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.   

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