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Research Policy Committee

The Research Policy Committee (RPC) met three times in fall semester and three times in spring semester to; 1) Continue work on revising/disseminating the Ethical Research Standards, 2) Examine problems/issues faced by sub-organizations within the Office of the Vice President for Research; and 3) Provide support for a Faculty Leave/Sabbatical Program.

1. Ethical Research Guidelines
In 2008-2009, the RPC set out to strengthen the ethical research core of the University community by developing and proposing a set of written standards and guidelines that emphasize ethical research while respecting differences across colleges, departments, units, and disciplines. In 2009-2010, the RPC revised the Ethical Research Standards and submitted a resolution to the Faculty Council to affirm the Guidelines. On January 25, 2010, the Faculty Council unanimously affirmed the Ethical Research Standards.
Once affirmed, the RPC developed a plan to disseminate the Standards to the University community. Members drafted a letter to the Deans of each college/school requesting that the Standards be posted on their websites and promoted to faculty, students, and staff. The Office of the Vice President for Research has been asked to post a copy to the University’s main Research page. Additional ideas for promotion of the Standards include requesting time for a brief presentation at the annual New Faculty Workshop and creation of an Ethical Standards Day early in the fall of 2010 that will highlight the Standards through various activities.

2. Sub-Organization of the Office of the VP for Research
The RPC met with representatives from the Office of the Research Support (ORS) and the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) to determine how our committee can help with any problems/issues they face.
On October 12, The RPC met with Dr. Wayne Patterson (Director, ORS) and Dr. Lori Roalson (Assistant Director, ORS), who presented an overview of the ORS and the support it provides to the Institutional Review Board. ORS requested the committee’s input on how to better inform and educate graduate students about its policies and procedures, particularly those policies that pertain to the use of human subjects in research. The committee brainstormed ways to reach graduate students and other campus researchers to promote awareness of the OSR and its functions.
On March 9, the RPC met with Dr. Susan Sedwick (Director, OSP), who provided an overview of the activities of OSP. Dr. Sedwick noted that a major issue facing the OSP is the number of proposals that need processing. The number of awards has been increasing in recent years, but the number of OSP staff has remained consistent. However, two new positions were approved for the office to aid with processing of Awards, which should reduce the number of proposals that are in the cue and expedite processing.

3. Faculty Leave Program
On November 3, the RPC met with President Powers to discuss the possibility of a faculty leave program. Dr. Powers stated that establishing a faculty leave program was a very high priority and that he would like it to be in the University’s Budget in the next year or two. Regarding the potential program, he noted that faculty applying for a leave would have to show some minimal level of productivity, but he also expected that a sizeable portion of the faculty would be eligible for this program. President Powers suggested that we talk with Stephen Monti, Executive Vice Provost, for additional information and to determine if there was a role for our committee in the development of this program.
A subcommittee of the RPC met with Dr. Monti in December to gather additional information about a potential faculty leave/sabbatical program and to determine how our committee can facilitate the development of such a program. At present, the program parameters are not clear and given current budgetary constraints, the program is not likely to be operational for at least 3 to 4 years. Nonetheless, Dr. Monti asked our committee to write a letter in support of a faculty leave/sabbatical program and to provide ideas regarding the requirements of the program. The RPC drafted a support letter and is in the process of determining to whom the letter should be submitted.

Alexandra Loukas, chair