Faculty suggest improved communication, flexibility in first phase of research review

Officials released the results from the first phase of the University’s first-ever faculty-led research ecosystem review Monday.

Four faculty-led working groups have been working since September to review aspects of the University’s research processes, including pre- and post-award processes, research integrity and compliance, and non-sponsored research and scholarship.

The evaluation, prepared by the Faculty Senate Research Committee, calls for a series of changes to the University’s research practices, including improved communication between faculty, staff and students; new training and educational sessions about research policies, oversight and compliance; and an investment in software that would track research workflow.

The committee also recommended hiring more postdoctoral students and allowing researchers to spend award resources on travel. The report also suggests the creation of a task force to examine peer institutions’ research practices, especially in non-sponsored research and scholarship endeavors.

The reviewers also highlighted areas in which GW succeeded, like using reporting systems to communicate about research projects and setting clear expectations for startup funding and partnerships with D.C. institutions.

“The GW administration can use this information to determine the strategic planning and investments that can be made to maximize the research and scholarship efforts of the University,” the report states.

The full report, dated Feb. 1, 2019, was submitted to University President Thomas LeBlanc. Only the executive summary has been released for public review.

A second phase of the research ecosystem review will begin in the “coming months,” according to a University release Monday.

“I am thankful for our faculty’s active engagement and support throughout this first phase of our research ecosystem review,” Vice President for Research Robert Miller said in the release. “This report provides precisely the feedback we need to prioritize changes and grow GW as a highly respected research university.”

Miller said officials are already pursuing some updates to improve the research environment at GW, like increasing intramural funding and updating the Principal Investigator Dashboard to include access to the status of an award and improved infographics.

The next phase’s working groups, to be determined this semester, will examine four additional areas: shared research facilities, high-performance computing infrastructure, resource allocation and work force development with a focus on postdoctoral support, according to the release.

“The first phase of this review has been a truly collaborative process among faculty and administration to terrific results,” Provost Forrest Maltzman said in the release. “We will continue to discuss this report and make improvements that support the important work of all researchers.”

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