Federal research funding, publications surged during FY 2021, research report shows

Media Credit: Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

Vice Provost for Research Pamela Norris said she hopes to attain more philanthropic support for research from non-profit organizations.

Updated: Feb. 25, 2022 at 3:43 p.m.

The University’s federal research expenditures increased by $22 million during Fiscal Year 2021, according to an annual research report delivered during a Faculty Senate meeting Friday.

Vice Provost for Research Pamela Norris said federal expenditures jumped to $189 million in FY 2021, up from $167 million during the previous year, extending what has become a nine-year rise in financial research support from federal funding agencies. She said health-related sponsored research activities made up 71 percent – $199.1 million – of GW’s total expenditures while science and engineering research projects received a combined $20.8 million.

Norris said that 5.6 percent of the University’s federal research expenditures, about $15.7 million, came from federal sponsors supporting research in the arts and humanities, and 3.8 percent, about $10.7 million, came from federal sponsors supporting the social sciences.

“I think there’s an opportunity to increase the non-federal total expenditures while continuing to advance the federal expenditures,” she said.

She said the University expended more than $200 million on research efforts during FY 2021, and there were more than 1,600 awards active from federal organizations, foundations, non-profit organizations and industry associations.

She said while GW received nearly 85 percent of its research funding – $188.8 million – from the federal government, she hopes to garner more philanthropic support for research from foundations and non-profit organizations. The University ranked 86th out of 653 higher education institutions in federally funded research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey, which measures how much a university annually spends from federal agencies on research projects.

More than $157.5 million of GW’s research expenditures in FY 2020, across all disciplines, came from federal sponsors, according to the NSF’s website.

Norris said the University research community published six books, 74 chapters, 117 editorials and 156 letters in 2021, pushing the total number of publications past 4,500 documents. Researchers released nearly 4,000 publications in 2020 and nearly 3,500 in 2019, according to Scopus, a database of scholarly literature.

She said isolation throughout the pandemic allowed faculty members to write and publish their results, which led to a “significant” increase in the number of publications.

Norris said she aims to work more with faculty members to transition their projects from the labs to the markets and establish a foundation for a stronger research enterprise at GW. She said she is aware of the need for additional pod support after officials decentralized the University’s research model in 2020, noting that some research areas still need more attention to funding and development.

She added that meeting with funding agencies will help her better understand research trends to set up federal funding opportunities that the University can benefit from in the future.

“I think research development is an opportunity that I seek to really enhance,” Norris said. “That is a competitive intelligence looking at what the landscape of our peers look like, where we can be distinctive in what our strengths are, perhaps where we might be missing a piece and how we might be able to add to that.”

This post has been updated to correct the following:

An earlier version of this post attributed that researchers released nearly 4,000 publications in 2020 and nearly 3,500 in 2019 to University data. The information came from the online database Scopus. We regret this error. An earlier version of this post also stated that GW received more than $200 million in research funding in FY 2021. The University expended more than $200 million on research in FY 2021. We regret this error.

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