Who said July and August were slow months? An update from NORDP President Gretchen Kiser

by Gretchen Kiser

I had wanted to dedicate some substantive time to writing my first post to you all, my valued colleagues in research development, to say something prophetic and inspiring for my first blog post.  Alas, I must tell you, at the risk of revealing too much, that my “The first month or so” blog post has now become “Who said July and August were slow months?” blog post.  This is the life of a research development professional.

I hope you will forgive this delay, especially as I tell you that your Board has not been at all idle. Here’s some of the things we’ve been working on over July and part of August:

  • On-boarding Keith Osterhage, our new Executive Director, who is an enthusiastic advocate for our goals, and has already been diving right in to help with several important tasks!
  • Working with our event planners, Designing Events, and our Executive Director to vet and select our conference venue in the DC area for 2018. We’re close to making a decision.
  • Goal-setting and planning. Board member Terri Soelberg and her university Boise State University generously hosted our Board leadership meeting at the end of August. In preparing for this meeting, I had the privilege of speaking individually with each Board member and will just say that NORDP is well-served by a diverse set of insightful and dedicated professionals.  As a means of understanding the strengths of ourselves as a Board and how to best work with each other, we utilized the StrengthsFinder tool to assess our individual professional strengths.  Not surprisingly, collectively we have a lot of strength in the tool categories of Learner, Strategic, Relator, and Achiever.

We tackled quite a few topics in our 2 days in Boise and I look forward to working together to execute our ambitious strategies to: realize our academic RD research arm (aka NORD), enhance and expand our professional development offerings, including into leadership development (LDRD), drive new sources of revenue, further engage critical partners outside of NORDP, thus expanding our sphere of influence and bringing new and valuable resources to our membership, work to implement more effective communication methods, develop a framework for regional and other affinity groups within NORDP, and define ways to help increase diversity in research development.  Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll focus a set of communications on a few of the topics that we discussed at the leadership retreat and hope to then give you all a good understanding of the direction that we’d like to take NORDP this year.

Let me start with some of the changes that we’re planning for the Effective Practices and Professional Development (EPPD) Committee.  Three very important programs have been nurtured under the EPPD umbrella: Online Professional Development, Mentoring and Pre-Conference Workshops.  As we pivot to further expand our professional development resources, we are going to pull ‘professional development’ into its own committee.  The new Program Development Committee will be focused on online as well as other professional development resources, and now including Leadership Development in Research Development (LDRD) content as well. Kari Whittenberger-Keith and Ioannis Konstantinidis will be the Board co-chairs of this committee.  The newly stand-alone Mentoring Committee will continue the fantastic work they have been doing now with Karen Fletcher serving as the Board representative for that committee.  Finally, the Pre-Conference Workshop group (still led by Kari Whittenberger-Keith) will slide over to sit under the Conference Committee, headed this year by Michael Spires.

I’m so excited about working together to meet the challenges and potentials for NORDP over the next year –  setting-up NORDP for organizational success and providing our membership with valuable resources for career development and doing their jobs more effectively.

Peggy Sundermeyer is the 2016 Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski Service Award Winner

NORDP_BOD.2015
Peggy Sundermeyer, Trinity University,  is seen here wearing a red blazer along with current and past members of the Board of Directors. Photo taken during the annual leadership meeting (August 2015) in Boulder, CO.

NORDP’s Service Award was established in 2011 and named for our organization’s founding President, Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, Ph.D., who was the first recipient.  The award, voted on by the Board of Directors, is given annually to a NORDP Member in recognition of outstanding service to the organization and to the Research Development profession.  The honor is recognized with a commemorative plaque and waived registration fee for a future NORDP Research Development Conference.

Peggy Sundermeyer is a Founding Member of the Board of Directors (2010-2016) and has served as NORDP’s Treasurer (2011-2016). Her careful stewardship and management of our organization’s funds is one of the reasons NORDP was able to hire its first Executive Director in 2016. She routinely makes innovative suggestions to manage our finances more effectively and efficiently. Her colleagues acknowledge her helpfulness, kindness, and eagerness to “step up” when something needs doing and an unrivaled source of information about NORDP’s history, traditions, policies, and procedures. Above all, she is a superb connector and an extraordinary advocate for the best practices of research development. There are scores of new NORDP members who have joined our organization and are actively volunteering based on her inspiring leadership. In addition to serving as a member of the Executive Committee, Peggy has served on the following committees: Revenue & Finance, Executive Conference, Conference Planning, and Scholarships & Awards.

Previously Peggy previously served the University of Minnesota in the Office of the Vice President for Research (1999-2014) as the Executive Director of Research Advancement (2006-2014) and as Coordinator of Professional Development (1996-2006) . She is regarded as the type of colleague everyone wishes for. She is highly skilled in a variety of areas, committed to the development of collaboration and consensus, and dedicated to equity in all endeavors.

 

NORDP’s Rising Stars

Introducing the 2016 Rising Star Awardees

In 2016 the Board of Directors established the Rising Star Award to recognize up to three members that have made outstanding contributions to our organization and members. We are honored to share with you the 2016 Rising Star Award recipients.

2016-rising_star-gardnerJennifer Lyon Gardner, University of Texas at Austin

Jennifer Lyon Gardner is a true rising star of research development, dedicated to our emerging profession both at her own institution and to NORDP. Her work on NORDP’s annual conference has inspired us all: she is thoughtful, proactive, pragmatic, and strategic. She truly represents the future of NORDP.


2016-rising_star-mcdermott-murphyCaitlin McDermott-Murphy, Harvard University

Through her important and impactful RD work Caitlin McDermott-Murphy has become an integral part of her team at Harvard University, a valued member of our regional group, NORDP Northeast, and a strong proponent of and ambassador for NORDP National.


2016-rising_star-whittenberger-keithKari Whittenberger-Keith, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Kari Whittenberger-Keith has been a capable and reliable volunteer that strongly believes in the mission and vision of NORDP and has proved repeatedly her willingness to serve the membership in new and innovative ways. Her commitment to our members is laudable and demonstrated by the excellence of effective practices in research development programming.


Eligibility for this award includes at least three years of experience in the profession, two years of NORDP membership, and significant volunteer contributions to NORDP. Recipients receive a custom-engraved plaque and waived registration fee for a future conference. Nominations must be submitted to the Conference Scholarships & Service Awards Committee by the last day of February each year or by email to  rdconf@nordp.org. All nomination materials remain in consideration for a period of up to three years from the date of submission and supplemental materials may be submitted each year. (Current and past members of the Board of Directors are ineligible for this award.)

Welcome to the new face of NORDP News

Welcome to NORDP News! The NORDP Blog is a little over a year old now, and we thought it was time for a better way to interact with NORDP. We’re renaming the blog–henceforth it will bear the title of our old newsletter, the NORDP News. (Look for an archive of those soon). Be sure to subscribe for the latest updates on our eighth annual Research Development Conference, our search for an executive director, the thoughts and activities of our members and board members, and more. And participate by commenting!

 

NORDP goes to SRA

By Gretchen Kiser

Last month, Oct.17-21, NORDP members presented a poster at the SRA International conference in Las Vegas. Terri Solberg, Lorraine Mulfinger, Ann McGuigan, and I authored the poster, covering the highlights from our recent analysis of the NORDP 2015 annual salary survey (members-only detailed information can be found here). The poster also presented some basics of research development (RD) and the RD professional, as well as NORDP as an organization. Lorraine and I were both in attendance, and we can tell you that the poster received much interest.  Many of the SRA attendees that visited the poster were RD professionals and just didn’t know it; they appreciated knowing there was an organization of like peers and were interested in learning more. Everyone who visited the poster was very interested in the salary information and found the potential of a salary calculator tool very helpful.  We had 80 take-away poster handouts and every one of them was distributed!

Notably, there was also a poster and associated presentation from Jennifer Sambrook et al. that described a meta-analysis of research administrator (RA) survey data across time (including data from a 1968 SRA survey). They described several interesting trends within the ranks of research administrators: RAs have gone from being primarily male in 1968 to predominantly female in 2015, the average age of an RA is increasing, the number of RAs with a Master’s degree in on the upward trend, and salaries in the last five years have not changed much and sit around 40% with a median salary between $50K and $75K (with another 25% between $75K and $100K). Interestingly, the NORDP salary survey showed that the majority of RD professionals’ salaries are similarly distributed, even though the highest degree earned is significantly higher – 37% of RAs are Bachelor degree holders vs. 9% of RD professionals; 46% of RAs are Masters degree holders vs. ~52% of RD professionals; and 9% of RAs are Doctoral degree holders vs. 37% of RD professionals.  Hmm…

Leadership development in research development: It’s based on data

By Alicia Knoedler

Our last NORDP Blog entry featured the newest members of the NORDP Board of Directors. Within that entry, it was mentioned that Board members will be providing regular updates to the NORDP membership. Each Board member has the opportunity to feature some ideas, give updates on committee work, and encourage NORDP members to become involved in the great work of this organization.

NORDP provides a tremendous network of colleagues and a wealth of opportunities to develop professionally. In a later blog entry, I will be sharing some ideas regarding leadership development within the context of research development. But before I get there, I would like to ask you to think about a few topics – think about them in the context of your own position at your institution or organization, the environment at your institution or organization, and your career goals and aspirations.

I am going to start with my favorite topic – DATA! At the recent Board retreat, a few of our discussions were aided by past and current data, and we all agree on the importance of accurate data when it comes to the NORDP membership, the exchange of frequent and current information – for example from Liaison and Committee reports, and the possibility that data might open our eyes to new ideas, trends, and needs.

The Membership Metrics Subcommittee, for example, recently completed the 2015 NORDP Salary Survey (you need to be a NORDP member to be able to see this page). These are great data to have, and beyond the figures provided in the report, the Subcommittee produced a great summary of findings that could be very helpful to the membership.

Keeping track of membership information is an important task within the Membership Services Committee and they rely on accurate information collected with you sign up to become a member or renew your membership. As we near the end of September, 2015, we have just over 600 members. We average about 15 new memberships per month and approximately 40 members renew each month. We now have NORDP Regional Representatives across various regions who are organizing discussions, listservs, and meetings. These representatives rely on accurate membership data to determine who is in their region. When the regions became more well-defined, we modified the classification of “Regions” in the membership profile system. Currently, 64% of the NORDP membership has accurate Regional classifications as part of their profiles. We would really appreciate your help in updating this information as well as other information in your profiles, such as your Institution/Organization Type, Institutional Consortia Membership (if you don’t know, ask around), and your Annual Sponsored Research Awards. All of these categories are important for various analyses and in helping us to determine target groups and programming needs. Please take a moment to log in to the Member Center (go to Member Center and then select “My Profile”) and make sure your profile is up to date.

At the retreat, the NORDP Board also discussed positions for the Board that will be open for the next election. We will have a forthcoming update on that topic soon.  We use the membership profile data to consider encouraging individuals from various regions, or institution sizes, or other demographic and institutional/organizational characteristics to consider running for election sot that the NORDP Board is representative of its membership and benefits from diverse perspectives and experiences.

I would like to end this update with a few questions that relate to my next blog update – Your institution/organization may have just one NORDP member or as many as 15 (University of Tennessee, Knoxville!) members. Would others at your institution/organization be interested in professional development offerings provided through NORDP? How many more? Could this include faculty? Associate Deans for Research? Department chairs/heads? Others? Fell free to add comments in answer to these questions but stay tuned for a future blog on the topic of reaching a broad audience through professional development.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Innovations in Research

By Lucy Deckard
Presenters: This session was presented by Margaret Hilton (National Research Council), James Gentile (Hope College) and Kara Hall (National Cancer Institute and member of National Research Council ) Margaret Hilton gave an overview:  This session discussed a series of reports related to Innovations in Scientific Research (specifically, interdisciplinary and team science), the latest of which came out in late April, 2015.

  • “Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research” (2005)
  • “Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Beyond” National Research Council (2014)
  • “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science” National Research Council (2015)

The first report defined “interdisciplinary” vs. “transdisciplinary” (transcends disciplinary boundaries). In theory, an individual can conduct these kinds of research by him/herself, but in reality that rarely happens. This is where you get to the realm of Team Science – science conducted interdependently by more than one person.

These reports came up with some common recommendations for changes needed to promote and accommodate these new ways of doing scientific research:

  • Revise promotion and tenure policies
  • Expand funding mechanisms and review criteria
  • Conduct research/evaluation to understand and guide improved interdisciplinarity and convergence in science

James Gentile spoke about ”convergence”:

Scientific research is becoming more problem-centered. Mother Nature is winning, and she has no departmental structural constraints. In order to solve complex questions in science we need true innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition, tools in science are exploding, bringing disciplines together.

The grand challenges that we want to converge about include:

  • Green energy
  • Chemistry and physics of living systems
  • Synthetic capacity of live
  • -omics to uncover new approaches to disease
  • Others were also listed.

The Research Corp, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and others: Science Coalition coming together and made a context map   Addressing these problems means we have to go through a web that includes law, policy, economics, as well as virology .

So in the future we will have to learn how to converge. For example, brain mapping requires a lot of different types of expertise. In interdisciplinary research, it’s usually altruistic. A researcher takes a sample to a colleague in chemistry and asks if she’ll run it on her machine. She does this as a favor. In contrast, when we converge, I get my question answered but that answer presents a new question for the colleague in chemistry. In this case, everyone is growing. They coined a new term: “Scialog,” from science and dialog.

The Research Corporation for Science Advancement brought together researchers to consider a national priority: energy from photosynthesis (in essence, can we build an artificial tree based on nanotechnology). They invited researchers to form teams, but before they pitched the science, the Research Corporation just wanted to hear the justification for the team composition. They ended up funding a group that created bio-inspired silicon photovoltaics. Convergence also works in education. He gave the example of having students design robotic “cockroaches”. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JysIA-4fcA4 and NRC, 2014.

Kara Hall talked in more detail about the recently released report, “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science”:

The committee looked at factors that impacted effectiveness of science teams:

  • Individual factors
  • Factors at team/center/institute level (organizational factors)
  • Management approaches and leadership styles
  • How tenure and promotion are affected
  • etc.

The team included people with a broad range of backgrounds, including psychologists, biologists, social scientists, etc. They used several measures to evaluate effectiveness, including which research is cited more and which yielded more patents. They found that research done in teams is cited more, yields more patents, and demonstrates high levels of innovation.

They defined the following terms:

Team science – collaborative, interdependent research conducted by more than one individual

Science team – 2 – 10 individuals

Larger group – more than 10 (teams of teams)

Team effectiveness – a team’s capacity to perform

Key features that cause more challenges for team science are large membership diversity, the need to effect deep knowledge integration, (sometimes) large size, goal misalignment, permeable boundaries for teams (meaning members may move in and out as the research evolves), geographic dispersion, and high task interdependence. The concluded that there is already a strong body of research on team processes as they relate to  effectiveness, but most of that research was done on teams such as business teams (not science research teams), so we need to bring that literature into the context of science.

They identified three main areas where interventions could enhance effectiveness: team composition, team professional development, and team leadership. Kara summarized several recommendations based on current research in each of these areas.

Composing your team: Consider using task analytic methods to identify needed knowledge, skills and attitudes. These methods can be used to match task-related diversity among team or group members.  Also, consider moving outside your usual network – for example by leveraging networking tools.

Team Professional Development: Team professional development models prevalent in business could be applied to science. The committee recommended that we look at these models to see what’s out there and develop them so that they are relevant to science teams. When dealing with diverse teams and trying develop shared knowledge, it’s very important to devote time to developing a shared vocabulary. This may seem like it takes a lot of time, but in the end it will be worth it.

Leadership: The committee noted that there is already fifty years of research on teams and organizational leadership, so we should take advantage of this robust foundation and adapt it for leaders of science teams and larger groups.

The team also recommended that, in order to address the challenges of geographic dispersion, we conduct research on virtual collaboration and geographically dispersed science teams. They also recommended that dispersed teams consider task assignments within semi-independent units at each location to reduce the burden of constant electronic communication.

The team also concluded that while universities have launched new efforts to promote interdisciplinary team science (e.g., getting rid of departments), the impact of these initiatives on the amount and quality of team science has not be systematically evaluated. It may not be that the main hurdles are not actually disciplinary structures but may instead be factors such as promotion and tenure (P/T) criteria.

This points out the importance of aligning reward structures with encouraging team science. Many university P/T review policies are uncreative  and don’t give credit for team-based research. One model might be big physics, where research has long been done in very large teams. They allow researchers to get credit for pre-publications (e.g., software, databases, etc.), not just first-authored publications.

Funding agencies also need to play a role in encouraging a culture change in the scientific community. The report recommends that funders encourage development and implementation of new collaborative models (e.g., research networks, consortia). They also need to support the development of resources that support team science (e.g., info repositories, training modules, ensuring data is available for mining). We also need more targeted research about team science, but few funding programs support this research.

She also recommended that folks attend the SciTS (science of team science) 2015 conference in June 2 -5, 2015 in Bethesda, MD.

Questions and Answers:

Question: Are more diverse teams more difficult to manage?

  • Faculty are a non-pack-oriented group – leadership and administrative oversight can be difficult
  • Teams should start out small – then they can grow as they demonstrate success
  • In the team science report there was lots of discussion around diversity – we will see evolving culture shifts – more emphasis in education. A new Chief of Science Workforce Diversity at NIH was just named. As get used to more diversity, it will get easier.
  • There will be a meeting targeting provosts and deans by the National Academy highlighted their role in addressing some of these team science issues (e.g., authorship is an example  if diff disciplines have different authorship criteria)

Question:  Are there recommended strategies for forming teams?

  • When you have a team that has worked together and then bring in some new people, that often works best. If you’ve been working together too long, you can lose your innovative edge. Sometimes concatenating two teams also works.
  • When there’s too much competition among teams, it degrades the teams’ ability to work with one another, which may be needed in the future. One way to address this is to develop large networks and initiatives that include multiple centers to foster collaboration.
  • NIH is offering the opportunity to bring together scientists to think about a problem space – not a commitment. That way, teams can form and when there is an application, it’s more sophisticated
  • Another strategy is to form a team around teaching – if they can work together around teaching, a lot of research can come out of that, and it’s a way for the members to get used to working with one another (for example, developing innovative interdisciplinary non-major courses)

Question: Can core facilities help bring teams together?

  • You have to find a way to stimulate conversation. Some core facilities work better than others to stimulate interdisciplinary collaborations. The  core needs to understand that this is one of their roles.
  • Sometimes the core is competing with the people they are supposed to be supporting – they need to get rewarded for bringing people together.

The presenters thanked their sponsors: NSF and Elsevier