NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: Defining and Measuring Successful Collaborations


  • Roxana Ross, Grant Writing Manager, Nova Southeastern University
  • Karin Scarpinato, Associate Vice President for Research, Florida Atlantic University
  • Maureen Pelham, Director of Research Development, Florida International University
  • Camille Coley, Vice President, American Museum of Natural History

Thanks to our session note-taker!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • Use multiple tools and approaches to measure the success of collaborations
  • Consider the relevance and cost effectiveness of the measurements you are using
  • Select the measures that will provide information that will be useful to you
  • Measure progress and effectiveness in the short term as well as the long term
  • Don’t overlook unconventional measures 

    What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?           

    One institution was able to stimulate successful collaborations and new lines of research activity through modest investments of $2000.

    What resources did you discover at this presentation?

    The team used a texting tool to interact with the audience before and during the presentation. The tool can be found online here: They also had handouts that included collaboration assessment checklists and tools. Many of these are available online and referenced in their presentation.

    What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenter(s)’ response?

    One audience member asked how institutions that were running seed grant programs were gathering information and data on measurements of success, and for how long after the award. Some programs didn’t follow up, while others required reports on publications, follow up funding, other collaborations, etc. every 6 months or 1 year.



NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: What’s Your Story? Helping Faculty Communicate the Value and Impact of Research

What’s Your Story? Helping Faculty Communicate the Value and Impact of Research

Presenter: Jill Jividen, Assistant Director for Research Development, University of Michigan Medical School Office of Research

Thanks to our session note-taker, Karen Fletcher!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • Why Communicate?
    1. Research is largely taxpayer funded.
    2. It is a University’s public mission.
    3. It helps faculty increase their competitiveness.
  • The 3M’s to construct your message: Message should be Miniature, Meaningful, and Memorable (adapted from AAAS).
  • Communicating Science Seminar Series. (Leverage your existing expertise and use in-house speakers from the library, faculty, etc.) Could include information on:
    • PR – Consider the audience and science literacy: 80% of people are interested in scientific discoveries yet 50% of them read below an 8th grade reading level.
    • Social Media – if you wouldn’t say it in an elevator, don’t say it online. Write for the web. Readers’ eyes trace an “F” format and the top left is typically what gets read.
    • Scholarly Communication – use the library expertise: include data management, public and open access, publishing, measuring impact.
    • Plain Language – Plain Language Act of 2010 – it’s a law! – if working with the government, you must write/communicate in plain language. Strategies could include simplifying language and using analogies (just avoid clichés). Consider a workshop where faculty submit an abstract and during the workshop you re-write it in plain language.
    • Data Visualization – introduce this concept: visualization landscape, design principles, interpretation, campus resources.
  • Include Science Activism and related ethics in Communication course material.
  • Include information on Visual Abstract as visual abstract increase article dissemination.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you? Alt metric scores are affecting NIH impact scores.

What resources did you discover at this presentation? This slide show is online with active links to some of the presentation material in the Communicating Science Seminar Series mentioned above.


NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: How to write a successful NIH Career Development Award (K award)

How to write a successful NIH Career Development Award (K award)

Presenters:           Mark Roltsch, University of Western Florida

Thanks to session our session note-taker, Burr Zimmerman, Urban Venture Group!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • There are many different kinds of K awards
    • Some schools support K-awards, some don’t:  K awards require the faculty member have 75% protected time for research
    • Medical Schools – they tend to like K-awards. They are viewed as stepping stone to R01s, and five years of training  should get them there.
    • K progression: Start with T32s or institutional K awards, then ‘real K’s’, then R01
      • The R03 award may only be open to folks who have K awards in that institute
      • The R21 is for exploratory, cutting edge; not necessarily good for junior faculty
    • Types of K awards
      • K01 – basic research
      • K08 – clinical research
      • K23 – patient-oriented research
      • K25 – quantitative research
      • K01  – diversity award / minority serving institution
      • K99/R00 – post doc who is transitioning
        • Walk into job interview with 3 years of funding
        • Don’t have to be US citizen, so lots of applicants
  • Selecting a target institute – faculty should:
    • Match topical area with your mentor’s funding source
    • Email program officer, get feedback (not just topical, but also which mechanism – K01, K23, etc.)
    • Carefully read the PA/RFA to identify participating institutes and their specific topics
    • Engage with NIH staff at the conferences your mentor attends
  • Read the PA/RFA
    • Check dollar amount (for MDs, $100k for 75% of time is a paycut – usually the university or school supplements the salary)
    • The review section is what to emphasize in your application
  • What does it take to get funded?
    • Essential: well-funded primary mentor (if he or she hasn’t mentored before, form a mentoring team)
      • Need to emphasize mentoring experience, NIH funding
      • Mentor needs to be co-located. Across the hall ideal. Across town isn’t great. Across the state doesn’t work.
    • The presenter is from University of West Florida; his own institution wouldn’t ever apply for a K-award – can’t get it.
      • But! Some diversity K awards are possible for smaller institutions.
    • Keys to K award success
      • Time to write a compliant, compelling application
      • Good research idea
      • Quality candidate
      • Qualified mentor
      • Well developed training program
    • Biggest K funders are NHLBI, NIMH, NIDDK
      • NIA funding 40% of K-awards
      • NIGMS funds 85% of K08 awards!

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you? 
K awards can have extremely high funding rates (e.g. NIGMS K08s 86% funded), and average over 30% for entire K spectrum. But the criteria mean only a very small cadre of schools have high success rates

Also, R21s may not be a good mechanism for generating data for your first R01 – they are too competitive and are pooled with experienced researchers. R21’s are highly, highly competitive, and if you’re junior faculty, it might not be a great place to compete, as you don’t get early investigator bonus points.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?
The main resource emphasized was NIH Reporter. Might not be a ‘discovery’, but the presenter emphasized how rich and useful the data are.

Also, FOIA requests are a way to get access to successful applications. Build a library by requesting funded applications. NIH does a better job than some other Federal agencies of providing useful information.

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

Different institutes review K awards differently. Funding rates can be very different across K mechanisms. K99 toughest (23%); K23 is 57%, K08 can be nearly 90%.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?  
If you can crack the code (meet all the requirements), K-awards are a great resource. If you can find a nearby, well-funded mentor, then you have a chance!