Annual Report - 2006 - 2007 Academic Year

Annual Report to the Faculty Senate

Research Council

Committee Members:

Students: Siddharth Singh, Sarah Vigmostad
Biological Sciences: Jeffrey Denburg, Linda Snetselaar
Staff: Scott Bounds, Bob Kirby, Boyd Knosp, Sandra Reed
Humanities: Ed Folsom, Alan Sener
Physical Sciences: Michael Flatté, Johna Leddy (Chair)
Emeritus: Phil Cummins (non-voting)
Social Sciences: Vicki Hesli, George Malanson
At Large: Vicki Grassian, Scott Stuart

Administrative Members:

Vice President for Research: Meredith Hay;
Associate Vice Presidents for Research (Ex Officio): Frank Abboud (Internal Medicine), Richard Hichwa (Biological, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences), Jay Semel (Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences), Thomas Sharpe (Economic Development);
Administrative Liaison: Cheryl Reardon

Committee Charge:

The Committee Charge is found in the University Operations Manual, Section 2.8(19)b.

(A) The Council shall be governed by the terms of the General Charter.

(B) In addition, the Council shall:

  1. Advise in the formulation, review and application of policy and guidelines for University research and its funding both from within and without the University;
  2. Advise on questions concerning the compliance of research with University policies;
  3. Advise in developing methods for informing University members about research opportunities and for stimulating, evaluating and rewarding good research;
  4. Provide a forum to which faculty and students may refer questions and recommendations concerning University research policies and procedures.

Meeting Dates:

15 September, 18 October, 15 November, 15 December 2006

24 January, 28 February, 28 March, 16 May 2007

In place of the 25 April meeting, members were asked to attend a lecture on funding across disciplines that was presented by David Lightfoot, National Science Foundation, Division of Behavioral, Social, and Economic Sciences.


The Research Council reviewed its composition and charge at the request of Sheldon Kurtz, Faculty Senate President. In recent years, the Research Council lacked appropriate representation in key areas including engineering and clinical sciences. A subcommittee (Vigmostad, Denburg, Knosp, Malanson, and Michael Mackey (chair)) was convened to examine the composition of the Council. The Council recommended changes to the Operations Manual (2.8(19) Research Council Charter) that eliminates members at large in favor of appointing two representatives from clinical sciences, two from engineering, and one undergraduate. This would increase the membership of the Council by three. The recommendations have been forwarded to the Vice President for Research. 

Opportunities for the University, its centers, institutes, and individual researchers to capitalize on various funding sources were discussed. New federal funding vectors were noted in humanitarian causes, training grants including those for undergraduates, interdisciplinary research including that which promotes interaction between social and medical sciences, cyberinfrastructure, geospatial information technology, sustainability, and energy. Hay announced the formation of the Office of Research Development, co-directed by Semel and Hichwa that will help in proposal development for individual and center grants and anticipate funding opportunities.

The Publication Waivers Subcommittee was formed in fall 2004 to advise the Vice President for Research on requests for variances and exceptions to University publication policies. This year, the subcommittee (Hichwa, Flatté, Snetselaar, and Leddy (Chair)) reviewed ten requests, a significant increase over the approximately four and three requests in 2004-2005 and 2005-2006, respectively. As funding is derived from more diverse sources, requests increase in complexity.

Topics of interest to the Council were presented by University personnel.

  • Richard Hichwa, Research Integrity Officer, explained how the process by which the University handles questions of research misconduct. (18 October)
  • Martha Jones, Director of Human Subjects Office (HSO) discussed the University response to an IT security breach of a server that held human subject data. University responses included addition of a social security policy to the Operations Manual and development of improved processes to store sensitive data. (18 October)
  • Ann Ricketts, Director of the newly formed Office of Research Development, discussed the function of the office to support high priority research areas. Initial priorities include coordinating multi-investigator, interdisciplinary research grants; developing administrative support for researchers preparing proposals; anticipating funding opportunities; and establishing a protocol for selection of the University’s nominee when the number of University applications is limited. (15 December)
  • Richard Hichwa and Jay Semel, Associate Vice Presidents for Research, reported on the Internal Funding Initiatives (IFI) and progress on implementation of improvements suggested by a subcommittee of the Research Council, which was convened in spring, 2006. Suggested improvements include that the grants be used to better stimulate external grant applications, that the review process be applied more uniformly and program eligibility be better defined; and that grants and publications that arise from IFI grants be better tracked. Implementations this year included a more uniform review process and criteria that emphasized the seed grant aspects of the program. Final reports of funded proposals are to include copies of externally submitted grants. (24 January)
  • Richard Hichwa, Research Integrity Officer and Conflict of Interest Officer, raised questions about responsible conduct of research and how to best ensure that University researchers are well and appropriately trained. Are researchers current with protocols for handing data and, where appropriate, for interacting with human subjects? How is responsible conduct of research ensured within Departments, Colleges, and research groups? Is mandatory training appropriate or effective? From the ensuing discussion, it is clear that responsible conduct of research is handled in widely varying ways across the University. (24 January)
  • Michael Mackey, Chair of the subcommittee to review the composition of the Research Council, reported that the subcommittee held that the composition of the Council should be modified to better reflect research active on campus. The two scenarios reported were either to modify the current membership of the Council or constitute a larger body with broader representation from various units. The Council opted to modify the current membership of the Council (6 March). At the 28 March meeting, the Council reviewed and approved the first draft of revisions to the Operations Manual 2.8 (19), the Research Council Charter. The recommendations were forwarded to Vice President Hay.
  • Associate Vice Presidents Tom Sharpe and Richard Hichwa discussed issues related to implementation of the Conflict of Interest Policies on campus. Because four different units manage conflicts related to time commitment, purchasing, employment, and research, the process is not centralized and therefore, cumbersome and time consuming for faculty to navigate. Hichwa, Research Integrity Officer and Conflict of Interest Officer, described efforts to improve disclosure forms used to report conflict of interest in research. Tom Sharpe described protocols being developed to guide conflicts that arise from economic development activities. There are no plans to provide faculty with assistance to navigation across the four decentralized units that manage conflicts. (6 March)
  • Twila Reighley, Assistant Vice President for Research, met with the Council to discuss the draft of the Policy on Research Data and to solicit comments from the Council. The policy relates to the ownership and management of research data. Ownership and data management must be specified if the University is to address issues of grant compliance, research misconduct, and data location when researchers leave the University. (6 March 2006)
  • Steve Flaegle, Director of Information Technology Services, presented the Information Technology Strategic Plan. The plan specifically addresses support for research. (28 March)
  • Three members of the Presidential Search Committee who also regularly attend Research Council (Ed Folsom, Sara Vigmostad, and Cheryl Reardon) solicited input from the Council on characteristics important in the candidates for University President and on the importance of campus visits by the candidates. (28 March)
  • Twila Reighley, Assistant Vice President for Research, updated the Council on near and long term efforts by the Division of Sponsored Programs to respond to new and changing requirements implemented by external funding sources. Because of turnover in Sponsored Programs, half of the staff has been hired within the last two years. It was suggested that more staff in Sponsored Programs would be appropriate. 

Issues for Consideration:

The Research Council has suggested changes to its Charter in the Operations Manual. These changes are suggested to provide better representation of University researchers and their diverse research interests. Any changes to the Operations Manual will be reviewed by Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and Student Government. 

This spring, the Council discussed training in the responsible conduct of research. From the discussion, it is clear that methods vary widely across Colleges and Departments and depend strongly on research area and methods. In recent years, researchers have encountered new issues related to data management and human subjects. Access to training is appropriate; is mandatory training appropriate or useful? What are the time and resource commitments for University sponsored training? What is the main objective in promoting responsible conduct of research on campus? The discussion brought out many perspectives and widely ranging opinions. The issue of training in responsible conduct of research should be considered again by the Council. A first component of the review should be to collect information to determine what is being done on campus and what the traditions in specific disciplines are. A second component should be to determine what might be done to facilitate responsible conduct of research. A third component will be to determine how best to promote responsible conduct of research.

Research is promoted by respecting researchers’ time. One way in which the Council and the Office of the Vice President for Research can enhance research productivity is to reduce or limit researchers’ paperwork and documentation burdens. Proactive steps include streamlining protocols and reducing documentation associated with, for example, grant applications, research management, and conflict of interest. The Research Council can achieve more systematic effects by weighing the cost of introducing new documentation requirements against what the proposed documentation is to achieve.

Recommendations to the Faculty Senate:

There are no recommendations to the Faculty Senate at this time.


The Research Council thanks the University personnel who came to Research Council meetings to provide the Council with information about the research enterprise at the University of Iowa. The able assistance of the staff of the Office of the Vice President for Research is also acknowledged. As Chair, I thank the members of Research Council for their input and attention to the issues brought to the Council this year. I also thank the members of the subcommittee on Research Council composition. I especially thank Mike Mackey, a former member of Research Council, for serving as Chair of the subcommittee. The guidance and administrative assistance of Cheryl Hoogerwerf Reardon, Assistant to the Vice President for Research, is most gratefully acknowledged.


Respectfully Submitted,

Johna Leddy

Chair, Research Council