NORDP 2018 Conference Notes: Practical Strategies for Facilitating Innovative Research

Practical Strategies for Facilitating Innovative Research

Presenters:

  • Donnalyn Roxey, Knowinnovation
  • Andy Burnett, Knowinnovation

Thanks to our session scribe, Jennifer Huntington, University of Michigan!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • Knowinnovation designed the “Ideas Lab” – a multi-day program to develop ideas among faculty members with different areas of expertise to create a proposal for funding.
  • Creativity was defined as the production of novel and useful thinking. Everyone is creative in different ways that leads to innovation.
  • Tools to use with faculty in order to foster ideation that will get researchers to truly collaborate and think beyond their own ideas of what is important.
  • Clear link between Research Development professionals and their ability to use their skills creatively to foster innovative research. RD professionals are not just the implementation piece.
  • During the session, there were two points at which the audience was asked to speak with someone sitting next to them about 1. Where each person could use more creative methods in RD, and 2. What have you seen work well in that space? This was a great way to develop connections with colleagues and share ideas.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

It was surprising to have the session be based around the idea of creativity and how we can foster that first in ourselves and understand that we are all creative in different ways. That really helped tie into the proposed strategies for fostering innovative research. It surprised me how willing Knowinnovation was to share some of their methodology for us to immediately utilize at our home institutions.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

Two models were shared: Web of Abstraction – how to define the “problem” or really understand what the problem is.  PPCO – how to focus on the values of different ideas to stop the “that’s a terrible idea” mindset. PPCO evaluates an idea starting with the Pluses, the Potentials, the Concerns, and lastly, how to Overcome some of the Concerns (when possible). The presenter did state that she was willing to share any other resources around Knowinnovation’s methods.

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

One question was asked about ideal group size for ideation workshops. Another participant asked how to get faculty to attend the workshops. The presenter responded that the ideal size is less than 10, and that the “sweet spot” is a group of 7-8 people. That then tied into clarifying that a successful workshop of this type is NOT based on attendance/size, so getting faculty to “show up” is not actually the program’s goal. It becomes rather difficult to effectively ideate around innovative concepts when there isn’t an ability to narrow the focus enough. The end goal of these workshops is to have a handful of faculty come out with a great proposal concept for funding.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

If you sign-up for the Knowinnovation blog, they periodically post about the work they are doing, including methodologies and other helpful tips. They offer many services, including: workshops, virtual events, lunchtime talks, 3-day proposal building sessions, and ideas labs.

NORDP 2018 Conference Notes: Responding RAPIDly and Remaining NIIMBL in the Manufacturing USA Proposal Development Landscape

Responding RAPIDly and Remaining NIIMBL in the Manufacturing USA Proposal Development Landscape: Adapting Resources in a Changing Research Landscape

Presenters:

  • Leigh Botner, University of Delaware
  • Kathleen Sanford, University of Delaware
  • Dawn Jory, University of Delaware

Thanks to our session scribe, Kristyn Jewell, Purdue University!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • Team learned from their initial failure with Accelerate America NNMI submission to succeed with NIIMBL.
  • For NIIMBL, the core scientific team coalesced before the FOA was released.
  • The RD support moved from a college/departmental approach for the failed application to a central integrated approach for the successful application and broke the proposal support team into core functions (Governance & Membership Strategy, Budget Planning, Proposal Writing, etc.).
  • Core proposal team kept working together after the concept paper submission assuming that they would be selected.
  • This experience ultimately changed their structure to encourage large collaboratory efforts with an Associate Vice President for Research hire focused on research development.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

They held workshops across the country to present to potential stakeholders and provided up-to-the-minute changes/updates with voting in order to get industry buy-in with acceptable terms & conditions.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

Teamwork app for project management.

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

Q: For the management of the institute, what was the 501(c)3 proposed?

A: It was supposed to be a new 501(c)3 established upon award. However, the award execution needed to happen so quickly before inauguration that it was awarded to UD to give the 501(c)3 time to be established and fully operational before taking over management of the partnership.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

The proposal RD support staff were chosen for their prior experience and skills level, not based on who had worked with the faculty group in the past. The team was cherry picked to get the best possible results.

NORDP 2018 Conference Notes: The Little RD Office That Could: Lessons Learned from RD Program Flops

The Little RD Office That Could: Lessons Learned from RD Program Flops

Presenters:

  • Karen Fletcher, Appalachian State University
  • Katie Howard, Appalachian State University

Thanks to our session scribe, Suzanne Lodato, Indiana University Bloomington!

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • Unsuccessful programming gives you an opportunity to rethink and revise your programming and move forward.
  • If you observe your audience while you are facilitating a program, you will see it is obvious when they are beginning to lose focus. Exercises like stretching breaks can help participants refocus.
  • Sometimes it is more effective to split longer workshops into smaller, more digestible sessions. For example, for finding funding, an overview session can be followed up by a separate hands-on funding database workshop.
  • Often a single session is more effective than a series of multiple sessions, particularly if you can gather some feedback within the single session. Participants tend to drop out of multi-week programs.
  • Workshops that require registration draw much better participation than drop-in workshops.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

  • Appalachian State is a PUI, but is currently recruiting more faculty who are “research intensive.”
  • Most participants who attend a finding funding workshop do not think it works well.
  • A two hour finding funding workshop tends to be ineffective because too much material is presented in one sitting and people lose focus.

What were the most interesting questions asked by audience members, and what was the presenters’ response?

  • For finding funding, some research development professionals encourage faculty to set up profiles before attending a hands-on database session.
  • What didn’t work: one person organized drop-in days for consultations on finding funding that were poorly attended.
  • Appalachian State has a separate office for undergrad research.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

Here are two grant writing workshop models that worked well:

  • A multi-week program that required a sign-off from the faculty member’s department chair. Participants submitted a white paper to apply for the workshop, and the white papers were judged by means of a competitive process. Faculty had to commit to attending a specified minimum number of sessions. Participants identified a scientific mentor. Staff identified a senior mentor with whom the participant met once a month. Participants were also mentored by staff and peers. Only senior mentors were paid, because they had to meet with participants once per month and report back. Mentoring and accountability to the mentor were the reasons for the success of the program. Participants talked about more than just their current proposal with their mentor, so they developed their career paths, too.
  • Short, internal grant writing workshops 1.5 hours in length. The grant program is reviewed in the session, and participants spend time discussing their proposal ideas to receive feedback. An exercise may encourage participants to write for a very short period of time (e.g., 90 seconds), but they are not required to write during the workshop.

 

 

 

NORDP 2018 Conference Notes: Perspectives from Federal Agencies – NEH and IMLS

Perspectives from Federal Agencies – NEH and IMLS

Presenters:

  • Brett Bobley, National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Ashley Sands, Institute of Museum and Library Studies

Session Scribe: Paige Belisle, Harvard University

Key points from the session. We learned:

  • Both the NEH and IMLS can fund a wide range of project types. The best way to learn about all of the individual programs offered is to visit the funders’ websites.
  • Both agencies recommend that prospective PIs reach out to a program officer to discuss their proposed projects prior to applying. Program officers can also read proposal drafts.
  • NEH encourages faculty members from outside of the humanities to apply via interdisciplinary projects.
  • IMLS has a broad definition of what constitutes a museum or library – so it’s good to check to see if a PI’s project might fit within this agency by looking at the requirements of the individual programs.
  • Both agencies have an interest in funding projects in the digital humanities and in digital infrastructure.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

Many faculty and research development professionals alike are under the impression that all research projects supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities must result in a scholarly book. However, this is not the case! The NEH supports a wide range of projects, including programs for the public, preservation and access, and the digital humanities.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

Both of the program officers emphasized that samples of successful proposals are available on their agencies’ respective websites, organized by individual program.

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

One audience member asked how to advise faculty who wanted program officer feedback after the stated draft deadline had passed. Both program officers suggested such faculty members reach out to their respective program officers directly to ask about sending a draft regardless—this is sometimes a feasible option and can be mutually beneficial.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

NEH and IMLS staff are available to travel to give outreach presentations at institutions. For NEH/IMLS budgeting purposes, it is helpful to request such a presentation well in advance. The presenters also recommended partnering with other institutions in your region to host a joint event, as having the opportunity to present to multiple/larger groups allows the program officers to justify their budget requests more successfully.

NORDP 2018 Conference Notes: From Seed to Harvest: Designing, Monitoring and Improving Internal Funding Programs

From Seed to Harvest: Designing, Monitoring and Improving Internal Funding Programs

Presenters:

  • Kathryn Partlow, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Daniel Campbell, Old Dominion University
  • David Bond, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Carl Batt, Cornell University

Thanks to our session scribe, Regina Coles, Virginia Commonwealth University!

Key points from the session. We learned: 

  • RFP design should include an Eligibility section, Purpose, Goals/Objectives, and provide clear Expectations/Reporting.
  • Include a request for feedback at each step of the process (e.g. submission, review, during the award and closeout).
  • Develop an award agreement and have key persons sign to encourage accountability.
  • Return on investment (ROI) should be tracked throughout the lifecycle and can comprise books, articles, proposals submitted, etc.
  • Require faculty to be in good standing to be eligible; delinquent reporting will make them ineligible for future internal funding.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

This really shouldn’t surprise many, but the notion that program evaluation is critical to improving and understanding the benefits of the program. Essentially, if you are not collecting feedback you cannot improve the program.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

The data that were provided were based on a survey sent out to the NORDP listserv last year. Thus this baseline data is an available resource for others that need it to support their own programs.

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

Q: What outcomes can actually be attributed to the SEED funding and which are tangential to the funding?
A: Is difficult to untangle this however if you are clear in the RFP about what the focus of the funding should be then that will help guide this.

Q: How long do you measure and track outcomes?
A: Depends on the initial focus of the program – must be specific about the goals.

Q: How do you incentivize your reporting?
A1: Create an agreement and include a reporting schedule.
A2: Send reminder emails with a report template.

Q: How many years were data collected for programs that were ultimately sunsetted/discontinued (as provided in example)?
A: About 7 years.

Q: How do you manage faculty that are already well-funded versus un-funded/early career faculty?
A: Eligibility criteria for program should be clear as to which population the funding will support.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

  • Provide FAQs if possible to help faculty/administrators.
  • Consider the submission platform – email vs. online.
  • The review process management should include setting expectations for reviewers, managing conflicts, and developing review criteria.
  • Consider targeted programs for junior faculty or postdocs/grad students.
  • Most seed programs are for funding amounts of $5K-$25K thus an emphasis should be on piloted ideas that are less polished instead of a focus on broader impacts.
  • Suggestion to incorporate a professional development plan for early career faculty in the submission.

NORDP 2018 Conference Notes: Strategies to Grow Research at a Branch Campus

Strategies to Grow Research at a Branch Campus

Presenters:

  • Sian Mooney, Arizona State University
  • Susannah Gal, Penn State Harrisburg
  • Faye Farmer, Arizona State University

Thanks to our session scribe, Kara Luckey, University of Washington, Tacoma!

Key points from the session. We learned: 

  • Working in the RD space at a “branch” campus (and similar contexts) can present challenges for the RD professional and the faculty they serve stemming from feelings of isolation, distribution of power and resources, and a lack of energy for the research enterprise.
  • To meet these challenges, the presenters suggested multi-pronged approaches in three broad areas: Culture change, enhancing visibility internally and externally, and creative allocation of existing resources.
  • Presenters from ASU West Campus and Penn State-Harrisburg suggested a number of tools to move towards a culture of active research, including: Promoting and celebrating research through regular newsletters/publications and annual recognition events; creating opportunities and a ‘safe space’ for faculty to develop collaborations and a shared sense of purpose; and one-on-one encouragement to individual PIs who are well-positioned to pursue significant funding opportunities but require a ‘push.’
  • Presenters outlined a number of mechanisms to improve internal and external visibility of faculty research, including: Using consistent talking points on and off campus to emphasize faculty work and its importance to the larger university, developing relationships with key champions and allies within the branch campus, with other branch campuses, and at the primary campus; and seek out university-wide committee appointments to bring visibility and resources to research on your campus.
  • Finally, presenters encouraged branch campuses to pursue opportunities to effectively and creatively allocate resources, including: Developing a strategic plan that can be used to make the case for the needed for resources; rigorously demonstr­ate the return-on-investment of requested resources and equipment; Maximize access to existing resources and trainings offered at the main campus, and make the case to central campus staff for why they should come to the branch campus; Encourage the use of classrooms for research, especially for faculty with high teaching loads: Offer a cohort-model to train undergraduates across branch campuses to minimize the burden on individual faculty members.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

One branch campus (ASU, West Campus) saw an impressive 8-fold increase in funding revenues after several years of targeted efforts toward cultural change led by Sian Mooney that followed many of the approaches identified in the session.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

The presenters used a helpful real-time polling tool – sli.do (or slido.com) – that allowed audience members to respond to questions posed during the presentations. This made for a more interactive panel than would have been likely for the last session of the conference.

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

An audience member asked about the sharing of DUNS numbers across campuses, and the implications for funding. The presenters agreed that the sharing of DUNS numbers has political importance – e.g. communicating that the campuses are part of *one* university – however, there are limitations that can be frustrating for faculty on branch campuses. In particular, faculty on branch campuses must compete internally for limited submissions, which can leave branch faculty members feeling that they are at a disadvantage.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

A large part of the cultural change achieved by the presenters from ASU West Campus and Penn State-Harrisburg was the result of encouraging faculty to think of themselves as active researchers. This was achieved through a good deal of cheerleading and deep support provided at the individual and collective level. As trust was (re-)built, faculty began to internalize their identity as active researchers, and – with targeted communication up the chain – administration at both the branch and main campuses began to take notice as well.

    

#NORDP2018 By the Numbers

I hope everyone who attended NORDP’s 2018 10th Annual Research Development Conference in Arlington last week had a safe and uneventful return home, and that you didn’t find your inboxes and desks too cluttered with things to attend to when you went back to work.

Just a few brief statistics about the meeting that I thought might be of interest. This year, we had:

  • 1 leadership forum
  • 1 short course
  • 4 workshops
  • 4 plenary or keynote addresses or panels
  • 16 sponsors (a record!)
  • 33 networking dinners over the first two nights of the conference, with 250 participants
  • 40 individual or panel presentations
  • 54 posters (not including NORDP’s own committee and programmatic posters)
  • 598 registrants (plus 6 on-site registrations, for a total of 604; also a record!)

If you weren’t able to attend the meeting this year, or if you’d like to re-live a little of the experience, check out the conference recap video:

(It’s also available on the NORDP homepage, in case this link doesn’t work.).

We won’t have the full picture until the Evaluation Committee submits its report to the Board of Directors (probably in September), but all of the comments I heard (or overheard in passing) were uniformly positive. (Speaking of evaluations, if you haven’t yet completed all of yours, please do so: that information is of tremendous help to the Board and the planning committee as we start the process for putting together next year’s meeting.)

Kudos to everybody who helped make this meeting as successful as it was. And a very special thanks to our two stalwart conference co-chairs, Karen Eck (Old Dominion University) and Kari Whittenberger-Keith (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). We couldn’t have done it without you!

If you’re looking for presentations or materials from sessions at the conference that you either attended or wanted to browse because you couldn’t make the session, please be patient. The conference team will be contacting the presenters to get final copies of presentation materials shortly. Once they’re available, they’ll be posted to the conference program page. If you don’t find a hyperlink next to the presentation you’re looking for, that means the materials haven’t been made available yet. Also please note that we do not post materials from the leadership forum or the workshops, as that content is only available to the participants in those sessions.

Lastly, if you missed the announcement at the conference, save the date for #NORDP2019: April 29-May 1, 2019, at the Omni in Providence, Rhode Island!

Michael Spires
NORDP President