Minutes - Oct 8, 2007

Date of Meeting: 

Monday, October 8, 2007


Dickson, Fan, Flatté, Grassian, Hesli, Hynes, Jung, Malanson, Subramanian, Hay, Reardon, Hichwa, Semel, Sharpe, Johnson


Denburg, Folsom, Fortney, Kirby, Knosp, Leddy, Snetselaar

Professor Vicki Hesli called the meeting to order at 2:00 p.m.

Professor Vicki Hesli announced that John Keller would be attending the next meeting.  She asked for suggestions on possible topics the council might like him to address.  The suggested topics included the block grant program and the role of the graduate college in providing gap/bridging funding for graduate students.  Professor Vicki Hesli asked for approval of the minutes from the last meeting.  They were approved with minor modifications.

Research Policy Track Discussion

The key issues discussed were:

  1. The track would be an option
    1. Not all departments/colleges may offer this track (for example, may be of less interest to departments that do not have sustained external funding)
    2. Primarily used for areas where external funding is important for everyday operations
    3. Expands ability of groups of scientists to do larger projects, some of which may be self-funding
    4. Makes the position more credible than the current designation
  2. There are specific advantages to having the track as an option
    1. An increased likelihood of being able to fill specific research needs
    2. The designation as faculty would allow for more involvement in academic endeavors including  serving on dissertation committees
    3. Gives flexibility in a college town - A recruitment option for a trailing spouse
    4. An attractive option for others who want to primarily focus on research
    5. Since tenure in the researchj track is linked to grant funding, it may help get external money
    6. Potential increase in F & A recoveries
  3. Some potential disadvantages/concerns
    1. Danger of animosity between the two tracks
    2. Safe-guarding the concept of tenure
    3. Resources would be needed include space, start up costs, etc.
    4. Since only certain departments have research faculty, will they receive more funding from the central fund to support their research faculty?
    5. Concern about the research faculty’s role in the governance of the University
  4. The relationship to tenure track faculty:
    1. Research track does nor replace faculty track
    2. Current faculty track is not a teaching track – faculty are expected to do research
    3. Research and tenure tracks both have advantages and disadvantages —it is just a preference for some people
    4. May be a good option for individuals who do not want to teach, but rather focus on research
    5. Research and clinic tracks have to bring in their own money
    6. In departments where there are already tenure and non-tenure track clinical faculty, there have been no problems
    7. Researchers look to the outside world for respect and recognition to obtain future funding

Summary:  Approval of the Research Track Policy contingent on revisions in the draft wording of the policy and also contingent on a commitment from central administration that central money will not be directed toward units with research track faculty.  Given the overall shortage of resources across campus, and given that the research track is a viable or useful option for some university units and not for others, the adoption of the policy must not lead to start up funds or other resources being directed at those units that do adopt the research track policy. Any funds associated with start-up costs of hiring research track faculty, maintaining research track faculty, or funds associated with covering costs during bridging periods between grant cycles must be provided by the college or the department – not central administration. 

Recommendations for wording changes in the Research Track Policy Proposal:

Grant Writing Incentives

Professor Michael Flatté introduced a document entitled “Research Council Draft Proposal on Incentive Funding for Successful Grant Proposals.”  The proposal is designed to provide incentive funding for grant writers.  Professor Flatté indicated that this proposal was based on what comparable institutions were doing.

  1. Discussion of advantages of returning some F & A to the principal investigators including using the funds for discretionary purchases of items that are not allowable costs.   The main advantage is an incentive to faculty to write more grants knowing that they will benefit from some form of indirect cost return.  An increase in indirect cost return may also put faculty in a better position to negotiate release time for grant-writing.
  2. Disadvantage is the reduction in indirect costs available to the central administration.
    1. No checks or balances on how PI is spending the money—may not be used efficiently
    2. May increase the cost of services
    3. May result in the loss of some centralized services and the ability to submit large, interdisciplinary grants
  3. A general sense emerged that more information is needed on how indirect costs are currently distributed (used) at this institution and at other institutions.

Outcome of Discussion

It was felt that the Council needed more information before they could make an informed decision about pursuing this further.  Terry Johnson will be at the November meeting to explain F & A cost recoveries and the current Research incentive model.  We would also like to have more systematic information on what other institutions are doing.  Cheryl Reardon will provide additional information regarding what other institutions are doing with their programs

Research Misconduct and Ethics Training

Matthew Dickson indicated several areas for discussion including lack of information for students on reporting misconduct, the length of time it takes to complete an investigation, and whistleblower protection.

  1. Current information and training
    1. The information is available on the web.
    2. No information on how to report research misconduct is found in any of the student handbooks on campus
  2. Time and effort during the investigation
    1. Most of the work falls to the PI
    2. In order to minimize the number of people that know about the allegation, often investigations are done indirectly, which takes more time
  3. Training
    1. Include information in the student handbooks and during orientation
    2. More difficult to ensure that information has been read
    3. Faculty/staff:  could be certified every one or two years via web, but difficult to implement and monitor

Outcome of Discussion

Work should focus on ways to get information to graduate students and to faculty about research ethics.  Possibly mailings could be sent. Each department should include this information in their own department-level graduate handbooks or guides to graduate education.  Department-level faculty manuals should also have this information. Others felt that some form of certification should be required for all faculty and graduate students, or at least for those who are responsible for research, for new faculty and for new graduate students. This information should be part of all orientation programs. Associate VP for Research Hichwa is currently reviewing options for research misconduct training and that departments will be consulted regarding their specific needs.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:55 p.m.