NORD / InfoReady Grant-Funded Projects

2020 Awards

Application Title: Developing Best Practices for Evaluating the Outcomes, Success, Impact, and ROI of Internal Grant Programs
PI: Stephanie McCombs
Institutional Affiliation: Eastern Virginia Medical School
Proposal Abstract: Obtaining large, indirect-cost bearing, external grants has become a very competitive process. It is usually unlikely for a researcher to get funded without first obtaining preliminary data. Internal grants provide a cost-effective way to increase the competitiveness of external grant applications by enabling the conduct of initial experiments for obtaining preliminary data, but because institutional funds are limited, leadership must show success or return on investment of the internal grant program. There may be a difference among institutions regarding the definitions of success, impact, and ROI of an internal grant program, as well as differences between institutional and investigators’ definitions. This research will analyze and synthesize internal grant evaluation activities already in place at various institutions across the nation via a three-armed survey instrument. It will include the viewpoints of three types of stakeholders involved in internal grant administration to construct a common lexicon and comprehensive set of best practices. Stakeholders include internal grant administrators, PIs, and institutional leadership. Qualitative and quantitative data will be analyzed and from which and a set of best practices could be synthesized. Preliminary research indicates many institutions may have no internal grant evaluation method in place and would benefit from this research.

Application Title: Faculty Development and Institutional Grant Leadership at Small Liberal Arts Colleges
PI: Susan Ferrari
Institutional Affiliation: Grinnell College
Proposal Abstract: This project provides a great opportunity to reframe a common research administration problem—“how can my office support our institutional grant PIs?”—as a research development opportunity—“how can my office build capacity on our campus for grant leadership by providing faculty development opportunities, examining and amending institutional structures, and helping faculty situate grant leadership in their overall development as scholars?” It will focus on a sector that is underrepresented in the research development community—small, undergraduate institutions.

2019 Awards

Project Title: An Investigation of the Content, Design, and Purpose of Intramural Funding Programs
PI: Daniel Riechers
Institutional Affiliation: Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, Division of Research and Innovation
Proposal Abstract: Intramural funding is used by research offices to stimulate research activity and often targets specific objectives like interdisciplinary team research, public-private partnerships, or external proposal submissions. The proposed research will investigate a broad sample of intramural funding programs to understand the common approaches used in the field of research development to stimulate these outcomes. We will analyze written guidelines for intramural funding programs, survey data of NORDP membership, and interviews with a selection of survey respondents. The outcome of this project will help us understand the present state of intramural funding programs as well as the goals and practices of those who administer them. We will also develop a repository of intramural funding programs for use by NORDP membership. Future research includes an investigation of how/whether intramural funding programs are measured and evaluated.

Application Title: A Focus Group Investigation of the Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes Desired in Research Development Directors and Proposal Specialists
PI: Michael Preuss
Institutional Affiliation: West Texas A&M University,  West Texas Office of Evaluation and Research
Proposal Abstract: Research development is a rapidly developing field yet, there is very little empirical evidence of what constitutes research development (RD), the qualifications required to become a practitioner or to advance in the field, and the knowledge and skills necessary for success as a research developer (Preuss, Eck, Fechner & Walker, 2018). The proposed focus group activity will investigate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) desired of research development directors and proposal development specialists/grant writers. This process is the third phase of a sequential, exploratory study that has already produced significant results. The focus group phase seeks elucidation of the similarities and differences in KSAs between two common areas of responsibility in research development. A survey of NORDP members completed by the research team as the second phase of the investigation revealed that director and proposal developer are two of the most common titles in RD and that there were statistically significant differences in response patterns related to them. The proposed project will expand the knowledge base in this important area and provide information relevant to understanding "what kinds of individuals, with what kinds of training, skills, and abilities, are best suited for various roles within research development" (Stone, 2015).

Application Title: Building a Case for the Essential Associate Dean for Research
PI: Kim Littlefield
Institutional Affiliation: University of North Carolina Greensboro, Office of Research and Engagement
Proposal Abstract: The goal of this project is to begin building a comprehensive characterization of the associate dean for research (ADR) role to inform the creation and provision of training and professional development programs and resources. To that end the objectives of project are to: (1) develop and deploy a survey to collect scope, responsibilities and indicators and measures of success for the ADR role; (2) apply concept mapping analysis to survey and structured interview data to identify primary structural information about, and the essential knowledge and resource needs of, ADRs; and (3) informed by concept mapping analysis, design curricula and implement training and professional development programs (webinar and workshop) for ADRs.

Application Title: Resubmission Assistance: Understanding Current Practices and Perspectives
PI: Sarah Polasky
Institutional Affiliation: Arizona State University, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Proposal Abstract: The impact of resubmission assistance on proposal success is relatively unknown. Given that a significant portion of proposals, up to 90%, are rejected by the sponsor, this lack of information makes it difficult for Research Development professions to decide whether to invest resources in this service. This study will respond to NORD/InfoReady’s request for proposals focused on resubmission assistance, specifically. The study will use a combination of artifact review and survey methodologies to identify the most common areas of resubmission assistance and identify areas in which Research Development professionals would like to offer services. This study will help identify the field’s strengths and weaknesses within the area of resubmission assistance, as well as set the stage for future research to clearly define the core components of research assistance.

2018 Awards

Project Title: Ready, Fire, Aim: Enhancing Research Development through Real-Time Evaluation and Group Learning
PI: Genevieve Clark
Institutional Affiliation: University of Saskatchewan
Proposal Abstract: The enabling nature of research development and its complex, dynamic work environment make evaluating its effectiveness challenging. In this project, we will pilot a novel embedded evaluative approach looking in-depth at the development of effective research development initiatives in real-time. This project seeks to enhance research development initiatives by applying a developmental evaluation approach to a decentralized model of research development in a large research-intensive university. The project will help us understand how enhancements are happening at the unit level. We are particularly interested in understanding the ways in which various initiatives are implemented, how staff and researchers interact with one another, as well as understanding how initiatives and interactions trigger changes, both positive and negative. This project’s findings are expected to enhance our profession by developing evidence-based research development initiatives while improving staff knowledge and skills, strengthening group learning and functioning, and building capacity in programmatic evaluation.
Project Title: Identification of Catalytic Behaviors in Collaborative Environments
PI: Alicia Knoedler
Institutional Affiliation: Independent Consultant
Proposal Abstract: What are the behaviors that are catalytic within collaborative teams that lead to transformative work within these teams? How can these behaviors be documented and what are the standards of documentation for these behaviors? Although there are scholarly and practical articles and texts regarding facilitation of teams, what alternative metrics and measures, beyond publications for example, could be established to enable these catalytic behaviors to be recognized within the very traditional academic environments in which many RD professionals work?
To explore these questions, a team of researchers proposes to conduct a survey of RD professionals to identify and catalog areas of team facilitation, cultivation, and the like that connectors know to be catalytic in the course of team development, progress, and success. From that, the team proposes to organize the collected data to develop a taxonomy of catalytic behaviors to be shared back with the RD community. The proposal team will include the contributions from an industry partner, Exaptive, to organize this content in a unique visual software platform to show points of clustering and interconnection among these behaviors, revealing potential gaps in research and team development expertise.
Project Title: When Women Exit Academic STEM Careers, Where Do They Go? Gendered Career Paths to the Research Development Profession
PI: Barbara Walker
Institutional Affiliation: University of California, Santa Barbara
Proposal Abstract: We know that the majority of those in the research development (RD) profession transition to RD from academic career tracks, and that women comprise a disproportionately high ratio of RD professionals. However, very little is known about pathways to the RD profession, and how gender plays a role in the predominance of women in RD. In order to better serve NORDP members, it is imperative to understand the transitions from traditional academic to RD careers in order to develop effective outreach and career development models to grow the profession. To understand the relationships between academic training/careers and the RD profession, this research will pose the following interrelated questions:a) How does gender shape the path to RD careers?; b) Are the “push” factors that tend to exclude women (and other underrepresented individuals) from academic careers linked to the “pull” factors that attract people to the RD profession; c) How does gender shape the ways that RD professionals learn about and enter RD careers?; and d) Are there gendered patterns of preparation for, and satisfaction with, positions in RD? To answer these questions, we will analyze a subset of the RD labor pool; current and past members of NORDP with Ph.D. and M.A./S. degrees. Through a mixed-method approach including surveys and focus groups, we will collect quantitative and qualitative data about the demographics and career histories of RD professionals, in addition their experiences and perceptions about transitioning from traditional academic to RD careers. This research has both practical and theoretical significance. First, our findings will help NORDP better understand the RD workforce, how we can improve services to our members, and grow our profession. Second, this research will contribute to the literature on broadening participation in STEM. Deliverables will include a report to NORDP that summarizes the key results of the study and suggestions for relevant programming, a presentation at the 2020 NORDP annual conference, and two peer-reviewed journal publications.

Project Title: Gender in Research Development: A Mixed Methods Analysis of NORDP Members
PI: Kayla Tindle
Institutional Affiliation: Texas Tech University
Proposal Abstract: Though the NORDP membership is largely female, the academic leadership remains largely male (ACE, 2016). The lack of representation of women in higher education leadership positions is a serious issue because those who are in leadership positions are the ones who wield the power to create change and make decisions (AAUW, 2015; Komives & Wagner, 2009; McKinsey & Company, 2008). Reaching gender parity in leadership positions could positively impact both male and female employees (Dominici, Fried, & Zeger, 2009; Klotz, 2014; Villablanca, Beckette, Nettiksimmons, & Howell, 2011). In addition to not having one’s place at the table, the lack of women in leadership contributes to the gender wage gap. Individuals in the highest positions of leadership are generally highly compensated (AAUW, 2015).

Though this is an important area of research, there have been no studies on gender and leadership in the research development field. The proposed study will analyze the gender differences among the NORDP membership, as well as the perceived opportunities for and barriers to advancement and gender and power issues. Results from this study will provide the NORDP leadership with a roadmap for potential professional development opportunities for its membership. These professional development opportunities could increase the number of NORDP members achieving their career aspirations.

Project Title: A "Deep-Dive" into the Office of Research Development at the Duke School of Medicine to improve RD sustainability and enable continued and faster growth
PI: Joanna Downer
Institutional Affiliation: Duke University, School of Medicine
Proposal Abstract:  At Duke School of Medicine's five-person Office of Research Development, we provide comprehensive facilitation for complex research grant development, support for individual investigators, and grant-related workshops. While satisfying and effective, our work -- as for many research development professionals -- is intense due to both volume and deadline pressure, resulting in a high risk of burnout. Mitigating this risk through personal decision-making and stress reduction methods has proven insufficient, and these approaches are not readily implemented by newer staff. Moreover, our reliance on one-on-one approaches for staff on-boarding can add to work-related stress and has had mixed success. To both improve sustainability and enhance growth, we are comprehensively capturing what we know, what we do, why we do these things, and what new materials and process adjustments could improve sustainability (prevent burnout) while retaining effectiveness and satisfaction for us, the faculty, and the School. This also creates an opportunity to map what we learn onto existing methodologies in knowledge management, process management, team science, and other systems, with the guidance of an expert adviser. Our "internal" and "academic" findings will be made available to others through NORDP and publication to advance knowledge in Research Development practice and in management-related fields.