NORD/ InfoReady Research Grants in Research Development

In a partnership with InfoReady, NORDP launched a New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) grant Initiative which began funding grants in 2018 that support the disciplinary field of Research Development. Eleven grants of up to $2500 each have been awarded to date. A new grant cycle will be announced in the Fall of 2021.   

Please keep an eye out for the call for proposals and/or visit the below link in the coming months to check for application details on the competition:

https://nordp.infoready4.com/#competitionDetail/1790746

Awardee Feature

Who: Alicia Knoedler Ph.D., Vice President for Research & Innovation

Where: Miami University 

Proposal: Many Research Development (RD) professionals work with researchers to facilitate the development of teams to enable the pursuit of innovative research and the funding to support that research. In the context of research teams and team facilitation, researchers benefit from collaborations that result in publications, conference papers/presentations, sharing of new ideas, the potential to expand and scale research, attracting funding, and the like. Yet RD professionals are not typically authors on research team publications, papers, and presentations. RD professionals’ ideas may be instrumental in terms of the directions, scope, and scale that teams pursue but they are not usually credited nor are their ideas documented in a way that would appear on a CV or resume. RD professionals are not usually investigators or senior personnel on grant proposals although they may be the most knowledgeable team members regarding competitive ideas and processes for securing funding. As more funding agencies and organizations increasingly stress collaborative teams, it is important to be intentional about measuring the contributions of ALL contributors to research teams. For individuals within a team who are the facilitators, translators, and/or boundary spanners of the teams, their contributions often come in observing each team holistically, drawing connections, making suggestions for research directions and ideas, and providing the “connective tissue” within their team. For these “connectors”, it is challenging to identify and define metrics and measures related to their contributions in the course of team development, cultivation, and facilitation. For this project, we pursued the following research question: What are the behaviors that are catalytic within collaborative teams that lead to transformative work within these teams? To explore this question, we distributed a survey to RD professionals to identify and catalog areas of team facilitation, cultivation, and the like that connectors know to be catalytic in the course of team development, progress, and success. We then devised an activity to demonstrate these connector behaviors in the collaborative process.

This project was developed in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Oklahoma and Exaptive, Inc.

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

We are exploring the “connector” or “translator” qualities that we believe many Research Development professionals possess. I think RD professionals have the ability to listen to information that is presented in a myopic way and then translate it into different contexts for multiple audiences. We are looking to define this “translator” quality and how to help RD professionals learn the skill. 

What is the status of the project now?

Data collection has happened, and we presented preliminary findings within the 2019 NORDP conference (The Measurable Contributions of Connectors in Research Teams), but the pandemic has put the second and third phases of data collection on hold. 

Do you have any suggestions for NORDP members considering submitting to the 2021 competition?

I would love to see future projects contribute to NORDP’s priorities outlined in our strategic plan in innovative ways. My hope is that NORDP members will propose ideas that benefit the broader RD community as opposed to individual institutions. I would encourage teams of NORDP members and non-NORDP members to explore ideas that could have transformational impact on approaches to research development.

What did you find the most challenging?

I began the project while working with a private company and management of the IRB process from outside of a university was quite a challenge. I realized how much I took for granted about working at an institution and being able to do research when I was outside of higher ed.

What did you find the most surprising?

I am fascinated by this translator concept and I am somewhat shocked that not everyone has the skill of being a translator. I think it is a skill that can be developed as well as a mindset that we should be open to exploring. 

What would you say is your main takeaway from this experience?

I am now back in a university setting and I can see who is and is not a translator from my interactions. I would love to continue exploring the translator concept in both my own research and the culture at my university. In my new role as VPR, I clearly see situations that would benefit from more translators. I will also continue to investigate why some people are not open to the idea, especially if they place significant value on deep rather than broad knowledge, as it remains a vexing question for me. 

What are your plans for sharing or disseminating what you learn in this project?

I wrote a blog (https://www.exaptive.com/blog/an-activity-to-improve-idea-generation-and-network-brokering) based on the exercise we conducted trying to help people connect with the skill of being a translator. Our experience reinforced the idea that people can be trained, but at this stage I do not know what that would involve. I think that this will become my perpetual project that I will continue to explore throughout my career and I am curious to see how far I can go with the idea.  

If anyone is curious about the translator concept and would like to discuss it further, I encourage you to contact me. 

Has this experience changed how you approach your RD work?

I was already exploring this idea in my prior work and the project was beneficial in providing me the data to test my pre-existing thinking. 

What are/will be the outcomes of your research?

At this stage, I do not plan on a publication as my data are limited since I had to put my surveys on hold. I think the translator concept is one worth talking about with other RD professionals and I continue to do so through my NORDP interactions. We are actually planning to hire a new position in my office and one of the skill sets we are looking for is “translational capabilities.” I am truly committed to the translator idea and it is a part of everything I do. It is the magic ingredient in RD!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

Mentoring Reflections: Carolynn Julien & Hollie Fuhrmann


Welcome to the third installment of Mentoring Reflections! This time, we chatted with Carolynn Julien at Hunter College, CUNY who served as mentor to Hollie Fuhrmann at the University of Utah. 

If you have not yet, don’t forget to register to participate in Celebrating Mentoring Days on June 29th and 30th. The two-day program will be packed with enlightening mentoring focused sessions, roundtables and networking events. 

  • What influenced you to apply to be a mentor and a mentee for the 2020-21 NORDP Mentoring Program? 

In 2013, Carolynn received a mentor from the NORDP Mentoring Program. Her relationship with her mentor is still ongoing and has become a very important relationship in her life. Due to the importance of this relationship, she decided to #PayItForward, as the Mentoring Committee likes to call it, and be a mentor. For some time, Hollie has wanted to engage in a formal one-on-one mentorship relationship with someone that was not also her director/supervisor. She really wanted to develop a relationship and expand her network. The NORDP Mentoring Program provided that opportunity for them both.

  • What was your favorite part about your relationship 

Carolynn has found the mentoring relationship to be extremely fruitful. The biweekly meetings with Hollie have been the highlight of her week! Although she and Hollie have different backgrounds and experiences, they have connected in a special and unique manner. Hollie really didn’t know what to expect going into this experience. It is important to note that they started to meet and build their relationship at the same time that world was shutting down due to the pandemic and as issues related to racism, discrimination, and violence were becoming something we could no longer ignore. Their mentoring relationship became a unique moment to examine and discuss these important issues because how can we successfully serve and advance the research missions of our institutes without acknowledging and addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion. They are both thankful for the opportunity to discuss and guide each other on this journey.

  • What surprised you about being a mentor or a mentee? 

Carolynn was surprised at how satisfying and enriching their relationship has become and didn’t expect the mentoring relationship to develop into such a personal relationship. Their mentoring relationship has developed so organically and been so responsive to their lived experiences during challenging times. It has also been very personal. Hollie didn’t expect to connect with Carolynn on such a deep and personal level, especially over Zoom. In the beginning, Hollie saw their meetings as a work-related task. Now, she really looks forward to them and sees them as a break from work or as an opportunity to share and reflect on work and life more broadly.

  • How has participation in the Mentoring Program helped broaden your horizons about Research Development in general and/or affected your daily work in particular?

In the last several months, Hollie and Carolynn have discussed several work-related matters and their mentoring relationship has been an invaluable resource. In addition, their shared experience and their unbiased, trusted advice has helped them navigate being RD professionals and allowed them an opportunity to celebrate themselves as women leaders.

  • Any words of wisdom or encouragement for those wanting to apply next year? Any other thoughts you would like to share?

Just do it! And, be open to the experience! You will be surprised by the connections and the progress you will make as individuals and as a team.

If you would like to share your mentoring story, please contact mentorprogram@nordp.org.

Welcoming Six New Board Members

Dear NORDP members,

I am writing with some great news: we are welcoming 6 new NORDP Board members this year!

We want to welcome Nathan Meier, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research at University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Antje Harnisch, Assistant Vice Provost for Research at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who were elected to 4-year terms. Nathan returns to the Board for his first elected term after filling a vacated Board seat for the past three years. He has been active in many committees, especially the Nominating Committee and in the establishment of the LEAD program. Antje has contributed to the success of the NORDP Northeast Region and brings a wealth of institutional leadership experience. 

It’s critical that we have a robust and diverse Board to meet the needs of our members. The Board must listen to and represent many perspectives to serve research development professionals. To this end, we have appointed four additional new Board members. With focused intention, we deliberately identified diverse candidates from diverse institutions for these positions because we want all members to be able to see themselves on the Board and in other leadership roles throughout NORDP.

There were two vacancies from Board members who ended their board service early. To fill those vacated seat, we are welcoming Jennifer Glass, Research Development Officer at Eastern Michigan University and Melinda Boehm, Director of the Office of Research Development at University of California-Merced, who will each serve on the Board for three years. Jennifer will fill the Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI) seat and Melinda will fill the at-large seat. Both have been active NORDP members since 2015. Jennifer is currently co-chair of NORDP’s PUI Affinity Group and has also been involved in the Mentoring Committee. Melinda has been serving as Co-Chair of the Professional Development Committee. 

We are delighted to announce that Carolynn Julien, Associate Director of the Office of Research Administration at Hunter College – CUNY, and Lisa Lopez, Senior Research Development Officer in the College of Health and Human Development at California State University – Fullerton, will also join the board. Carolynn, a NORDP member since 2013, is a proud alumna of NORDP’s Mentoring program (serving as a mentor). Lisa joined NORDP in 2015 and serves on the Nominating Committee. 

We very much look forward to working with our new Board colleagues. 


Sincerely,

Kimberly Eck, MPH, PhD
Associate Vice President for Research
Emory University

President 2020-2021
National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP)
http://www.nordp.org

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Rising Star Award Cameo – Katie Shoaf

Who: Katie Shoaf, Associate Director

Where: Grants Resources & Services, Appalachian State University

Number of years in research development: 5

Length of NORDP membership: 5

What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer? 

I really enjoyed my role working in the core group with Kari Whittenberger-Keith and Paige Belisle to kick off the pilot RD 101 program.  I found developing and refining the curriculum to be the most rewarding aspect.  We are currently working with an instructional designer for the next version of the program.  RD 101 is a great opportunity for NORDP to put our best foot forward.

I am also proud of my participation in the LEAD initiative and the LEAD peer mentoring group in particular.  Our Fireside Chats were well received this past spring and we have more in the works for the coming year.  

These two working groups gave me unique avenues to participate, cultivated professional opportunities and gave me a chance to make meaningful contributions right away in my volunteer role. 

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

I have been fortunate to work with Fletch, who is super involved with NORDP, throughout my RD career.  We are a team of three and she encouraged me to get involved with NORDP from the start.  I saw the impact it had on her and I knew it would benefit me as well. 

My engagement with NORDP has broadened my network across the country with hundreds now a part of it and I no longer feel as if I am in a tiny RD bubble.  I have built meaningful relationships through committee work, mentoring, and other activities.  Many of those connections were already virtual prior to the pandemic and that helped ease the transition to working from home.  

How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

Fletch arrived at Appalachian State shortly after I did and she encouraged me to join.  She was very involved in committee work and I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of it as well.  I attended my first conference in Arlington/DC.  I truly feel like I am contributing to the profession and that my committee work actually matters. 

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

I have met so many people through NORDP while only working at a single institution.  I had never talked to anyone else involved with RD or RA before.  I met Jan Abramson through the Mentoring Committee. She intentionally reached out to me outside of regular meetings and encouraged me to run with ideas that I had.  This extra encouragement gave me professional confidence in both my NORDP and work roles. 

Kari Whittenberger-Keith invited me to be a part of the RD 101 initiative which was huge for my own professional development.  Jill Jividen asked me to be a co-chair for the 2021 conference as well.  These efforts showed me that my peers had faith that I would be a positive contributor despite only having tangential interactions in some cases.  This was valuable to me personally and I am forever grateful for their little nudges that opened great opportunities for me.  I am also thankful to Fletch for the initial push to join!

Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined

I am not sure if I have enough perspective for this as I have only been involved since 2017.  I did know that NORDP were my people when I went to my first conference.  We have all had the challenge of explaining to our family what it is that we do in RD, but when I came to NORDP it was like, “Oh yeah this is the thing.”  It has given me a real sense of community. 

I have a better understanding of NORDP’s inner workings which has changed my relationship with it now that I know it better.  I know that my efforts are valued and how I can best contribute.  

NORDP is growing and has a lot of avenues to develop your leadership skills.  We provide professional development for members at all stages of their careers.  We are looking at equity and inclusion issues and doing well to respond to changing times.  We are increasing meaningful engagement of members through programs like RD 101 and LEAD. 

What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

Regardless of your experience or personality there is something for you to give to NORDP.  You can join a committee or sub-committee, join a mentoring diad or group, submit an abstract for conference consideration.   I would encourage to reach out to someone you know or to me about how you can get involved.  

NORDP will welcome your contributions and ideas with open arms.  I have only been in RD for five years and I have seen tangible benefits during my time.  Introvert or extrovert, you can make a difference and have an impact on many people through your volunteer efforts. 

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

Inaugural Innovation Award Goes to NORDP Mentoring Committee

NORDP recently presented its Inaugural 2021 NORDP Innovation Award to the NORDP Mentoring Committee at the organization’s 2021 annual conference.

Faye Farmer, member of the NORDP Board of Directors, notes that this award was created to recognize individuals, groups, or organizations that leverage unique approaches to kickstart innovation in research development. She describes the NORDP Mentoring Committee as, “setting the highest bar for true innovation in our organization.” For this reason, the committee was selected for this initial award among an extremely competitive pool of candidates.

“We especially recognize the work they’ve accomplished this past year to revolutionize how our organization operationalizes mentoring,” Farmer says.

NORDP’s Mentoring Committee members have leveraged their individual skills and expertise in new and inventive ways, she adds. They established the first-ever metric-based mentor matching system, adapted mentoring materials to the unique field of research development, implemented themed peer mentoring groups, and created new programming to connect research development curious individuals not in the profession to established professionals as a pipeline for member recruitment and retention.

“This committee of innovators is advancing the research development field in ways that generate evidence of promise or demonstrable results, a requirement of this inaugural award,” Farmer says.

“NORDP is so fortunate to have such innovative members who are actively advancing research development,” Farmer says.

If you, your committee, or your institution is interested in preparing a nomination to this or other awards, check out NORDP.org for additional information. The timeline for NORDP Awards, from nomination through recognition, is as follows:

  • Call for nominations issued: Second Wednesday in September
  • Nomination period: September to November
  • Awards Q&A webinar: Final Wednesday in September
  • Nomination deadline: First Wednesday in November
  • Awardee recognition: During the annual Research Development Conference

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Celebrating Mentoring Days Keynote on Digging Deeper and Doing Better

The NORDP Mentoring Committee presents Celebrating Mentoring Days Tuesday, June 29 and Wednesday, June 30. Come celebrate mentoring! 

All NORDP members are invited to attend. The complete program and registration information is available at https://nordp.memberclicks.net/celebrating-mentoring-days

Dr. Kelly Diggs-Andrews, Diggs-Andrews Consulting LLC, will deliver the opening keynote on “Digging Deeper, Doing Better: The Science of Effective and Inclusive Mentoring in STEMM” at 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 29. 

The content of this keynote is applicable to Research Development (RD) professionals, as we mentor both formally and informally across a variety of disciplines. In her keynote, Dr. Diggs-Andrews will provide an intellectual framework to accelerate the acquisition of mentoring insights to cultivate effective mentoring relationships.

Mentoring is a critical aspect of academic training and research progress, yet is often learned and perfected only through trial and error. Participants will learn about evidence-based approaches to broaden participation of culturally diverse groups in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) fields. Overall, RD professionals will gain confidence in working with mentees from diverse backgrounds, add new strategies to their mentoring toolbox, and gain access to available resources to support quality mentorship in their professional careers and at their home institutions. Participants will be able to continue the discussion in breakout group discussions immediately following the keynote on 1) Digging Deeper – the science behind effective mentorship, or 2) Doing Better – mentoring across diverse dimensions.

Kelly Diggs-Andrews, PhD is the founder and CEO of Diggs-Andrews Consulting, LLC, a consulting and media company whose goal is to broaden accessibility to science careers through science outreach, diversity training, and professional development. She is also a senior Master Facilitator with the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER), where she leads both in-person and virtual workshops for research mentors across career stages and disciplines nationwide. She has led trainings at national scientific conferences for the American Society for Microbiology, International Mentoring Association, the Society for Neuroscience, the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, and others as well as numerous colleges, universities, and medical institutes. Her curricular expertise includes Entering Mentoring, Facilitator Training for Entering Mentoring, and Culturally Aware Mentoring.

NORDP Presents RD Champion Award to NSF’s Panchanathan

Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan

The National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) recently presented the 2021 RD Champion Award to Sethuraman Panchanathan, Professor, Arizona State University (LOA), and Director, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

At NORDP’s annual conference in May 2021, Panchanathan delivered a plenary session, “Strengthening the Symbiosis of Exploratory and Translational Research @ Speed & Scale,” sharing his insights on the future of research and the vital role for research development (RD).

During that online session, Dr. Kimberly Eck, President of NORDP an Associate Vice President for Research at Emory University, presented the award that recognized Dr. Panchanathan’s support of the RD profession.

Prior to joining NSF in 2020, Panchanathan led Arizona State University’s (ASU) advancement of research, innovation, entrepreneurship, corporate engagement and strategic partnerships, and international development to dramatically increase research expenditures.

 “The framework for seeding bold, large-scale innovative research with meaningful societal impact is part of the DNA of NSF,” Panchanathan says. “Research development is integral to both NSF’s success and how we foster success in the research community. It’s about building the capacity and tools to advance knowledge more efficiently, and about building platforms and ecosystems that spur innovation.”

Eck says this award recognizes Panchanathan’s tireless, 20-year-long effort to transform ASU from a teaching-focused institution to a world-class hub of innovation and research.

“Dr. Panchanathan’s investment in RD at ASU and encouragement for the ASU RD team to engage nationally has benefited NORDP and our members greatly. With him at the helm of the NSF, we are very confident in the future of science and engineering in the US,” Eck says.

The RD Champion Award is presented annually to an individual in recognition of their substantial efforts to advance the research enterprise and their advocacy of research development as a critical component of the research ecosystem. In 2020, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, former Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, was the inaugural recipient.

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

NORDP Fellows Award Cameo – Jacob Levin

Who: Jacob Levin

Where: Founder & CEO, LGG Research Funding & Strategy Services

Number of years in research development: 20+

Length of NORDP membership: 12 years

What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer? 

I would say that NORDP as a whole is what I am most proud of. I was part of the initial founding group and honestly we struggled in the early years. I sometimes wondered if we would survive during our first four or five years. It has been amazing to see NORDP’s growth from a plucky little startup to a reputable, full-scale professional organization, through the efforts of its dedicated, diverse, and collegial members. We have many great programs, but I think we still have not hit our full stride. 

Of all the things we do, I feel that the listserv is still NORDP’s most valuable asset. It has continually provided a wealth of valuable information to broad spectrum of members, and is a great example of the open and supportive communication that is a hallmark of our group. I have been involved with a number of other professional organizations throughout the research enterprise and no other community is as collegial and supportive. 

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

It has been enormously impactful. NORDP is intrinsically entangled with my career. My service and engagement with NORDP has benefitted me professionally in countless ways, and motivated me to engage in activities take risks professionally that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve worked on well over 1,000 grants, with 2,000 plus faculty, and dozens of universities, but I consider NORDP my most impactful professional accomplishment, and the one of which I am most proud. I literally cannot imagine what career I would have had without NORDP. It has driven much of what I have done and vice versa. 

How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?

Back in early 2009 I received a phone call from Holly Falk-Krzesinski out of the blue. She was truly the driving force in getting us all together. There were a number of people doing RD seemingly alone at universities across the country. It was a new idea that everyone had simultaneously. Holly had looked through directories of major universities for RD related job titles and began reaching out to people. When she first called me we talked for over an hour. Soon the listserv began, we had our first meeting, and we undertook the process of incorporating as a 501(c)3. I actually came up with the name for NORDP back then. Holly had suggested calling it the National Research Development Professional Association, but nerds as we all may be, I wasn’t sure that NRDPA would be a draw. Sorry Holly!

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP?

My closest professional friendships are people that I have met through NORDP. I am still in touch with colleagues who have moved on from my office, and those I have worked with for years at universities across the country. RD is really my field now, despite my original training as a physicist and biologist. Research development is a network of networks that has opened up many opportunities for me. There are numerous things that I would not have done without my involvement in NORDP. Nothing else has been quite like it in terms of opening doors and developing professional relationships & lasting friendships. 

Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined.

At the start we were very grassroots with everything done basically by hand. Back then the Vice President was responsible for putting on the annual meeting which I did for the second one which had 200 people. It was like putting on your own wedding (and it was actually in the same place I was married!). I had my family and work colleagues bringing in food, setting up signs, making badges, and working registration, while I was directing and introducing people, managing invited speakers, interacting with the hotel staff, and presenting in 5 sessions! The entire conference I was running around in chaos. It was like that for a few years, but it was what was needed at the time. 

Now we are truly a professional organization. Our most recent conference made me proud. Successful conferences do not come easily and are not a given, especially when they have to be done virtually. NORDP 2021 was the best online conference I have attended.

I think we are still only halfway there, however. We have become an effective entity and are now serving as sponsors at other group’s conferences, like the recent INORMS 2021. Research development is now considered a basic function at many universities. Vendors now see us a one of their primary customer bases.We have earned a level of professionalism and respect in the research enterprise and we are known throughout it. 

What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?

Just do it. Just start. Whatever it is that interests you, or you have experience with. You couldn’t find a more welcoming community. Everyone is so collegial, and they know what you are going through. NORDP pays you back in ways that you do not expect.

RD is a field that lends itself to volunteerism. We are all used to working on teams and on things that are not quite done yet. RD work like NORDP engagement is always in progress. 

NORDP is accepting of people and their interests. If you have an idea that is helpful to you, chances are it will be helpful to others. Get involved in any way you can. I promise you will not regret it!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

References:

  1. Levin, J. 2011. The Emergence of the Research-Development Professional. Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2011. http://chronicle.com/article/The-Emergence-of-the/126906/
  2. Rainey, R.F. 2013. Jacob Levin brings in the research money. AAAS Member Spotlight, Feb 1, 2013. https://www.aaas.org/jacob-levin-brings-research-money
  3. Currie, E. 2011. Off the Path – Jacob Levin, UCSF Synapse, 25 May 2011. https://synapse.library.ucsf.edu/?a=d&d=ucsf20110525-01.2.10&e=——-en–20–1–txt——txIN–

NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in RD: Update from Stephanie McCombs

In a partnership with InfoReady, NORDP launched a New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) grant initiative, which began funding grants in 2018 to support the disciplinary field of Research Development. Eleven grants of up to $2500 each have been awarded to date. A new grant cycle will be announced in the Fall of 2021.   

Awardee Feature

Who: Stephanie McCombs

Where: Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS)

Proposal: Developing Best Practices for Evaluating the Outcomes, Success, Impact, and ROI of Internal Grant Programs

What problem in Research Development are you looking to solve with your project? Since institutional resources are often limited, leadership must be accountable for decisions to invest in internal grant programs and be able to show appropriate return on these types of investments. Associated with this is the evaluation of the outcomes, impact, and return on investment (ROI) of research funding expenditures. Measuring and evaluating the ROI and other objective and subjective outcomes of internal funding programs, especially those that can lead to determinations of success or impact, can be a key aspect to ensuring the institution’s internal grant funds are being used in the most beneficial manner. This research seeks to answer the questions:

  • How are the success, impact, and ROI of an internal grant mechanism truly defined?
  • What outcomes, metrics, and methodology should be used in order to accurately evaluate the above aspects of internal grant programs?

What is the status of the project now? This project was recently funded and is currently in the IRB submission stage.

Do you have any suggestions for NORDP members considering submitting to the 2021 competition? Start on your application early and reach out to potential team members as soon as possible to plan the submission. Everything always takes longer than expected.

What did you find the most challenging? I have never really done much with the IRB prior to this project and I was unfamiliar with many of the required processes.  Getting all documents completed was definitely a challenge!

What did you find the most surprising? I was definitely surprised by the length of time it took to do the preparatory steps. I had seen much of this from the administrative side, but it was enlightening to experience from the researcher side. This experience has given me a new appreciation for all of the work that goes into the pre & post award side of projects as well as all of the details and people you have to consult with to get a proposal ready.

What would you say is your main takeaway from this experience? I have gained a newfound appreciation for the work that our researchers do in writing, submitting, and managing awards.  The experience has given me a holistic view allowing me to see things from a different perspective.  I understand that not everything is under the PI’s control.  They are often dependent on other individuals or institutions.  I believe this awareness will make me better at my job and help me improve the management our internal grant processes here at EVMS.

What are your plans for sharing or disseminating what you learn in this project? I hope to be able to have enough good information to put together a manuscript for publication.  I plan to present to the EVMS community as a first step and I will likely present at the next NORDP conference in 2022. 

Has this experience changed how you approach your RD work? It has absolutely changed my approach.  As I mentioned above, I now see the grant process from the other side as a PI myself.  It has invoked a humanistic understanding side of me, and I am now coming to my RD work from a different vantage point.  The experience has also overlapped with the Doctor of Health Science program I am finishing up currently.  I have gained insight into the human side, become more understanding of PIs who may need more time due to personal lives, teaching & committee responsibilities, or maybe being stretched too thin overall.

What are/will be the outcomes of your research? The main driver of this project was to improve our processes here, but after reaching out to other NORDP members I learned that many people did not have measures in place.  Ultimately, I hope to help my RD colleagues be effective stewards of their resources with my project. I saw a need to develop a lexicon that the RD community can refer to with a standardized set of definitions.  For example, when I was putting together a roundtable for the 2021 NORDP conference the term “seed grant” was one that has different meanings at different institutions.  Is a better term “internal grant”?  I hope to be able to provide insight on defining terms and evaluating outcomes through this project and eventually look to evaluation best practices in the next stage.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

NORD/InfoReady Research Grants in RD: Update from Michael Pruess

In a partnership with InfoReady Review, NORDP launched a New Opportunities in Research Development (NORD) grant Initiative which began funding grants in 2018 that support the disciplinary field of Research Development. Eleven grants of up to $2500 each have been awarded to date. A new grant cycle will be announced in the Fall of 2021.

Awardee Feature

Who: Michael Preuss, EdD

Where: Exquiri Consulting, LLC

Proposal: A focus group investigation of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes desired in Research Development (RD) directors and proposal specialists.

What problem in Research Development are you looking to solve with your project? This is the third step in a sequence of studies. The first considered more than 400 RD job announcements to understand how RD was defined and described. The second was a survey of active NORDP members to understand demographics, institution types and distribution, as well as roles and responsibilities of RD professionals. This final study involves focus group discussions of what distinguishes RD directors from proposal development specialists and what they have in common. This dichotomy was investigated, as there were statistically significant differences in the survey data (second step in the sequence) between the roles and responsibilities reported by these groups.

What is the status of the project now? The data gathering is complete. Focus groups were conducted at the Northeast Region meeting in 2019, at the Great Lakes Region meeting in 2020, and with a group of Research Development and Research Administration professionals in the University of New Mexico system. Two interviews were also conducted with notable RD professionals on the West Coast, and work is underway on an article to report the findings. It would the third in a series. The first two are (1) Describing Research Development: A First Step in Research, Management Review, volume 23, issue 1, published in in 2018, and (2) Research Development and Its Workforce: An Evidence-Based Compendium for Higher Education and Other Environments in the International Journal on Studies in Education ,volume 2, issue 1, published in 2020.

What suggestions do you have for NORDP members considering the 2021 competition? If you have not conducted an independent research project before, look for a mentor or a colleague with experience who will work with you. Seek to answer a specific and well-defined question that is based on, at a minimum, a good volume of experiential or anecdotal evidence. Be sure you know the standard for substantial or significant evidence for the research method you are proposing. Ask an RD professional you respect to comment on a draft of your proposal and prepare far enough in advance for them to be able to do so to the best of their ability. Anticipate that there will be challenges and competing priorities by keeping your project tightly focused and planning an appropriate but less-than-aggressive timeline.   

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.