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Research Policy Committee

Since, the committee was not given a charge by Faculty Council or University administration, the committee spent the first meeting discussing previous activities of the committee as well as potential areas of focus for the 2005-06 academic year. Issues that were identified as being important for faculty research development, particularly among young faculty, included:
  • Mentoring
  • Research grant proposal preparation
  • Office of Sponsored Projects proposal submission process
  • Negotiating human subjects and animal protection research approval processes
In order to facilitate discussion of these topics, the following individuals met with the committee:

Sharon Brown, associate vice president for research.
VP Brown discussed the research grant writing program she initially developed for the UT School of Nursing faculty and now offers on a limited basis campus-wide. She noted that some major universities (e.g., University of Washington) have mandatory grant writing programs for assistant professors and that in some instances these have resulted in increased NIH funding success rates.

Features of such grant support programs can include the following:
  • Personnel to assist faculty with all aspects of grant writing and submission, except the sciences
  • Science editor as a consultant on grant writing
  • Grant writing groups
  • Mock reviews of grant proposals with feedback
Mark Hayward, director, UT Population Research Center.
Professor Hayward described the role of the center as an interdisciplinary research and training unit that strives to emphasize cross-fertilization of disciplines across campus.

The center offers a “proposal boot camp,” that is focused on developing grant-writing skills of faculty in the “population sciences.” The boot camps generally occur during the summer and involve some summer faculty support.

Professor Hayward discussed the range of services offered by the center and its support for grant administration both pre- and post-award.

These presentations prompted additional discussion among all present, including whether more centers are needed on campus to foster research grant development and support as well as the role and function of centers. The role of centers within the University organizational structure was discussed, including the fact that most interdisciplinary research centers (i.e., across departments and schools or colleges) typically report to a specific dean. A uniform indirect cost return policy for interdisciplinary centers does not exist on campus, and center directors typically negotiate an indirect cost return rate with the dean to whom the respective directors report. The fact that this arrangement may change when the dean changes was discussed as well as the effect this can have on center operations.

Although the spirit of the committee was that research grant writing development programs and enhanced organizational structure for interdisciplinary centers could be potentially beneficial to research and scholarship development on campus, no specific recommendations were made by the committee.

M. Lynn Crismon, chair

  Updated 2006 August 29
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