New Dispatch from 20 North Wacker: Research Development as a Field

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know what research development professionals do: organize faculty and other researchers, help find funding for them, translate federal-agency speak, serve as the ‘glue’ for research proposal development teams, assess institutional strengths, mentor young faculty as they learn to write grants…But have you ever stopped to wonder what research development IS? NORDP President David Stone makes the case for research development as an emerging intellectual discipline–and what that means for us as professionals in the field. Read more in his latest Dispatch from 20 North Wacker. This essay is special content for members only. Intrigued? Join NORDP today!

NORDP Webinar: Meeting with Federal Officials to Achieve Research Development Goals

NORDP members: join us for a new webinar, Meeting with Federal Officials to Achieve Research Development Goals

Presenter:   David Trinkle, Ph.D.
Director, Berkeley Research Development Office
University of California, Berkeley
Date:          Thursday, January 29, 2015
Time:          2:00-3:00 p.m. EST
This webinar provides insights and tools for interacting with federal officials. Topics will include why, how, and when you might consider talking to agency appointees and program managers, Members of Congress and their staff, or White House officials. Dr. Trinkle will discuss how to think about bringing campus administration officials and faculty with you, as well as how to work with your government relations colleagues. Finally, he will provide some insights on how to prepare for the visits, and how to conduct them. It’s at no cost to NORDP members. Not a member? Join now!

David Trinkle is the Director of the Berkeley Research Development Office, where he coordinates an experienced staff of research development professionals. Drawing on nearly 20 years of experience with federal research agencies and 7 years with UC Berkeley, David also advises the Vice Chancellor for Research, deans, and faculty on federal funding opportunities and strategy. While at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) from 2000 to 2007, he was responsible for budget development and related policy issues for NSF and other federal research agencies. He monitors federal research funding and policy issues and maintains contacts in key research agencies and White House offices. He is also a member of the National Science Foundation’s Business and Operations Advisory Committee. David has a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis and degrees in Electrical Engineering and Systems Engineering. To register for this webinar, please click here

If you have any questions, please contact:

Ioannis Konstantinidis, OPD Lead


Welcoming new members – and how you can help

As part of a new initiative to welcome new members to NORDP and promote networking and collaboration among new and old NORDP members, the Membership Committee is setting up a process whereby a regional representative will contact new members shortly after they join to welcome them to NORDP, answer any of their questions about the organization, and encourage them to attend the annual conference. Representatives can also encourage new members to fill out a full website profile and familiarize them with the available website resources (job notices, lists of program evaluators/consultants, NORDP numbers survey). These representatives will act as ambassadors at the NORDP annual meeting to help new members meet others and connect with the organization more broadly.  As such, NORDP is asking for volunteers for four of the remaining open regions (see below).  Please Ann McGuigan, Committee Chairperson, at if you are interested in serving as a regional representative or if you have questions about this initiative.. And if you are in a region that currently has a Regional Liaison and would like to assist in these activities, please contact the Regional Liaison for your region: they will definitely welcome your help!

Region I (Northeast)  – Regional Representative: Peg Atkisson, Grant Writers Seminars and Workshops,

Domestic: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont. International: Quebec, Ontario.

Region II (Atlantic) – Open

Domestic: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, D.C., Virginia. International: Europe, Africa, Western Russia, China and countries west & south of China.

Region III (Southeast) – Regional Representative: Barb Duncan, University of Kentucky

Domestic: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands, West Virginia.  International: South America.

Region IV (Great Lakes) – Regional Representative:  Jennifer Woods, University of Chicago

Domestic. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin. International: Mexico, Manitoba.

Region V (Midwest/Mountain) – Open 

Domestic: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Utah. International: Alberta, Saskatchewan.

Region VI (Southwestern) – Open

Domestic: Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas.

Region VII (Pacific) – Open

Domestic. Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington. International: British Columbia, Eastern Russia, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries east of China.


Notes from the 2014 NORDP Conference: Strategies for Increasing the Competitiveness of Team Science and Center Grants

PRESENTERS:      Christine Black, University of Michigan, Jeff Horon, Elsevier

Center grants are a GIANT undertaking, and institutions may or may not have a department devoted to supporting these efforts. Below are a few low- budget tools that can research development staff can make available to faculty to support their efforts with Center grants.

  • Having someone to write the administrative cores and/or stock language about the cores that can be re-purposed.
  • Providing a reference list of freelance editors that can be hired
  • Providing a library of successful proposals that faculty can review and learn from
  • Matchmaking/Speed-dating meetings that allow people within the research community to learn about others and what research they are doing

–Notes by Anita Mills

Thank you, Anita!

NORDP 2014 Conference Notes: Presidents’ Chat

Panelists:  Alicia Knoedler, NORDP President; David Stone, NORDP President Elect; Ann McGuigan, NORDP Immediate Past President

This conference session was guided by audience questions and comments, resulting in a lively and wide-ranging session.

Regional NORDP groups: 

An audience member asked about regional NORDP groups and the presenters noted the NORDP NE group. All agreed that regional groups can be useful but volunteers are needed to run the groups and meetings can be difficult even within a compact region. The presenters suggested looking at NCURA’s regional structure. Ann noted that, as someone who has recently moved, she can see the value in regional groups.

EPPD coordinates the NORDP mentoring program, which may consider regional ties as requested by participants.  It might also be useful to provide a model for using NORDP membership lists for new members, i.e. people new to NORDP visit and review the membership list, then contact people.

The recent email traffic about bylaws and membership

Alicia noted that adoption of Bylaws does not require membership feedback. Nevertheless, the Board is developing a mechanism to allow members’ comments on policies and procedures. On the question of the difference between membership for individual consultants versus individuals working for larger consulting firms, the Board has adopted the ACA definition for the right cut-off between small and large firms. For-profit organizations with 25 or more employees will be affiliates. Firms with 25 or fewer employees will be a regular member. On the question of other models, such as one from NCURA, David and Ann said the Board was looking for a national standard and a more inclusive definition.

Professional development

Following from the general session on research development and future research leaders, discussion moved to the topic of professional development in RD.  For example, Notre Dame has a ‘Professional Specialists’ category for individuals not on the tenure track, while an audience member noted that at UW-Milwaukee, indefinite status (a kind of academic staff equivalent of tenure) may be attached to some positions. With regard to professional development for non-faculty administrative positions, Alicia noted that the institutional culture matters. Ann noted that RD professionals interact with many other groups and people, e.g., federal relations, communications, etc., which may provide other paths to professional development and career trajectories. There are also research development career opportunities outside of the academy; rather than working only in the ivory tower, it’s possible to engage with agencies that engage with the ivory tower. Panel members suggested that, as a profession, we think broadly about RD and how to engage, promote, and facilitate it.

They also discussed the importance of educating the broader research community about RD; members should work to write for publication, participate in conferences, and utilize open source venues, etc., to establish NORDP’s role.  NORDP could provide the structure for open-source publication and outreach. One example was given of a former VPR who is now VP for Economic Development; this change points to development of a new pillar at universities to engage industry, thus helping to connect research and economic activities. Industries often lack understanding of federal agencies and universities.

The conversation moved to evaluation of RD offices. NORDP recently did an evaluation of the UC Merced RD office. As a new institution, Merced wanted a review of their program. A staff member was hired in 2008 and the review happened in 2010. Two NORDP members conducted the evaluation, meeting with the VPR, deans, heads of research institutes, faculty, and the president. NCURA also did a review of the sponsored projects office.  The reports of both evaluation reports were made public. Although the reviews were different, they were complementary, outlining a clear path for growth of the offices. In the case of the RD office, staff has been increased from two to six.  In addition, based on the UC system analysis of research activity, UC-Merced showed a 57.5% increase from last fiscal year, which the director attributed in part of the peer review process. She concluded that having a peer review of the campus RD is valuable to the overall professional development of the office and the campus.

Another topic focused on what can we do to increase industry engagement. One suggestion was to work more closely with CFR and Technology Transfer staff. CFR staff do not necessarily discuss how to engage with industry and Technology Transfer may not think as broadly about RD; each also has different cultures.  It can be very informative to work with them.

Other suggestions for improving professional development processes included:

  • Adding elements to the membership survey, gathering information about individuals’ past experience and expertise in non-profit, for profit, and government sectors and explore ways to leverage the vast range of experience we know exists in our membership.
  • Develop career tracks/paths to help members envision ways to move through their careers.
  • Develop some kind of mechanism for taking stock of the expertise we have and articulating what we can do.

Overall, the point of the job is not to be boxed in and restricted.  Part of developing as a profession is explaining what RD is not is as important as explaining what it is. Looking at how other professions have developed over time, for example HR over the last 25+ years, may help us imagine development of both the field and individuals.

A related question was then raised: How do we recruit people to the RD field? One audience member mentioned her experience as a post-doc in RD; panelists suggested she write an article about that experience. Some universities do have similar post-docs; it was suggested that we try to identify where these exist, and how they are structured.  This could then be presented as part of next year’s conference, as one model for RD career development.  It was also suggested that stronger career and professional development sessions could be incorporated into the annual conferences.

Another focus was on refinement of mentoring in RD.  In addition to the traditional mentoring model, suggestions were for more across sector mentoring, such as academia and government.  The mentoring program also needs more volunteers to fulfill the requests made each year and the idea of mentoring may need to be broadened from the model of expert and novice to one of interaction of equals who bring new perspectives and “fresh eyes” to issues and situations. It may make sense to rename the mentoring program to reinforce this idea; the term may actually limit membership participation, particularly if members think they need to have extensive formal RD work experience.

Notes by Kari E Whittenberger-Keith.

Thank you, Kari!

NORDP Northeast Regional Group: A Report on Our Progress, Activities, and Plans

By Caitlin McDermott-Murphy (NE Secretary; Harvard University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences) with contributions by Kathy Cataneo (NE Chair; University of New Hampshire) (corrected to reflect actual authorship)

NORDP NE 2014In In the Fall 2013 NORDP newsletter, the NORDP Northeast (NE) regional group published an article on the history and impact of our small and relatively new faction. We briefly delved into the value our participants receive: rich presentations and problem-solving in our bi-annual conferences; relationships and collaborations that extend beyond the borders of our meetings; and open exchange of tools, ideas, and business cards. In this latest article, we share our progress over the past year, including a debrief of our most recent – and largest! – conference to date.

To cater to our diverse member needs and develop a robust program, we solicited ideas for our anticipated July 2014 NORDP NE conference agenda via several avenues. First, those New England-based RD professionals who attended the May 2014 NORDP Conference in Portland, OR participated in a breakfast brainstorming session. Our NORDP NE advisory committee members—Anne Windham, Kathy Cataneo, and Susan Gomes—facilitated the session while NORDP NE communications coordinator Caitlin McDermott-Murphy organized and synthesized the session output. Second, in order to include input from those unable to attend the National conference, we disseminated this information to our NORDP NE July conference planning committee. We expect to continue to seek input for future conferences through a similar variety of methods in order to best serve our diverse constituents.

Our July 2014 Northeast Regional Conference

In July, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) at Durham and current chair, Kathy Cataneo (UNH Director of Research Development & Communications) hosted our Summer NORDP NE conference. The conference theme was “Inter- and Intra-Institutional Collaboration,” a theme not just evident in our session topics and activities but in our attendees as well. We welcomed ­­­fifty-five participants—our highest attendance since the founding of NORDP NE three years ago. This number included attendees from states previously unrepresented and, in fact, Research Development professionals arrived from every New England state, a first for our burgeoning group. In addition, we welcomed special guest Karin Scarpinato from Georgia Southern University. Karin is launching a regional group, analogous to NORDP NE, to serve RD professionals at institutions in the Southeast. With this goal in mind, she requested to attend and observe our July conference to gain insight, ask questions, and share her own ideas and impressions. We look forward to learning about the Southeast region’s progress and to share tips and pitfalls as both our groups grow.

The format of the NORDP NE July conference mirrored that of the NORDP Annual Conference.  After Anne Windham (NORDP Board Member and founding NORDP NE chair) and Kathy Cataneo (current NORDP NE chair) welcomed attendees, keynote speaker Dr. Jan Nisbet, UNH Senior Vice-Provost for Research, spoke on the topic, “From Center Director to SVPR: How my journey informed research development at UNH.” Dr. Nisbet’s speech was followed by NORDP NE member-led concurrent sessions on member-driven topics. These included:

  • Communicating Funding Opportunities to Faculty
  • Balancing Sole-Investigator Proposals with Multi-Investigator Proposals
  • Strategic Deployment of University Resources
  • Managing the Proposal Development Process for Multi-Investigator Proposals
  • Building Teams Around Programmatic Proposals
  • Creating Center Proposals
  • Evaluation Planning

More often than not, session co-presenters hailed from separate institutions, resulting in rich debates with alternate perspectives, experiences, tools, and methods, as well as new cross-institutional partnerships.


In addition to concurrent sessions, the NORDP NE July conference included two new activities. To kick things off, each institution offered 2 to 4 current institutional research strengths (or “pillars”) as well as 2 to 4 aspirations (See image 1). As attendees settled in, networked and enjoyed the lavish breakfast spread, they also took a moment to paste their institution’s name beneath different research areas written across one wall, signifying that area as an institutional “pillar” or “aspiration.” This shared resource will encourage and assist institutions to seek new collaborations and partnerships across our region.

The second new activity occurred over lunch: each roundtable featured a representative from those offices that collaborate with UNH RD staff most frequently. UNH provided the hosts, who hailed from: Research Administration; Commercialization, Technology Transfer, and Innovation; Cyberinfrastructure; Corporate and Foundation Relations; Graduate School and Graduate Student Support; Government Relations; Broader Impacts, Engagement, and Cooperative Extension; and Communications For and About Research. These “Themed Roundtables” provided an opportunity to ask questions about the scope of these offices, where Research Development might intersect, and how to develop partnerships to add value to what we individually and collectively offer our faculty.

Our National Institutes of Health (NIH) Webinar

Moving forward, NORDP NE will look for opportunities to extend our regional collaboration even further. With Federal budgets tightened—and tightening—program officers receive less travel funding at a time when our faculty arguably need their close guidance and influence more than ever. As such, RD offices—and the faculty we serve—benefit from organized collaborative events that serve not just one institution but an entire region. Our region has, for example, benefited from such an event. This past September, UNH organized a webinar on the “Fundamentals of the NIH and the NIH Grants Process”, featuring Megan Columbus, Director of the Office of Communications and Outreach in the NIH Office of Extramural Research. UNH advertised the webinar to its NORDP NE partners and, as a result, recorded over 275 faculty, postdoctoral, graduate student and staff participants across New England (with a few in Canada, New York, and Texas no less). This proved to be a “win-win” for NIH and NORDP NE institutions. We plan to seek additional opportunities to share such resources and to leverage our regional numbers to entice program officers to visit and interact with our researchers. There is power in numbers!

Online Professional Development Work Group Wants You!

A request from NORDP’s Effective Practices and Professional Development Committee

Whether you are a seasoned professional or new to the field, the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) offers a variety of ways to continue your professional development. The annual conference, lively discussions on the listserv, and the sharing of resources enable us to grow as professionals in the field as well as form a strong community. This academic year, NORDP’s Effective Practices and Professional Development (EPPD) Committee will bring you a selection of webinars designed to keep you at the top of your game.

Through the efforts of the Online Professional Development (OPD) working group of the EPPD, NORDP is building a robust library of webinars covering a variety of topics important to research development. By selecting the “Member Center” tab on the left-hand navigation bar of the NORDP website and then clicking “NORDP Professional Development,” you will find all previous webinars as well as information on our upcoming offerings. The webinars cover current topics (e.g., crowdfunding), process topics (e.g., growing your research development unit), and tips for some of the more challenging aspects of our jobs (e.g., strategies for supporting junior faculty).

The ODP’s goal is to produce six webinars over the coming year. We strive to provide topics that will appeal to the wide variety of NORDP members. With such a diverse membership, this is not always easy. Our members represent small, medium, and large institutions with ranging research budgets and strategic plans. Our experience in the field ranges from less than one to more than 25 years, and we can be a one-person shop or part of a large team. As such, finding webinar topics to meet the needs of the entire membership can be challenging, and we would appreciate your ideas and participation!

The EPPD, and especially the OPD, is a particularly active committee within NORDP, and we are always looking for more members. We have a succinct and well-developed operating manual for our activities, so jumping in is easy! Some ways you can get involved include:

  • Identifying potential webinar topics. If you go the extra mile and can find an appropriate (and willing) presenter, even better!
  • Volunteering to facilitate a webinar, which includes working with the presenter and the OPD leadership to arrange, advertise, and conduct the webinar.
  • Suggesting new ways our committee can meet the needs of NORDP members.

Your input into the OPD’s efforts is vital to ensuring the webinars meet the needs of the NORDP membership. Please consider getting involved in the EPPD!

NORDP 2014 Conference Notes: Small Investments, Big Impact

This session focused on Boise State University as a case study of an institution striving to move from teaching intensive to a research mission. They had started as a Junior College in 1932 and became a university in 1974, with 3 Masters Programs. In 2003, they hired a new president, Bob Kustra, who implemented a vision in 2005 to become a “Metropolitan Research University of Distinction.”  At that time, they had 65 Masters programs and 2 PhD programs.  In 2012, they developed a Strategic Plan to gain distinction as a research university and now have 10 PhD programs.

Initially, the central Division of Research had a very high-level view that faculty should just be submitting more proposals. The message was, “C’mon faculty!” and not surprisingly, this did not go over well with faculty. They then decided to look at institutional barriers to faculty engagement in securing external funding for their research. One helpful document is National Research Council’s Partnerships for Emerging Research Institutions Report of a Workshop, published in 2009. They identified several barriers to universities trying to make a similar transition: 1) there was insufficient reward for faculty who pursued research; 2) the teaching load is so high, it’s hard for faculty to find time to do research and pursue funding; and 3) there is limited administrative support for research and for pursuing research funding within these institutions. In order to become a successful research institution, they decided to address these barriers.

Faculty in the College of Health Science at Boise State came from a rich history as master educators, not researchers. Therefore, the absence of pilot work and publication history among faculty left them in a less competitive position for external funding proposals, and they needed a safe space to ask for help. In addition, new faculty hires were getting conflicting messages: department heads were focused on meeting the department’s teaching needs, but higher level administrators had research expectations for these faculty. Furthermore, without help, faculty who did submit grants were not generally successful, so they became discouraged.

Two tandem strategic initiatives were instituted at Boise State University to address identified barriers. The College of Health Sciences established an embedded research development office while a research development initiative was added to the central Office of Sponsored Programs. For each of these offices working individually, changing the culture would have been too heavy a lift, but they found that they could do much more together than separately, so they started working together. The advantage of this strategy was that Terri, working at the college level, understood the faculty member’s perspective and could get to know the faculty individually, while Kim, working at the institutional level, knew about higher level initiatives before they were rolled out and could promote higher level connections and strategic partnerships, for example, through senior administrators to the national labs and state agencies. This allowed strategic positioning at the institutional level while also helping to develop and assist faculty so that they could be competitive for funding.

Terri and Kim presented a matrix of activities they pursued to support organizational and culture change across three levels: 1) personal, 2) peer-to-peer, and 3) organizational/infrastructure. The matrix had two columns according to which office took on the main responsibility for spearheading the activity, the College-level Research Office or the Office of Sponsored Programs.  Examples are research trajectory planning (personal/College-level Research Office), networking events (peer-to-peer, OSP), and implementing faculty incentives to reward research (organizational/ OSP).  (Please see their slides for the full matrix.) They then discussed which of these activities worked well, which didn’t, and lessons learned.

Example activities that worked well:

  • Implemented faculty incentive pay program: Working with Department Heads, faculty who won grants could recover some of the salary savings generated from buying out their time to receive incentive payments.
  • Faculty mentoring: Seasoned faculty meet with junior faculty to discuss specific topics, for example, how to work with DOE.
  • Strategic Research Development Initiative: Institutional research development program, but not a seed grant program (which hadn’t really yielded external funding). This provided small levels of targeted investments to fund specific needs identified as bottlenecks or capacity limiters; for example the need for a particular piece of equipment to get preliminary data. Follow-up is important.
  • Individual assistance with research design: This helped faculty get to the point where they could be competitive.
  • Built up post-award infrastructure: This was a huge pain point. Post-award used to be part of Finance and Administration which resulted in disconnects between pre- and post-award management of sponsored programs. Faculty who did win awards became frustrated with administrative inefficiencies, which then became a disincentive for pursuing additional funding.   To improve the post-award infrastructure, the Division of Research absorbed the post-award administration function into the Office of Sponsored Programs. This restructure ensured consistency and continuity of service and put OSP in a stronger position to advocate for support of faculty research administration needs institutionally.

Some other things didn’t work well, and an important lesson learned is to evaluate these activities early and don’t be afraid to pull the plug if they aren’t working. Some examples they mentioned:

  • Faculty writing group: This was implemented at the request of the faculty, but after the first few meetings attrition became a problem. Terri quickly decided that there was not enough return on her investment of time, so she stopped this activity.
  • Internal peer review process: It turned out that faculty reviewers were either too gentle in their reviews because they knew the PI well and perhaps feared being identified, or they were too harsh, which wasn’t helpful to the PI.
  • Newsletter: Wasn’t being read.
  • Formal networking events: Faculty did not respond to these even though they were good about gathering at a local watering hole for social interaction. It probably didn’t help that there was no alcohol.

Lessons Learned and Successful Strategies

  • Don’t try “pushing a rope.” Top-down proposals with no faculty leadership are destined for failure. When upper administrators push these projects, it’s helpful to explain to them that a poorly developed proposal without faculty buy-in will hurt the institution’s reputation among reviewers and program officers. It’s a question of not being ready yet, not just passing up an opportunity.  The institution may be in a better position to compete in the next round. This explanation usually resonates with institutional leadership.
  • Don’t try to be all things to all people. Initially, Kim met with all departments and offered help to all comers. She tried to convince people who weren’t interested to submit. As a result she quickly became overwhelmed. She learned that it is better to focus on strengths in the institution, and this works better at the college and department level where it’s possible to get to know the faculty and their research better.
  • Establish your research development infrastructure early.  Don’t wait for successes and increased research activity to develop this infrastructure. At the college level, even just a 1 or 1.5 FTE commitment can make a big difference.
  • Educate up.  Because the institution is evolving, it is important to help the upper administrators, deans, etc. understand institutional barriers, the need for infrastructure, and research development strategies.
  • Don’t expect immediate results. The College of Health Sciences made a strategic decision to pull back from submitting a lot of proposals until they could be competitive. Terri and her colleague worked with a cohort of faculty over two years to help them get publications, do pilot studies, etc. so that they could be competitive for grants rather than encouraging them to submit when they weren’t in a competitive position yet. As a result, the number of proposals initially went down, but now it’s paying off, and they had $3.5M in proposal submissions in the last quarter.
  • Don’t be a mile wide and 1 inch deep.  They decided to refocus their research development to “work with the willing” and make small strategic investments to help develop research capacity, and that has paid off.

 Impact and Culture Change

  • They now have a larger pool of PIs who are competitive, with a critical mass in areas of research strength
  • More strategic hires based on research strengths, not just teaching
  • Momentum: This is supported by quantitative and qualitative measures of success, but it’s important for the administration to understand that value is beyond just the number of proposals that go out the door.
  • More institutional research capacity and space
  • Number of submitted proposals have doubled in the last 8 years
  • Increase in research expenditures of 87% from FY 2007 – 2013. Now 10 PhD programs

Takeaways for Others In a Similar Situation

  • Survey the landscape, and identify barriers and obstacles to research and pursuing research funding
  • Find leverage points; for example, develop relationships between college research development personnel and research development personnel in central offices such as the Office of Sponsored Programs; you can share communication, resources, experience, connections, and training which helps to align strategic priorities and institutional education.
  • Fail often in order to succeed faster – accelerated cycle of innovation (don’t be afraid to try things, but also pull the plug if they aren’t working and try something else); support from your administration is critical to allow the freedom to fail and try something else.
  • Conduct a critical appraisal of the ROI for the initiatives you try (example: Seed funding program – it didn’t result in external funding, so they moved to more strategic, targeted funding).
  • Repeat

Example of Cycle of Innovation

Terri and Kim concluded their presentation by walking through an example of how they worked together to vet and fund an internal grant project and how each of them was able to marshal resources (financial and administrative) to assess the project’s potential for future funding, address administrative and legal considerations efficiently, monitor the project, and lay the groundwork for successful deliverables.

Terri Soelberg, Director, College of Health Sciences Office of Research
Kimberly Page, Assoc. Director Office of Sponsored Projects


Scribe: Lucy Deckard

Thanks, Lucy!!

NORDP 2014 Conference Notes: Cost Effective Ways of Keeping Up With the Joneses

Bryan DeBusk and Paul Tuttle (Hanover Research)

Make the most of budget dollars; budgets are flat or being reduced, but there is still pressure to increase awards and increase services for faculty/staff.

Overview of Hanover Research and Presenter Backgrounds

Hanover: Full cycle proposal development background. Bryan: faulty that transitioned into grant development (no research office experience, but gives perspective and ability to learn from the roundtable discussion). Paul: Central Sponsored Projects Office in North Carolina (2 Historically Black Colleges/Universities and 1 Woman’s College); mostly advancing pre-pre-award (not called research development at that time); experience working with SRA, NCURA, and now NORDP.

Keys to Success

  1. 1.       Define Goals in Measurable Terms

Goals could include

  • # of submissions/awards
  • Average request and award size
  • Percent of Faculty/Staff seeking/receiving grants
  • Types of faculty/staff seeking receiving
  • Overall award amount—increasing this in single awards or submit large quantity of smaller grants
  • Award metrics by time frame or institutional unit
  • Expenditures
  • Using Top 25 University Criteria
  • “Success Rate”—this was argued as a poor metric since RD office is to provide help and if it is not weighted based on service might not be representative
  1. 2.       Know Available Resources

Once you know the goal(s), need to know what resources are available

  • Personnel, including number, experience and skills
  • Infrastructure, policy for supporting development and submission
  • Faculty capabilities
  • Funding for grantsmanship survey
  • Funding for consulting services/external support (able to extend services without having to hire new staff)
  • Libraries, databases/tools (some can be expensive)
  1. 3.       Maximize Use of Available Resources

Determine how to make the most of what you have and fill the gap between have and need

  • Facilitate the use of support
  • Broaden participation and exposure of the office
  • Identify and use institutional levers
  1. 4.       Make Use of Alternative Resources

Find are that is most ripe for cost effective usage

  • Identify other staff that can be utilized for proposal development
  • Use available funder resources
  • Leverage partnerships (i.e. library)
  • Online Resources—some are free, so can use strategic payments to supplement available resources.  Taxes pay for many resources, so not a direct cost to your office.
  • Professional Associations (NORDP, NCURA, SRA, etc.) have resources available to members
  • Colleagues and their Offices’ resources—maximize exposure—point toward their information(don’t just co-opt it)
  1. 5.       Other Suggestions 

Range from least to most costly and how difficult to use

  • Recruit funded senior faculty as mentors
    • One to one mentors
    • Mock reviews
    • RD advisory board
    • Workshop development and leadership (training workshops)—they are teachers and cost effective to present to a large group; flattered to be a part of the RD enterprise
    • Guidance on how to serve on panels
    • Share successful proposals
  • Implement/Expand Research Development Support Workshops
    • Grants 101
    • Federal Vs. Foundation Funding
    • Budgeting
    • Finding Partners, Collaborators, and Mentors
    • Grants A-Z (overview all areas of research administration to put a face to the task for faculty)
    • Time Management to Tenure (2nd year junior faculty to be more competitive to apply for grants, high qualitative feedback—faculty feels more in control)
    • Funding Trajectory Planning (agencies, funding mechanisms, timeline)—U of Michigan estimates that to put together one trajectory/road map takes ~5 person hours
    • Writing Seminars
      • Writing Clearly and Concisely for Grants (includes overviews of common sections such as Significance, Innovation, Specific Aims)
      • Grant Writing Course (1 semester for grads, post docs, early career faculty)
  • Getting Attendance at Workshops
    • Use food or other incentives to boost attendance (don’t always have to pay, just hold session over lunch in a place where food is available for purchase)
    • Identify “difference makers” who can encourage./compel attendance—people who get other people energized (especially senior faculty)
    • Announce broadly, but invite directly (ensure events are in newsletters, emails, and/or other announcements, but then contact faculty/staff individually to personalize invitation)
    • Stipend/payment for attendees (this is successful if tied to a specific outcome—must submit as a result)
    • Make attendees pay a small amount (psychologically motivated since they paid) 
  • Document Repository

Develop curated electronic/paper document repository (do a cost benefit on this, as can be time consuming and if faculty/staff will not benefit then spend effort elsewhere). Must be easily navigated. Can be protected on intranet, etc.

  • Successful proposals with reviewers
  • Unsuccessful proposals with reviews (these are more difficult to get, since faculty often believes that sharing this makes them vulnerable); Included funded and unfunded to same initiative to show how they are different
  • Utilize senior faculty to do their own highlighting of proposals before included in repository (demonstrate evolution from good to fundable)
  • Document conversations with funders and include in repository (with access at least for other RD staff)
  • RFP analysis
  • Sample budgets and other sample documents/templates (if you do not have these at your institution, direct to colleagues’ or agency pages that do have these)—e.g. NIAID’s All About Grants page
  • Webinars
    • Develop own websites (benefit is the ability to archive for future use and wide dissemination;  drawbacks include: not one on one interaction; if you have many respondents, but not everyone attends, cannot determine impact of efforts)
      • Can be restricted to campus or shared with sister institutions (potentially way to raise funds, if you charge for external access)
      • Invite people “in the know” to lead (Program Officers, etc.)—use online teaching tools to provide open facilities to crease webinars (see U of Missouri (at Columbia)’s Federal Funding Webinar)
      • Maintain an up-to-date archive
      • Leverage Institutional IT personnel to assist with creation/facilitation
  • Connect Faculty/Staff to free webinars (general, discipline-specific and advanced knowledge)
  • Develop Online Training Modules
  • Teach key skills or introduce policies, procedures tools
  • Identify if gaps exist, then good use of time to develop training to address these gaps/commons questions and challenges
  • Make available on demand
  • Develop At-a-Glace, indexed, and searchable versions of manuals
  • Demonstrate use at every opportunity (workshops, presentations, etc.)
  • Single page describing key points
  • FAQs
  • Ensure that all manuals that are available electronically are searchable (not just a scan of a document)—convert them to searchable PDF
  • If quick and easy to use and find online, people will use it—saves time for them and you
  • Collaborate with Other Offices at Your Institution
  • Essential to proposal development and submission and project management functions
  • Other offices have budgets for their missions, so if can leverage this, save money for your office
  • Coordinate your needs with their missions
  • You receive services because it is their job
  • Marketing (e.g. profiling researchers to show university capabilities, webinar/online training)
  • Other
    • Collaborate with Development and Industry Collaboration Offices (provide start-up funds for young faculty; leverage Development knowledge)

    Scribe: Alicia Reed

Thank you, Alicia!

NORDP 2014 Conference Notes: Funding opportunities in the arts, humanities and social sciences: strategies for supporting and promoting a grant- seeking culture

Presenters: Susan Gomes (Harvard University), Barbara Walker (University of California at Santa Barbara) and Caitlin McDermott-Murphy (Harvard University)

Noting that the grant proposal writing culture is not ubiquitous across academic disciplines, the three speakers delivered a three-pronged presentation: why seeking grant support is important for arts, humanities and social sciences scholars, what the funding landscape looks like for these disciplines, and how to establish a culture of grant proposal writing. Successfully funded scholars benefit both the institution (possibility of securing F&A costs and institutional prestige) and themselves  (possibility of summer salary or reassigned time, raising visibility about scholarship and having that scholarship validated through the peer review process, and the opportunity to create or expand a scholarly network).

The presenters discussed major federal funders in the humanities and arts areas, including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Archives and Records Administration (National Historical Publications and Records Commission), and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  Social sciences researchers can look to funders like the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Departments of Education, Defense and Justice.  Private funders (foundations), funding at the state level, and Foundation Center tools and reports also were discussed, along with descriptions of resources like H Net Online and a forthcoming book by Barbara Walker on this topic.

Several strategies for promoting a culture of grantsmanship were shared, including programming (workshops led by research development professionals and faculty); sponsor campus visits; developing partnerships with academic deans and other key figures; continuous outreach to faculty; funding opportunity dissemination; and, faculty surveys (for the purpose of eliciting feedback while advertising services).  The presenters concluded the session by reminding participants to leverage resources on their campuses in support of arts, humanities and social sciences faculty, noting that “Everything doesn’t have to cost something.”

Scribe: Pollyanne Frantz

Thanks, Pollyanne!