NORDP 2014 Conference Notes: Cost Effective Ways of Keeping Up With the Joneses

Bryan DeBusk and Paul Tuttle (Hanover Research)

Make the most of budget dollars; budgets are flat or being reduced, but there is still pressure to increase awards and increase services for faculty/staff.

Overview of Hanover Research and Presenter Backgrounds

Hanover: Full cycle proposal development background. Bryan: faulty that transitioned into grant development (no research office experience, but gives perspective and ability to learn from the roundtable discussion). Paul: Central Sponsored Projects Office in North Carolina (2 Historically Black Colleges/Universities and 1 Woman’s College); mostly advancing pre-pre-award (not called research development at that time); experience working with SRA, NCURA, and now NORDP.

Keys to Success

  1. 1.       Define Goals in Measurable Terms

Goals could include

  • # of submissions/awards
  • Average request and award size
  • Percent of Faculty/Staff seeking/receiving grants
  • Types of faculty/staff seeking receiving
  • Overall award amount—increasing this in single awards or submit large quantity of smaller grants
  • Award metrics by time frame or institutional unit
  • Expenditures
  • Using Top 25 University Criteria
  • “Success Rate”—this was argued as a poor metric since RD office is to provide help and if it is not weighted based on service might not be representative
  1. 2.       Know Available Resources

Once you know the goal(s), need to know what resources are available

  • Personnel, including number, experience and skills
  • Infrastructure, policy for supporting development and submission
  • Faculty capabilities
  • Funding for grantsmanship survey
  • Funding for consulting services/external support (able to extend services without having to hire new staff)
  • Libraries, databases/tools (some can be expensive)
  1. 3.       Maximize Use of Available Resources

Determine how to make the most of what you have and fill the gap between have and need

  • Facilitate the use of support
  • Broaden participation and exposure of the office
  • Identify and use institutional levers
  1. 4.       Make Use of Alternative Resources

Find are that is most ripe for cost effective usage

  • Identify other staff that can be utilized for proposal development
  • Use available funder resources
  • Leverage partnerships (i.e. library)
  • Online Resources—some are free, so can use strategic payments to supplement available resources.  Taxes pay for many resources, so not a direct cost to your office.
  • Professional Associations (NORDP, NCURA, SRA, etc.) have resources available to members
  • Colleagues and their Offices’ resources—maximize exposure—point toward their information(don’t just co-opt it)
  1. 5.       Other Suggestions 

Range from least to most costly and how difficult to use

  • Recruit funded senior faculty as mentors
    • One to one mentors
    • Mock reviews
    • RD advisory board
    • Workshop development and leadership (training workshops)—they are teachers and cost effective to present to a large group; flattered to be a part of the RD enterprise
    • Guidance on how to serve on panels
    • Share successful proposals
  • Implement/Expand Research Development Support Workshops
    • Grants 101
    • Federal Vs. Foundation Funding
    • Budgeting
    • Finding Partners, Collaborators, and Mentors
    • Grants A-Z (overview all areas of research administration to put a face to the task for faculty)
    • Time Management to Tenure (2nd year junior faculty to be more competitive to apply for grants, high qualitative feedback—faculty feels more in control)
    • Funding Trajectory Planning (agencies, funding mechanisms, timeline)—U of Michigan estimates that to put together one trajectory/road map takes ~5 person hours
    • Writing Seminars
      • Writing Clearly and Concisely for Grants (includes overviews of common sections such as Significance, Innovation, Specific Aims)
      • Grant Writing Course (1 semester for grads, post docs, early career faculty)
  • Getting Attendance at Workshops
    • Use food or other incentives to boost attendance (don’t always have to pay, just hold session over lunch in a place where food is available for purchase)
    • Identify “difference makers” who can encourage./compel attendance—people who get other people energized (especially senior faculty)
    • Announce broadly, but invite directly (ensure events are in newsletters, emails, and/or other announcements, but then contact faculty/staff individually to personalize invitation)
    • Stipend/payment for attendees (this is successful if tied to a specific outcome—must submit as a result)
    • Make attendees pay a small amount (psychologically motivated since they paid) 
  • Document Repository

Develop curated electronic/paper document repository (do a cost benefit on this, as can be time consuming and if faculty/staff will not benefit then spend effort elsewhere). Must be easily navigated. Can be protected on intranet, etc.

  • Successful proposals with reviewers
  • Unsuccessful proposals with reviews (these are more difficult to get, since faculty often believes that sharing this makes them vulnerable); Included funded and unfunded to same initiative to show how they are different
  • Utilize senior faculty to do their own highlighting of proposals before included in repository (demonstrate evolution from good to fundable)
  • Document conversations with funders and include in repository (with access at least for other RD staff)
  • RFP analysis
  • Sample budgets and other sample documents/templates (if you do not have these at your institution, direct to colleagues’ or agency pages that do have these)—e.g. NIAID’s All About Grants page
  • Webinars
    • Develop own websites (benefit is the ability to archive for future use and wide dissemination;  drawbacks include: not one on one interaction; if you have many respondents, but not everyone attends, cannot determine impact of efforts)
      • Can be restricted to campus or shared with sister institutions (potentially way to raise funds, if you charge for external access)
      • Invite people “in the know” to lead (Program Officers, etc.)—use online teaching tools to provide open facilities to crease webinars (see U of Missouri (at Columbia)’s Federal Funding Webinar)
      • Maintain an up-to-date archive
      • Leverage Institutional IT personnel to assist with creation/facilitation
  • Connect Faculty/Staff to free webinars (general, discipline-specific and advanced knowledge)
  • Develop Online Training Modules
  • Teach key skills or introduce policies, procedures tools
  • Identify if gaps exist, then good use of time to develop training to address these gaps/commons questions and challenges
  • Make available on demand
  • Develop At-a-Glace, indexed, and searchable versions of manuals
  • Demonstrate use at every opportunity (workshops, presentations, etc.)
  • Single page describing key points
  • FAQs
  • Ensure that all manuals that are available electronically are searchable (not just a scan of a document)—convert them to searchable PDF
  • If quick and easy to use and find online, people will use it—saves time for them and you
  • Collaborate with Other Offices at Your Institution
  • Essential to proposal development and submission and project management functions
  • Other offices have budgets for their missions, so if can leverage this, save money for your office
  • Coordinate your needs with their missions
  • You receive services because it is their job
  • Marketing (e.g. profiling researchers to show university capabilities, webinar/online training)
  • Other
    • Collaborate with Development and Industry Collaboration Offices (provide start-up funds for young faculty; leverage Development knowledge)

    Scribe: Alicia Reed

Thank you, Alicia!

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Author: Julie Rogers

Research Development Associate, Oregon Health & Science University

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