2019 NORD Initiative: NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in Research Development

NORDP’s New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) Initiative and InfoReady have launched the 2019 Cycle I competition for the NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in Research Development. Our goal in sponsoring this effort is to begin to establish research development as a field of scholarly inquiry. The NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in Research Development Program is open to all interested researchers, whether or not they are also NORDP members. Cycle I proposals will be accepted until the application deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on June 30, 2019. Please view application details on the competition HERE. 

2017 Awardee FeatureDowner2

Who: Joanna Downer, Ph. D – Associate Dean for Research Development
Where: Duke University School of Medicine, Research Development Office
Proposal: Deep Dive into the Office of Research Development at the Duke School of Medicine to Improve RD Sustainability and Enable Continued and Faster Growth

What problem in Research Development are you looking to solve with your project?

The underlying project’s main goal is to see if we can re-engineer how we do things to improve our workload. At the Duke University School of Medicine, as at many other institutions, we have a large faculty who are highly motivated to apply for funding. While faculty members’ needs differ, the size of our staff limits how much assistance we can provide, and our current approach to adding staff to the office can result in a lengthy “apprenticeship-style” training period.

As the first step, last year we examined our processes and knowledge to see how we can redesign what we do to improve sustainability while maintaining satisfaction and effectiveness. We have examined the decision points and evaluation criteria used for taking on a project, whether we should approach certain activities differently, and can we adjust our decision making or default activities to improve sustainability while still keeping ourselves and others happy and to let us grow faster and more effectively.

While we are Research Development in a biomedical setting, we know that any RD office in any setting can have workload issues if demand exceeds capacity. So it’s my hope that our redesign efforts can be informative to NORDP members in any RD setting.

This redesign project was the foundation for our application to the first cycle of NORD, in which we proposed to have a researcher in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business guide translation of our redesign work into an academic project and manuscript suitable for the management literature. Our faculty partner, an expert in team science and organizational behavior, understands our office and the relevant management research and literature, and so is uniquely suited to help us. I see this academic project supported by NORDP as opening a door to robust research in Research Development settings by experts who really do study the kinds of things we do. Fortunately, the bulk of the team science analysis is funded through Duke’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA), so the NORD funding is targeted to turning our collective findings into a paper.

What is the status of the project now?

Last year we completed our internal process capture and have prioritized knowledge to capture in new tools and resources for grant managers and faculty to use with minimal input from us. Some of these new resources are available now, and others will come online in the next month or two. In addition, our team science partners are currently completing their analyses of our office data – 10 full years of information on the grants we’ve supported, what services we provided to each, and what the outcomes were – to see whether specific services or attributes correlate with outcome. By mid-June, we’ll meet to discuss the results and design the next step – a CTSA-funded study of two different approaches for support of complex research grant development. All of this work together will be the basis of the paper that the NORD award is supporting.

Do you have any suggestions for NORDP members considering submitting to the 2019 competition?

As for any application, it’s important to keep the sponsor’s vision in mind – NORD envisions making RD a research setting – and making sure your proposal will help accomplish that vision. To enhance what you can accomplish with a potential NORD award, consider how you can leverage institutional resources, potentially including what you have to do or want to do as part of your daily work.

For example, our redesign effort is something we need to do to prevent burnout, and the institution supports it – so we don’t need any external funding to accomplish that. Thanks to my involvement in preparing the Team Science part of Duke’s CTSA renewal, our business school partner was already familiar with us, and the NORD funding will compensate him for his guidance in preparing a robust manuscript at the project’s conclusion. Thus the project makes the most of InfoReady’s financial commitment and really aligns with NORD’s vision.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell – Member Services Committee