Volume LIV, Number 2
From the Editor's Desk
Jennifer E. Taylor, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Rush Medical Center and University
As those familiar with the Journal of Research Administration (JRA) know, it is the premier scholarly publication in the field of research administration and management. We publish timely work that covers all facets of our discipline. The journal is an important education and career development platform. Our authors share best practices and innovative means of performing research administration and management work in our fast-paced, ever-changing environments while enhancing their careers by publishing peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. We have two important items to announce in this letter – one that will significantly enhance the efficiency of the submission and review process and the second regarding our efforts to emphasize an important element of our strategic plan – our focus on inclusion.
I am excited to share with our readers and the members of SRAI this special issue of the Journal of Research Administration. The focus of this issue is the essential role that research administrators can and often do play through their own efforts or in partnership with other administrative and academic units to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion among faculty, administrators, and staff. In our call for papers, we welcomed submissions from those in central administration, at college or departmental levels, or in other organizational units. The quality of the papers we received, and the lessons they had to share with us, were beyond our highest hopes.
The focus of this special issue is just one of many efforts by SRAI to find ways to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Indeed, inclusion is a core and first component of SRAI’s strategic plan, as noted by Debra Schaller-Demers (2022), recent President of SRAI’s Board of Directors. Further reflecting that commitment, SRAI established an Engagement and Diversity Task Force that led to that focus on inclusion in our strategic vision. That commitment is represented throughout the work of SRAI.
Our special issue begins with a “voice of experience” essay from Dr. Nobles, who has been a leader in research administration in multiple roles for the Federal Demonstration Partnership, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and is currently at Emory University. In his essay, he shares with us the evolution of his thinking on how best to support female and other diverse faculty, including some of the lessons that shaped the changes in perspectives he made as his experience expanded. He concludes by sharing with us seven “simple” recommendations that address complex issues that research administrators will find helpful in increasing engagement and support for diverse faculty at their institutions.
In their manuscript, “Equal Opportunities in Academic Research Development? Faculty Gender Bias and Stereotypes in Research Administration” Zink, Keim, Collet-Hilton, Cernik, and Larson describe sending biosketches to a sample of research administrators to investigate whether their evaluation of potential grant applicants reflected bias resulting from differences in applicant gender or faculty rank. They report some surprising and promising new findings regarding ratings of female faculty, along with some confirming prior findings regarding evaluations of faculty competence based on rank.
Campbell and Bourbonnais from the University of Ottawa share a detailed case study of how their institution implemented its EDI action plan to meet the regulatory compliance requirements of this national research chairs funding program and how it used the plan to help drive equity, diversity, and inclusion activities at its institution. Their article, “From Compliance to Inclusion: Implementing an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan for a Federal Funding Program in Canada” describes the activities undertaken by the Vice-President Research Office, including the analyses conducted to identify barriers to participation in the program, actions taken, and results achieved. Importantly they share with us the characteristics of the strategies that were effective in enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusion and how they were included in a larger institutional transformation. They note that their work, as do others in this special issue, can contribute to the “expanding tool kit for research” that administrators play key roles in this area.
The next offering is another in-depth case study of DEI efforts, “Beyond the Kumbaya: A Reflective Case Study of One University’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Journey.” It comes to us from Chambers, King, Meyers, Millea, & Klein of East Carolina University. The case study examines the process of accomplishing the challenge of moving from merely espousing the objectives of creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution to what they call “the gritty work of critique, openness, and action.” Of particular focus is how those engaged in such a process can move from using measures of progress that just count how many faculty fall into each category of concern to assessing cultural changes that are more difficult to observe and measure. They state, “…we use a reflective case study design to challenge myths that protect the status quo and describe data and proxies for baseline diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The process of reviewing and accepting our next article, “(de)Colonizing Research Services,” taught us many lessons about diversity and how it needs to be infused in our traditional processes. I hope that, as you read it, you will keep in mind the authors’ note that leads off their discussion. As you will see, the article's format and voice differ from what is typical of most of our articles. It required us to respect and view the way it was presented as part of the lessons it had to teach us about inclusion, particularly the normative ways of functioning of others’ cultures. The authors tell us, “The paper is written as a narrative of our journey together as we make efforts to decolonize research administration. Since storytelling is a validated Indigenous method dating back thousands of years, we wrote this article in a storytelling format appropriate to research in Indigenous contexts.” They expand on why they took this approach in their opening note, and we hope it will have the same impact on you that it did on those of us who engaged in the review and considerations of how to approach that review. The narrative focuses on the efforts of the authors to answer the core questions that shaped their work. These were “How do we Indigenize an Office of Research Services” as well as “How do [existing] research administration practices/policies create (or serve as barriers too) an enabling environment for Indigenous research?” Hillier, Phillips, and Haig Brown take us on their journey to address these questions and share their answers. We hope you find the journey valuable as well.
Castañeda-Kessel, Villanueva Alarcón, and Berke of Utah State University share with us the issues they have identified in engaging early career STEM faculty in identifying authentic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals, objectives, and tasks for their research grant proposals in their manuscript entitled “Research Development & Early-Career Faculty: Catalysts of Change for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion In STEM.” They go on to provide a discussion of the ways that research development professionals can work with these early-career investigators to help in their ability to respond to federal funding solicitations. They go on to provide us with an overview of at least five potentially effective additional sources of collaboration and resources that faculty may draw upon in these efforts.
The final article in this issue is ”The Role of Research Leaders in Enhancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Directions from Current Research and Opportunities for Systemic Organizational Transformation.” It was developed to provide an overview of the rationale for why we felt it was important to develop this special issue on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to highlight the central role that research administrators can play, in partnership with others in their institutions, in the recruitment, retention, advancement, and overall career success of faculty who are often underrepresented in universities, medical centers, and other research institutions. Additionally, it discusses the results of national initiatives' findings concerning what issues contribute to difficulties in recruiting, retaining faculty, and advancing faculty from under-represented groups across disciplines. It also provides some recommendations for a few of the many ways research administrators can target their efforts and examples of approaches to doing so. More generally, we hope that this article, and the others in this special issue, will spur members of the SRAI community and other research administrators across the globe to share with JRA the descriptions and results of research and practice they have engaged in regarding their efforts to enhance belonging, inclusion, equity, and diversity in their settings, whether in a single institution or nationally and internationally.
Overall, we hope that this special issue will further strengthen the view of JRA being a place to share ideas and submit research regarding DEI, as well as continue to increase the degree to which JRA is seen as a resource to which research administrators can turn to learn more about the most innovative and effective strategies for enhancing their DEI efforts.
1. I am excited to tell you that, as reflected on our webpage, there has been a significant advancement in the infrastructure to facilitate and enhance the operation of the work of JRA. I am pleased to inform you that after a long and complex process of negotiations and clarifying operational processes, JRA has “gone live” in its move to using Scholar One software to aid in submitting, reviewing, and managing manuscripts. This will lead to a significant increase in efficiency, speed of review, and ease of communication. Getting through this process required considerable time and effort from many individuals. Still, I want to single out the tireless work and intense focus on “getting it right” of Gina Snyder in making the Scholar One system an essential new resource for JRA.
The information necessary to use that system, including the process for creating an account to sign in, is available at https://www.srainternational.org/resources/journal/become-a-journal-author.
2. With the implementation of the Scholar One system, updated author guidelines have also taken effect. Please refer to the journal webpage link above to ensure you are using the guidelines in effect if you are submitting a manuscript or intending to do so in the future.
As Editor-in-Chief of JRA, I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with the incredibly hard-working authors and reviewers who provide us with the gifts of their insight and inspiration to make significant contributions to moving the knowledge base of our field forward. We continue to receive submissions that provide direction for continuously improving the work that has been core to our field, responding to new challenges for implementing new technologies, addressing emerging policies and processes required by sponsors, and areas where research administrators are increasingly providing leadership. We are grateful to receive and be able to present to our readers the incredibly diverse and exciting array of manuscripts we receive that reflect the work of so many talented and committed professionals.
Please email me directly with any input, questions, or suggestions you may have. Beyond the creation and implementation of the new processes, policies, and procedures in the notices above, there is the critical hard work and many contributions of the many people who support the production of JRA on an ongoing basis. The Author Fellowship Committee and the Author Fellow Advisors, under the guidance of Holly Zink, provide essential support and advice to the Author Fellows as they develop and publish their first scholarly articles. I am grateful they will continue providing this unique and vital work for JRA. Producing the JRA, constantly reviewing and improving our policies and procedures, and developing our infrastructure for the future requires a broad and committed team. I have been fortunate to have their collaboration in continuing the tradition of excellence of this journal. It is the team behind the Editor that is essential to the success of the Journal. The Board and committees of SRAI, particularly the communications committee, provide essential guidance and input on all phases of the JRA, both for intentional efforts and as a vital resource for addressing unique situations. Holly Zink, Deputy Editor, is a valued partner and an important source of personal and professional support in what would otherwise be an overwhelming task. The contributions of Gina Snyder are impossible to summarize – in any professional sport, as she is, for the production of JRA, the MVP – I cannot thank her enough.
Finally, if you are a non-SRAI member and wish to have the Journal delivered via email, please sign up through the online system at https://member.srainternational.org/account/login.aspx