Evaluating research administration activities is no easy task, especially since the criteria can vary. While we would all like to believe our organization is running under optimal conditions, we must be able to prove it. To do so we collect robust evidence by evaluating research administration activities. This increases your credibility both internally and externally. However this process is easier said than done. Below is an overview of the variables to consider, analysis methods to utilize, and eventual benefits of the evaluation process.
Commonly Used Measurements
A survey conducted by the Society of Research Administrators found that research administration offices use a combination of factors to determine their levels of effectiveness and success. Seventy-five percent of the survey respondents reported the use of quantitative metrics, including the number of processed proposals, number of received awards, number of accounts established and amount of funding received. Now that we have identified what variables are mostly commonly used, we must consider how best to quantify and analyze them.
The first step to using quantitative variables when evaluating research administration activities is to determine what metrics are important to your organization. Some specific examples are:
- Dollar amounts (requested and received)
- Funding agency
- Funding agency type
- Date submitted (for review internally and externally to funding agency)
- Date awarded
- Organizational unit responsible for the project
- Responsible individuals (PI, co-PI, etc.)
The second step in this process is determining how to go about collecting and recording the desired data. Ideally, the data should be recorded in a research administration software system. The completion of this step is dependent on the use of consistent and accurate data collection methods. Otherwise you run the risk that your results are untrustworthy and therefore ineffective when applied to the evaluation and optimization process.
Ensuring your organization employs a user friendly data collection system with established organizational procedures regarding data entry is the cornerstone for preparing for data analysis.
Once you have obtained the data, you must turn it into useful information. This is done by running reports that breakdown and display the diagnostics and statistics of the data. Some examples of data analytic procedures related to evaluating research administration activities are:
- Number of proposals submitted in a specified time period.
- Funding received during a specified time period.
- Comparing a funding agency’s due date and when the proposal was submitted internally for review.
- Comparing dollars requested and dollars received.
- Performance and tenure review (includes submission and award metrics).
- Funding received by specific units within your organization.
- Number of proposals submitted to a specific funding agency.
- Amount of funding based on funding source (federal, state, foundation, etc.).
- Any combination of these and other factors, depending on what is most important to your organization.
The key here is whether your organization’s data collection system allows for a data analysis procedure that focuses on the above metrics. Even the best collected and stored data is essentially useless if it can’t be interpreted and applied to improving your organization’s operations.
Benefits to Evaluating Research Administration Activities
Evaluating Research Administration activities gives you the information necessary to strengthen the performance of your organization. You are able to troubleshoot current problems while discovering areas that could be enhanced. The information can be used across a variety of departments, whether in reports to a dean or in communication with a client. This not only gives you some peace of mind- and even a few bragging rights- it paves the road to greater success in the future.
Evaluating research administration activities can be broken down into three simple steps:
- Identify which data is important to your organization and why.
- Find an easy to use solution that fits your organization’s needs and allows you to capture the relevant data.
- Ensure the solution analyzes the data quickly, accurately and easily. You need to be able to generate reports that are both usable and beneficial.
Solutions for Evaluating Research Administration Activities
IT Works offers a variety of both pre and post award solutions that are innovative, easy to use, diverse in report selection and well-supported by an implementation staff with research administration experience. For assistance in identifying which products will optimize research administration management and evaluation, contact our team today.