Volume XLVII, Number 1

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Spring 2016

Journal of Research Administration Logo

From the Editor's Desk

Timothy L. Linker
High Point University

The Journal of Research Administration (Journal) is dedicated to stimulating critical thought and creating a space for dialogue to answer pressing questions posed by our evolving field. The Journal continues to seek the best and most illuminating articles for you, our readers. Your success is our success.

Scholarship remains a time-tested method to discover and share what does and does not work. As a burgeoning and ever evolving field, we are most successful when we all engage in the scholarship process, regardless of our job, experience, or background, as everyone offers a unique viewpoint. To that end, the Journal supports those who want to learn more about the academic writing process in two important ways. First, the Journal will offer a free academic writing workshop and allied seminar at the 2017 SRA International Annual Conference. This workshop and seminar will provide instruction and resources in academic writing. Second, the Journal is instituting an academic writing fellowship program. I encourage you to take advantage of both of these opportunities. More information can be found on these programs can be found on the Journal homepage at or www.journalra.org.

As noted in the Fall 2015 issue, the Journal is moving to an open access and electronic distribution platform. This is in an effort to offer the Journal’s insights and content to a wider audience and in a more easily accessible medium. Hence, this will be the last printed edition of the Journal. It is my hope that if you will share this news with your colleagues and visit the Journal homepage. If you are a non-SRA International member and wish to have the Journal delivered to you via email, please send an email with your name and institution to journal@srainternational.org.

Speaking of the Journal’s insights, I encourage you to take a moment and explore the articles and see how they can better your research enterprise. Mulfinger and authors in their paper entitled “Trends in Large Proposal Development at Major Research Institutions" provide a baseline on how major research institutions structure their large proposal development operations. Mounce and authors in their article “Spotlight on Clinical Trial Sponsorship” discuss the Food and Drug Administration regulations on clinical trial sponsorship and how the courts interpreted those regulations in cases of injury claims. Nagy investigates the factors that shape the National Science Foundation’s broader impact activities and offers insights into the strongest predictors of broader impacts activity quality in her article “Determinants of Broader Impacts Activities: A Survey of NSF-funded Investigators.” Finally Philbin and Mallo, in their article “Business Planning Methodology to Support the Development of Strategic Academic Programmes” examine the risks and benefits of establishing new research centers, institutes, and facilities and offer a flexible management framework for the business planning of these operations.

As always, I want to thank the Journal’s Deputy Director, Dr. Nathan Vanderford, and editorial board for their untiring work to bring this issue to print. It is because of them that the Journal continues to flourish.   


Business Planning Methodology to Support the Development of Strategic Academic Programs

Authored by:
  • Simon P. Philbin
    Enterprise Division, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • Charles A. Mallo
    Enterprise Division, Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Higher education institutions are often required to design and deliver a range of strategic academic programs in order to remain competitive, support growth and ensure operations are financially sustainable. Such programs may include the creation of new research centers and institutes as well as the installation of major new research facilities. These programs offer significant academic benefits but can often carry commercial risk associated with the major levels of financial investment that may be needed. There is also the need to develop a compelling case to secure the necessary funding. Consequently, this paper provides details of a management framework based on a business planning methodology, which can be applied to support the development of strategic academic programs. Adapted from the recognized MSP (Managing Successful Programs) management process, the framework has been explored as part of a case study investigation of a medical research facility. The case study highlights a number of managerial insights across the people, process, technology and knowledge dimensions that are pertinent to the management of strategic academic programs. The management framework can be adapted to the needs of other organisations involved in the business planning for such complex initiatives.

Trends in Large Proposal Development at Major Research Institutions

Authored by:
  • Lorraine M. Mulfinger, PhD
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • Kevin A. Dressler, PhD
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • L. Eric James, JD, MS
    Huron Consulting Group, Chicago, IL
  • Niki Page
    The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • Eduardo Serrano
    Huron Consulting Group, Chicago, IL
  • Jorge Vazquez
    Huron Consulting Group, Chicago, IL

Research administrator interest in large research proposal development and submission support is high, arguably in response to the bleak funding landscape for research and federal agency trends toward making more frequent larger awards. In response, a team from Penn State University and Huron Consulting Group initiated a baseline study to determine how research-intensive academic institutions are structured to provide large proposal support, with the aim of identifying support factors that are impactful on proposal success as defined by funding being awarded. The first step in this process was the development, administration and analysis of a survey on large proposal support and success rates. This first survey of large proposal support structures, support services, and associated metrics was completed by 20 of the top 100 research institutions as determined by rankings from the 2013 Higher Education Research Development Survey (HERD) as reported by the National Science Foundation. Conclusive findings are: 1) A decentralized College/Department/ Center model is the most commonly used large proposal support model; 2) Different large proposal support models have similar criteria in selecting proposals to be supported, the most common of which is awards equaling or exceeding $1M; and 3) Institutional setting is a factor in success rates for larger proposals more than smaller proposals as evidenced by greater variability in these rates.

Spotlight on Clinical Trial Sponsorship

Authored by:
  • Doug Mounce
    Cancer Research And Biostatistics
  • Frank X. Curci
    Cancer Research And Biostatistics
  • Joshua B. Fortenbery
    Cancer Research And Biostatistics

What liability is associated with assuming the role of the “sponsor” in a clinical trial? This article discusses the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations governing sponsorship, and how courts have interpreted those regulations in cases with a claim of injury.

There is a natural concern with the responsibility implied by assuming the role of “sponsor” in a clinical trial agreement. In a commercially sponsored clinical trial, for example, the site can reasonably require that a drug company assume most liability for subject injury Pharmaceutical companies are not the sponsor, however, for Investigator Sponsored Trials (ISTs, sometimes called Investigator Initiated Trials IITs).¹ Between these extremes are the complex cases where a mix of delegated roles and responsibilities are assigned, and where the “duty of care” relation between a physician and their patient may take precedence in any case. This article discusses sponsorship in terms of the FDA regulations, and reviews several cases where judicial interpretation of a sponsor’s duties had an impact on liability.

Determinants of Broader Impacts Activities: A Survey of NSF-funded Investigators

Authored by:
  • Dr. Dianne Nagy
    South Dakota State University

This study investigated the factors that shape the broader impacts activities of NSF grant recipients. A random sample of NSF grantees was surveyed about the type an     d quality of their broader impacts activities, their views on knowledge production and the democratization of science, their experience and training, and the existence of a supportive climate and resources for community engagement at their home institutions. Respondents indicated that they shared an orientation towards knowledge production that was more democratic than technocratic and valued public engagement in science; that they had adequate experience but little training in community engaged activities and lacked confidence in their ability to evaluate such work; that executive leaders at their institutions encouraged community engagement but promotion and tenure policies did not recognize such activities; and that they had little access to training, funding, or infrastructure to support community engaged activities. A multinomial logistic regression showed that faculty expertise, available resources, and academic discipline were the strongest predictors of type of broader impacts activity (p < .001). A multiple regression analysis revealed that faculty expertise, a democratic orientation towards knowledge production, and a supportive climate were the strongest predictors of quality of broader impacts activity (p < .001).