded intervention which aims to build research capacity at primarily undergraduate institutions by having impact at the student, faculty, and institutional level. Julie Oestreich and Kimberly Heersche report on the creation of a customized database for managing the reporting of pre- and post-grant award activities within their article titled Creation of a Grants Database Highly Customized for College Level Reporting. In the article Providing Administrative Research Training for Everyone! It’s a PART-E! Taking the “They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know” Out of the Equation, Rebecca DeMoss and colleagues describe a faculty-targeted research administration onboarding program that offers information and tools need for successfully navigating the research enterprise. And lastly, Holly Zink and Jack Curran in their article titled Building a Research Onboarding Program in a Pediatric Hospital: Filling the Orientation Gap with Onboarding and Just-in-Time Education describe their approach to creating a faculty onboarding program that covers research and research administration topics and has such goals as increasing faculty productivity and improving retention rates. As always, I hope that you enjoy reading these articles as much as we have enjoyed bringing them to you.
In closing, I would like to thank the Journal’s Deputy Director, Jennifer Taylor, Associate Editor, Holly Zink, and the entire editorial board for their dedicated service to the Journal. We also thank our publisher, SRAI, and specifically, SRAI staff Dilyana Williams and Jim Mitchell for their support of the Journal and their efforts in facilitating the publishing of this and every issue. Finally, 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.
Research Administration Organizations: Results from an Investigation into the Five Disciplines
Research organizations are dealing with impacts from shrinking funding, have limited means and are functioning in environments of constant change and pressure all while identifying resources to develop or sustain programs. This state of uncertainty presents a unique opportunity for organizations to expand their capacity and become adaptive, flexible, and productive learning organizations. The purpose of this study was to determine if research organizations use Senge’s Five Disciplines model and how they integrated these disciplines into their organizational culture. Introduced in the 1990’s, Senge’s model includes key components such as personal mastery, mental models, team learning, shared vision, and systems thinking. Businesses and other organizations that adopt this model tend to be more reflective, adaptive and proactive in addressing changes. A two-phase survey project was conducted and qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analyzed. Results from this project indicate many research administrators had some familiarity with the components of the Five Disciplines model, while others were consciously applying specific components, especially shared vision and systems thinking. In addition, many respondents indicated that although there was strong leadership in their organizations, they were lacking on-the-job learning opportunities, education, and growth. Based on this investigation, recommendations are offered for performing a learning organization assessment, building a shared vision, promoting a culture of learning, and integrating systems thinking. Suggestions for areas of future research are also presented.
Development of a Pilot Grants Program in Social Determinants of Health in American Indian Health: A Program for Increasing the Representation of Underrepresented Groups in Funded Research
The problem statement for this manuscript is to describe the literature on grant funding for underrepresented investigators, particularly American Indians, and detail the CRCAIH Pilot Grant Program and its success in developing underrepresented researchers (e.g. American Indian, early stage investigators). Grant funding is increasingly difficult to receive and the demographics of NIH grant awardees have shifted in recent decades to funding investigators that are more experienced. Additionally, racial disparities in awardees exist, particularly among American Indian (AI) researchers. Pilot grant funding mechanisms can be used by early stage investigators to collect preliminary data, which is beneficial for applying for NIH grants. The Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) Pilot Grant Program (PGP) was aimed to increase research on the topic of social determinants of health in AI population health. Since there are no existing procedures for creating a PGP, CRCAIH created a PGP, and the processes are detailed here. Over four years, the CRCAIH PGP funded 15 projects with 47% of PIs or Co-PIs self-reporting as AI. Future directions for the CRCAIH PGP, including a mentoring program to provide more guidance and capacity building to the investigators, are also detailed.
Enhancing Institutional Research Capacity: Results and Lessons from a Pilot Project Program
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) established the Building University Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) initiative to increase engagement and retention of undergraduates from diverse backgrounds in biomedical research. Portland State University, in partnership with ten other academic institutions, received a BUILD award and developed the BUILD EXITO (Enhancing Cross-Disciplinary Infrastructure and Training at Oregon) project. The EXITO program offers a three-year research and mentorship experience for undergraduates in biomedical, behavioral, social science, clinical, and bioengineering disciplines. The BUILD initiative also emphasizes enhancing research capacity and infrastructure through institutional change and faculty development. A key piece of EXITO’s program to enhance research capacity is offering faculty an opportunity to apply for up to $50,000 of funding to carry out a one-year pilot study. We conducted two separate RFAs for this purpose, closely modeled on NIH’s Small Grant Program (R03), over two years. Principal Investigators of pilot projects were encouraged to include EXITO students, or other undergraduate students, on their research teams. Students then worked on these research projects as part of EXITO’s intensive mentored research program. This paper reports on methods to conduct and implement a pilot project program intended to train primarily junior faculty members to write and submit an NIH proposal and fund successful applicants to gather pilot project data to aid in applying for future proposals. We provided a step-by-step rigorous submission and review process. We provided proposal writing and revising workshops, technical support, and helped pilot project Principal Investigators (PIs) with biosketches, IRB applications, IUCUC documents, budgets, and other proposal sections. We secured at least three external (not at any BUILD EXITO institution) reviewers for each proposal. PIs revised proposals before resubmitting and receiving their final scores. Across two RFAs, we provided funds to twenty PIs to conduct pilot projects; these projects included at least 21 students working on them who received mentoring in research methods and in disseminating results. This paper describes important lessons learned, including the importance of: allotting sufficient time to recruit reviewers; recruiting reviewers through a variety of sources and methods; and assisting PIs in engaging with research administration staff at Portland State University and partner institutions. Challenges included: finding an optimal timeline that was neither too compressed nor too stretched out; encouraging applicants from distant partner institutions to apply and keeping them engaged and retained through the entire process; and assisting PIs from partner institutions to efficiently utilize Portland State University’s sponsored projects department if similar resources were not available at their home institutions. Our goal is to provide guidance and insights to faculty and research-administration staff at other institutions interested in replicating or adapting EXITO’s program to enhance institutional research capacity.
Creation of a Grants Database Highly Customized for College Level Reporting
To handle wide-ranging reports and increasingly collaborative projects, our college research office developed and implemented a relational database. Department level tracking requests for research administration activities exceeded the capabilities of existing tools. Our desired solution aligned between multiple spreadsheets and cloud-based commercial products. In consultation with an internal specialist, we created a highly customized system that connects proposals, submissions, awards, and expenditures with an additional feature for managing multiple investigator participation. Avoiding the expense of marketed products, we improved the efficiency of reporting with our budget neutral solution.
Providing Administrative Research Training for Everyone! It’s a PART-E! Taking the “They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know” Out of the Equation
Faculty new to an institution typically go through an orientation process during which they are presented with the information and resources available to aid in successful navigation of their new environment. An orientation often will include in-person presentations, online training modules, and other paper/digital resources in an attempt to cover the broad range of activities and responsibilities that fall within a faculty member’s job description. One such orientation topic crucial to faculty at a research institution is research administration. While awareness and understanding of the research administration resources available to them can ease faculty’s administrative burden and make the process more positive, research onboarding, particularly at a large research institution like the University of Michigan, may not be standard across the university or even within schools/units. Considering the impact familiarizing faculty with research administration can potentially have on faculty satisfaction, implementing additional training focused on research administration could be beneficial for individual departments. In this case study, the authors detail a research administration onboarding program designed for faculty in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan. This program goes beyond the orientation introduction to offer the tools and knowledge necessary for a seamless transition into the research enterprise.
Building a Research Onboarding Program in a Pediatric Hospital: Filling the Orientation Gap with Onboarding and Just-in-Time Education
An onboarding program is a powerful tool to welcome new employees and support their productivity. Children’s Mercy Hospital created a systematic Research Faculty Onboarding Program (RFOP) to engage new research faculty from their first day with the hospital and to shorten the startup time to productivity. Surveys and interviews indicated that onboarding has provided new faculty with a sense of community with the larger organization. The RFOP has four aims: 1) to increase new researcher productivity, 2) to improve retention rates of new faculty by helping them become involved and connected with the organization, 3) to provide audience-specific, in-depth, timely information that is useful and memorable, and 4) to reduce redundant conversations while guaranteeing the delivery of high-quality, consistent, and accurate information. Prior to their start date, faculty receive a web survey designed to communicate the scope of their research and immediate logistical needs. Based on this information, faculty receive personalized quick-start guides, crucial introductions, and logistical setup within their first 10 days. Finally, the program includes a Triage Unit to provide just-in-time training as faculty set up their first research projects. This structured Research Faculty Onboarding Program is competency-based through mentorship and classroom-setting lectures.