Researching Research Development

A project responding to David Stone’s call for “empirical research into what [research developers] do” was approved by the NORDP Board in the fall of 2016. Its long-range goal is to provide information that will “improve our performance as professionals and…connect what we do to constituent groups and institutions to whom we bring value.” The investigation will address “type, scope, [and] scale” questions and seek to identify knowledge, skills, and aptitudes essential in research development. This project will be undertaken to help formalize research development in its structures, functions, and definitions–and this in turn will in turn address one of the major goals of the research effort, which is, as Stone notes, to “provide a standardized basis from which to create benchmarks, develop quality improvement guidance (and programming), devise assessment mechanisms, and establish best or promising practices within the profession.”

To accomplish these purposes, two gaps in the research development corpus will be addressed: the characterization of activity in the field and the delineation of knowledge, skills, and aptitudes believed to be necessary for entry into and advancement within research development. This material will be developed through analysis of job descriptions and survey and focus group investigation. Interpretation of the results will be informed by work already completed by the NORDP Special Programs Working Group in 2013 and by the existing descriptions of research development.

A team of four research development professionals who are all NORDP members will complete the study in 2017 and 2018. Reports of findings will be made at NORDP and other conferences as well as through publication.

Arriving at an evidence-based understanding of the purposes, practices, and key characteristics of research development has broad application relevant to current and future practitioners, institutional structures, organization of knowledge, and acceptance and advancement of the field. As Stone noted regarding practitioners, “Such work could…help us better understand what kinds of individuals, with what kinds of training, skills, and abilities, are best suited for various roles within research development, as well as what their professional trajectories are like. Findings in these areas might improve our capacity to recruit, retain, and provide succession planning and longer-term career paths for individuals in research development.” The research team and NORDP Board are pleased to announce that these goals will be pursued beginning this year.

All NORDP members will be invited to participate in this project, so stay tuned for more information.

Introducing NORDP’s first executive director: Keith Osterhage

The NORDP Board is pleased to announce that we have hired Keith Osterhage as our first executive director. We can no longer say that we are an all-volunteer organization, but we think this is an important step in our long-term sustainability.

Keith Osterhage is a native of Northwest Ohio, growing up in a small agricultural community, the oldest of five children; his late father was one of 14, his mother one of six children. From this small community he went on to attend Ohio Northern University, graduating summa cum laude, with majors in history and political science. He was the first student in ONU history to graduate in two and one half years.

His academic program advanced to The Ohio State University where he completed two master’s degrees, an M.A. in Political Science, and an M.A. in Public Administration. These two programs gave him skills in social science research and methodology as well as public policy analysis and program evaluation. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he was a graduate fellow in government at Georgetown University and was selected to participate in the Kissinger seminar series, taught by Dr. Henry Kissinger and Dr. Bill Hyland. His professional training continued as he received the Management Development Program (MDP) Certificate from Harvard University for higher education administrators, and then became one of the first 110 Certified Research Administrators (CRA) in the United States. In 2011-2012 he completed a Temple University Leadership Academy Certificate.

Since 1986, Osterhage has worked in leadership positions in higher education and as an independent consultant, with leadership posts at American, George Washington, Rutgers, Marquette and Temple Universities. Keith has worked in state, local and federal agencies, and has designed grant and contract competitions and evaluated demonstration projects. He has also served as a proposal reviewer for federal agencies. In 1992, he was recruited by the NIH Extramural Associates program to assist and train small institutions (primarily HBCUs, and HACUs—Black and Hispanic-serving institutions) to set up sponsored program offices, policies and best practices for research development and growth. His work in local government included welfare and public works programs. His work in the business world included work for an SBA 8(a) minority-owned small business, where he wrote proposals and conducted program evaluation and provided management support for programs at federal departments, including Energy, EPA and DOD. He has also served as an independent consultant to both for-profit and nonprofit entities regarding proposal development, bidding strategies, as well as providing policy assessment and benchmarking of best practices and standards.

Continue reading “Introducing NORDP’s first executive director: Keith Osterhage”

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!