NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: They’re doing WHAT!?! Intelligence Gathering in Higher Ed

Slides: They’re doing WHAT!?! Intelligence Gathering in Higher Ed

Presenters:

  • Karen Walker, Arizona State University
  • Jamie Welch, Arizona State University
  • Linda Galloway, Elsevier

Thanks to our session scribe!

Five key points from the session:

  • ASU’s RD office includes a full-time person in charge of “competitive intelligence.“
  • ASU defines competitive intelligence as the “ethical collection and analysis of information to anticipate competitive activity, see past market disruptions and dispassionately interpret events.”
  • ASU RD staff works with Elsevier’s Scival to identify areas of strength, then continues to study these strengths and prepares documents to help faculty maximize these strengths and build collaborations.
  • SciVal allows researchers and administrators to visualize research performance, benchmark relative to peer institutions, develop strategic partnerships, identify and analyze new, emerging research trends, and create uniquely tailored reports.
  • ASU’s RD tagline is “Knowledge Enterprise Development.”

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

ASU’s investment in publications that provide details on priority areas for the university.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

Successful institutions take time and invest to support faculty and build capacity.

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Effective Meeting Facilitation, Parts One and Two

Slides: Facilitating Innovative Research 

Presenters:

  • Donnalyn Roxey, Knowinnovation
  • Andy Burnett, Knowinnovation

Thanks to our session scribe, Christina Howard, Texas A&M University!

As research development professionals, how can we make meetings more interesting, productive, and effective? How do we promote creative thinking? At the Effective Meeting Facilitation workshop, we entered the room to find an array assortment of squishy ducks, Slinkys, and other fidget toys on chairs throughout the room. The presenters used these along with a variety of engaging means to generate ideas and discussion among audience members. They emphasized: When designing a meeting it is important to consider what type of environment might facilitate creativity, and to recognize that different creative preferences can still achieve similar outputs.

Effective Meeting Facilitation, Part One

The focus was on the various dimensions of a creative climate and on specific ways RD professionals can encourage and facilitate each of these. Dimensions include: dynamism and liveliness; freedom; risk taking; playfulness and humor; idea time; idea support; trust and openness; conflict; debate; and challenge.

Tips for the RD professional

Some practical ways to encourage dynamism and liveliness are to move people around: get them talking to new people or interacting in new ways. For example, hold a meeting in a new or different location. One way to incorporate playfulness and humor is to allow for “mind wandering” through the use of fidget toys.

Assist with providing idea time and idea support by leveling the playing field: making sure everyone’s ideas are heard, deferring judgment (both positive and negative), and separating out divergence from convergence by listening to all ideas before reviewing and matching them with goals and objectives. Additionally, allowing time for ideas to incubate (i.e., thinking and regrouping) is critical rather than trying to cram everything all into one meeting.

Some suggestions to make meeting environments more creative were using fidget toys, holding meetings off-campus, using sticky notes, process mapping, adding a little bit of “interest” to the meeting space (i.e. in the form of potted plants).

Effective Meeting Facilitation, Part Two

The focus was on strategies for conducting virtual meetings effectively. Virtual collaboration can decrease our carbon footprint and increase affordability… if it works. There are multiple ways to collaborate virtually across space (i.e. Zoom), time (i.e. bulletin boards, computer screens for asking and answering questions), or a combination of both (i.e. Google Docs).

Tips for the RD professional

Ideas labs use a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings to engage individuals. Have everyone participate virtually in an initial “ideas lab.” This can help gauge who will engage – and who should be present at the table in a face-to-face meeting.

Randomized coffee talks” (RCTs). These have the goal of getting people together who might otherwise never meet or interact, and provide them with a small incentive for doing so (i.e. coffee). For example, RCTs could be a good pre-meeting exercise to help meeting participants engage with each other prior to a larger proposal meeting.

An important factor to consider when organizing a virtual meeting is the length of time, in part because the cognitive load is larger in a virtual space than in a physical space. One way to alleviate this would be to schedule shorter meeting times with longer breaks in between when planning a virtual meeting. Also, encouraging meeting participants to go to an alternate location for the virtual meeting (rather than just sitting in their offices) may help participants engage more fully rather than treating the virtual meeting as if they were watching a virtual webinar.

Regardless of the meeting format (in-person or virtual), however, accessibility is key. The presenters emphasized that either all-physical or all-virtual meetings tend to work more effectively than a mix of the two (part virtual and part in-person).

Together, these two workshops provided valuable ideas and resources for helping meeting participants fully engage, whether the meeting is held in-person or virtually. KnowInnovation (fir.hub.ki) has a number of resources that can help with making meeting environments more creative, including tools, blogs, drop-ins, a virtual idea board, and an email short course on creativity and skill development, as well as another email short course on creative thinking and problem-solving.

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Employing Tactical and Strategic Approaches to Help Faculty Maximize Broader Impacts

Slides: Employing Tactical and Strategic Approaches to Help Faculty Maximize Broader Impacts

Presenters:

  • Danielle Mazzeo, American Museum of Natural History
  • Nathan Meier, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Tisha Mullen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Stephanie Hensel, University of Michigan School of Education

Thanks to our session scribe, Paige Belisle, Harvard University!

This presentation explored how different institutions address Broader Impacts requirements during the proposal development process. The National Science Foundation defines Broader Impacts as activities associated with sponsored research that will benefit our society and world. Other Federal agencies require similar components that will have impact outside of traditional academia. Meeting Broader Impacts requirements can be accomplished through the research/project itself; through activities directly related to the research/project; or through activities complementary to the research/project.

Case Study: American Museum of Natural History, New York City

This portion of the presentation focused on how the museum uses intra-institutional connections to maximize Broader Impacts activities. The museum aims to create & support interdisciplinary partnerships; leverage other departmental efforts to support new Broader Impact activities; and develop Broader Impact activities that are replicable and scalable. This is carried out by establishing links between its library and archives, cyberinfrastructure, graduate students, research projects, youth programs, and exhibitions, all of which also serve the museum’s central mission.

Case Study: University of Michigan School of Education

This section of the presentation discussed a university center which addresses Broader Impacts. The University of Michigan School of Education’s Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research (CEDER) “advances equity and excellence in education by providing access to high quality design, evaluation, and research services through collaborations with university, school, and community partners.” CEDER helps faculty during the proposal development, project implementation, and research dissemination stages by offering design, evaluation, and research development services. Through consultations, CEDER helps faculty consider how to approach Broader Impacts activities in K-12 classrooms.

Case Study: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

This portion of the presentation explored how the University of Nebraska-Lincoln uses a matrix approach for Broader Impacts support by providing something for nearly everyone in the community: Pre-K to seniors, formal and informal activities, and local to global impact. Their group emphasizes that there are no cookie-cutter approaches that guarantee Broader Impacts success. The presentation discussed the importance of leveraging existing partnerships and infrastructure. It  argued that a faculty member doesn’t need to reinvent themselves to successfully implement Broader Impacts activities; rather, they should focus on how their existing connections, passions, and projects might be expanded to meet the requirements.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

I did not realize that the American Museum of Natural History in New York functions as a PhD-granting research institution, and it was very interesting to hear their unique perspective on Broader Impacts.

What resources did you discover at this presentation? 

E-resources from the presentation can be found here: http://bit.ly/2ZvBtqz

The presenters mentioned that the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI) offers many additional resources: https://broaderimpacts.net

What were the most interesting questions asked by an audience member, and what was the presenters’ responses?

Question: What if PIs want to focus only on training graduate students for their Broader Impacts?

Answer: While this is a very important aspect, it is typically not adequate to only focus on training graduate students in the Broader Impacts section. Generally, the proposal will need to have other Broader Impacts activities as well.

Question: How do you encourage faculty to visit a curriculum development office (or other relevant Broader Impacts resource) early in the proposal development process?

Answer: A helpful website can be a good first step in advertising your services. You can also create a “roadshow” presentation to bring to existing meetings, especially for schools and departments that may need extra help.

Question: What are the most common critiques regarding Broader Impacts in unsuccessful proposals?

Answer: A comment the presenters have frequently seen is that the Broader Impacts were interpreted by the reviewers as too broad or ambitious in scope. Proposal writers should focus on the quality of their Broader Impacts activities rather than the quantity of activities they are proposing. Goals should be concrete and attainable, not aspirational. Broader Impacts partnerships should be authentic.

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Building the RD Professional’s Toolbox and Skills for Developing Project Evaluation Plans for Grant Proposals

Slides: Building the RD Professional’s Toolbox and Skills for Developing Project Evaluation Plans for Grant Proposals

Presenters:

  • Katie Allen, Kansas State University, Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation
  • Morgan Wills, Kansas State University, Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation
  • Makenzie Ruder, Kansas State University, Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation

Thanks to our session scribe, Paige Belisle, Harvard University!

This highly engaging NORDP session presented by Kansas State University’s Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation team offered attendees tools and resources for considering grant proposal evaluation plans. The session explored terms and ideas common to evaluation plans and provided guidance for Research Development professionals who are new to this aspect of proposal development. Defining evaluation as determining the value or worth of a project, the presenters suggested that evaluation can also be described as a means to document the success of a particular program.

The presenters explained that first, you will need to determine criteria indicators for making your assessment. Many funding agencies will have a list of required documents and specific instructions for what is required within the evaluation plan. An internal evaluation will require the research team to evaluate their own work, while an external evaluation will be conducted by someone independent from the project. Essentially, an evaluation asks whether a project’s overall purpose is being met, given the requirements of the program solicitation. For example: do the PIs need to produce publications, or gather and report on a specific form of data? Have they met these goals successfully?

As a Research Development professional, there are many ways that you can help the PI prepare their evaluation plan. You can help a PI identify the supplemental documents that they will need to gather to be compliant with the solicitation. The RFP language used to describe similar types of evaluation plan components can vary from sponsor to sponsor, as will the agency’s specific guidance for things to include within those components. This sponsor-specific language and terminology will be important to ensuring the proposal’s competitiveness. PIs may need assistance in considering what to budget for their project’s evaluation. The presenters advised that an external evaluation budget should be roughly 10% of the total proposed budget for the project. In the budget justification, you might suggest that the PI specify why the evaluation will cost what they are proposing. For example, will the external evaluator need to travel to the PI’s lab to assess the project? You can also provide assistance by reviewing the proposal’s project communication plan and timeline.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

Because I do not personally assist faculty with budget preparation, I was interested to learn that an external evaluation budget is often roughly 10% of the total proposal budget.

What resources did you discover at this presentation? 

The presenters put together a comprehensive list of links and additional resources on the topic of evaluation, which can be found here: http://bit.ly/OEIE_NORDP

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

One audience member asked how to approach the topic of developing an evaluation plan with a faculty member who may be apprehensive about the process of an external evaluation. The presenters explained that one way to frame evaluation is to think of evaluators as “critical friends” who can help bring a project to the next level. The presenters explained that, in their own experience, when a PI works with an evaluator once, they begin to appreciate the process and benefits of evaluation.

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Go or No Go? Critical Decision-Making for Developing Large, Complex Grant Proposals

Presenters:

  • Jessica Venable, McAllister & Quinn
  • M.S. (Peg) AtKisson, AtKisson Training Group, LLC
  • Joanna Downer, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Michael Gallo, University of California-Irvine

Thanks to our session scribe, Samarpita Sengupta, PhD, UT Southwestern Medical Center!

Have you ever been in a situation where a faculty member wants to submit an application for a big grant that is due in a month? Who am I kidding, you are research development professionals, of course you have!

How do you make a go-no-go decision? What are your criteria? This was the topic of the talk given by the four presenters listed above at the 11th Annual NORDP conference in Providence. Each speaker approached the topic from their individual research development perspectives.

Large, complex grants, as defined by the presenters, could be “Super-big institutional opportunities;” large multi-investigator, multi-site, multi-disciplinary projects, some involving construction, renovation or building centers; or they could have non-standard requirements.

There are several points to think about while making go-no go decisions on such large grants, especially in a time sensitive situation, such as the presence of internal resources, whether the project met unmet needs, whether external resources could be tapped into, what is the return on investment, and whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Internal resources should be factored in when making such a decision, such as project management, team facilitation, graphic design and domain-specific expertise, proposal building and administrative capabilities. In cases where the internal resources are tapped out or otherwise unavailable, external resources, such as consulting firms or freelance RD personnel, can be brought in to fill those unmet needs. A hybrid model, whereby the internal team works with an external team to submit the application, are particularly useful when the application is a priority of the institution and a no-go decision is impossible to make.

Every time an external consultant/freelancer is brought in, it is important to weigh the costs with the benefits, especially at smaller institutions. When bringing in external consultants, a shared vision for success is necessary. It is important to set expectations early, asking for references for each consultant to answer questions like: have they worked with similar projects before, are they reliable and timely, do they set and manage expectations, do they have good communication skills across diversity in teams, cultures and discipline, are they team-players, do they make you look good, and do they have a good network that you can tap into.

If tapping into external resources is not a possibility, then the internal team needs to reevaluate the go-no-go decision tree. At times, it is useful to bring in an external team just to get an outsider perspective and to reiterate the no-go decision.

In conclusion, the presenters reiterated that having clear SOW with external consultants, starting early with internal team with planning, idea generation, brain storming, and being cognizant of your own limitations can help with these decisions. The ability to create a dedicated team of internal and/or external contributors and seek out highly specified individuals to fill gaps in expertise is key to successful go-no-go decision making.

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent: Models for Career Progression in RD

Slides: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent: Models for Career Progression in RD

Presenters:

  • Kim Patten, University of Arizona
  • Tisha Mullen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Gay Cookson, University of Utah
  • Gretchen Kiser, University of California San Francisco

Thanks to our session scribe, Daniel Campbell, Old Dominion University!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • The path matters for recruitment & retention and a poorly defined math can lead to low morale that can be an issue with all of the other demands on RD.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Office of Proposal Development utilized a tier structure already approved by HR for other units across campus and massaged RD positions to fit within the structure.
  • Using an existing/approved structure makes promotion easy within the unit, provides flexibility in hiring, supports future growth, is not static and can be revised.
  • University of Arizona – Central Research Development Office combined the UA Career Architecture Project and the NORDP community’s input for definition of RD, past & present job postings, salary survey, and previous conference presentations to create career levels that were more appropriate to RD.
  • It can be beneficial to focus on the Soft Benefits of RD and use them as a recruiting tool. Items such as; a flexible schedule, academic environment where opportunities abound, community, mentoring, & team building activities, and Professional Development opportunities for which many places have significant budgets.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

Titles are an important issue to consider. Consider using working titles in addition to HR titles as titles can affect retention.

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

Question: How did you work with your teams to build these progression ladders?

Responses:

  • Be involved as early as possible
  • Survey the landscape
  • Engage with RD staff
  • Ensure appropriate levels; entry, mid, senior
  • Tie progression to functional skills and experience
  • Salary bands are broad enough to accommodate time in office
  • Develop clear job descriptions associated with career levels
  • Consider your office environment
  • Develop and maintain metrics – helps with expansion and recognizing change over time

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

Make use of NORDP’s resources as they can be a great tool when working within your campus human resources structure.

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Designing, Developing and Evaluating Team Science Support in an RD Office

Presenters:

  • Betsy Rolland, University of Wisconsin-Madison Carbone Cancer Center
  • David Widmer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Holly Falk-Krzesinski, Elsevier and Northwestern University

Thanks to our session scribe, MaryJo Banasik, University of Michigan Medical School!

Three seasoned research development professionals shared their expertise about how team science initiatives can be facilitated and supported by research development offices, including a discussion about the use of collaborative tools.

Holly Falk-Krzesinski provided an overview of what team science is, and how research development professionals can support team science by engaging in activities such as: facilitating collaboration, engaging in proposal development through funding opportunity identification and grantsmanship support, providing team science training, and policy advocacy that aligns appointment, promotion, and tenure guidelines with participation in team science work.

Betsy Rolland described how a new research development office with an emphasis on team science adopted several team science-specific areas of focus to build a team science infrastructure, such as support, education, interventions, and research. To work toward supporting team science, the research development office conducted a needs assessment and identified organizational barriers. A suite of services was developed along with manuals of operation that could be prototyped with small teams. Metrics were identified, such as quantifying demand for services and numbers of individuals and teams trained, as well as assessment of services and impact through satisfaction surveys.

David Widmer described a funding development team, including a position that will focus specifically on complex grants. The team is responsible for stimulating collaboration as well as providing hands-on support for complex proposals. The team is working to increase complex grant proposal submissions to add strategic value to the institution. Toward increasing submissions, the office is working on growing teams through sponsoring events such as speed dating on scientific techniques, maintaining a database, and incorporating empirical research, communication strategies, and best practices into their complex grant development activities.

Holly Falk-Krzesinski closed the session by presenting a number of tools that are available to facilitate team science, such as the Team Science Toolkit and the Collaboration and Team Science Field Guide, both developed by the National Cancer Institute. Holly also pointed out a repository of literature about team science available through an open access Science of Team Science (SciTS) group on Mendeley. Additional resources that Holly highlighted include the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, the Individual Collaboration Readiness Tool, the Matrix Assessment Tool, and the Collaboration Success Wizard developed by UC Irvine. Holly recommended www.teamscience.net to learn to perform transdisciplinary, team-based translational research for research development professionals, which she described as a good resource for research development professionals. Additional resources include the Science of Team Science Listserv and a professional society for the Science of Team Science.