NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: Bringing NORDP Home: Building a Community of Research Development Professionals

Bringing NORDP Home: Building a Community of Research Development Professionals

Presenters:
Beth LaPensee, Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research, University of Michigan
Jill Jividen, Office of Research, University of Michigan Medical School

Thanks to our session note-taker!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • The University of Michigan is a large, decentralized research university. Research development functions are housed in some of the university’s 19 schools and colleges rather than in a central office.
  • Beth and Jill’s interest in sharing research development resources and strategies was sparked at a NORDP dinner. They created a group to share best practices and resources, bring exposure to research development resources and efforts, promote interdisciplinary collaboration, foster faculty research, and increase the quantity and quality of proposals submitted. Central university research leadership was not interested in supporting the group, so they switched to a grassroots approach.
  • They brought together a Research Development Core Team of 16 members representing 12 UM units and a variety of job classifications. It was a challenge at times to identify people who were engaging in research development activities, as well as to convince them that what they were doing was actually research development.
  • The Core Team hosted a free half-day “mini-NORDP” conference in spring 2016, attended by 52 people from 33 different units. Evaluations were good, and proved to be a source of ideas for maintaining momentum throughout the year.
  • Since spring 2016, the group has also hosted a workshop on library involvement in research development, created a moderated listserv, and are collecting university-wide resources and contacts. Over 100 people are now part of the e-mail list for research development news and events.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

I was a bit surprised that the mini-conferences featured keynote speakers from outside the university. This makes sense, however – as the saying goes, you are never an expert in your own backyard!

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

I liked the idea of looking to conference and event evaluations as a source of ideas for activities for the coming year.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenters’ response?

A question came up about how to involve research administration staff in research development without losing the distinction between the two in the eyes of high-level leadership. Jill Jividen replied that she often presented research administration and research development as two parts of a Venn diagram. The overlapping center section is faculty success.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

This is a good model for larger universities with decentralized research development functions.

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